STRAB 2023 Part 1 Getting There

Shivering with cold, eyes still crusty with sleep, we set off for sunnier climes on Wednesday the 24th of May. Musicians, Blues Society members and all varieties of friends, family and fans started descending on Ponta Malongane from Cape Town, Natal and Gauteng… Even one from China! (here’s looking at you, Michael!) Some wise folk headed for Kosi Bay and Komatipoort. And then there were the fools. And yes, I was one of them. A convoy of 6 vehicles confidently made our way to Swaziland. We were going do a nice scenic drive through this neighbouring country, pop into Mozambique and then swiftly make our way to Ponta, safely avoiding Maputo and all the hassles and madness it entails. Well, our way did have some benefits. The Swazi border posts were clean, quiet, efficient and friendly. We got some bonus stamps in our passports (gotta get those stamps!). We learned a lot about Swaziland  – or at least we learned that Swaziland has a lot of sugar cane. Oh, how we rubbed our hands in glee! The lovely border posts! The bonus country we got to see! The time we would save! The avoidance of Maputo. Well, pride does come before a fall. Once on Mozambican soil, things became somewhat weird. Mostly dirt roads, with speedbumps every 10 meters (or so our eventually agonised coccyx estimated). After driving for hours on end, the lead car in our convoy  – housing our so-called “navigator” –pulled over, signaling a mass stop. And then came the heart wrenching news. We had missed our turn off. We were virtually in Maputo. Just in time for peak traffic. The communal gnashing of teeth was loud enough to wake the dead – the despair was palpable in the air.  This writer, however, is proud to say that a strange calm flowed over her. C’est la vie, my friends. No use crying over spilt milk. It is what it is. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Back into the cars we bundled, off into Maputo’s peak traffic we bliksemed, over the bridge we caravanned, into bogus traffic stops we blundered, and out again with much lighter wallets. We pasted smiles onto our faces and forced cheer into our voices when our Kosi Bay and Komatipoort brethren phoned us from Ponta Malongane, beer in their hands, to enquire where the actual @#%* we were, and we still had miles and miles to go. Enough about that! Suffice it to say, we narrowly avoided hitting that buck, saw some giraffes, played ridiculous car games to fend off complete abandonment of all hope, and made it safely to our accommodation after dark. Whoot! Our comrades greeted us with beer and hugs, and we were back on track. Keys were collected, luggage carried, showers taken, drinks poured and a lovely night had by all. All’s well that ends well.

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