We deplane in Johannesburg and there’s Waldo waiting for us at the gate. Yeeeeeah! Hugs and smiles all round. We haven’t seen each other since the Czech-out party on the Mongol Rally. Probably tha best party of our lives. I was half expecting him to have a pineapple at the gate since we, for no reason at all, presented him with one when we met up at the train station in Pilsen before the party those years ago. I read somewhere that the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality. I’ll usually bring one to house warming parties.
We tell him about our trip so far while we walk to the car. Wait. Where’s the car? Hmmm maybe we’re on the wrong level. Go up one and look around. Doesn’t matter, it’s nice to be off the plane and walking.
We find the car and head off towards Waldo’s place in Randburg and he starts asking about what we’ll be doing in Africa. We give him the general idea (since we only have a general idea), “Oh man, I’m jealous. You’re gonna have the best road trip ever”, “Come with us!” haha. He tells us that his wife, Megan, can give us some tips on where to go in Namibia. Her parents used to go there all the time and she knows the area. Can’t wait to meet her. We’ve just been keeping in touch over facebook basically since the rally 6 years ago (was that six years ago?!), it’s good to finally be catching up.
Waldo gives us a heads up on Johannesburg, opening with, “this is the most dangerous area in South Africa.” He tells us to always keep the doors locked and the windows up on the rental when we get it. If we’re stopped at a red light and anyone at all starts approaching the car, run the light. Car-jackings are fairly frequent apparently. “Don’t drink and drive. Police either want a bribe or lock you up. And our prisons are not fun.”
Alright then. Between Rosemary’s list of warnings and this new info I’m starting to feel like this adventure is leaning just on the right side of dangerous.
We pull up to Waldo’s condo complex. It has a 10 foot blue wall around it, barbed wire and an electric fence on top, cameras and a locked gate that requires a code. “This is a fairly typical residence here in Joburg. A little more upscale actually.” Ok, we’re a good distance from normal now for sure. The gate opens and we pull in to a nice row of colorful 2-story condo units with decked in front porches, large sliding patio doors and garages.
We go up through the garden to Waldo’s place and enter through the patio door. We’re greeted by his lovely wife Megan and the cutest little Yorkshire Terrier, butt wiggling, toe licking and beaming w adorable excitement.
They have a great spot and we thank them for allowing us to crash with them for the night while we get situated in South Africa.
They have a spread of South African goodies for us to try and we go straight for the biltong which is similar to beef jerky. Sink the teeth in. No just kidding, it’s way better than beef jerky. It seems semi-raw but also dehydrated like jerky somehow. Waldo says he gets it from a particular guy who has just the right amount of fat along the crusted outside to keep things juicy/chewy/tasty. Damn, I’m going to eat this the whole trip. Nicely salty, chewy, meaty, perfect roadtrip material.
While this flavor journey is happening Waldo presents a fridge full of local craft beers from South Africa. Now we’re talking! They also bring out a large platter of boerewors. Oh man, we’re getting the full SA experience now. This is hospitality 401 masterclass. Boerewors is a type of South African sausage made of a combination of beef, lamb, pork and spices. Peter and I are fairly ecstatic at this point, having tried our hands in making sausages ourselves (the reduced Guinness, gorgonzola and dates medley is still our signature specialty).
They bring the boerewors out to the garden where they have a nice fire going on their braai.
This is great. It’s wonderfully cool sweater weather, which is a nice reprieve from the sweltering sticky mess that was Dubai. There’s a fire, meat cooking, good beers and a cute dog to lick our toes. SA trip’s shaping up well so far.
All done, looking good!
We settle in at the dining table. Waldo has a great playlist of down tempo indie tunes going. The boerewors is outstanding with some choice mustard and beer.
Megan starts asking about our trip plans and we admit that we don’t really have anything planned yet. We’ve gotta get to Cape Town to meet the guys and pick up the truck, that’s about it. They start to tell us about a few places North of Cape Town that they really like and try to get to when they can. Lambert’s Bay and a wilderness area called Cederburg on the West Cape. One’s on the coast, the other in the mountains. Scenic, remote, out of the way type places. Just our style.
Some of the local beers I remembered to get pics of:
Onto the SA deserts. Waldo admits that he bought these on name alone. Twisted Sisters, that’s rad. They are sweeeeeeet. A little too sweet but tasty to try for sure.
They also treat us to this Canadian rooibos tea that maple melts my heart a little.
The drinks are flowing pretty good now and the music picks up it’s intensity a bit to match. Conversation’s easy, quick and funny AF. I suppose that’s why we became fast friends at the Rally launch party to begin with. I notice that Megan and Waldo slip between speaking Afrikaans and English seamlessly in their conversations together. “We fight in Afrikaans and talk in English” haha. When talking to Toe-licker, Megan also slips into an insanely high dog voice that people sometimes have when talking to animals or babies. It’s hilarious.
Dinosaur Jr covering The Cure’s ‘Just like Heaven’ comes on and Waldo loses it a little bit. “Doesn’t get better than that”, he talks about loving J Mascis’ tone. Didn’t realize he was such a big fan. I tell him about catching them at Coachella a few years back, “I hate you man. Seriously. What the fuck?”
We also get the lowdown on Max Normal/Ninja/Die Antword and a South African band named Fokofpolisekar (yes, pronounced fuck off police car) that Waldo claims to have been a major turning point in music around these parts. “It went from David Hasselhoff bullshit to this, Hemel op die Platteland.”
He also tells us about Brent Hinds’ surfabilly side project, Fiend Without a Face, and we give them a listen too. Oh yeah, that’s the dude from Mastodon alright. “They play with paper bags over their faces.” We break into Waldo’s scotch collection and it pairs nicely. Looks like we’ve got a few good new (to us) bands to listen to on our massive roadtrip.
As the drinks pile up and the silliness continues Megan decides it’s time to turn in. They both have to work tomorrow after all (oh sheeeeeeet). “Oh and you guys are welcome to stay tomorrow too. No need to rush out and find a place.” Sweeeeeeeeeet! How nice are these guys?! Oh Megan wait! We haven’t even gotten a pic w Waldo yet. She snaps this beauty and heads to bed.
What’s that I’m holding? A drumstick that Waldo caught from Nicko McBrain at an Iron Maiden concert. BA
Well now we’re polishing off whiskey bottles and busting into the reserves. Mongol Rally stories are pouring out left and right and we’re roaring (it’s impossible to go on the rally and not have crazy stories). We have no idea what happened to one another for the remainder of the trip after Czechout, so we go back and forth filling in gap after ridiculous gap. Peter eggs me on to tell Waldo about that time I got drugged/kidnapped(?) in Siberia and escaped (but that’s a story for another time). He’s floored, “That’s easily the best Mongol Rally story I have ever heard.”
Ok ok ok the suns coming up now and “Do you have to work today?”, “Yeeeaaah in a couple hours.” Oh shit. Yep definitely time to call it. We thank Waldo again for the airport pick up, the beer and whiskey, the killer SA food, the clean toes, the epic stories, and the place to crash. That’s a solid stack of favors from someone you’ve only met once and haven’t seen in 6 years.
Peter and I cozy up in the guest bedroom on a futon they made up for us. I get big spoon. Sun is starting to come through the windows. Damn. Are we really going to bungee jump off the cooling towers of a power station tomorrow? Cuz that sounds impossible right now