Tears and beers
By the time we had to say goodbye to the sanctuary I was overwhelmed by emotion.
There were teary farewells
But an invitation to visit again
All of a sudden it seemed we were back at OR Tambo airport and having to deal with a whole new reality.
It was difficult to get my head around
And who was the bright spark that decided it was a good idea to hire a car at the airport and navigate SA roads to meet MM an hour away?
Oh yes, that was me
What was I thinking??
It was my job to drive and Dad’s job to operate the GPS. A helpful fellow who’d seen us waving the GPS around out the car window came over and told us the GPS would pick up our signal once we were out of the carpark. We didn’t have a map but I knew from correspondence with MM that we needed to get on the R21, and something about the Krugersdorp exit. The kind man pointed us to the rental exit and said “Don’t worry, you’ll be right once the GPS gets a signal"
We found our way out of the airport onto the R21 and thought we were doing very well driving in a different country
Only trouble was that a big black cloud lay thick overhead and it was taking forever for the GPS to pick up the satellites....
Meanwhile, was that an exit sign saying something about Krugersdorp??
Oh no, we were in the wrong lane and headed to Pretoria!!
Sleep-deprived, lost, on the verge of tears, I did a u-turn at a roundabout, and turned into a petrol station to buy a map.
Oh dear, they didn’t sell maps
Phoned MM in a bit of a panic.
Now, I thought to myself, how do I come across as a bright and cheery Aussie about to stay at your house for two nights when I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown? All I could stammer out was "we’re lost”.
MM was just wonderful and very patient with the increasingly anxious Aussie on the phone.
“Mmmm, mmmm, yes, yes....” she said, summing up our situation.
Then very calmly MM instructed us to go back down the N1 to Joburg and take the N14 Krugersdorp exit.
OK, roger that, over and out
Intense concentration was required to drive as seemingly suicidal drivers sailed past us at supersonic speeds.
And I thought Sydney traffic was bad!
Driving driving driving, looking out for the N14 exit sign. Where was the darn thing? Started to worry that we had missed it again so stopped at a Total petrol station to have a rest, settle the nerves and buy a road map! Phoned MM again to let her know where we were. “Not too far now until you’ll see the exit to Krugersdorf” she said. Hooray!!!
So off we went again. And I don’t know if it was because we were very tired Aussies, but the road signs in SA seemed very hard to interpret
Was that the exit road? Or is it the next one? Oh no, it was the first one!!
Like a total tourist I completely flouted all the road rules to drive up the kerb and over a grassy verge onto the exit road.
(Luckily no tortoises were injured in the reckless manoeuvre
Thank goodness, we were getting closer. Next we had to look out for the signs to Lanseria Airport on Malibongwe Rd. Easy done. Found Lanseria Airport, but where was that big Lion Park sign MM said we would see?? Pulled over and called MM for the 3rd time
Told her where we were and praise the universe she said we were only about 3km from Maggie’s Farm where we were to meet
When MM pulled up beside us I leapt out of the car and raced over to give her a big hug
I have never been so happy to see someone I’ve never met before!!
Then all we had to do was follow MM back to her house.
And thankfully, MM knew a thing or two about Aussies
She had a fridge full of ice-cold beer!!
After unloading the car, we settled down with MM and her furry friends to toast our eventual arrival and ease away a few of the tensions. Over a few more beers and a delicious dinner that MM had obviously slaved over for hours, we chatted more about the week we’d just had in Zimbabwe. This brought memories and overwhelming emotions flooding back to me, so when MM asked if I was OK, that was all it took for the flood gates to open.
I felt sooooo embarrassed
Fancy blubbering away in front of this wonderful woman we had just met, who had so generously invited us to stay.
As it turns out, who better to have a breakdown in front of than MM??
Dad excused himself and went to bed early, while MM gave me the space and “permission” to just let it all out. We stayed up to all hours of the evening, with plenty more beers and tears. It was exactly what I needed and by the time I went to bed I knew I would be back to my usual bright self in the morning....
Apart from a slightly seedy feeling
I was much better the next day – and not a tear in sight
MM had planned an outing to Sterkfontein caves. What an amazing place. The very cradle of humankind
On the way back to MMs, we stopped at her favourite SPAR to stock up on supplies for our upcoming trip to Kruger.
Oh, and we also needed to replenish the beer stocks
That evening was lots of fun, chatting away over another of MMs yummy dinners, and a few beers of course. We were much more sensible than the night before and went to bed at a reasonable hour to be refreshed for the special breakfast planned for 8am the next morning.