What can go wrong, has gone wrong ….. Murphy’s law, my friend
As I hurtled down the N3 from Pietermaritzburg toward Durban, desperately trying to slow down, I could not ignore the heat and the humidity. My car’s air conditioner had become temperamental since we left Namibia, hence we had to revert to occasionally opening the windows to let some fresh humid air into the car. Desperately trying to slow down, my car’s dashboard lights flashed some warning signs i.e. “Brake Pad Warning” and I could feel vibrations when pressing on the brake pedal. Not a great warning sign, when on a road trip during the festive season. Despite the warning signs by my car, we arrived safely in Durban. The time spent in Durban with friends was relaxing despite being smothered in the Indian Ocean inspired heat.
Setting out for Swaziland on the 2nd of January, was meant to be a non-eventful drive through some parts of Mpumalanga province, however the Gods of Road Trips would have it otherwise. The trip had been non eventful thus far until some 20km outside the town of Piet Retief. I noticed that my car was not accelerating as it normally did, there seemed to be a loss of power. Shifting gears down and then up, confirmed my belief that there was something wrong. The road curved and transitioned into a downhill slope, crossing under a bridge, as we were going down the slope, I began to apply brakes and…nothing happened…my car was picking up speed. Looking at the dashboard, I realised that all dials were non-functional and my car had switched off. I have felt fear at times, but there is a difference when you feel fear and you are not in control of the situation. I had flashbacks of pulling up the handbrake to slow down (I saw myself as Tyrese Gibson in Fast and the Furious) but something told me that, at the speed the car was moving at, the car would flip and tumble. My girlfriend had noticed but she seemed to be calm as well, as I told her that i was not in total control of the car. The momentum of the car carried it quite a fair distance up the incline once we had gone past the bridge. As soon as the car came to a stop, I quickly pulled up the handbrake.
We all make plans, resolutions etc. on how we want to achieve certain goals and aims, this might be in personal spheres of professional spheres. However, life does not adhere to out plans, we can plan for all the issues that could occur and draw up contingencies but it is nearly impossible to think up of every single scenario that could happen to you. This road trip had shown me that so far. It seemed that Murphy i.e. Murphy’s law: “What can possibly go wrong, will go wrong”….. was constantly with us on this road trip. I have not gone into the rest of Africa yet and I have already wrangled with legal authorities over my car, massive traffic fines, been locked out of my car (at a cost to my wallet), endured the spectrum of stomach ailments (they say travellers bug), air conditioner broke down and now this ……… After spending 2 days in Piet Retief, I walked to the service centre where my car had been dropped off by the tow truck service and I was informed of the extent of the damage. This put paid to the road trip, staying in Piet Retief was costing more than I liked and my spirit of adventure died the moment I heard the extent of the damage. And so, after 5500km in 2 weeks, my car had decided to give up on the road trip! (sure signs to upgrade!)
News I did not want to hear…. Money I had no budgeted for … 2 days later, I was emailed the quote to repair the car. I was informed that it would cost R18 500 ($1000 +) to get all the parts and to fix my car as my cam belt had been stripped and there was irreparable damage in the gears…I stood, rooted on the spot with my mouth wide open, hoping that someone would tell me this was a joke. The entire trip into the other countries was going to cost me around the same amount hence this was a shocker to the system. . No matter which way I looked at this scenario, this was a disaster and a costly one. All the options to try fix the car, or tow it were all financially not viable. Part of me was regretting buying a cheap imported car…this was a nightmare
This would necessitate, re-planning of the trip. What once was meant to be a great expedition into the Home continent from South to East and North has had to be truncated to a meagre number of countries. In such situations when life does not go according to plan, one begins to rationalise and console themselves with the reality. I find myself saying “It is more about the journey than the destination”. It had always been about Africa for me, seeing as much as I could. D. Eisenhower said “ In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”. I had plans and alas Murphy, who has been my companion on this trip has laid his law down once more for me. I had initially planned to visit 22 countries and then over the course of re-planning this came down to 17 and now I am faced with the stark reality of only visiting 10 countries. However, despite the financial setback, the trip will go on and I will resume from Johannesburg to either Botswana or Zimbabwe once I have completed the process of planning again.
Continue to reach for your dreams, despite the setbacks….
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