Thursday, September 6, 2007
Another typically South African adventure.....
Ok....maybe getting a haircut back home in the US...won't go exactly like this...but felt like this may be worth sharing. I made appointment to get hair cut for yesterday at 11:00 (AM) in East london, a coastal town about a 2 hrs drive from here. I hate the drive on a 2 lane....National highway, but love the way she cuts my hair. So I set off at 8:15...AM... equipped with my latest Baltimore block, so that I could just sit in her sunny salon...and sew for few min. and have a cup of tea...and because you never know if the roadworks stop will be 5 min. or 20 min have plenty of time to make my appointment. You never know becaues of the road works projects...here they stop traffic, and there you sit in the car on the 2 lane waiting for the opposite traffic to come through!I had a full tank of gas...and Algoa FM on the radio...it was going to be a good trip. Now Bob and I have been leasing the same car for over three years...and I still don't know how to set the "limiter" on it.Its not cruise control...but not sure what it is ...so I am forced to pay attention to the speed...as there are several "SMILE" zones ( speed points where cameras are set up to trap speeders) between Queenstown and East London, without the assistance of a limiter.I should have asked Bob how this works...but haven't sorted it out on my own.Could probably read the manual...but way too much work.At any rate...I am driving along...noticing the usual....HITCHIKERS, Cattle and sheep in roadway....and even saw some initiates....preparing for the ritual of circumcision.....not the actual ceremony, but a man was painting up a few young men outside their homemade hut just off the roadway...so saw that! Just driving along...listening to radio, heard about an auto accident on the N6, the very road I am on...but they didn't give out details...just said there was lots of "mist" ( fog in AMERICAN)Well, I made it through the first little town on the HIGHWAY, and kept on going....I was making fabuous time...and could just imagine how much sewing I was going to get done.... drove another 40 kilometers...and heard another reference to the accident...it now said it was between the towns of Cathcart( the place I just drove through) and Stutterheim...(the town I was heading toward!) This was not good news..as it is only a two lane road..and could really slow traffic down! So I turned up radio hoping to catch more info...and about 5 more min. they added that the road was now officially closed....and would remain so for at least 5 hours! Now I immediately start looking for beside the road markers..to see exactly where I may be...and I reach into the door pocket for the map....WHEN is dawns on me...that my husband has removed the full sized map...to locate the street in Capetown he has to go for a meeting!Definitely not a good place for me to be....out in the hummadolas ( the sticks) without a map...further I have no idea how to go about finding alternate routes...and it, the accident is still up in front of me somewhere.Now let me add at this juncture that I NEVER drive around by myself this far...but really was hoping to see a movie and go to a store to get some good thread, (another hard to find commodity) and buy a few things at the mohair shop. Being alone with no idea which way to "detour", I get on my cell phone....and call a friend for directions. She tells me the only way to proceed is to return to Cathcart, now at least 30 miles back the way I had just come and to go to another town called Fort Beaufort, but that it is "a hell of a drive"! I figure I still may be able to make it...not knowing the exact distance of all this detour....so I head back to Cathcart.NOW, there are POLICE there to block off the road...why they couldn't have been there 20 min. earlier..I have no idea. So I turn off for FT. Beaufort, behind a line of very slow moving trucks, and the saga begins. I am driving under 40 Kilometers most of the time...because of these stinking 18 wheelers trying to pull their loads up hills(this equals about 25 miles per hour!) and another thing not mentioned until now..is that ALL trucks in South AFrica have limiters on them which keep them from speeding....or going faster than 25 miles an hour up hill! Hate trucks here! At any rate...I am driving along..very slowly...and then I see a road sign...(let me say that this road is even narrower than most farm to market roads back home...no shoulder...no place to turn off..or around) which informs me that the next town, Ft. Beaufort is 72 Kilometers away! Quite a trek with little chance of going fast. I am determined to get this over with and get my haircut...maybe I'll just be a few min. late...and I will call her to let her know. I finally make it to Ft. B....and actually after I passed several trucks could drive almost 50 MPH, I still thought maybe I might make it...just a bit late...and by now I have been driving almost 2 hrs...so I will have to drive 2hrs back the other way to go home the way I've just came....so I must carry on! I again call my friend to ask what road I am looking for now...then I realize in horror...that I have a pre paid cell phone...which doesn't have a lot of phone time on it...SO I TALK FASTER!!!! get the info and start looking. Oh, did I mention that I may have been caught in the "SMILE" zone...going 78 K.....will only know for sure in a few weeks if they send my photo to me. :o) I find the right road that I am to be on...only to find out that now I have to go through a "ROAD WORKS" stop....which last for 30 min. Stopped in the town of ALICE, stopped in fact for so long, that vendors come to sell fruit and drinks...which is NEVER a GOOD sign. I also noticed that hitch hikers were lining up along the side of the road.Now I have only ever had 1 hitchhiker in my car...with my husband along...but I was as frustrated as I could be. So I rolled down my window...spying a nicely dressed woman in a dress....and I hollered out the window, "Do you speak english?" ( South Africa does have 11 official languages... :o) So one does need to ask, she replies, "Yes". I say,"What do you do?", She says, "policewoman". I say"GET IN"!!!!!!!! I know today she is probably telling her friends about some crazy American woman...who scared her to death.... but I had had enough. She told me about the real crime statistics...I griped about roads, traffic, poverty...and anything else I could think of. She did save me from following the road signs which clearly say to turn right to go to East London....but which in fact take you through several "township villages".....the long way round....and she showed me the quick way to the wonderful 4 lane Proper highway which took me to East London ......FINALLY!!!!!! I made it to the hairdresser....who had a lady getting a perm, another waiting for haircut...and two more ladies show up "early" of all things for their haircut!!! They could all tell I was harrassed...and over an hour late for my appt. She said she'd do the best to work me in, quick enough for me to face another 4 HOUR journey home! One of the girls who came in, could see that Julie, the hairdresser was swamped...and offered to make all of us tea. She also offered to be the maid...and sweep up if that would help me get my haircut. The next girl to come in early, offered to call someone she knew in the police dept...to see when the rd would reopen...which I heartily welcomed. I really didn't want to have to face that drive home.What nice people South Africans can be! At any rate...Julie, true to her word, put solution on the Perm lady, then cut one of the other ladies hair....then she washed my hair, then blew out that lady, then she rinsed the perm lady, then began to cut my hair...before she finished my hair...she had to go rinse the perm lady, then got her under the dryer....then worked on my hair some more.....It was crazy, but she managed to get me through, I paid her double for the effort. It still wasn't quite 2:00...oh, and the good news came by one of my newfound friends that the road was now opened...so I could kill an hour before I had to start home....so it was off to the mohair shop...I ran in, grabbed my purchases(can't divulge as some are gifts...and don't want to reveal) and ran back to the car. A man flagged me down as I exited parking space...to tell me, I had an almost flat tire!!!!When it rains ....It pours!!!!!! He tells me the closest tire place is only a block away....so I put on my flashers and start up the street. DID I tell you that I am on the street by the mall....hugely busy street, so I am driving up the street, flashers going...pass the McDonald's but don't see the tire shop.BUT, there is a FIAT dealership. So I park there, and go in to ask someone (who speaks english) where the tire place. I think I must have had "HELP" written on my face, as the woman inside got up, came to me, patted my hand and said," let me get you some tea,I will help you!" AND she did, she called the tire shop, asked them to please send a man over...to remove my tire for me. I go out, the guy shows up, takes the jack out of the trunk, gets the donut tire out...as its not safe to leave car up on jack...by the sidewalk.So he gets car jacked up, starts taking the tire off....and YEP...the car falls OFF the jack!!!! He tries again....after finding a brick to put under the front tire. It falls off again..apparently this stinking Mercedes jack doesn't hold the weight of the car!!!!!A VERY BAd thing to find out when you have a flat tire!!!!! I'm thinking!!!! So he says, MAY I go and get the hydrolic jack from the store???? SO off he goes...and comes running back a few minutes later with the hydro jack!!!! He is pumping away...and gets it all up, puts the temp tire on, and I drive over to the store( about half a block away) and he is hauling the jack behind me. I arrive at tire store, he looks at bad tire and says that the tire seems to be non-repairable....as in buy a new one! But he does have it checked out...and apparently, driving those back crappy roads...must have been too much for the tire...as I have sliced it...or lifted up a piece of the tread...or something non fixable!!!!! So I BUY a new tire!!!!!! Now, this has all been too much for me...Instead of a two hr journey each way, I have spent over 6 hrs on all to crappy roads...damaged a tire badly enough it had to be replaced....didn't get to see a movie, or go to the fruit and veg place...or three or four other things I wanted to do, including picking up my airline tickets for my OCT 28 trip to the US!!!! How that could have slipped my mind???? I can't imagine.!!!! I also picked up a hithhiker, and last but not least MAY have a traffic ticket coming in the mail!!!!!!!! ANd how was your day???????Just hope you don't need a trip to the salon!!!!!
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