Stretching my body out, hearing the crisp white sheets crackle around me. Mmmmm this is nice. For once, I was in a nice luxurious bed fit for your honeymoon. Wait a minute…Say what!? That’s right, when we checked in the previous night, there was only one carriage left – the honeymoon suite. We were staying in a backpackers, but this wasn’t an ordinary one, it was a parked train that sat on the beach. Despite it being the largest carriage on board, it was still tiny. The walls were decorated with our damp motorcycle gear from the day before. Despite the lack of gear inside (we left most of it on the motorcycles), we still had to step over or rearrange what we did bring in just to open doors. On the plus side, it would make for quick packing!
Our train carriage room.
When we nipped down to the head of the train for our breakfast, I didn’t like the vibe of the place. Maybe it was because I was tired and needed a bit of a break from all this travelling. Lucky for me, today was the last day on the road as we planned to spend some time in Cape Town. We filled our bellies quickly and headed back to our carriage. We had some time up our sleeves before we had to check out, so I spread all our gear out in the sun hoping it would magically speed-dry in the time it would take for us to get ready to ride on.
We were excited to feel the warmth of the sun on our skin. After all this rain, it only took a few rays to pick up our mood. I just hoped it stayed like this! We couldn’t stretch the drying time out anymore. We slid the damp gear on, despite my attempts to get them dried. We carried our gear out to our motorcycles which just stood outside our door. I placed my top roll bag on top of my bike and started to strap it on. When I looked down to grab one of my tie downs, I noticed something missing. Not believing my eyes, I looked again. Sure enough one of my pannier bags had been brutally cut off and disappeared.
I stared at the empty space in disbelief. I had looked at our bikes on the way to breakfast and had seen nothing out of the ordinary. I wondered if it was gone before then or while we were at breakfast. I have been extremely lucky until now, I have only had two things stolen from me on this trip. A watch my old work gave me as a leaving present went to a new home in Indonesia and a pair of shorts got a second owner on Zanzibar Island in Tanzania. This was the first time something substantial was taken from me. Feeling slightly sick, Mike and I put our loose bags back into our carriage and took off in different directions looking in rubbish bins, under bushes and boats for my pannier bag or anything from it that might be scattered around. But we returned to our train carriage empty handed. There was nothing we could do but to lick our wounds and carry on.
Mike went up to the reception “I just want to make you aware, that you have a security issue. We had stuff stolen last night”. In the background Mike heard someone speak in Afrikaans “Why should that be our problem?” to another office worker, not realising Mike can understand it after all. The girl he spoke to first, says to Mike “ We told you not to leave anything on the bike” Mike looked at her surprised “We actually asked the person on the counter if it was ok and she said yes it was ok, there was 24hour security”. Disgusted with their response and lack of remorse, we loaded the remainder of our bags in a hurry and hit the road as soon as we could.
All day, my helmet was filled with grumpy thoughts about the backpackers. No matter what else I would start to think about, my mind kept on slipping back to it and itemizing what was lost. Both our sleeping mats, pillow, cooking pot, cup, cutlery (other bits and pieces you store in your pot), my sketchbook and other special things I kept flat inside that book. It wasn’t a lot and wasn’t really useful for someone else. But between the expensive sleeping mats, my sketchbook and the treasures that the bag contained, it wasn’t as bad as it could be. The loss hurt, but least we wouldn’t be camping for a couple of weeks.
We arrived into Somerset West, just out of Cape Town, where we were invited to stay with Loren and her husband Alex. They have been following our trip down the East Coast of Africa and have offered support when ever we needed it. I’m actually looking forward to having some time of our bikes and being slightly normal for a change.
The Outcome of the Pannier Bags
Another huge thank you to Mel who organised the postage of the pannier bags, my new carnet de passage, a new jacket and a replacement opel knife for the one I lost. When travelling, you feel a bit useless at getting stuff done at home. Without the help of Mel I would be lost!
Thanks a lot guys, I appreciate all your help and support.