I didn’t tell you that at Sterreland, the night before, it had been awful, as our luggage had not been stored in any logical manner so it was difficult to make supper and get ready for bed. At least we had practiced opening the roof top tent and climbing up the ladder several times in our driveway. It was a steep learning curve setting up camp in the half dark not knowing where anything was: you could hear my very ill-tempered mutterings from within the lug-boxes, ‘I can’t find anything’… ‘where are the matches?’ as I frantically waded through eating utensils, pots and food. I knew what I packed in but I didn’t know where. I get very irritable when I am hungry and tired. I guess you are beginning to get the picture that Morag-land was not a very happy place at this time.
Now on the second day it was sunny but a windy 6 degrees Celsius which, for us was cold. We decided to head straight to the next camp and sort out our van when it was hopefully warmer. I was grumpy about everything. It wasn’t Derek. Now it was my cell phone; technology again! Somebody had told us, when we were asking for advice for our road trip, ‘Travelling can make or break your relationship.’ These words were swirling around my head and I realized I needed to own my unbridled emotions and actions. Taking stock of ones behaviour isn’t easy; it’s humbling but I knew if we wanted this trip to work we needed to work together. This became a metaphor for us in our life too: if you want the trip to work, work together; if you want the marriage to work, work together and so on.
There were a lot of ‘gravit’ roads! And many more Buttes (geological term)!
I thought, ‘isn’t that like our marriage!’
We had it in our head that the best place to stay would be ‘half way between ‘here’ and ‘there’ on the map’ ; this was Sutherland and Augrabies falls which happened to be Brandvlei. The road was long and full of road works and we realized we had hit a snag as we finally drove around the very small and sandy village. The caravan park that we wanted to stay at was no more. What would we do if we had no where to stay? We desperately looked for somewhere and eventually, I, in broken Afrikaans, asked at the butcher if there was anywhere we could stay. We were pointed in the direction of Casablanca, a private camping ground, owned by Jackie and Anton.
Anton very kindly shared his firewood, his coals and he even gave us *koeksisters; and we shared their bathroom. I felt like I had been invited into their lives; I, a city dweller who prefers her own company, warmed to this kindness shown us. (*A koeksister is a traditional South African – Malay confectionery. When made, it starts off as plaited dough that is deep-fried and then dipped into an ice cold sugar syrup, flavoured with ginger and cinnamon; the outside becomes crisp.)
Brandvlei is not a place you want to visit. Nothing happens there. It is mostly a dormer town for the salt pans. But if you are passing through and need a place to stay it is rustic and friendly.
Here you can see how desolate it looks. But the people are kind.
When we got to Brandvlei we unpacked the whole car. Anton had mentioned that it might rain so we were in a hurry. I felt embarrassed that everyone could see us repacking the whole car as we had taken every piece of equipment and all the lug boxes out. They were packed all around the car. I have been a private person most of my life and my pride is what caused me to feel embarrassed; I can tell you I learnt a lot of humility on this trip. I felt like people were laughing at us and could imagine we looked a little like the weaver-bird wife coming and tearing the nest apart because it wasn’t to her liking. We managed to sort most of the car out so that we could find our general way around; even in the dark I knew I could find things. Unfortunately I have a subtle need – of looking like I know what I am doing so that I feel in control but what I learnt on this trip is that if you drop your guard and show you don’t know something people are very willing to help you and guide you. Thankfully Derek doesn’t care a hoot what other people think and so we balance each other. We made a lot of ‘travelling’ friends along the way.
And you know from the outside, the scene must have looked funny; watching these characters deconstruct the interior of their van. It is good not to take oneself too seriously and have a laugh at the circumstances. It dispels the stress.
It doesn’t matter if we look a little silly at times!
African trip, Facing my foibles, day 2