– Retro, ego sum, ego venire, ego reversus = I am back (-to-front)!
I have returned from my little excursion to Johannesburg.
At least, my body has. My mind is still wandering after being exposed to some different driving styles during that 1200kms. There is the Kwa Zulu Natal utter ineptitude (they think they can drive but nobody else would), the Free State dodderers (the fast lane should be stayed in because it is clearer, but it is risky to go over 60 so don’t), and the arrogant Gautengers (who can actually drive in most cases, but not a fraction as well as they seem to think). A common denominator seems to be utter selfishness and lack of anything even approaching courtesy.
I found myself planning a mass cull (preferably by cruel and inhumane means) of heavy vehicle drivers who overtake three abreast, where the speed of the overtaking ones is only marginally faster than that of the overtaken.
Also of minibus taxi drivers who believe they are entitled to change lanes as often as they like in order to work their way ahead of any concentration of vehicles. They rely on the good reflexes of the drivers they are cutting off to avert collision. With poetic justice, every now and again they try it on one of their own kind, and two bent vehicles ensue.
We came across a succession of roadworks in both directions. I think the work already in evidence must have been done by good fairies at night, though. None of it could have been done by any of the groups of men we saw standing (or sitting) at them, dressed in fancy reflective outfits. Mostly, one of these would be looking at something, and the rest looking at him looking at something. Now and again one of them lifted a shovel or similar implement, but only if he had a sufficiently large group to stand and admire his industry.
There seems to be a delight in restricting a long section to single-lane traffic, starting some work on it, and then abandoning it so as to enjoy the fun of restricting another long section to single-lane traffic.
We saw a few of the inevitable accidents. One car had the front left-hand side mangled to an extent I wouldn’t have believed possible. At one point there was a need to wriggle round two large ‘horses’ without trailers which appeared to be kissing one another sideways across the road. Strangely enough, this did not seem to create a build-up of traffic.
Conversely, however, just past Pietermaritzburg on the return, there was an interesting phantom accident – that is, a traffic jam of considerable proportions but with no discernable reason for it by the time the traffic miraculously stopped being stop-start and started to have no stops again. No intersections, no debris, no visible holdup of any description, but suddenly everything was flowing at 130kph again.
From the foregoing, you may deduce that I didn’t enjoy the trip? Actually, I did. It has been a while since I had occasion to drive for any real distance (30-50 miles or so at a time in UK don’t count) and it was good to sharpen my skills again. We took time to smell the daisies … er, or look at the cosmos heralding winter –
as well as to revisit one of the tiniest churches (arguably the smallest ‘proper’ church, intended and used for regular services) in the world,
The memorial service and subsequent get-togethers produced what was to be expected by way of wringing the emotions, while at the same time buoying up the spirits with renewals of family ties which may have grown a little frayed and neglected over the years.
All in all, it was time well spent.
For those who might find it interesting, the tolls cost a total of R348-00, and petrol in a Toyota Yaris cost R633-00. That R990-odd equates to a total of Euro 97-23, US$129-85 or GB81-45 which is fairly reasonable for a 1200km round trip for three. Nevertheless, I resent the tolls with a passion.
Colonialist March 2012 (Letterdash/WordPress)