On Safari with a Bushman – 2. Preparation

Having decided “We’re Going” we wanted to keep things simple.

Over-preparation can cause delays, complications and second thoughts! I took long leave (I asked me, I said yes, I hired a locum optometrist, all good). Trish was between jobs – looking after kids was her current full-timer – so she was good to go. Mario serviced the kombi for us and gave me his usual lecture about looking after it. He told horrific stories about his trips up north in 4X4’s and how terrible the roads were. Especially the road between Chipata and Luangwa, ‘the worst road in Africa’. I made a mental note.

And instead of buying all sorts of stuff I bought a . . . .

drum roll ! . . . . 1975 Bushman Tracker 1 Off-Road Trailer

R27 500. Made in Nelspruit / Mbombela 28 years earlier. It had a stove, a gas bottle, a tent, a mattress, a table, ground sheets, cutlery and crockery, a spice rack and a 45l water tank. What more could you possibly need?

In the kombi I removed the bench seat in the middle row and fitted the single seat for Tommy’s car seat next to the new National Luna 65l fridge (about R6500, if I recall correctly) so we could walk around both sides to the back bench, to which Jessie’s sturdy and comfy car seat was attached.

That back bench seat also folded down to become a double bed, so we could all sleep in the kombi if need be, as I also rigged a removable bed between the two front seats for Jess and for Tom we had a mattress on the floor. While checking the tyres Jacks Tyres showed me a second-hand kombi mag wheel just like mine, so I bought it. Now we had two spares, like rugged okes!

For each of the kids I had a rectangular six-sided mosquito net “cage” made that zipped closed over them once they were in bed and we then lifted up the four corner straps and hooked them to fittings I had affixed to the kombi roof, completely enclosing them each in a mozzie net “Four Poster Bed”.

We were ready to go.

We packed food for three days plus plenty of snacks – Aitch’s forte. The rest we’d get on the way, in line with my motto: Weight is the enemy!

Namibia Birding Trip

Geoffrey Kay, birding optometrist, put together a trip to Namibia in 1986.

We landed in Windhoek, picked up a VW kombi and rigged it up with a nice big hebcooler in the back. Ice, beer, gin & tonic. Now we were ready for any emergency.

1986Namibia Birding Scopes.jpg

West to Daan Viljoen game park where a lion’s roar welcomed us that first night. On through the Khomas Hochland into the Namib Desert. Then on to the Atlantic Ocean at Swakopmund. On to Spitzkoppen; Usakos; Erongo Mountains; Karabib; Omaruru; Otjiwarongo; and Outjo;

Then up to Etosha: Okakuejo, Halali and Namutoni camps. In Etosha we saw a very rare night ‘bird‘; Seldon seen .

Then on to Tsumeb; the Waterberg; Okahandja; And back down to Windhoek.

Spot the kombi at the foot of the Spitzkoppen
Spot the kombi at the foot of the Spitzkoppen
Okakuejo camp
– in Okakuejo camp –

Geoff Kay, Jurgen Tolksdorf, Jill Seldon, Mick Doogan, Me & Aitch; Three optometrists and three normal people.

Spot the kombi at the foot of the Spitzkoppen
1986 birding trip. Geoff, Jurgen, Mick, Jill & us two in a kombi

We spotted 200 bird species that week! Also a new mammal for me: The Damara DikDik.

white-faced owl

Jurgen Tolksdorf newbie birder spotted many birds for us with his keen eye. “What’s that?” he’d say. In Etosha one night we woke up to the b-b-b-b-bhooo of a white-faced owl near our tents. We shook everyone awake and grabbed our torches and binocs and went to look for it. Except Jurgen. He said “A WHAT?” and rolled over and went back to sleep. We searched in vain and got back to bed very late, disappointed.

Next morning after a short night’s sleep, on our way back from breakfast we met Jurgen who had risen late after a long night’s sleep and was now on his way to eat. While we chatted he looked up in the tree above our heads and said “What’s that?”.

It was this!

~~~oo0oo~~~

On Seeking Good Advice

. . and then ignoring it.

I couldn’t believe they wanted R40 000! Forty Thousand! NO WAY!

So I sought advice from someone who really knows cars.

Hi Alan
My VW kombi is a 2005 1,9TDi T5 8-seater – 166 000km.

Repairs needed:
Clutch (R12 800); Brakes (R3 000); Driveshaft (R10 100)
Sliding door not opening; plus 165 000 km service.

I have been quoted R40 537 for the above by Alpine Motors VW.

As a trade-in on a second-hand vehicle (around R250k) they offer me R30 000.

I think I’m ready for a double cab bakkie now. Needn’t be 4X4.

Please tell me what you think. Thanks a lot. Cheers. Pete

(this was in 2012)

~~~oo0oo~~~

Hi Pete.

My value for your kombi: R105 000 less 15 for high kms = 90. Less repairs. So worst case scenario on a trade-in = R50 000.

So their R30 000 offer is taking a chance. You don’t need to give it away, these kombis are very sought-after.

If Alpine sells you another they will do the repairs for half that. Tell them to work a deal and you want 70 as-is on another Kombi.  If not, rather keep it and fix it yourself as the repairs it needs are all wear and tear being the driveshaft, clutch and brakes – not unusual at this mileage.

My advice:
Fix it. That is the cheaper way round. This is not so expensive in comparison to other cars.

Regards, Alan

~~~oo0oo~~~

So: Did I take his advice and spend R40k to get exactly what I wanted?
No, I spent R140k and got a bakkie. Which I didn’t really want. And which I still have and I still don’t really want.

One day I hope to live and learn.

DSCN8788.JPG

Thutty Yizz! (that's '30yrs' to you)

Aitch never held my culinary skills in high regard. Her favourite meal to mock was my chicken-onion-n-potato-in-a-pot special which she described as pale and tasteless. It wasn’t. It just looked bland. With a touch of salt and black pepper and enough red wine taken internally it was fine.

She was right about my braaiing skills, though. Luckily Tom’s genes skipped back about seven generations to when burning dead animals on a naked flame was considered an advance in civilisation, not like I believe it to be: a pointless exercise now that Eskom has been invented. So he is now my braaiing stunt double.

Tom braais

To show that I’m an early adopter and no Luddite, I’ll have everyone know that when Aitch met me back in ’85 there was already an AEG microwave ensconced in my bachelor flat, faithfully re-heating coffee, poaching eggs and heating up the half hamburgers I would find on my chest after a good night out.

Which same microwave gave up the ghost this week. That’s correct. My AEG microwave, bought on 26 March 1984 fizzled on me on the 26th of March 2014. How’s that for hi-fidelity?

And just to show I really will avoid playing the primitive pyromaniac if I can help it, here’s a picture of me pulling my shirt to hide that same microwave behind me at Kosi Bay, Zululand ca 2002. I snuck it into the kombi knowing their campsites had Eskom power and knowing that heating up Tommy’s bottles was a fiddle without it. So I took gas and I took firewood and I took Lion matches, but I used AEG electric microwave technology powered-by-Eskom’s coal burning to feed TomTom.

microwave in Kosi Bay 2002
– see the electric light burning by day to prove Eskom was a 24hr service back then –

Update: Now I’m pissed off it packed up after only 30 years:

NEWS STORY: 93-yr-old woman is pissed off her oven packed up after only 53 years!

In 1963 John F Kennedy was president of the US, the Beatles had released their first album, and Winifred Hughes of Crewe, then a mere 39yrs old, paid £79 for an ultra-modern Belling Classic electric oven. It turned out to be an amazing bargain. Winifred,­ now 92, has used it almost every day since, and she says, “it never let me down”. Sadly, just last week, the thermostat finally gave up, and Winifred says she is “heartbroken” her beloved Belling is no more.

53-yr-old stove

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Peter Brauer wrote:

“…which she described as pale and tasteless. It wasn’t. It just looked bland. With enough red wine taken internally it was fine.”

Wasn’t she talking about you??

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Terry Brauer wrote:

You truly are the nuttiest oke I know. For a greenie this is like true confessions. Nuking your food.

Go Tommy! You inherited your mother’s skills . .

~~~oo0oo~~~