And We’re Off! But… Is It Safe?

I just want to get something out of the way, right now, that has been bugging me since I started telling people about this journey. We have been asked many questions, like how far are you going, for how long, which countries, etc. But the most commonly asked question is “but, is it safe?”

Erm… dunno. Is your life safe?

A better question might be: “What kind of safety measures do you have in place?” That question I can answer because it is practical. The former question is impossible to answer. Was it safe for a friend of mine to go to the grocery store in Gardens, a suburb of Cape Town? Yes, perfectly safe, until one evening she went shopping and was confronted by a gang of thugs who robbed her and her fellow shoppers leaving her seriously traumatised. All I can say is, we will do our best to avoid danger, by employing our common sense, experience, and whatever tools we have at our disposal. Pretty much like normal life, actually.

Our experiences in this first week of our adventure has shown us that people are generally wonderful. They just want to help. We have been offered lifts in the rain, given free luxurious accommodation and have been given donations in money and goods! So I hope that if we do run into trouble along the way there will be kind people around who will help.

We had a fantastic send-off at Green Point Park. New and old friends turned up to wave us goodbye. We were late, of course. Unless you have done a trip like this you just can’t imagine how much there is to take care of. Cycling through the docks we caused an uproar with the guards. They got so excited by our outfits and all our bags that they begged to have their photos taken with us, whipping out their cell phones. Normally, when we try and take a shortcut through the docks, they stop us at the barrier with a surly look and a shake of the head and send us off to cycle up the N1 (illegal). Funny the effect a Mohican wig can have on people.

First night we had another celebration with friends and family in Tableview. Next day we cycled to Paarl.. a long ride in the wind, arriving in the dark at Berg River Resort campsite. Waking up in our tent to a very dreary day with rain threatening didn’t encourage me to rush out to my bike. Luckily, Sven had to do some bike maintenance so most of the day was spent under the kitchen roof watching him change my pedals and sort stuff out. We got to Franschhoek that evening and stayed at a backpackers called Otters Bend. Beautiful wooden structures, with a bar cut out of a barrel, set in an orchard with stunning views. Thanks to Mark who gave us a big room so we could store our bikes with us. Would have liked to chat to him more as he is very involved in nature conservation and building affordable housing. Pics of all this are on Instagram and should show next to this post.

We had our second 15 minutes of fame the next day when Jessica came out to meet us and film us for CTV. She gave us both a War On Greed T-shirt to wear. It says on the back: “Live simply so others can simply live.” We are proud to wear them, Jessica, and are so grateful for the support we have received from you and Kent.

Finally the ascent of the much feared (by me)Franschhoek Pass loomed. I think a few of my friends thought I might pack it in at this point. Hauling over 30 Kg up the pass, plus my own weight, is not to be recommended for the fainthearted. But I did it, and the exhilaration I felt at the top shows in the photos. Sani Pass is going to make Franschhoek Pass look like a pimple.

If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Villiersdorp, I highly recommend de Villiers Country Lodge. It is owned by Johannie Barnard who is just the kindest, most mothering person. She couldn’t do enough for us, and was especially kind when I tripped over her rug and crashed onto the coffee table on my face, breaking her mug and spraying tea all over the lounge. My teeth made a hole in my lip, but I quickly recovered.

This morning we leave dear friends behind in Greyton in the mists, and tackle the long sand road towards Riviersonderend and on.

I am blogging this from my phone so forgive the lack of photos. As I said, the pics are up on Instagram. Just click on the thumbnails to the right of this post.

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