Tomorrow marks a year since I shoved the last of the blankets and sleeping bags into the car and prepared for the Groot Trek. Joziburg™ to the Garden Route.
It is the biggest step that I had ever made in my life. Uprooting myself from my hometown, ripping my teenager away from her friends, bundling the dog and the parrot into a combustion-engined metal box, and sending the whole lot of us hurtling down the N1 and beyond.
People sometimes say that things like this feel just like yesterday – I beg to differ in this instance. It feels like it happened to another person. I have to look at TimeHop or my Facebook history to grasp the enormity of what I did, and even then… I am bamboozled by some of the images and observations.
I was exhausted, so utterly and completely exhausted, that I no longer paid attention to the “things I must do”. Luckily, I’d had the foresight to plan the journey to last three days – as opposed to the two days that most holidaymakers would – so we only drove for a little under three hours before our first stop outside Bloemfontein.
We had been sleeping on the floor at our old house because the removal truck had taken everything away five days before, so the sight of real beds with real mattresses was incredibly welcome. Add to that a delicious solid dinner provided by an attentive hostess…we were sated.
On the third day, the “big stretch” beckoned. Colesberg to Knysna.
I need to detour a bit here. Some ten or so years ago, I was in a car accident that left me with a deep-seated fear of driving. Imagine now, how I coped with over 1000km of horizon-busting tar? They say “suck it up, buttercup”. So that’s what I did. Sucked it up. No one would be there to save me. If I had a meltdown alongside the road, I would not be able to send an SOS and have some white knight rescue me. Shrinking violets never last long in the Karoo.
And so we headed for Uniondale via Graaff-Reinet.
The parrot would occasionally make an observation, in her very avian lingo. The dog would whine every few hours for a toilet break. The teenager would comment about the lack of food.
We dealt with it. The properly polite dog accompanied us into a restaurant, and the parrot held court in the front seat of my car (windows rolled down a bit) while a very chilled carguard looked askance at the car containing said parrot, while we ate.
Parrot, teenager, and dog all napped while I drove through the Valley of Desolation beyond Graaff-Reinet.
Lootsberg Pass – a trip down memory lane from road trips past as a child.
Uniondale. And a short resurrection from sleep for the teenager, who was looking for the ghost.
Unsurprisingly, Uniondale up until the turnoff towards the Outeniqua Pass was scenic – but I was the only one who saw it. And I loved it. I know now that it is a trip I need to do again so that I can extract the astringent juices of experience from it.
We stopped halfway down the pass. I had an amazed teenager. A bursting dog. And a nonchalant parrot.
We had done what I had only imagined we could do.
And we are here. One year later.
Make no mistake: it has not been easy. I have drawn on reserves of faith in myself that I didn’t know I had. (My faith is in myself, and nothing else.) I have stared into the darkness, at 3am, trying to justify this piece of madness. Asking how I did it. Why I did it.
And yet? What else could I do? I am the master of my fate. I hold the keys to my success. I may need help and love and support, but at the very end it is only I who will be deciding.
I decided. I did. Here I am.