Klaus hands us the final piece of paper work needed to complete the car rental, his thick German accent reminds us: “Remember boys, she’s old, no long trips, she’s a city driver, low mileage, lower speed.”
Three weeks later, our 1998 Toyota Tazz weaves it way through the mountain passes of the Cederberg Wilderness, 240 km North of Klaus’s ‘German Auto Rentals.’
About every ten minutes, a Range Rover Safari rig roars past us, unhappy with our 20km pace, engulfing our car in a cloud of yellow dust. But often, right after the pass, a thumb or shaka would slip out of the driver’s window, amused by the low suspension car with a blue and white igloo cooler strapped to its roof, crawling along roads usually dominated by 300 horsepower machines.
Each time we pass over a good size rock, my ass clenches and my backs arches, awaiting the torturous noise as a slab of broken boulder scrapes along the bottom of our 4-gear wagon.
The temperature in the arid valley is exacerbated by the five bodies stuck to the torn seats. The air conditioning doesn’t stand a chance. My thigh sticks to the one next to me. My knee’s are pressed tightly into my chest; a case of cold Black Labels occupies the floor space below me. I lean my head out the window for an escape from the sweltering heat.
Then I see it!
The perfect drop in, the cleanest line, the ideal turn space, and even a fifteen foot mando-air carved delicately into the side of the mountain. Suddenly, the jagged rocks are disguised by fluffy pillows of powder, the dry cedars become maps for tree runs, and the the crystal clear pools of water are held still by thick walls of ice.
The cooler on top of the car is replaced by a rack of cleanly waxed skis, and the driver now navigates slowly to avoid the streaks of black ice lining the mountain pass. My sticky cotton shirt becomes hidden beneath layers of flannel and down.
“Holy fuck boys! That was a huge rock! Someone get out and make sure we didn’t loose any parts down there!”
The warm rocks press into my knees as I peer under the car. My laughter echoes off the mountain walls.