Preparing for the Take- Off
For three-and-a-half years we worked and lived in Sierra Leone, where my husband, John, managed a large project. It was very challenging and involved long hours. In June last year, just as the Ebola outbreak was taking hold, it was time to leave that interesting but difficult country and retire to our flat in Durban. One of the first things we did was to buy a Toyota Land Cruiser 78 to convert into a campervan. Owning such a vehicle, kitting it out and exploring Southern Africa was a long-held dream. (This is the kind of vehicle that was used in Sierra Leone as ambulances and people carriers − on those roads, we did not use 4x4s for fun; just getting to the airport was an adventure.)
There were only a couple available in South Africa, and John had to fly to Johannesburg to fetch ours. It is beige in colour and looks as if it belongs to the SANDF. I am hoping that this will make it perfect for game spotting, as wild animals may think it is just some large beast. John’s family used to give their cars names, so, when my sister referred to it as our tortoise, John fancied the name uFudu − the Zulu word for that slow-moving, self-contained creature.
So, officially, it is now uFudu… but who am I kidding? I could not even call my kind, supportive, late mother-in-law, ‘Mom,’ let alone learn to address a car by name. (I am talking about 43 years ago, when young women went from calling their mother-in-law ‘Mrs Whatever’, to Mom. Now, one is on first-name terms from the word go – so much easier.) To our frustration, the container with all our goods, including our camping gear, sat in the harbour in Freetown for 11 weeks. When it was finally loaded onto a ship, it took another 6 weeks to arrive in Durban.