I Want My Tires Back!

It’s a bitterly cold morning at the Hodge Podge Lodge. I slept completely inside my all-weather sleeping bag with the top covering my head, but as soon as I poked my head out it was meet with air that was below freezing. I tried to get the hot water to work, despite being told by our English friends the night before that the only water to come out was colder than the air. After signifiant fiddling inside and outside with the water heater, I gave up, and soon after that, no water whatsoever was produced by the facets.

We gave a lift to two of our new English friends to the mall, and we set off to find a tire repair shop as we only had made a patchwork solution from yesterday’s accident on the road to the stadium. I was getting very worried about the we we bought as there was significant vibrations while we were on tar, and even worse on the gravel/dirt. While I had checked the bolts as we depart (and our English friends gave a nice stomp on the bolt driver to tigthen them) First stop at the GM centre in town, but it was closed. Looking at our watches, we realized that it was Sunday, so we wobbled over to a Shell and after pumping more air into our tire we were directed down the street.  Pulling up, we realized that this was also a kind of minibus repair depot. Not knowing what to expect, we are directed to the repair area and eventually have our wheel taken off and the damaged one wheeled away. I am desperately trying to get a quote before I am taken advantage of too much. However I’m told by Ket that he first wants to put air in the tire to see if it’s the tire or rim that is damaged. He is quickly off while I am trying to manage all of our belongings that were in the boot because of clueing the back seat for the English, as we are not in a good part of town. Ket disappears and i try to track him down so that I can watch what he does to our tire, but he is gone. He returns with the wheel covered in water and tells me he replaced the rim. It is hard to tell if that’s the case and then tells me that it’s going to cost R950. I’m shocked and am in exactly the position I did not want to be, with the work and product already completed and on my car, and now having ton deal with a 135 USD price tag. I lie and tell him that the car rental agency will only authorize R600, which is why I had wanted to know the price, hoping there is wiggle room. He then tell me “my friend, no, at least 750”. Relieved that there is bargaining room, I catch a break when Ket boss (?) tells him no, R600 is ok. I am still likely being exploited, but at least knock off 30%. We are still out of money so Ket goes with me to the ATM, and I tell him I need a ‘slip’ (what nearly all South Africans refer to a receipt as). That seems to be a complicated request, as I am sure there are very few records and fewer receipts processed at this facility. The delay does give me time to inspect the rim, which I can tell is actually different from what I gave him by the gold treading on the air valve, which all the other tires have blackened out. They seem to have put the tire on better than our guys at the Bosvelder, and after we finally sort out the slip and Ket invites me to return with the other tire, we are off and on much more stable footing than we were before. This calms my nerves, as I had been very afraid that our wheel would come off despite many checks on the bolts and resetting it myself on the N4 the evening before. It is looking likely that the lack of air and smaller size of the threads of our R300 tire was most at fault for the instability.

With one success, we decided to make it a brace and track down the other tire, so that we could have a complete set of proper tires. Alisa had actually read about the Bosvelder in Lonely Planet so we decide to repay their help with a meal and we sit down at the traditional Afrikaner restaurant while trying to learn the fate of our busted tire. We learn that it was given to the tire repair in order to obtain the one we paid for… quite odd, but we down our meal in-between more racial insight from our Afrikaner bartender (the owner of the place).

We are sent down the road where we find our tire and learn that the only repair needed was the rim being banged back into shape. This young Afrikaner asks for only R50, which sounds like a fantastic deal when compared to this. Morning and I try to ‘exchange’ the tire we bought, but he seems to know nothing about it. I try to get him to offer to take it off our hands, (for some sort of cash) but he fails to comprehend, and in the end Alisa doesn’t want to carry around a dysfunctional tire in addition the our original spare which returns to the boot, so we give the tire away. At this point I am simply happy to be done with the entire affair, have our originals tires back, and have the whole ordeal not bankrupt us.

Feeling the great weight and anxiety of driving a wobbling car, we hit Spar for food to make for dinner and spend the night watching the soccer.

Tomorrow we are off to discover if Sun City meets the hype at surrounds the ‘Vegas of the Southern Hemisphere’!

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