This is a short story about my train journey from Johannesburg to Cape Town. As you can guess by the title, it will be similar to the movie 127 Hours except without the hiking, dismemberment, or anything else that is in that movie because I have never seen it.
Joburg to Cape Town should take 26 hours by train.
It should be a scenic journey with like-minded travelers sharing alcoholic beverages and taking pictures for Instagram.
IT’S LITERALLY NOT ANY OF THAT.
First, as any self-respecting traveler should, I read the reviews for this journey. They said things like, “be prepared for delays” and “bring snacks”. Naturally I figured those reviews were from privileged travel newbies that were constantly hungry and thought 30 minutes was a delay.
I have never been more wrong.
I’ll be completely honest here – most of the journey was smooth sailing until Kimberly (for all those named Kim who are reading this [Wan, Tsang, Kardashian, etc.] I apologize). Kimberly is the city from which my roommate hailed.
My roommate came in at 11:00pm, barely fit through the door, and spoke 3-4 English phrases so we didn’t talk much. And this I swear to you: at 11:15pm this unnamed human began to snore as if uninhibited air circulation throughout his lungs and esophagus was a complete impossibility. I tried pillows, ear plugs, headphones over earplugs, making loud noises to wake him, etc. but all failed. The solution: walk 25ft to the next train car and sleep in an unused room. True story.
Remember when I said the journey should take 26 hours? I added four hours to that because I expected a bit of a delay, so my expectation was a 30 hour adventure to a new and beautiful city. Long story short: 100km (~62 miles) from Cape Town the train in front of mine derailed, which added a cool ten hours to the journey. I don’t know if people were injured or the cause of the accident because very few people spoke English and I speak zero Afrikaans or Zulu. I never saw the train.
Here’s where things get interesting though.
My roommate tried to steal my laptop, shoes, and water bottle. Like… at least leave me some water, bro?
I’m almost certain that this person was either senile or had some sort of dementia, because he left all of my actual bags and took my laptop while the train had stopped (not at a station). I had just gone to dinner and the kitchen was closed so I headed back. No idea what would’ve happened if I had been able to sit down and eat.
After yelling at the guy for around five minutes, I just decided to pack up my things and move to a different room. At this point in the trip nobody cared where anyone stayed, we were about three hours away and no other passengers were going to board the sleeper train. I never got the guy’s name and I doubt anything I said registered – all he did was say sorry, then kept packing.
There’s not really anyone to tell and if I filed a complaint about the delay I would be laughed at hysterically and publicly shamed.
BUT, now I am in Cape Town, South Africa and it’s past midnight so I’ll get to bed. Feel free to ask questions – I’ll respond when I wake!