AfrikaBurn 2024: 29 April to 5 May

Tankwa Trip Trials and Tribulations

Words & photos: Paula Rutherford

Oh my soul, AfrikaBurn was fantastic indeed. An experience of note. My first of many to come.
Here’s my AfrikaBurn Nutshell:
Amazing 1 hour drive on the R355 dirt road down from Calvinia , breathtaking Karoo sights, brilliantly organized arrivals, mega space to set up camp, cough (dust), super friendly people, every day dress up deluxe, hysterical toilets, no fighting, a wedding with everyone including the bridal couple all dressed in varying shades of purple along with the masses, no agro-ness, chatting to strangers, gift sharing, no litter – anywhere, breathtaking gigantic sculptures, magic evenings when everyone becomes alive, the sunrises blew me away as I cycled frantically to capture the emerging morning light with the night revelers still dancing and the burns of the sculptures were spectacular and so well controlled.
Our van, originally named Beryl the Beauty, was driven by 2 ( 50 something girls). Teething problems at 5 kms along the road: her gear knob sprung off and bounced around her interior. We dashed into the nearest Midas and an incredible fella superglued it back on. The fridge clasp snapped off as we turned a corner with all of our carefully packed food strewn everywhere. Superglue to the rescue again.

Kegan helps at Hopetown

Beryl really stared to play up and broke down on the R369 to Hopetown. We were happily singing along and then BAM, no gear box, a washing machine of nothingness. We were towed for an hour by mechanic Saviour Sakkie from Hopetown. Awesome Sakkie had saved us, and his wife Charmaine , gave us moer coffee and homemade rusks. Sakkie gave us the full tour of Hopetown (350 people) and found us accommodation with gentle Ina at Lavender Cottage. Harold, the owner of the van , drove through the night from Springs, to install a new clutch cable. At 6am the next day we were a day behind schedule, but on the road to AfrikaBurn.
After the Fact of attending the Burn.
We stopped at Tankwa Padstal for the renowned curry and rice on the way home. Beryl then refused to start. Thank you, Johan: he jump-started Beryl. Nothing else could go wrong……
3kms down the road, BANG – other strange (non 2 girls knowing noises) happened. We accepted defeat and chugged back 3kms to Tankwa Padstal. Another Johan and Hendrik came to our rescue, with bad news: the hand brake cable had snapped and wrapped itself around the rear tyre. Beryl had bailed on us! They really tried to revive her, but to no avail. Bliksem.
With hat in hand, I called my sister LooLoo and her hubby Neville in Durbanville:  HELP!!!!!  They were 2 and ½ hours away. ‘Hang tight – we are on our way.’ they chorused.
We spent the day, listening to the Karoo band, singing karoake and chatting to other revelers on their way home. Hein and Susan own the padstal. Day left and night fell. Everyone left. Hein from Tankwa Padstal locked up, but left us the key for the enclosed area to leave Beryl. “Just put the key under the rock!”
Hendrik from Firestone at Tankwa Padstal

Stoksiel alleen in the Karoo. What beautiful stars! An AA van pulled up and asked: “Are you Paula? Well your sister is on her way. We are on our way to save someone else.”
Neville suffered a flat tyre at dusk, 2 kms from the Padstal and came to a stop just outside a farm. The farmer Karel, saw the car through his binoculars and went to investigate. The flat bed they had brought to tow us back to C.T. with, was too short by 1 metre.

Karel and Neville piled we 2 girls into the front of his bakkie and in the pitch dark, flew at 100km along the dirt road (I kid you not) back to their farm . They invited us to stay at their farm overnight. Candle lit rooms, happy boxer doggies, an Aga stove, good brandy and more of Susan No.1’s curry and rice shared with our new friends. Sitting around their candle lit kitchen table was Africa hospitality at its best. The next morning Karel’s wife, Susan No.2 miraculously produced freshly made, steaming homemade bread with butter for breakfast. Heaven! We piled in and
followed Karels motions of slathering the doorstop bread chunks with her homemade tomato jam. Yummy!
While our knights in shining amour went to fix Neville’s tyre they saw that the car had fallen off the jack. They needed a new tyre. While the guys fixed Beryl, we girls were given an amazing tour of their vast farm, by Susan in her 4×4. Our saviours refused to let us drive back to JHB. Neville drove us through the picturesque countryside back to their home in Durbanville. Beryl was #&%^%&! We flew home.

Only in Afrika.
Mooi. Lekker. Incredible.
What a trip.
Will we go back. Hell yes , for sure.
We never felt unsafe. We never felt uncared for.  African hospitality all the way.

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