I have a suspicion The Husband knew all along that I wouldn’t exactly take well to the whole “soigneuse” thing. I think he knew there was a risk of me quitting the profession just weeks before the Cape Epic. And that left him wondering who’d be chauffeuring him around and washing his muddy clothes during the Epic. And THAT, in turn, got him booking us a 5-star hotel at the end of Sani 2 C.
So we bade farewell to our gang in Scottburgh on Friday afternoon and made our way to the Karkloof Spa. At about 8pm, we pulled up at the reception of this auspicious establishment and were greeted by a charming gentlemen named Winston. The 5-star treatment began as he handed us little rolled-up face cloths – passed to us with a pair of silver tongs. The Husband did smell like a bergie after his race and I was pretty sweaty myself, so these fresh faceys came in use. Then one of those game-viewing Land Rovers pulled up and Winston asked us to “point out which pieces of luggage we wished to take to our room so that they could be loaded into the vehicle”. He explained that we’d be driven to our rooms in the Land Rover and that our car would remain at reception, at the bottom of the valley.
I think Winston may have been used to welcoming polite British visitors with three pieces of matching luggage each. What he found in us was a bunch of Joburgers and a car full of dissembled bike parts, smelly cycling shoes, dirty laundry in Spar packets and some half-munched Jungle Bars. The thought of trying to unpack the car, pick out our essentials and then repack the car – all for one night – was more than we could bare. We’d been up since 4am. We were tired, we were hungry and most of all, we smelt. With that, The Husband shed his Cool Mountain Biker Dude persona and snapped back into Joburg Businessman mode.
I tried to determine whether it was a bit of a Westcliff Hotel set up, where you physically can’t drive to your room. Unfortunately, Winston was fond of talking around the point. I later realised that his long-winded response was his diplomatic way of trying to say no, it wasn’t impossible to drive our car up to the lodge, it just wasn’t allowed. But at that point, it felt like we were speaking to someone who didn’t know how to answer a simple ‘yes/ no’ question.
In hindsight, the truth was that Winston was probably terrified of what a straight response would illicit in these two highly strung Joburgers. (There had been some throwing of arms in the air and some cries of “this is RIDICULOUS!!” and “we’re LEAVING!!” etc, etc. Totally normal behaviour in Joburg. Duh.)
Eventually, poor Winston gave up and ran inside his office to call the Big Boss. The Husband was summoned to the ’phone and told that “civilian cars were not welcome at the Lodge as they would stick out like sore thumbs.” I then decided it was UNCONSCIONABLE that paying guests could be treated in this manner. The Husband agreed (or at least he pretended to) and we sped off, vowing never to return.
The thing is, we tried to speed off in a cloud of dust. But it was pitch dark, we were in the middle of a nature reserve, we were on a dirt road and we were struggling to find the exit.
Even if we were to find the frigging gate, we’d have to drive 20km on dirt road in the dead of the night. And that would get us to Pietermaritzburg’s industrial outskirts.
The Husband: “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
Me: “If you’re thinking that we’re farking idiots, then ja, I am.”
The Husband: “Okay, you go speak to Winston.”
Me: “No frigging way! You go!
The Husband: “No, YOU go!”
Me: “Er, NO!!! You go!”
Eventually, we turned around and pulled up in front of the reception, tails firmly between our legs. Winston – bless his soul – managed to hide whatever smirks and convulsions he was feeling inside. With all the charm and experience of a hospitality professional who has seen and heard it all, he acted as though we were new arrivals and commented on the beautiful, crisp evening. We mumbled a few replies but mainly just studied our shoes.
Then we dug out a toothbrush or two, climbed into the Landy and spent the next twelve hours in the hotel’s complimentary terry cloth robes. Who needs your suitcase when the champers is on ice?