Even though we went to bed very late last night… Or should I say early this morning? And everyone is still fast asleep. I start packing my things and hit the road. I have a long way to go today. I want to make it all the way home before dark and it’s almost 600KM to go. Almost as soon as I reach the main road. A truck picks me up. I get a ride all the way to Maputsoe. Just a few hundred meters from the border gate in fact.
I cross back into South Africa and start asking for directions to Bethlehem. I literally have to walk all the way through the town of Ficksburg to get to the Bethlehem road. I haven’t even started hitchhiking yet and a few guys stop next to me. They offer to give me a ride to Johannesburg. By now, my feet are already killing me because of my new and ‘way-too-small’ shoes. I tell them that I am not going to Johannesburg but I would appreciate it of they can give me a ride to the turn off at least.
Lucky for me, not long after I get off, I get another ride. They are not going to Bethlehem but I decide to take an alternative route and let them take me to Clarens instead. So, here I am, back in Clarens again. Where, only two weeks ago, I had one of my less amazing travel experiences. As soon as I get off, I notice an abnormal amount of bikers around the streets. I know they are bikers, because of their beards, tattoos, mean looks and leather jackets. I’m sure if I throw on a leather jacket. People would think I’m a biker as well. When I get to the square in the middle of the town. I start seeing the Harley Davidson logo everywhere. Just around the corner and probably hundreds of Harley’s line the streets as far as the eye can see. They have some sort of Harley Davidson event going on. I wish I could’ve stuck around. But I’m on a really tight schedule today so I get going again.
This time, I probably walk 10KM before getting a ride. They also look like bikers. I just sit in the back an shut my mouth. They turn in the opposite direction, 8KM before Bethlehem so I get off there and start walking. Absolutely no one even looks in my direction. When I get to Bethlehem, another 8KM on, I feel like I can’t step on my feet anymore. I find a good spot under some trees and just chill there for a while. My feet need to rest. After about 30 minutes, I get back to walking. I walk all the way through Bethlehem and about another 5KM out of town towards Warden. Finally somebody picks my up. They are going to Reitz so I get dropped off again, only a few kilometers down the road.
I decide that I am tired of walking now and just sit on the barrier next to the road. I get another ride much quicker than I expected. This time I make it all the way to Warden. Another quick ride on the freeway gets me to the Vrede off ramp and now the real fun begins. There’s nothing happening on this road. No traffic at all. I walk for about 2 hours. The sun is scorching hot and I already ran out of water back on the freeway. I haven’t eaten anything today and the pain my feet are in just keeps getting worse. I go into survival mode. I don’t even know how far I walked. And the entire time of more than 2 hours. Only 3 cars drove past me. And 2 of them were going in the opposite direction.
Finally, I get a ride. They are going to Standerton. Then I am only 90KM from home. Great! The people that picks me up has a pickup and they apologize for letting me sit on the back since there’s no space up front. I prefer the back actually. I know Standerton is almost 2 hours away. I lie down on my backpack, feet up, music on, and just relax. Never had such a pleasant ride on the back of a pickup. Another 2 hours later and we arrive in Standerton. Now it’s just the last stretch home. I get a ride, but not before I walk about another 5KM. This time I make it to Morgenzon, a small town between Standerton and Ermelo. Only 45KM left, it’s already getting dark. Luckily I am able to hitch a ride quite quickly this time. I make it home in one piece. My feet, not so much. When I take my shoes off, I learn the true meaning of relief. My feet are covered in blisters and a few open wounds. Great time! I need a few weeks of bare feet now to recover.
But I will only be home for a week. Next stop. Botswana!
See you soon!