A red-hot ride north – in your dreams, bru

Road­war­rior

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOTORING - HENRI DU PLESSIS

SO THERE we were, Patty and I. In a LaFer­rari, high­tail­ing it for the bor­der cross­ing at Viools­drift. It was built to be spanked, this Fer­rari. And the var­i­ous denizens of the blue light ar­eas were all too busy count­ing the ill­got­ten gains of their days on the take to care a fig about what was go­ing down on the N7. Or up, de­pend­ing which way you held the map.

That road to the desert in­vites you. It does not send a card or make a phone call, it just opens the door and smiles at you, like the door­man of an un­der­ground gam­bling den.

Patty. Like from a ham­burger. I’m the brains and he’s the brawn, knuck­les still bruised from his last mixed mar­tial arts com­bat. But we both love the ma­chine, bril­liant in tra­di­tional red.

I had taken de­liv­ery that very morn­ing. It was 10 min­utes later that we de­cided to make for the bor­der. This baby had to run. We had vi­sions of the road to Wind­hoek and on­wards to Ka­tima, a black snake of a road, deadly in the sun as a mamba, through the desert and into the sa­van­nah.

But first, we had to deal with Viools­drift.

And as I said it, the bor­der post hove into view. South Africa was over, gone, in the wink of an eye.

It felt like years since Patty said: “When you get this Fer­rari on test, we hit Namibia!”

The LaFer­rari fit snugly un­der the boom as we flashed over on to the Namib­ian side, where a sleepy bor­der guard flapped a lazy hand at a large fly. We took it as our sig­nal to carry on and I stepped on it. With the roar, the LaFer­rari left the build­ings and the bridge over the River Or­ange in the heat­waves from the sand. Free­dom was ours.

But then an olive green truck threw sand and stones as it charged out of the dunes to the left. And a brown truck threw sand and stones as it charged out of the dunes on the right.

Colonel Bok jumped out of the brown truck sto­ically, his AK47 slung over a ca­sual shoul­der. We stopped. The LaFer­rari can stop.

Soon, Patty and I were the meat in a Swapo sand­wich. Lots of ex­cited chat­ter en­sued, es­pe­cially our teeth, as the busi­ness ends of var­i­ous AKs kept a beady bead on us while the heav­ies shuf­fled around the car, talk­ing nuts. And bolts.

Soon we found our­selves sit­ting in the shade of the green truck, suck­ing on some se­ri­ous rolled Cuban leaves.

“Come on, smoke it up!” com­manded Colonel Bok and Sergeant Doekvoet as the fight­ers lined up for their turn to smoke some tyres.

Where they learnt to do donuts, I don’t know, but they had it down to a fine art. Then there was the drift­ing. We were drift­ing in and out of con­scious­ness from the heavy nico­tine with which we were be­ing force-fed, while they were drift­ing around a boul­der in the road.

But then a pink Rus­sian Hind chop­per ap­peared over the dune and a big ma­chine gun spewed death from its door.

As the fight­ers fled hel­ter skel­ter, Cubans and AKs fly­ing, the chop­per landed and Chuck Nor­ris stepped out.

Patty and I vom­ited with joy as the last of the Cuban in­flu­ence left us and colour re­turned to our tear-stained cheeks. The Aven­ta­dor es­caped un­scathed. Of course. “Let’s getcha outta here,” the Texas Ranger drawled and un­der- slung the LaFer­rari to the chop­per. Be­fore we knew it, we were air­borne with a cargo of lion gall­blad­ders which Chucky had con­fis­cated from smug­glers work­ing the il­licit Asian dried medicine trade.

Un­der­neath us, the LaFer­rari was swing­ing gen­tly in the 150-knot breeze. Des­ti­na­tion An­gola.

The bor­der post at Santa Clara was non-func­tional. As non-func­tional as I would have been if I had so many bul­let holes in me. But it did not mat­ter, be­cause Chucky had the chop­per at 100 feet, un­der the radar. Right where I al­ways wanted to be. It seemed peace was about to win, when trac­ers flashed up­wards from un­der us. We were draw­ing fire and it wasn’t the kind you wanted for the next braai.

As we went in to land, the LaFer­rari scoop­ing Kala­hari sand, the cul­prit was iden­ti­fied as 32 Bat­tal­ion ri­fle­man Joe Links, who was sep­a­rated from his pla­toon in 1981 and had never heard the war had ended.

Chucky handed Patty a pair of nun­chakus to go sort the man out, while I made tea and sand­wiches to sell to the spec­ta­tors for more petrol money.

All too soon we had to turn back for Cape Town to give back the car. The ad­ven­ture had come to an end.

I just can’t help won­der­ing why even my night­mares have to in­volve cars?

IF ONLY: This is the LaFer­rari of which I dream but have never driven, never mind to Namibia, says the reader.

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