Afriski without Aitch

Travelling in the kombi! The T5 1,9TDi’s first trip to Lesotho! Strange travelling without Ma, but she’s decided to skip this one (first time!). She’s on a PE-EL trip for Pfizer plugging cancer products (‘oncology’). It’s winter 2009.

Stopped in at Gogo Mary’s in PMB. Had tea. Kids ‘watched’ a bit, but no “303 Disney” so SABC couldn’t hold them for long.

Tried to phone Pierre in Harrismith. When I hadn’t got hold of him by decision time, I turned for Oliviershoek Pass. We stopped on the pass at the lovely thatched restaurant and the kids did their traditional “Let’s tease Dad” by bringing a long grass stalk. “Don’t pull out the thatch!” I said again to their “innocent look”.

Spoke to Pierre on the way to Clarens. In Clarens I filled up the kombi and the Petrocard topped out at R500 – needed R600. Wasted time trying to speak to Firstcard, but ran out of signal.

Saw Destiny Castle near Fouriesburg. Border uneventful

Afriski PIN chalet. We have taken a small unit this time: Two bedrooms with bath only. No other room, and no self-catering stuff (no room for it!). Turned one bed in my room on its side to make room for the microwave on the bedside table. Checked for blankets: Plenty. Checked the gas hearth: Working well. Gas bottle outside: Full. The room soon warms up. It’s here:


Off we go to the ski shop while its still open to get kitted out with skis. Tom wants to “one-board” but chief instructor Rudi tells him not yet. Rudi (who’s admittedly biased in favour of skiing!) says there’s still lots to learn at eight yrs-old, m’boy. Methinks Rudi regards snowboarders as unruly hooligans.

I book a morning lesson for Jess & Tom with Charles. They get a HUGE welcome from all last year’s instructors: Wessel, Charles, Bronwyn, Rudi, Moruti at the ski lift, etc. Spoilt brats.

Off to supper in the room. Sure, I’m a cheapskate. We warm up a meal of Aitch’s pork sausage n baked bean pie for the first supper.

Jess & Tom are on the slope early the first morning, before the skilift has started.

Can we go up the lift?” they chorused as it started up. Definitely not, says their law-abiding Dad. First, you have your lesson with Charles, then he’ll decide what you can do. “Aaw Dad, go on!” No. No means No.

Next minute Bronwyn arrives: “Hey, guys, you wanna come up the lift with me?”

Can we Dad?” Um, of course you can (Bronwyn is a delightfully sexy, fun-loving, dare-devil, can-do instructor and expert skier who knows what she’s doing and has them sussed, so who’m I to argue!?).

And away they go – first up the ski lift. Jessie with Bronwyn, Tom on his own. Tom going all the way up to the very end of the line where the big knobs and instructors hang out. Jessie starts first, comes down snow-ploughing and zig-zag turning, graceful.


Halfway down Tom zooms past her going head-first straight down, hell-for-leather “Yee haa”.

Overheard at the ski lift: One of the new instructors saying to Bronwyn: “Is this the Tommy you were telling us about?” (this after he left his braking a bit late and crashed into the little hut at the foot of the lift, sending snow flying all over, a huge grin on his dial and waddled off to the T-bar, jumping the queue by about three people).

Later: TomTom: “Dad I weed in my pants”. All the way down the slope. Just couldn’t stop the fun long enough to find the loo!

LOTS of washing and drying of underpants, long johns, ski pant inner and outers. Then drying. Fuckit. Being a Dad is the pits 😉

Another day (early morning): “Dad, my tummy’s sore”. C’mon TomTom, you’re going skiing.

No, but my tummy’s really sore, Dad”. OK you can ski for just an hour.

Suddenly Oops! Projectile vomiting! Five big spews – and NOT ONE on his clothes or on the bedclothes or anywhere but on the floor in a trail all the way to the bathroom.

Tom you’re a super-hero, I said. You didn’t hurl on any of your clothes! Well done! “Thanks, Dad”, he said with a proud smile. And “I feel much better now”.

Our Morning Ritual:

Have a wee – don’t forget that! It’s a mission once you’re suited up! Then it’s thermal unders on; Suits on; Blockout on; Gloves, boots, beanies.

Cereal in the chalet; Muti (Ritalin) after that; Full fry-up breakfast later in the restaurant;  Homework on the restaurant deck;

THEN (at last, Dad!): First on the slopes – “Why do we have to wait?”

Midday sleeps and movies on the laptop. Charlotte’s Web gives a last showing before it locks up (a gift sent from the USA, won’t play again in SA). Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and Polar Express (sent from the UK) won’t even play once for us! Pigs! Thieves!

So The Incredibles and The Little Mermaid have to do duty (only after an Earobics session, though!).

Taking the microwave was a definite win. Rice sachets a big hit for suppers; Hot Milo before bed; The last night we splashed out on a restaurant meal.

Homeward bound we stop for a meal on Oliviershoek pass. Kids get to buy themselves a coolie and sweet in the shop. Joy!

The kombi gets 7,3l / 100km as we cruise along, no hurry, dropping from 3222m on the Mahlasela pass down to (probly) 222m in Westville. Yay! 1,9l diesel!!


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