Josef Gymnich

Cnr. Banghoek st. and Van Ryneveld st., Stellenbosch, South Africa

2010 / 04 / 15 17:52

‘I’ve already been in Cape Town for 4 weeks, and now I’ve been cycling around the area. It’s fantastic. I came to Cape Town first in 1968 -  I left Germany in 1966, when all the hippies went to India, and I went too, by car, from Germany. I sold my car in India, and took a boat in 1967 from Bombay to Mombasa. When I arrived in Kenya I ran out of money, and then everybody told me to got to South Africa, because I’m a plumber and central heating, and I will get a job there. But I only made it from Kenya to Tanzania and they offered me already a job in Tanzania, working on an oil pipeline between Dar es Salaam and Ndola in Zambia. I worked there for about 6 months. In the end when my job was finished I took my money and travelled all the way to Cape Town. Then from Cape Town I took boat to Lisbon, Portugal, because at that time boat fares were much cheaper than airfares. So this is now the second time that I’m here. That’s 42 years! I can’t recognize anything! The city itself has completely changed. there were no high-rise at that time. I flew form Germany to South America about 6 months ago. I’ve been cycling through north Argentina and Uruguay, and then a cheap airfare came up so I decided yes, fly to Cape Town and then cycle home to Germany, all the way by land. For now I’m staying here in Stellenbosch. On the 4th. of May I’ll be leaving, first to Namibia. I bought this bike in Germany. See, there are a lot of folding bikes on the market, but on most of them the weak point is the point where they get folded. When you do a lot of traveling on a bike you need to take some luggage on the bike, and this bike you can load it up with 200 kilograms, no problem. The other folding bikes, if you travel rough roads with it, will break after 3 months, gone. This one is very, very strong. I’ve already traveled through India with it, through China, Russia... but nice parts, hey. If there are rough parts, or deserts or something, then I take the bus. Or in Russia I took the train. I ordered some new tires in Cape Town, because these ones I bought in South America and they’re not very good. They didn’t have any in stock - you know Schwalbe Marathon Plus? They’re very good, they have a puncture shield in it. Yeah here, ha ha, when I cycled form the airport to town, after 3 or 4 kilometers I had already a puncture - you have all these small thorns here! I’m 63 now. I stopped working in 2002 when I was 55. There are few options what you can do - many people at my age, when they’re finished working, they are happy to sit on a bench and wait until death comes. And I didn’t want that. For me it’s no problem to go across Africa or Asia or anywhere else. Many people think it’s too dangerous and all this, but it’s not. People everywhere they all just want to make a decent life, and some criminals you have everywhere today, even in Germany, everywhere, you see. When I’m cycling, first of all it is my transportation, my taxi and my fitness studio - with a fantastic view. It doesn’t cost any money. I think it’s stupid, ha ha! - some people cycle for maybe a few kilometers and then they go into a fitness studio, they pay big money to go to a fitness studio! Ha, ha! I don’t care how long it will take me to get back to Germany - I have no time limit.’

Stan Engelbrecht

Index            <            >