This hasn't just been a drive against the clock with three chums having a giggle. This is also business and as such alien to us. We carry a certain amount of sponsorship with this attempt. The sponsors logo emblazon the vehicle and our website but this is not enough. They want their pound of flesh and therefore need as much exposure as possible. This has taken the form of photo's up until now on the trip but now that the bright lights of Cape Town beckon, the media needs to know. Texaco ( Caltex) have been our major sponsor and will have organized a newspaper to come and take a few snaps. Cape Town Land Rover have offered the hand of friendship and kept in good contact with us throughout. Peter and Rudi call to check on our eta as they plan to meet us on the outskirts and drive the last half a mile with us into town.
Via the Sat phone, I am giving regular updates to Jon Fuller in the UK to back up the fantastic Yellowbrick which has pinpointed our progress via the map you see. We are amazed how addictive this appears to have become for most of you. Comments like "I look at it 10 times a day", "the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing before bed is to look at my computer to see where you are" and "thanks for brightening up my lunchtime when I see how far you have got" reinforce our belief that you have enjoyed "being on the backseat with us". I am so pleased to have been able to share this adventure with you.
Now using the telephone in one hand, typing sms messages on the satphone and reinforcing the Sat nav commands to Mac whilst checking its accuracy on the map of Cape Town made for a busy final few moments. As we passed the airport I had to look to see what was in and the only aircraft that was there was the beautiful Falcon 900, the same as I normally fly. It must be an omen. Passed the quays, under the shadow of Table Mountain and looking for the next exit off the N1 motorway. There it was, Mac had driven this before and happily remembered the landmarks. I was looking for Peter in his white Discovery as he'd advised and there he was on the left. Not only him but about 10 others as well. Wow, how fantastic. There were 110's, Discoveries and even a lovely little Series 1. With hazard lights flashing, they followed us the half a mile to the old, colonial style AA building on Sir Lowry Road. At the lights, I punched in the time and hit send on a pre-written text to Jon, it said "We've made it. AA building in Cape Town@ 1128." A right turn and immediate left into the basement car park. 30 odd people were standing either side of the entrance waving and cheering and clapping. A horn was blaring, the type we saw on the TV from the World Cup. This was fantastic. I couldn't believe it. All this fuss just for us ?
The Landy was directed to the far corner of the garage. Camera flashes as we drove in. We parked in the corner and were swarmed by the waiting crowd. What was the time ? Yes it was 1128 by the Tacho. I had to write it down on the corner of the map where I'd written the start time so I could quickly work out the total time. 11 days, 14 hours and 10 minutes, a new world record by..........oh bugger it, just under two days. As I got out of the car the air was filled with joy, hands thrust forward in congratulatary handshakes and the thick South African accent, "well done, congratulations, my name is........" I think I remembered 3 names in all but it didn't matter. These strangers were over the moon for us. "How long did it take? What was your average speed? Where did you have problems? Any breakdowns ? Stand here please. I'm such and such from the Cape Times or Cape Radio" We were stars for that moment and we relished it. It was all too much for the Badger faced Super Gob and he gave his brother a well deserved hug and started to blub. In all the emotion of it all and after such a long time in the thinking and planning stage, the relief overcame Mac and he was blubbing as well. Dear me, we're supposed to be British for God's sake pull yourself together Man ! Everyone wanted to hear our story and we were so eager to tell. It slowly dawned on me that this was well organised and with us instinctively following instructions we were moved from a camera team to the next journalist. This was very unnatural for us but the euphoria of the moment carried us along like riding the crest of a wave.
We must have been in there an hour before being directed to park in front of the AA building for team pictures and then hurried to a Caltex petrol station for some PR pics at our sponsors venue. 'Is there anything we can get you lads?" said the Caltex guy, we were staving and thirsty and busting for a wee. Steve Holland called from the states where he had to work to congratulate us and remind us to take some 'Finish" interviews. "Hurry, hurry there is a choir waiting for you at the Mandela Rhodes Place hotel". I put my foot down and insisted we take 5 minutes to sort ourselves out as since pulling into the garage we hadn't had time. The interviews over we followed our sponsor through town to the hotel who, upon hearing of our journey, contacted us about a week ago and insisted we came to have some R&R at their plush 5 star hotel.
As we pulled up outside we were greeted by the manager and several doormen. Then we heard the choir start up. How moved we were by the sound of the African harmony singing 'Welcome to Mandela Rhodes' and Mac started dancing with the ladies, how embarrassing. The singing touched our souls, the deep rhythm stirred your emotional heart. Steve was blubbling again. Then through to reception where a table laid with the mighty Union flag and the South African flag draped side by side, was laden with Champagne and glasses. Words cannot describe how over come we were. We hoped for a cup of tea and some biscuits, this blew all our expectations. Another interview for a local paper later and time to get to the room for a scrub down.
The hotel had given us suites. Fantastic, huge and roomy sanctuaries with a full kitchen and lounge. My room looked out onto Table Mountain herself and the cloud was falling off her top like a waterfall in slow motion. I had to call my family now and relive the past day and the relief in Ann's voice was obvious now that I was safely ensconced in the hotel. The shower was magic. Hot, steamy water and loads of soap washed the dust, dirt and grime from my stinky body. The bath was disgustingly dirty around my feet. I couldn't have worn all that filth in my hair and on my body, surely. Time to relax with a cup of tea. Oh how I had looked forward to this moment. Not for too long though as we were off to Cape Town Land Rover for a traditional 'Brai' and to be welcomed by our new friends. The celebrations would continue.