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Motorhome Mania

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Story and photos by Richard van Ryneveld

I have gypsy genes in my DNA. I am sure a shrink could give you a wordy explanation of why this is so, but I like to think it has something to do with my Boer ancestors on my Gran’s side who trekked up to Kenya after the war of 1902. Or perhaps it was our wanderings in my childhood, from East Africa down south to the Cape; we travelled in a mobile home made from a Bedford bus – one of those typical old buses that you see all over Africa, usually with their roof stacked high with bags of mielies, and bicycles, and the occasional goat. We’d bought it from my aunt and her family, who’d come down from Kenya in it.

The next motorhome came into my life when I was in my mid-30s, and decided to swop a 1-bedroom flat in Lansdowne Road, Cape Town, for one of the ugliest motorhomes ever made. Built from the chassis up by a Knysna yacht builder, it was a monster on the outside and a masterpiece on the inside – featuring teak, yellowwood, stinkwood, and brass gimballed lamps; everything the yacht builder had scrounged over his lifetime. It was built on the chassis of a 1958 International truck and powered by a 7.8-litre V8 petrol motor.

I lived in her for a few years and did many trips up the west coast to 18 Namaqualand, Cederberg and the like. But, eventually, that one got sold. Even with the comparatively low price of fuel back then, the 7.8-litre V8 petrol motor was responsible for some frightening fuel bills.

Then, a beautiful maiden called Dominique finally melted my cast-iron traveller’s heart. I even moved into what I’d always considered the blandest, most boring suburb in the Cape. (No names, no pack drill.) I weeded and mowed the lawn, too! I hadn’t sold out completely, though. We finally moved out of the city and into my mom’s home in Greyton, after her passing. Dominique was aware of my motorhome passion.

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