Driving alone

2 Dec

Wing mirror 3

The whole point of this journey to the mountain and back to the city was to do it alone. That’s because this part of the world is one I used to explore with my ex-husband, and now I am single and determined to stay that way, which means being self-reliant.  And I’m getting there. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I don’t need a travel companion, not for a road trip. In April, I drove on my own to Zinkwazi in Kwazulu-Natal; two weeks ago I drove alone to the Timbavati near Hoedspruit, and today I drove alone to the top of a mountain and back. I like driving alone. I like being alone with my music and my thoughts, in a world of my own while I steer myself through the wider world. There’s a tremendous sense of freedom in that. When I drive with someone else, I can’t listen to loud music, because that would be inconsiderate.

But there are disadvantages to driving alone, as I discovered at around 6.30 this evening. That’s when my contact lenses turned into little Tupperware lids, or felt as if they had. I was heading along the R511 by then, and there was nowhere to stop. I knew I was in trouble, and I was faced with a choice: carry on towards Brits on a road I knew – having driven it earlier today – would not be very safe at night, or try and get to Bela-Bela and the highway, which would at least be better lit, less potholed and less fraught with the risk of suicidal kudus.

Screen Shot 2012-12-02 at 11.03.06 PM

The 80km along the R516 to Bela-Bela was one of the most harrowing drives of my life. My contact lenses were so dry I battled to keep my eyes open – something that’s never happened to me while driving before –  and I had to wet my eyes from a bottle of water.  I’ve never been so grateful for a simple white line as I was this evening, because focusing on it helped me stick to the road. Eventually, I ended up behind a bakkie. Having somebody else to follow allowed me to relax a little, and by the time I got to Bela-Bela at 8pm I’d managed to find a second wind. This was a good thing, because there’s nothing in Bela-Bela on a Sunday night. The O’Hagan’s was so unbelievably depressing that I opted to head for the N1 instead.

In retrospect I’m glad I did, as drive back on the highway relatively easy despite the speeding. When I used to travel to the Waterberg for weekends with my ex-husband, this part of the trip was the worst. He had terrible road rage; I was hyper-sensitive to it and, as a result, an unbelievably annoying nervous passenger. It was so bad that I used to involuntarily lift my feet to the dashboard in some sort of reflexive attempt to brake when he tailgated someone to make a point, and the trip would consists largely of  his screaming (perhaps not screaming, more a high-pitched yell) at me while I whimpered and prayed for it to stop.

Given the choice between these two options, I’d rather drive alone. Although next time – if there is a next time – I’ll pack an overnight bag and book a hotel room for the night.

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One Response to “Driving alone”

  1. Clive Simpkins December 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    We’re glad you’re home safe and sound. Nearly had to send out a posse of earnest-looking tweeps in deerstalkers to rescue one distressed Platypus

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