DAILY REPORTS

Day 28 – Franschoek –Cape of Good Hope- Cape town

This is the final day of a twenty-eight day epic journey. When we clock out this morning for the final time, we drive to Cape of Good Hope for the official finish ceremony.

It has been a tough but fascinating journey through the southern part of Africa.
The roads in some cases were much worse then the ‘smooth gravel’ that the ERA organisers had promised us and the heat in some places has been really tiring. For several days we saw over 40 Celcius on our thermometer. On those days it was difficult to decide to open the top of the car or keep it closed to shelter from the sunshine. Most of the time we drove open as it helped to disperse the heat from the engine and gearbox.

For our classic cars itt has been a very tough rally  with many cars dropping out. 
I believe we lost at least eight or nine cars through mechanical problems. 
Even in the last two days we lost two cars , one with a broken clutch and the other with a broken axel.

In some places the combination of rough terrain and heat made this rally was tougher then the Peking to Paris rally that we did last year.

Friday 13 was a very black day for this rally and as you might have noticed in the reports it has casts a spell on the rest of the rally. The accident of our rally friends Jan and Dana from Prague made a big impact on all of us.  
Those people who were on the scene of the accident first have had the toughest time afterwards but did continue with the rally.

The ERA staff and our Rally doctor Delle did an outstanding job. 
We all know these rallies are not without risk as we drive through countries where driving skills and road conditions are very different then in Europe but this accident did not have to happen.

We all will keep in touch with Dana. 

Grace and Femke plan to visit her in Prague early next year.

The rally group was probably one of the best groups I have ever been with. Maybe because of the accident there was a very close-knit community and every night we were sharing the dinner table with another group of competitors. Often in rallies like this the Dutch stay with the Dutch the English with the English etc, but here we mixed every day and we made some really nice friendships that will last for a long time.
We suffered together and we made fun together… thanks friends and I cannot think of one team that did not fit into this group.

The ERA rally organisation was good but maybe a bit understaffed for such a group. 

We lacked a 48 hour team – they drive ahead of the rally route to check road conditions and accommodations- and this was a false saving by ERA. 
They would have diverted the route through the Etoshia national park in Namibia as the gravel conditions were not suitable for classic cars.

The hotels and food were in general very, very good. It’s a compliment to the countries we travelled through that without exception the rooms were clean; the mattresses were all of high quality (something that is not often the case in European or north American hotels)
The dinners and breakfast’s often had a good variety of vegetables and fruits ( something that was hard to find in the 2015 Transamerica rally) and the staff were often very nice and friendly.
A lot of credit for this is due to Debbie and Peter , the south African couple that were respondable for this part of the rally. Many thanks to your both!

Internet was often a bigger problem then we had expected but in the end we managed to get most reports through within one or two days..

Africa

What an experience and what a contrasts. South Africa has many faces. As I said before the face of Cap town, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek is one, but there is another part that is very different and yet as interesting to experience. We travelled through many predominant black villages where the roads were lined with small children in the ages between one and ten years old. Thousand of them and I believe that the average black family has at least seven children each…..
The government gives them 200 rand per month per child and if that’s your only income you keep making children.
When I was born in 1953 there were two and a half billion people on earth now in 2017 there are seven and a half billion people on our planet and growing. 
No wonder the oxygen is running out.
Something needs to be done because all these thousands of black children will grow up and will want a job but nobody has a plan.
Namibia and Botswana are a revelation. These countries are relative well organised ( there is still quite a lot of German mentality in Namibia) and Botswana has found a lot of valuable minerals since their independence in 1966. 
It looks like they are spending their money wisely.

Yes 1966  is the year that our Mercedes was build and many Namibians we met pointed  proudly this out to us.

Zimbabwe was a short visit but the Victoria Falls hotel was a great colonial experience. Outside the gates of this hotel life is a bit different and very poor. This is a country completely down the drain and god knows what will happen with it. There are already many refugee camps on the border in Namibia with refugees from Zimbabwe.

The two days in the Okavango Delta were probably the highlight of the trip. The Lodges we were in were a really special experience and comfortable but in the middle of the bush. The day and evening safari’s we did both in the Jeep and in the boat brought us closer to the wild animals then we had ever imagined. The two nights we slept in the lodges were for both of us quite scary with all the noises and with the resident Rhino always close by.. When it was dark and early morning we could not walk from our small lodge to the main building without escort from a guide.

We have been close to a lot of big animals and have seen how savage their world can be. 

To much to remember but hopeful we have time to talk to you all about our experiences when we are back home.


Pagode

Our trusted Pagode has now completed three very hard rallies and she has never let us down. The beating she has had was not quite expected but I had very little work to do except checking oil water and the tire pressures. Only once a  short electrical problem that was probably caused  by the rough terrain and fine dust and a dented wheel rim that was fixed in half an hour.

All credit to the Altena team. 
You have gathered more fans amongst the other competitors. They all now want to buy Mercedes Pagoda’s so please start finding them…

Many thanks guys it is always good to know you are on the other end of a phone when there is a problem.

Grace. 

Wow , she has done a great job and has made not one mistake. 
It is so great to know that we can do this together.
This rally was more like Peking to Paris then Transamerica and the fast time trials on rough mountain roads and long stretches tricky gravel roads must have been terrifying for her as a passenger. 
The Jan and Dana accident that we had to pass had a great impact on both of us. They were a couple like us with a 22 year old son at university and they were enjoying this rally. They had the same car that we have and Jan copied quite a few items from our car to his car after he had seen it during last years Peking to Paris. 
One thing that he did not copy was the full roll cage that our car had fitted. It would have saved his live.

Thereafter I promised Grace we would not compete at full throttle and we stuck to it.

Nevertheless if the organisers had not decided to sort of stop the competition standings two days before the end ,we would probably have finished fifth overall in the rally. 
Now we are receiving a bronze medal but we do not really know what for….
Many thanks Grace we will do a few more rallies together..

A special thanks to Peter van den Heuvel  - Kwamedia -who once again designed the website and made sure all the stories and pictures were put on when he received them.

This afternoon we had our official finish at Cape of Good Hope where the two oceans meet . It was a nice gathering from all the teams and we held a minute silence in remembrance of Jan .

Then we all drove along the coast towards the One and Only hotel in Cape town where our rally started 28 days ago.

Tonight we are having our farewell dinner and then we need to try and get back to normal life again and the November cold of Europe.

Untill the next time!

Mick & Grace