Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Getting to McGregor

"Let's take my car, " I said. "It's more reliable." These words would come back to haunt me. My little Hyundai looks new and is in fact only two years old. In its short life it has given no trouble whatsoever. I had checked the tyres and fitted a new one and had filled up with petrol. I was quite sure that would be enough in the way of preparation. I was wrong! We set off, Hugh,Julia and I on Friday morning. The departure was slightly delayed by the loss of Hugh's wallet. He had it with him at a restaurant the night before, but that morning it was nowhere to be found. Hugh and JUlia arrived at Evergreen Muizenberg stressed and shaky from anxiety and loss of sleep. My dog-sitter, the ever-reliable Carline had already arrived so we could get going without delay. Without delay did I say? Not really. Gairo my part-time domestic worker had first to be persuaded to leave some of the clothes unironed and get into my car so she could be dropped off at Lavender Hill and this took quite a few minutes, as she was not keen on having her routine interfered with. And then, before we could leave Cape Town itself, we also had to make a detour to Green Point to leave Julia's car with her daughter Jessica. That was not all. Just as we were about to leave, there was a phone call from my grandson to ask me to pay his gardener because he wouldn't be able to get home in time to do so. So we had to make another detour, this time via Diep Rivier We drove in convoy to Luke's house and got there without mishap. Then with Julia in my car to help with directions and give moral support, we were soon cruising down the M3 towards Green Point. Somehow in concentrating on following Hugh in the car ahead, I managed more than once to get into the wrong lane. much cursing and hooting ensuing. However this caused only minor uneasiness, no serious road rage or arrests for traffic violations. After leaving the other car, Hugh took over the driving, much to our relief, and we sailed out of the CBD and onto the N1. Here we met with incredible delays. We crawled all the way to Belville. It seemed to take hours. We were convinced that there had been an accident, but the hold-up was due to nothing but minor roadworks. Perhaps it was this long slow period in low gear that exasperated the battery and made it collapse. Who knows? After that everything seemed to be going swimmingly.The engine purred, the weather was perfect and Du toit's Kloof was as stunningly beautiful as ever. And so to Worcester. there we stopped to buy a burger, which only took a few minutes. We got back to the car to find that in the interim, it had died. The battery was totally flat. There was no garage nearby, but we found a dilapidated taxi, which from its appearance, seemed to have been involved in all the recent taxi wars. The driver, together with four friends, came to our rescue with a pair of jumper leads and the car sprang to life again. By a wonderful stroke of providence, Julia had a brother in Worcester who owned a firm that sold car parts. He examined the car, got it going again and tested the battery which he pronounced healthy. "It should be charged by the time you get to McGregor," he said. Well, we did get to McGregor, but the battery was still flat. I wasn't going to let its moribund state spoil my weekend so I cadged lifts and walked throughout the weekend and after a good deal of devout prayer, we left on Sunday afternoon, determined to keep the engine running and not to stop until we reached Cape Town. And that is what we did. We reached Disa Towers, where we could find both Julia's daughter and her car. By this time the battery of my car was so flat that the headlights wouldn't come on, so we left the poor little Hyundai and went home in the other car. The AA fetched it later on and took it to the agents and now it is well again. PS. Hugh's wallet was found at the bottom of a backpack.

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