Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Test Drive to Angies’ G-Spot

The mechanical examination of N’doto was behind us and Easter weekend was upon us. Given that Hein and Karl were present at N'doto's diagnostic visit I thought it a little surprising when they both suggested that we might enjoy a few days at Angie’s G-Spot located in a valley at the bottom of a steep pass.

“How bad is the road? Is it worse than the seven passes road that we took back from George where we bought the tent?” I asked.

“It’s worse, yeah, but you’ll make it. It can be cold up there so bring an extra blanket,” said Hein.

“I admit that a place called Angie’s G-Spot sounds intriguing but I’m worried about taking N’doto on rough, steep roads before she’s serviced. Besides that, the high lift jack we ordered hasn’t come in yet. What if we get a puncture? We’re just getting used to right hand steering and lift side driving, and we aren’t too good at either yet.” I paused, trying not to sound like a nervous Nellie….  “Wait a minute, isn’t this the same road that you took a spill on your motorbike a few weeks ago? The steep, gravel road with the hairpin turns? The motorbike that’s been in the shop since then?”

“Yeah, but you’ll make it,” he said with a smile. “Harold and Angie have a great little place. It’s very remote. No electricity but you can set up camp along the river, they have a great bar, and they do meals.”

Scott phoned to see if a camping spot was available and Angie said, “Yes, please come!”

We looked at each other. I said, “It would be good to do a test run.” Scott added, “We have everything we need but a ladder for the tent.” So off we went with camp food and wine and Karl’s ladder.

After 13 kilometers on the gravel road we met the huge machine that had graded the road behind us. “No wonder it didn’t seem so bad,” Scott said as he hit the first pothole. Then we climbed. And climbed and turned and climbed and slid and bumped along on the most treacherous road I have ever been on. The hillside fell away from the road so suddenly and steeply that it was like driving along a 40 kilometer long L-bracket. While Scott kept his arms busy shifting and steering, I practiced my Swahili. “Hatari!” Danger! “Edge. Edge. EDGE!” I warned repeatedly. We couldn’t drive in the center of the road because the left side and the right side together were the center. After getting eaten by a particularly bad set of pot holes, there was a new clunking sound coming from the right wheel.

Forty-five minutes later, after we had found that of the three stick shifts poking through the floor board, the one with the red handle was an extra low gear, I began to relax. N’doto was now making her way up the mountain without stalling and there were no other vehicles coming either way (which meant it was also the inaugural drive in N’doto when we were not passed by at least 30 vehicles.) Then we began to smell smoke. We rounded a bend and an entire mountain side opened up in front of us completely engulfed in flames. The billowing smoke spread across the valley like storm clouds. Did I mention it was windy? The flames jumped and raced and danced up the slopes. It was the first forest fire, the first inferno I have ever seen up close. How close? So close that if N’doto had stalled I’m not sure we could have outrun the flames. 

“Should we turn back?” I asked ridiculously.  There was no turning back because there was no turning around. The road was so narrow we would have had to go back down the mountain for 30 kilometers. We hadn’t passed a farm, a scenic overlook (no room for one), or a pullout since leaving the N2, (or as Marius called it, the N-Tuna.)

“We’ll make it,” Scott said quietly.

“Why does everyone keep saying that?!”

About 15 minutes later we spotted a few buildings and a red Coca Cola sign pointing to Angie’s G-Spot. We were welcomed in gracious South African style, offered a drink, and pointed in the direction of the river where we could set up camp and unfold my house for the night.

We set up our chairs and enjoyed a beer at the river’s edge. We stopped short of setting up camp because as we sipped our beers the wind shifted. The sky became smokier and a few flakes of ash landed on Scott’s shoulder. A dog named Black and another named Cruiser came for a visit. A pig named Chiquila wandered by.

“Oh man. I wonder where the rest of this road leads. Maybe we should carry on.” I said more than a little worried. “I’ll go ask as the bar if they’ve had any news about the fires.”

Harold and Angie were in Plettenburg Bay doing their shopping but a friend of theirs was minding the place in their absence. “What can I do for you?” he asked.

“Well, I’m a little worried about these fires. Have you heard anything?”

“You’ll be fine,” said the barkeep. "You’ll have plenty of notice if we need to evacuate.” Then he added emphatically, “Don’t worry, you’ll make it.” Why does everyone keep saying that?!

I walked back along the river, checking the depth should it become necessary to lay down in it to escape the flames. But it was more creek than river. Behind me, storm clouds were building.

I found Scott sitting where I left him, only a few more flakes of ash resting on his shoulders.

“Well, I’ve been assured that we have nothing to worry about. Let’s set up our bedroom.”

We had it almost completely set up, me on the roof and Scott up the back on Karl’s ladder attaching the rain fly, when the skies opened up and bombarded us with buckets and buckets of rain.

“Hooray!” I shouted back to Scott. “We do have that new clunk coming from the chassis but at least we don’t have to worry about the fire.”

We finished setting up and stood by the rear door under the half of the tent that hangs over the back until the storm finished. After wood fired hot showers (thanks to Lagos the groundskeeper), we retreated to the bar where we spent the evening getting to know Angie and Harold and hearing their stories. (Everyone here has an incredible story.)

“G-Spot doesn’t mean what you think,” said Harold as we were about to call it a night. “Six years ago we stopped at this spot on the river and Angie just kept saying, ‘This is so great. Just great.’ So we set about buying the land and building this spot. The G, (Great), Spot. Today is our 5 year anniversary of the opening.” Drinks all around.

Scott and Tris

Angie’s G-Spot, South Africa