The only way to explore your country, and I mean really explore your country, is to hit the road. Our parents tell tales of days gone by when it was still safe to roadtrip around South Africa, relying merely on your thumb to fuel you where the wind blew you.
These days roadtrips rely more on frequent refueling stops, padkos and packing the trailer just right so you can fit the kitchen sink and the fishing rods in, just in case. Road trips involve toll gates and speed cameras and miles and miles of gorgeous, pure South African scenery and holding it in until you get to the next petrol station loo a squillion miles away.
There’s taking turns driving and falling asleep in the passenger seat, head nodding forward until eventually you jerk yourself awake. There’s Eye Spy and the number plate game, and there’s pointing at cows and sheep.
Yes, you all know what I’m talking about. The good-old fashioned roadtrip that gets planned for months, packed for the night before and starts out at 3AM in the morning, when it’s still dark and you’re still bleary-eyed.
What is it about the roadtrip that we all find so alluring? It’s the possibility. The possibility of going somewhere, and doing something – anything and everything – you could do it all, and you could see it all, if you wanted. Or, you could choose to go somewhere and simply do nothing at all.
This past Easter saw the return of the Caltex White Rabbit, which saw my friends and I harrassing our local Caltex garages, and gathering between us six White Rabbits in the space of two hours. The point was to collect three stickers from visiting Caltex garages, for which you were awarded a small stuffed rabbit toy. The point of the small stuffed white rabbit? Photobombing, basically. Take a picture of you and the rabbit on your roadtrip, at your destination, at a Caltex garage – and you could win money and other prizes for your photobombing efforts.
(Note: Winner will be announced June 100 2011, on the Facebook Page)
Bringing the White Rabbit back into my life certainly had the desired effect and got me thinking about all the many, many roadtrips I’ve taken.
And so, I’d like to dedicate this post to that roadtrip that:
- Used to take place weekly with my father, from Empangeni to Durban to visit my grandmother. My dad had removed the front seat from the car, and placed his African Grey Parrot’s cage in it’s place so Jethro could come with us, and I sat strapped into my car seat with a Rottweiler puppy by my side.
- Would take us to Scottburgh in the summer, with my mother and step-family for a holiday that consisted of hot sticky days on the beach and in the swimming pool, long breakfasts and flooded hotel bathrooms with my sister.
- Would mean spending an entire day sandwiched in the back seat of the between two siblings, whilst the other two sat in the boot – on our way to Mabula Lodge for a family holiday. After my stepdad was chased around the chalet by an ostrich and my younger sister nearly got gouged by a one-tusked warthog after she tried to pet it, we stopped going there, I think.
- Took us to Natal Spa for a (very extended) family Christmas when I was 13 years old, and that saw me puking green Zambuca down the side of the hotel building after we thought it would be smart to spend our Christmas money on getting drunk and mixing green, red, silver, and black Zambucas, running out of money and charging it to our parents’ room bill. Man, did we get it in the neck for that when we got home.
- Happened once we’d finished writing matric finals, and took us to a beach apartment in Ballito. We only left the apartment and went to the beach mainly at night, preferring to spend our days playing drinking games and making the crunchiest, greenest crumpets known to man.
- Saw us getting lost on the way to Flux for New Years’ Eve. A festival that I swore blind I knew how to get to, but didn’t actually have a clue. Turns out that merely hoping that a place will be signboarded is not enough. Seven hours later and a detour through a Chinese tennis club, we found our spot in the mountains and partied for two days straight. Someone had puked in the car we’d borrowed to get there, (I swear, it wasn’t me) as well as spilled a whole bottle of cream-based liqueur that had gone rancid in the sun – needless to say, the trip home was unpleasant.
- Took us to Splashy Fen twice. One of those trips saw me leaving my tent poles at home, and then accusing one of my closest guy mates of stealing my tent poles. He graciously lent me two of his, but it was not enough to keep the rain out of the tent. Needless to say we spent most of our time outdoors drinking, anyway.
- Ended in impromptu naked night swims on Umhlanga Beach after a night out partying and the next day would dawn on us, sitting outside Bimbos drinking coffee and eating breakfast, and just talking.
- Happened when we were meant to be studying for exams. Spur-of-the-moment “let’s go for Chinese’ or ‘let’s go buy pink highlighters’ were often indulged and we all piled in the car, just to go somewhere that wasn’t the library for half an hour.
- Saw me spending 11 hours in the car with The Boyfriend’s BFF after knowing him for a week, so we could drive together and join The BF’s family holiday somewhere off the coast near East London. We spent a few days on the beach, going to the cinemas, going out for dinner at night, lazing round the pool – it was blissful.
- Saw us back in East London two years later – yup. The three of us. We visited museums and memorials and bored my poor BF to death with South African history. It was our first break from The Kid and sleeping in was glorious. As was being able to go anywhere and do anything – driving to Grahamstown to explore was also noteworthy.
- Meant driving with my BF and my Kid to Durban so we could attend a friends’ wedding and The Kid could spend time with his grandfather – also a cherished memory. Sleeping in and indulging in Bread Ahead donuts and cappuccinos and visiting my favourite restaurants and taking our Kid to see the sea.
And I have this face to thank for reminding me.