The Only Way to Oppikoppi

With 2 buses, a train and over 45 hours of travelling Durban’s own Grant Payne aka mynameisgrant together with neon clad indie rockers The La Els survived Oppikoppi 2011 and has returned safely to the 031 to retell his tale for The Socialite. Check it out…

Pictures can’t explain the road we had to travel – 2 buses, a train and hours upon hours of movement in some sort of transport or the other. 

It began with a bus named Ruth, ironically close to the word truth. Something that was much further than we could have imagined…

Yeah she looked good but her insides were as rotten as the man who had taken us for this ride. Sure her door didn’t close and the gap caused fresh crispy 4’C winter air to pour into the cabin making everyone look like chain smokers the entire way to Montrose. But hey it’s just a door; at least we still have windscreen wipers.

Well, actually just one snapped off blade that the driver is using to wipe the windscreen from out his window. My God could it get any worse? Finally we make it to a garage and out of the tormenting rain, the driver uses a dish cloth to wipe some sort of his own magic “anti rain” potion on the windscreen. He assures us that this will cause any more rain to bead straight off. Bullshit. It now looks as though we are driving through a wet spider’s web. Keep moving – stay on track – let’s make it to this damn festival before sunset. 

On the other side of Harrismith things start to go beyond Ruth’s control and after the first time we got pulled over my nerves were burning. Not only had I nearly eaten the joint I had just rolled but the cops had fined the driver for not having any right indicators. I looked out the window and surely enough a smashed hole was all that remained next to a hazy headlight. We have come this far just get us there and we will find a new bus home. 

We pass the last toll before Joburg and I see a traffic cop running across the other side of the highway flagging old Ruth down- the driver literally, waved it off and told us that they will never catch him, they on the other side of the highway. 

About 3 kms later.

Whoop

Whoop

Whoop

We just got pulled over. Again. And this time it was for evading the damn police. Before we have time to comprehend what is happening the two drivers are swapping places with each other while the bus is still moving, clearly one of them only has a code 10. In all the seat swapping neither of them had pulled the handbrake up, and Ruth slowly begins to slide backwards down the emergency lane.

Whoop whoop.  The cops are hooting, pull the f****** handbrake up, man! 

After some, “negotiations” we pay some African fines. I think the driver “Dan the man” got out of it by giving her a Coke – black gold becomes a reality.

It’s not the same happy road trip, we going into survival mode here…

Just outside Joburg we take an on-ramp to one of the many huge 10 lane highways and – silence. Ruth has gone dead. She comes to a stop in the gap between the onramp and the slow lane. Head in hands, I have seen 18 wheeler’s smashing into broken down cars too many times. The engine ticks a few times and eventually fires up. Hell yes. We off again.  Please just get us there – alive. 

Ten minutes later the same thing happens. Only this time we realize that by the engine turning off, the piece of shit’s brakes fail. Dan the man gears that thing down to a stop. Josh finally calls it – it’s time to get off this death trap. It’s enough.

A petrol station and 5 and a half hours of making arrangements later we agree to abandon Oppikoppi and get on the first bus home. Tarryn Vedder came to the party and found us a bus that would be there in an hour to take us the rest of the way and the road trip to Oppikoppi is back on.

Ruth you slut, we want nothing more to do with you. 

Finally leaving the petrol station, it was already dark, and the worry of getting to enjoy that first sunset – gone. All there was was to just get there.

Finally we get to Oppi at 11 pm- I am impressed and embarrassed that after everything that had happened, I was the only one starting to bitch – claustrophobia was starting to get the best of me as we drove aimlessly around the campsites doing 19 point turns in a 13 seater bus with a trailer.

I couldn’t have cared where I slept that night – camera bag locked safe in T’s car. I needed to let loose these 19 hours of confinement…

The La Els played a tight set the next day, and even though it was hot, dusty and 1pm they drew a crowd and set the vibe for a day that not many South African Sum41 and the Used fans will ever forget.

After a long night of screaming, self indulgence and insane International and local music, I woke up to that damp-I’ve-been-sleeping-in-this-hot-tent-far-too-long feeling. 

If the Train home is going to be anything like the trip up here – my hungover body might just not make it. 

The journey home was almost too good to be true – the shuttle was early, rather than late and there was ample Aircon blasting all the way to the good old CBD.

Half a ton of kit, and an hour to kill we guarded our bags. This station wasn’t what I had remembered – striking cleaning staff hadn’t been there back in the day. I opted to take my leaks in the “ladies” bathroom, carefully avoiding the 2 inch deep puddles evident.

Tickets in hand, only another 16 hours of travelling. It was long, but it was first class compared to old Ruth.

Buzz on, boobs and bongos.

Check out some more of Grant’s epic shots documenting the adventure in our gallery below. Simply click FS for full screen viewing…

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