Goodbye Botswana, Hello South Africa – December 2021

Our last stop in Botswana was Palapye where we needed to take a PCR test before being able to enter South Africa again.

The PCR test was a quick and painless process and by 9am the following morning, we got our results and drove the last few km’s to the border. We passed through the Botswana side of the border quick and without any issues at all. The South African side of the border proved the complete opposite: TOTAL CHAOS!!!! With no parking available, truck drivers had to leave their vehicles where they came to a standstill in order to run to the control post to have their passport stamped which resulted in queues of empty trucks congesting the road. A “normal vehicle” stuck somewhere between them… tough luck. When we asked the guy at the PCR control what was the next step and how we needed to progress, he said that I could run with the 2 passports and have them stamped, while Stefaan waited in the truck. That seemed reasonable enough, although it didn’t seem to be correct. So I ran up for my passport and while Stefaan ran for his, I jumped behind the wheel for just in case the line would move before Stefaan returned. Luckily he was back before we moved. Eventually, at a snails pace the convoy exited the border and when we thought that the border passing was bad, the road leading up to the border post was a million times worse: I think there must have been easy 10km or more of trucks queueing to cross into Botswana! This was definitely the worst border crossing in these past 4 months of travelling!

Now we were in South Africa and looked forward to kids and grandkids visiting later in the month.

We parked for a while at Joos Becker caravan park in Pretoria: this has been our go to place to park when we are in Gauteng: the benefit of about 20 staff working in the park and so far we’ve been totally alone! We gave Trokkie a clean-up because the granddaughters would have sleepovers and join us on a roadtrip to the other grandpa in Port Elizabeth.

9 December was arrival day and it was a happy reunion at the airport! Unfortunately O.R. Tambo airport parkings are not made for trucks and we nearly took out the boom gate when we exited! The girls were excited to have their first trip in the truck going home to their uncle. It turned out that we eventually parked the truck in the cul the sac just up the road from their uncle and the following few days, they hopped and popped between the house and the truck. This holiday break was all about the kids so we had playtime and sleepovers in Trokkie, hit the trampoline park, went for lunch at the farm and had barbeque at the uncle’s house.

5 days later we hit the road for our 4 day road trip: the girls came with us in Trokkie and mom and dad did their own thing and would only meet up for a braai at night! From Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth is a long drive and we don’t go fast. Even though it was a long trip, we tried to add the odd little activity along the way: driving the whole day is no fun! Close to Bloemfontein, we took the girls to a little community run salt works project and we still have a chunk of the crusty salt in Trokkie, that Chloe picked up and carried around for the rest of the holiday. When we camped at the Gariep dam, we took the girls for a walk on the dam wall the next morning. Our last camp-out was in Hogsback with a bathtub overlooking the spectacular valley. The girsl quickly made friends with the daughter of the manager and it was a bittersweet goodbye when we had to leave the following morning. We met up with mom and dad the next morning and went for a walk to 39steps waterfall, where mom and dad got engaged about 12-13 years before! Special memories.

We hit the road for the last stretch to the other grandpa (pops) and for the following 10 days we would be parked on the verge of Pops’ house with the girls hopping and popping between truck and house. Then disaster struck: Stefaan got a bit of muscle pain and fever and after a PCR test we got the upsetting news: he got Covid! That implied: 10 days isolation for the both of us and missing out on Christmas and fun activities with the granddaughters! Big, big bummer!!!!! We had grandparents/granddaughter times over Pops’ garden wall! Due to Covid rules in USA however, dad had to postpone their return flight to Jamaica (via USA) and that gave us a few more days with the girls after our quarantine to have fun and explore the Port Elizabeth beaches. The girls became “Inbestigators” and Lara was quite adventurous to clamber on the roacky shore and pick up crabs and other crawlies.

Unfortunately all good things come to an end and early January they returned home to Jamaica!

We then drove to Cape Town to visit my sister. Between time spent parked in front of their door and enjoying family time with braais and visiting some wine farms, we slipped out for a weekend to Saldana Bay. We just don’t want my sister’s neighbours to get annoyed with this truck parked in the street all the time 🙂 !

We camped at Leentjieklip, right on top of the beach: perfect place for enjoying a glass of wine while taking in the beautiful views unobstructed by anything but the seagulls lining up on the wooden fence. With the tide rolling in and out we were quite surprised to see baby plovers in little sand hollows on the beach. Next morning when the beach had been cleaned and swept smooth by the tide, the nest-holes had of course disappeared, but we had no idea where the baby plovers had gone! 

We had planned to head north into Africa after our Cape Town visit, but things changed dramatically while we were down there: Australia opened its doors to foreigners again! The moment we knew that, we got our visa sorted out and bought our plane tickets! After 2 years of seeing kids and grandkids only on Whatsapp, we desperately needed to see them in real life!

We had another few weeks before we would fly and took the opportunity to make it into a slow drive back to Johannesburg and seeing some more of the Karoo.

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