I got walking quite late on Day 7, but with good reason. I paid a visit to Port Nolloth High School where Juffrou Bertoni took me around to some of the classes. I shared with them what I was doing and why, and much too their excitement taught them the Forwards-way, as printed on the back of my t-shirt: Forwards Forever, Backwards Never! It really is the only way.
Skirting around another mine area I followed the main road Eastwards. The Southerly wind tossed me about like a ragdoll as I staggered along like a drunk man. Turning onto the dirt road wasn’t much better as I now had to walk directly into the wind.
The sun had set and I was putting in the last tent pegs when a tow-truck rumbled by. Brake lights. Reverse lights. And with a puff of dust he sped back to me. Long grey hair, stubble, greasy black hands, index finger on his left hand missing. Andre Cave Man he called himself. He asked me what I was up to and then excitedly told me that he had in fact walked from Kosi Bay to East London over 5 months. This “connection” was all he needed to start sharing with me all sorts of fantastical tales and staggering scientific breakthroughs.
He designed and single-handedly built his bakkie. As he showed me the V8 engine he told me he still has lots of plans for it.
He once harvested lightning and kept it in a coil for three minutes.
He warned me about the leopards in the mountains. But I wouldn’t need to worry if I had his auto-tazer system which would enable me to place posts around my tent which create an almost invisible beam between them that shock anything that breaks the beam - a beam one can only see through welding goggles.
He has a renewable energy solution; plates that when cold create an electrical current - a far superior system to solar power.
He is designing a spaceship so that he can send it to various planets in our solar system to harvest some materials not found on Earth that he needs to complete his bakkie.
The spaceship will be powered by the cold-plates.
Upon returning his craft, he will reverse the magnetic field so that the ship does not heat up in the slightest upon re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
The man is a genius.
And he wasn’t alone. All the while his Silent Sidekick sat in the passenger seat nodding in agreement as Andre spoke.
After offering me a bottle of sparkling water and two sticks of droëwors Andre said he would be driving passed tomorrow again and then sped off, leaving me in a cloud of dust.
The next morning I had been walking for less than 15 minutes when I heard an engine (not quite a V8) slow down as it approached me from behind. A man with a vintage vespa-style helmet and matching red goggles pulled up next to me with his sidecar motorcycle. He had a strange accent that I couldn’t quite place. Nor could I fully understand the name he told me. Turns out he has been travelling the world in his sidecar for almost ten years. A frenchman, Hubert Kriegel is his name (Hubert with a silent “H” and a silent “T”). He’s from Paris, lived in New York for twenty years, and now he is on his Timeless Ride**. It was refreshing chatting to him because he didn’t ask the regular questions: “Why would you do such a thing?”; “Isn’t it lonely?”; “Aren’t you scared?”; He’s answered these questions a whole lot more than I have so far and therefore has no need to ask them. After exchanging photos and details I watched him ride off towards the horizon.
At lunch time I seated myself in a donga to get some respite from the wind. I had this sneaky feeling, and I was right. As I sat there I heard the unmistakeable rumbling of the V8. Andre sped past as I jumped up to try get his attention. But he had no chance of seeing me through all that dust. “Oh well, I’ll see him later.” I thought.
In the mid-afternoon a friendly policeman pulled up next to me, asked what I was doing, checked if I was okay and said if I have any problems I must give him a call.
The sun had set, I had settled into my sleeping bag and started settling into my quinoa and soup when I heard it again; Mr Cave Man’s V8. My tent was a bit away from the road and behind a slight embankment so I didn’t think he would see me. The red reflective tape he had stuck on my guide ropes the night before must have caught his eye as he flashed past. For it was not long before I heard his custom-fitted reverse beep. “I am a man of my word.” he said as he handed me that bottle of sparkling water and some more droëwors. The Silent Sidekick even emerged from the vehicle. And, low and behold, even spoke a few quiet words. When their cigarettes had become mere stompies and I was scratching at the bottom of my pot it was time for them to go.
It rained that night. Not much, but it did. Enough to make me check that everything was in fact under cover. Because of the light drizzle that persisted in the morning I lay in for a while. But it’s not quite the same as having a lie-in in a comfy bed under a warm duvet with a mug of hot chocolate. Mmm chocolate. The craving has me by the scruff of the neck.
Day 9 would see me reaching Kleinzee. As I moved further South there was more and more fauna and flora. The yellow flowers had now been joined by orange, purple and white. I saw some actual living tortoises, some ostriches and korhaans, and a couple of duikers. The highlight was a little yellow mongoose stealthily cruising across the road. I also had my first roadside interview, chatting to Ethan Black of Kingfisher FM during my lunch stop. It was a great day. But something was missing. Mr Cave Man didn’t come by. I was a bit sad about that, I so enjoyed his enthralling stories.
The entrance to Kleinzee is controlled by a boom gate and some security personnel. The lady at the gate really wanted to know what I was up to. Upon seeing my drivers licence she exclaimed, “Oh, you’re South African!” Apparently it’s only foreigners that do these crazy things.
She told me about the short cut to the golf course which I was grateful for (but also a little skeptical of). I did manage to get there though. And there I met Oom Koos “Polony”. After a rather painful last few kilometers his cheddarmelt chicken schnitzel was just what I needed. That and the shower I am about to enjoy…
Day 7: 27 712 steps, 19.2 km
Day 8: 28 271 steps, 20.4 km
Day 9: 29 362 steps, 21.9 km
Total to date: 223 908 steps, 161.4 km
* Follow Hubert Kriegel’s journey at www.thetimelessride.com