Sunday, March 31, 2013

Heroic Efforts and a Lucy Moment



I feel as if I’ve been reborn – and it’s not just because since arriving in Africa my poo is the color of newborn baby poo. Due to the heroic efforts of 6 people (see video link below!) I was able to sleep in our rooftop tent for the first of what I hope to be more than 365 nights.

Scott spent all day in the driveway of Marius Electrical cutting away the rails of the roof rack so that the second hand Hannibal Rooftop Tent we purchased in a town about an hour from Knysna would fit on the roof rack of N’doto. Hours later, after all the cutting and grinding were done, Karl and Scott unbolted the rack from the roof, carried it down the street and around the corner, and set the rack, with tent on top, up on six stacks of bricks in the driveway of Karl and Mandy’s guesthouse.  The only thing left to do was attach the tent to the rack.


I might have been told, “Don’t touch it. It’s not attached yet.” But there she sat, her walls erected, and her doors wide open welcoming me with open arms. I couldn’t resist. I was dying to check out my new home. I waited until Karl went back into the house then crept into the tent on all fours. I was just past the center of the tent, the part that hinges, when the tent slowly folded up closing around me like a Venus Fly Trap clamping down on pesky insect. I began laughing. I thought, How funny that must have looked! A real Lucile Ball moment. And then I thought, Oh man. If someone had been around to record the slo mo collapse of tent around me, it would have become a YouTube sensation! A million hits at least. And then I thought, Uh oh. I’m trapped.

Only my head poked out the narrow opening.  There was nothing for my feet to brace against and the sides were too steep to pull myself out. I felt like mince at the bottom of a crispy taco- there was no way of escape. I was just about to swallow my pride and call for help when Karl and his contractor appeared in the driveway. I wish I could describe the look on their faces. I’ve never seen it before. Oh yes I have…. on Ricky Ricardo, and Fred and Ethel Mertz. The contractor, probably thinking sticking around would result in more work for him (even I wasn’t sure I hadn’t broken the tent), made a hasty departure out the gate. After briefly trying to pull me out (that was funny too), Karl handed me an empty jerry can which I used as a booster to climb out. To Scott’s credit, all he did when we told him what happened was laugh and shake his head.

I went back in the house where I could stay out of trouble. Scott and Karl bolted the tent to the rack and then the International A-Team made up of Scott, Mandy, Karl, and Jembjo’s guests Sarah Richardson, Susie, Andrea, and Jenny, with Fraser the Dog directing, lifted the entire unit up to the roof of N’doto.


That night there was a big party and a big storm and as fun as it was speaking with an African Trails truckload of over landers who had transited down from London, I could barely wait for bedtime to come. At around 8:30, at the first crack of thunder, I found Scott and shouted, “I’m going to batten down the hatches! See you there!” I climbed up on the hood, then up to the roof and into my little cozy nest complete with down comforter, pillows and zebra striped duvet cover. The storm unleashed her fury and the little tent (and the entire Land Rover), swayed to and fro rocking me to sleep. Some time later, Scott and Karl called up to me, “Room Service!”
My heroes had plated up a serving of the wonderful dinner for 30 prepared by Mandy, Karl, Sarah (not only a good cook – she’s also a doctor), and Susie and Billy (both veteran overland drivers.)
 Unbelievably thoughtful.  So much. So kind. So generous. My heart is so full that my chest hurts when I think of all Karl and Mandy have done for us, starting with babysitting N’doto in their driveway for over ten months when events beyond our control delayed our departure to Africa. As long as I live, I will never forget what they have done for us. 


Knysna, South Africa