On the 26th I woke up early with the all too familiar sms’ from FNB informing me that despite not getting a salary yesterday, real life is still there and it is taking my money. We waved goodbye to Terrence our neighbour and Izzy & Dylan whose names I only know because they felt the need to mark every single item in the fridge with both their names, even the full cream milk I gave Peaches the cat that adopted me for our 7 day stay in Chintsa.
I wish I could say that Bertus was 100% but he was not. He still had hiccups which is the best way I can describe it. We stopped outside the mechanics workshop to change the coil back to the second hand one we swapped for the HDMI cable. The mechanic saw us, tried to slip out unnoticed and went to have a smoke around the corner… Apparently he was fed up with Bertus and us. Coil changed, we started up and covered 5km before Clayton pulled over at the N2 on-ramp to fiddle with the engine, yet again. Not long after we stopped, a guy in a white bakkie arrived and told us it is not a save place to have a breakdown (like you can choose where to have a breakdown?!) but he had a place down the road where Clayton can work on the car – if it can get there. Clayton thanked him and told me to get out and watch his back. A branch did not move without me knowing about it.
Another guy in a white bakkie stopped – told us the same thing. He had a garage and workshop down the road where we can work. We took up his offer and when we arrived we found a Volkswagen enthusiast: Chris. He was busy restoring a split window combi – an absolute classic.
Clayton took the carburetor out and saw that our mechanic, Shane, watched one too many MacGyver episodes. Perhaps he felt too bad charging us for all the time spent on the car because he did not know what the heck he was doing?
Clayton continued to work on the engine for a few hours while I chatted to Chris. I had a brief moment of distraction when my previous boss phoned to ask about something I worked on. Those few minutes made me realize that real world problems might not be so bad after all.
We got Bertus working again at 65% capacity – I include myself because I had the all important task of turning the ignition when instructed to do so and I had that brief stint as security guard.
Chris gave us the number of Charles the owner of Beetle Mania – the mechanic in East London that we could not get hold off last week. We phoned and asked if he can help, he said no problem – bring the car and he will check what is wrong. Back to East London we go…
Charles fiddled with the engine a bit – changed the coil again. Honestly, I cannot keep track of which coil we use at any given moment. After we told him what we were planning, he began to withdraw – not really ready to get involved with this crazy idea. We asked him if he thought Bertus is up to the task and he answered by suggesting we take a spare engine with. Okay then.
We were faced with a very difficult decision: go back to Cape Town to re-plan or continue as is. North or South? After a hectic couple of emotionally draining days we made the heartbreaking decision to go south – I found a place in Port Alfred and decided that will be our next stop.
Bertus drove fine with a little bit or a lot of petrol. Keeping your foot down halfway seemed to confuse him. Clayton therefore decided to drive it like he stole it, and we got to Port Alfred just after 16:00. Smooth sailing all the way there and we were both thinking: crap, are we making a mistake? We did not dare to say it out loud for fear that Bertus will realize that he is actually working, but every 10km or so, after no hiccups, Clayton and I would give each other a sneaky smile.
We got to the place I found in the Coast to Coast, decided it looked a bit dodge and that we were not ready for this crazy story to end in a moldy basement. We therefore did the sensible thing and picked the first caravan park we saw. Medolino.
We pitched our tent on the most amazing green lawns, made food and took out our boxwine to think – the very same brand that got us in this mess back in Joburg all those months ago whilst watching Top Gear Botswana Special.
What are we going to do? Go back to Cape Town and look my dad in the eye, admitting he was right? Hell no! After glass number 2 we decided to take inspiration from Fast ‘n Furious’ motto: Ride till we die and agreed, for clarification purposes, that we will Ride till Bertus dies.