Chintsa: 20 July – ?

On 20 July we woke up to my favorite sound – a fish eagle’s call. This day cannot get any better!

It didn’t.

Bertus still did not want to know anything about going anywhere other than his new spot on the lawn next to the cows and the monkeys. Clayton and the resident camper (he has been here for 3 months) began fiddling with the engine. I lost all interest when I heard about engine spark, points & the contact breaker gap and condensers but stayed to turn the ignition on and off when requested to do so.  What I did gather for future reference: the contact breaker gap should not be more than 0.4mm – the thinnest thingy one apparently use to measure this gap that Clayton had was 0.5mm. It did not look good.

After hours of struggles (round 11am-ish but we did start at 7am) they took the carburetor out and declared that to be the problem. We jumped into Clayton’s dad’s bakkie (who luckily still devoutly followed us from Cape Town to make sure we are okay) and went off in search of the nearest Goldwagen for VW spares. We found one not too far away in East London, got the carburetor repair kit and some extra nuts and bolts for good measure. When we got back to camp Clayton went straight to work and I went straight to the pub. To update the blog. Because that is where the best Wifi signal is – stop judging.


At about 16:00 I decided that I can only hide away from our issues for that long before I have to face the music. I took the trek down to the campsite and low and behold Bertus was not where I left him! He was about 100m further down the road. Not wanting to get too excited I approached with caution. At first  Clayton did not make eye contact but then he looked my way, smiled and I knew – Bertus was working! He walked over to Bertus, turned the key and I heard my new favorite sound: that of Bertus’ engine purring and whistling!

Not wanting to overwork the engine we left it for the night. Clayton’s dad made about 10 Jaffles with 1.5kg of bacon, beef patties, mushrooms and onions before we went to bed –  amped to get back on the road and get to Lesotho.

We woke up that morning, packed up camp and loaded Bertus with all our stuff – which is a very complicated game of Tetris, believe me! Clayton turned the ignition and… nothing. Nada. Fokol.  We tried it again. And again. And again. Then the battery decided that it had enough. Now in a normal car, that means you pop the hood and BAM, battery is right there. In a normal Beetle, it means lifting the back seat and BAM – battery is right there. Not Bertus tho… It meant taking EVERYTHING out of the car as the back seat was our main packing area. After playing Tetris in reverse, we got the jumping cables out and tried to jump-start the car. It did not work. It was a this point that Clayton – who everybody thought had so much patience – lost it. Completely. Now I am not taking any joy from his frustration but, just to let everyone know – I kept my cool.

Our worldly possessions in a picture.

My sister phoned and I told her the sad story. She started Googling and found a Beetle mechanic, Beetle Mania, in East London. We phoned. They closed down a couple of years ago. She found another 2 options but the first one didn’t answer and, after the third “yes” to not a yes/no question, we decided to put the phone down on number 2.

The guys at Buccaneers gave us the number of a mechanic just down the road so we decided to tow it there. We have AA by the way, but why deprive ourselves from the experience of towing a car when one of us – me – had no experience in towing  car or being towed.

Clayton decided that being towed is easier than towing so I started of in the back with strict instructions to keep the rope tight. How difficult could that be? 

After nearly ripping his head off a couple of times from stepping on the brakes, to keep the rope tight (as instructed), he decided that towing is way easier and would be a lot better for his neck muscles.

We got to the workshop and the mechanic took one look at the Jerry cans, the tyre on the roof and then a questioning look at Clayton. But then curiosity took over and he approached, with caution. He listened to our story and decided to help us out. With one call he arranged a new carburetor and told us we can get the car on Monday. Happiness.

When we got back to the camp Clayton’s parents informed us that they are going home. I think they had enough of our issues and craved normal world problems. We bravely waved as our last safety net and immediate support drove into the sunset. With nothing else to do, we went to look for wine, box wine but at least it is Two Oceans Merlot so we are trying to keep it classy. A friend of mine gave me a proper bottle of wine before we left but I am holding onto it until we get to Lesotho. I hope it ages well…

Sorry about the lack of photos – the internet is slower than dial-up and I do not handle slow internet well.


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