And so I succeeded in lying my way through the roadblocks that ring the glittering citadel that is Windhoek. These have been set up by the Tourism Ministry to intimidate any visitors who might be thinking of liberating the Caprivi or kissing members of the same sex.
Despite these sensible precautions, I managed to sow a fair amount of unrest. Not on any civil level, of course, but certainly within a small circle of like-minded folk. I cannot be more specific at this stage, but let me just say that any man who goes on holiday and fails to leave a string of broken marriages in his wake is not doing it properly.
The gearbox behaved itself on the way back and I happily avoided a second encounter with Rassie and his high-powered hunting rifle.
The border guards waved me through so rapidly that I regretted not having picked up a group of Angolan refugees who mobbed me when I stopped for petrol in Grunau. They were offering a thousand Nam dollars a head. Sensibly packed, I could have got fifteen of them into the boot of the Hyundai. That’s another nice thing about Korean cars. Lots of storage space.
Back in the badlands of the Northern Cape, I was hallucinating after driving for ten straight hours. Chunks of shredded tyre turned into rabbits, forcing me to swerve needlessly. Naturally I never swerved for the actual rabbits since they looked just like bits of tyre. The kill rate was alarming, even by my standards.
When I reached the bustling metropolis of Springbok, I thought it best to stay over for the night. The Masonic Hotel looked interesting and I was on the point of checking in when a dwarf dressed as Captain America tried to wrestle my suitcase away from me. It’s possible that he worked there but I was taking no chances so I kneed him in the face and ran for the car.
A B&B seemed like the safest bet since they are all run by religious fundamentalists or alcoholic homosexuals. But I was looking for a place that could offer me a bed and cold beer without the option of getting raped or converted to Christianity.
Eventually I found a spot high up on the hill run by a demure, soft-spoken Afrikaans matron – the most dangerous sort – but it was late and I needed a place to dump the bags and go out in search of the dark heart of Springbok.
I found it in a place called Carne Casa. Meat House. It sounded perfect and yet it wasn’t at all what I expected. But since I was in a restaurant it made sense to eat something. Besides, I had been on a liquid diet for over a week and my skull was beginning to dissolve through a lack of calcium.
I walked up a half-lit staircase and encountered a brute of a man whose sole purpose was to psychically warn patrons not to try anything funny. I tossed him a one-liner as I went by, but all he did was nod almost imperceptibly. Only later did I discover that he was signalling the rest of the staff that an Englishman was on the premises.
I headed for the bar and tried not to make eye contact with anyone, but I had already attracted the attention of a farm girl with hips wide enough to give birth to a wildebeest. I’m talking breach.
Then she stood up and walked over to me with a pair of lips that could have sucked paint off a wall.
I suspected a trap and reached for the bottle of pink sauce, but it was nothing more than a case of mistaken identity. She thought she had met me in Alexander Bay a few months earlier. I swore I had never been to the place and quickly made for a table at the other end of the room.
I told the waiter I was a vegetarian and he suggested a kiddie’s portion of ribs. Real men, he said, would go for the R49,50 option of unlimited ribs plus a free Coke.
Never one to back down in the face of a challenge, I claimed it for myself. He looked at me long and hard. No body bags, he said. Adrenalin squirted through my veins. Maybe I was in the right place after all. But it turned out that the idiot was talking about doggy bags.
Then a fresh brace of farm girls walked in. It’s not often that a dark horse like me rides into town and it wasn’t long before they were giving me the glad eye and ignoring Uncle Pervy who had been sent along as chaperone.
They were like a pack of fillies in oestrus, straining against their tight, white tops. Breeding is an enormous part of Afrikaner culture and these girls couldn’t wait to start practising.
Unfortunately for them, I lost interest the moment a giant platter of steaming ribs was set before me. I managed to eat 79 before making the mistake of asking for my free Coke. When they threw me out, the room looked like a herd of zebra had exploded inside it.
Out on the street, I tried to get a taxi to take me to the Nababeep Mining Museum but the driver threatened to call the police if I so much as touched his car.
There was nothing left to do but return to my room at the B&B, with its creaking Great Trek furniture, and curl up in the foetal position with my complimentary copy of Die Stiltende Bybel vir Vroue.
25 March 2003