I’m staring at the rifle pointed at me. Tears make streaks through the red dust on my face and turn it into mud. We’re standing at a boom gate in a restricted diamond mine area on the west coast of South Africa, not too far from the Namibian border. I’m in terrible pain and we’re horribly lost. Two hundred kilometers back we were riding a dirt path in Spektakel Pas (Spectacle Pass), an arid mountain range just outside the tiny town of Springbok. We’re on two Yamaha XT600’s, doing a two-thousand-mile round trip, iron butt motorcycle tour from Gaborone, Botswana to Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a new rider, still on my learners permit and not used to dirt riding and as it stands, it is a tough pass to ride as an experienced rider. The road slopes almost 45 degrees towards a straight drop into nowhere and there are no barriers to stop anyone from going over. There are sharp corners everywhere. My experienced husband stands up and takes it easy. I don’t have the confidence to do that and it’s this lack of confidence that causes my demise. I’m doing 20km an hour, sitting down, so I’m going too slow, and I have no control because I’m sitting down. The dirt road is full of little round stones, and it is like riding on ball bearings. My husband disappears around the next corner, and I start chattering down towards the abyss. The only thing that can save me from going over now is to drop the bike. I drop it, but not hard enough and it goes down with me and lands on my butt, hip, and ankle. My face is lying in the pebbles and dust, and I thank the Lord for a full-face helmet with screen, leathers, and good boots. My husband didn’t see me fall. The bike is still idling, and gasoline is slowly starting to trickle out. Lying in that awkward position, the bike is too heavy for me to lift off my butt on my own. I twist over to turn off the ignition and saw my foot. It points in a direction it shouldn’t be pointing in and looks pretty broken to me. I don’t feel anything. Probably too much adrenaline. My husband comes back around the corner, as he could no longer see my dust trail. He lifts the bike off me. No damage to the bike. My hip hurts and my ankle feel like it’s starting to push against the sides of my boot. There’s no way I’m taking the boot off to look. We look at the 5km steep incline where we came from, and we look at the 200km flat dirt road ahead of us we still need to tackle to get into the next town. “Do you want to leave your bike here, get on the back with me and I take you back to the town to a hospital?” “No. I’m not leaving my bike here. This is Africa. By the time we get back, it will be vandalized or gone. It’s a brand-new bike. Let’s get off this road and hit the next town.” I get back on the bike, crying. The pain arrived and it is excruciating. We’re in the desert and decide to take a short cut across the sand in the general direction of the next town. It was the days of no GPS and only paper maps. More tough riding across sand that I’m not used to riding on. This goes on for hours when Stan finally stops and yells, “I see a car! It’s going fast! There’s no dust behind it! It’s asphalt!” Suddenly I got my verve back and we head for the glimmer, only to end up at the boom gate. We’re right in the middle of the restricted diamond area. The guard hurtles toward us. He points the gun: “How did you get in here?!! You’re not supposed to be in here!! This is the exit gate!! You were not supposed to get through the entry gate!! How did you get in here?!!” I remove my helmet and now I’m crying so hard I’m hiccupping. Stan explains to him what’s happened. He takes pity on us. “Go and go fast and do not turn back!” We don’t turn back. Our next stop is in Hondeklipbaai (Dog Stone Bay). We ride into a little resort with cabins in the dunes. There is not a person in sight. We limp over to the main house. The owner’s there. It’s Christmas and they’ve closed the resort, because they have family coming to spend Christmas with them. They could take us out with a 4×4, so my ankle can get seen to, but the truck is out of gas and there is no gas in the area. Someone will have to take an ATV and jerry can to the closest town and then there is no guarantee they will find gas. Everything’s closed because of Christmas. This is Africa. They have a cabin we can stay in until after Christmas when somebody can go and get us gas to re-fuel the bikes so we can get out of there. We have no choice. We gate crash someone’s Christmas family gathering, and we are thankful for the kindness of strangers. That night we buy out their stock of wine in the little bar. Someone had gone diving for crayfish (spiny lobster) in the cold Atlantic and comes back with crates full. We buy dirt cheap crayfish for that night’s dinner. Someone brings out a guitar. We sing songs until the early hours of Christmas morning. The wine dulls the pain in my ankle. Christmas morning, we help them in the kitchen. They have an herb garden at the back of the house full of fresh herbs. Everyone is an artist of some form. A singer, an actor, a painter, a sculptor, a potter, and we end up spending time with an amazing assortment of interesting people. I steam lobster in bamboo baskets with lemon grass fresh from their herb garden. Later I will submit the recipe to a provincial recipe challenge hosted by Service Inspired Restaurants Corporation in Ontario, Canada. I ended up winning the challenge. My prize was a cooking course for two at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California. I am humbled by the experience and share my recipe with you in the Recipes section on the Home Page.
7 thoughts on “How To Cook Perfect Lobster: The Iron Butt Story”
What an incredible story Johanna, thank you so much for sharing! Really enjoying your writing style thus far. : -)
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Thanks so much Deb. It’s a great pleasure for me to be able to share the recipes and the pictures and memories that are in my head. Will take your positive critique to heart and keep on with that kind of style. It’s great to get the feedback.
1. Ek gaan jou stories lees.
2. Ek laaik hierdie een!
3. Ek hou van jou uitleg. (Nice akademiese benadering om eers die IT ‘kursus’ on-line te gedoen het.) Well done.
4. Stan is obviously ‘n tipiese biker…
“He lifts the bike off me. No damage to the bike.”
5. Lekker skryf!
6. …en kook!
Nee jong. Dis ek wat gevra het of die bike ok is. Die dag toe ons SA verlaat het ek die mooiste nuutste FZ6 gery. Toe ek hom gaan verkoop was daar trane in my oe. Bikes is in my bloed. By my pappie gekry. Hy het my saam hom laat ry van klein dogtertjie af 😊
Great story Johanna. Always knew you’re one tough lady!
Sometimes Rita. Sometimes not 🙂
Wonderful story–always like a happy ending.
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