Klaus

I have met many Germans in my life. I have lots of German friends even. They’re like all other people, just different, like all other people are different too… One of the things I like about Germans is that it’s fun to hear them speak English. They go to “zee” toilet. Well, you know what I mean. Schwarzenegger-English I ll call it. It so happens that in Cape Town there are very many Germans so I keep sensing them everywhere.

As always in any foreign country I make some friends in South Africa as well. I find on my travels that the car rental place is always a good place to make a friend. You might get a free upgrade or they don’t look so exact when you bring the car back with some extra scratches. It happened to be that near where I was staying in Cape Town, in the suburb Rondebosch, is a German car rental place. It has a bunch of older German cars standing around and it looks a bit chaotic, but I still have a good feel about it.
The owner’s name is Klaus. A probably 70 year old guy who is clearly unhappy with being stuck in his garage all the time. The first time I come visit him it is just before Christmas and we agree on me renting an old BMW after Christmas. I do also wish him a pleasant time with his family for Christmas.

When I come pick up the car after a coupe of days and we’re filling out the paperwork I ask Klaus how his christmas was. “Horrible” he says. “I had to drive to and from the airport and I was in the office most the time.” Clearly he has all kinds of problems on his plate. He paused a moment, gave me a friendly look and helped me further. Klaus’s assistent Basil shows me the old car and how it works. He tells me there is no radio front unfortunately. “It somehow got lost, we ordered a new radio.” An hour later when I’m driving I find the radio front under the floor mat and I can listen to some good tunes.

The Garden Route in South Africa is beautiful. Driving down in your very own silver BMW is extra special. It’s surprising how European the country feels. Roads are perfectly fine. There’s just some occasional jay walkers on the road. (People will just walk slowly across a highway without any fear or respect.) Well, this is Africa after all.

Knysna, Plettenburg Bay and Wilderness are beautiful places. I enjoyed the beaches, did nature walks, made friends. A full week of good experiences, socializing and tanning. On the way back I dropped off a lady from Iran with an unspeakable name a couple towns further, I met her in one of the backpackers places and then ran in to her again another place. She has been travelling for a couple years already and told me about many places she had been to.

Back in Capetown I come home one saturdayevening really late. It’s dark and I’m not thinking clear… The way I’ve gotten used to locking this old BMW is just by pushing down all the buttons on the inside, as the key doesn’t work properly on the outside. This way ofcourse if you forget to take the key out of the car, but do lock all the doors, you are running in to trouble. This is exactly what happens to me. Key inside. Me outside. I call Basil right away. He sounds tired and tells me to go to Klaus in the early morning. He’ll be there and there should be spare keys somewhere in the office.

When I arrive with my taxi at the garage the next morning, Klaus finds some keys, but he is absolutely not sure if these are the right ones. He tells me he won’t be around the rest of the day and Basil is preaching at a church. So he looks at me patiently again and says: “take zee blue mercedes no extra charge, if zee key doesn’t work you can use that car and we’ll zee tomorrow.”

Turns out the keys did work. And for a full day I am the proud “owner” of a Mercedes and a BMW. I must have been the happiest guy in Cape Town that day. Although, you can only drive one car at a time…

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