Monday, September 05, 2005

So near and yet so far, a disappointing outing to Rosendal

We set off from Jozi just after six as the sun rose. We had packed three aircraft in the car. We took the motorway and joined the R59. South of Vereeniging the early morning inversion had clamped the industrial smog onto the ground.

It took three hours to get to Bethlehem. We had breakfast at BJ's Diner. We can recommend BJ's - excellent breakfast. Then we headed for Rosendal and the slope, or so we thought.

Somehow we missed the final turn-off. We ended up a few Ks further on where the road petered out onto a farm track. The track looked innocent enough, but after fifty metres a stone had broken our sump.

Modern cars are such that if the engine is not running, the car is dead.

No oil, no engine, dead car. From where we were we could see in the distance the trees behind the slope site.

I thought I would try to phone Hugh Edmunds. I wasn't sure what he could do but the situation called for desperate measures. Hugh thought that it might be possible to fix the sump with white epoxy: A true aeromodeller's solution. He immediately left for Rosendal for oil and epoxy.

In the meantime, the professor had managed to get hold of Renault Roadside Assistance. Gunter of RRA undertook to arrange for a tow-truck to collect us. Shortly after, Bennie from Gary's towing in Bethlehem phoned. He would send a truck. He would organise a hired car. Was there anything else we needed?

I phoned Hugh again to tell him what had happened. By that time he was in Rosendal. Within twenty minutes he appeared in a cloud of dust accompanied by a colleague on a quad. After checking that we were OK, wisely, he returned to the slope. His last words were, "let me know if you need anything more", and "give me a shout when you get back to civilization".

An hour and a half later the truck arrived. We loaded the car and piled in. I phoned Hugh to let him know that we were on our way.

Deeter the driver was of a garrulous persuasion. The professor was sitting in the middle so she bore the brunt of his soliloquy. I was on the outside and pretended not to hear. His speech was liberally sprinkled with the rhetorical "And you know what".

One of his stories concerned an elderly couple he had shown around Golden Gate. "And you know what. They were so happy with the tour that they gave me ten rands". Point taken.

The tow-truck had seen better days. The springs were rigid. There were many ventilation holes in the cab that let in blasts of hot air and dust. At certain speeds the engine made a distinctive staccato noise. All in all it was very much better than walking.

Bennie was waiting for us in Bethlehem. He had organised the hired car and stayed at work through the long Saturday afternoon to look after us. We said goodbye to him and headed back to Jozi.

Back home at about eight at night we took stock: We had traveled six hundred kilometers, broken the car and not flown. Something of a disappointment.

Thanks to the following, in alphabetical order:
Bennie and Deeter of Gary's Towing in Bethlehem
Gunter of Renault Roadside Assistance
Hugh Edmunds and his colleague
Marisa of Budget Rent-a-Car in Bethlehem
Vodacom (where would we be without cell phones).

1 comment:

Jan said...

So did you give him the money?

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