Saturday, 6 August 2011

Black Ice and Death

The Great Sani Pass Vespa Adventure
Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five
Day Two: Black Ice and Death

We wanted an early start, well Magda and I did while the Paulo and Martin wanted breakfast first. I did protest to get them to change their minds but to no avail. The plan was for Paulo and Martin to escort Magda and myself down to Underberg but I think the distance got to them and they wanted to get back early so the plan was changed slightly. Paulo and Martin would ride with us down through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park to the town of Estcourt then head back to Johannesburg while Magda and I would continue until Underberg. Our four support 4x4s left Pretoria early this morning and the plan was that they would catch up to us round about Estcourt, from there they would travel with us.

But our plans changed again. While in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park we came upon a serious accident which happened minutes before we got there. A mini bus taxi with twelve family members travelling to a funeral in Fouriesburg, lost control due to black ice and plummeted over 200m down the side of the mountain. Sadly only six people survived including a twelve year old boy named Manuel. With tears running down her face, Magda tried to comfort Manuel as best as she could, not knowing if his parents are among the survivors.

We were badly shaken when we left the scene after the emergency services started arriving. Running late and with the weather changing for the worse, we made contact with the support vehicles and arranged to met them at Harrismith instead of Estcourt. In a way it was a blessing that we met the support vehicles at Harrismith because it started sleeting soon afterwards. We loaded our Vespas onto the trailers and headed for Sani Valley Lodge between Himeville and the Sani Pass border post. Round about Bulwer the sleet turned to snow.

After settling into our accommodation at Sani Valley Lodge, we set off to find some food. Here I must give a big black mark to Himeville Arms Hotel for turning us away we were too much for them to handle. Would you believe it they turned 18 hungry people away in the now falling snow. So we headed down the road to Underberg, only to be turned away from another restaurant because they didn't have enough plates for us. Nobody wanted our business. Ten stars must be given to The Grind Café who opened up the Wolly Bugger pub to us. The food was very good that even our tired bodies appreciated it. If you ever in this part of the country please support The Grind Café and its pub the Wolly Bugger.

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