Just Knock on the Tree
The Odyssey of the Coddiwompling Tortoise – Rozinante – and The Storyteller
(Coddiwomple: to travel in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination.)
Someone believes in me
If I’d listened to all the naysayers, I’m afraid I would not have budged an inch. A dear friend supported my way of thinking and it was the extra push to the impetus on the path I had already decided upon. It made my heart sing.
Nukey the Jack Russell loved exploring.
My ideal ‘tortoise’, as I mentioned, turned out to be residing in Cape Town and I was now driving it back to Johannesburg to pack what little I could keep and set off around South Africa and adjoining countries, living out of the motorhome. Many people thought I was mad but I’d never hesitated in my decision, ignoring the many comments such as “Aren’t you scared?” or “You’re going alone?!” What are you thinking?!” My belief has always been that if you believe bad things may happen to you, they probably will. I just believed good things would happen and hoped they would. I’m a glass half-full kind of gal.
Perhaps my son, Ty, was, understandably, the most worried person of the lot. His mother, in her 72nd year was about to flee his family home and depart on some crazy adventure. However, he knew that if his mother intended to do something, it was rather pointless to object as I would still do it. After all, it was my life and nobody else’s.
To me, the house we’d lived in for about 37 years held few precious memories. I’d divorced Ty’s father and it had become a millstone around my neck. Nevertheless, it was the house he’d grown up in and I watched as he wandered around the property for the last time, lost in his thoughts about all the various milestones that had occurred in this place. It was special to him and he thought I’d live there forever. Unfortunately, his memories needed to be tucked away into his heart. For me, the house had become merely a structure of bricks and mortar. I had raised my son to believe he could accomplish anything he set his mind to in life and I danced to the same piper. I needed to escape and he needed to accept it.
I’d asked the universe for certain things the van should have – such as solar panels – and lo and behold, the van that was the right price, in good condition, had them. I’d listened carefully to my mechanic too. He stressed a van with a low mileage. My tortoise had not been lumbering over hill and dale but it had mainly just been parked at beach locations before returning to its burrow. This was the one the universe had provided. I’d prayed and knew this was it – and no, I’m in no way, ‘religious’ per se but I firmly believe there’s a Higher Power up there who listens to me. As I mentioned before … see my first book, Deep Talk – death does not exist – (available through Booklocker.com and other outlets, such as Amazon and a number of others) if you’d like to see where I’m coming from. Wait till I tell you what happened when I was 100kms outside the town of Pofadder. I knew then, that I was being spiritually guided to undertake this lifestyle.
However, Rozinante still had one more test to pass. My dear Cape Town friend, Dieter, (a mechanical and electrical engineer), agreed to look at it and awarded it top honours. Wesley Dempster and Ralph from Tygerberg Caravans, where this couple had placed the van for sale, could not have been more helpful.
You may wonder how buying a motorhome is totally unlike buying a ‘normal’ vehicle. There is so much to learn. This one has a shower, a cassette toilet, a fridge, microwave and cupboards all over the place. While I had previously rejoiced at the extra cupboard space for clothing after I’d divorced, this had now been reduced to an infinitesimal-size hanging space. While many people would put cooking pots in large cupboards, I only cooked for myself and didn’t need a lot of those. The previous owner had made a trolley under the main bed and that originally housed my art material. I couldn’t imagine not continuing with my art as it was part of my life but where would I put the writing books and research I couldn’t bear to part with or needed as a possible reference to my past works. Where on earth would I put my shoes?!
I would miss my art classes.
On reflection, I made a serious error in not accepting the tent that could be attached to the exterior wall under the awning. My plans did not include any long-term camping. Little did I know the plans the universe had in store for me.
While I was in Cape Town, one of my teeth fell out. Bad timing but I looked forward to seeing my dentist, Dr Christoph Stephanou, as he had also become a dear friend. He had read my aforementioned book and knew me all the better for it. After the negativity I’d received about my chosen lifestyle, he declared, “You have my undying admiration and respect for what you’re doing”. He’d found most people never moved out of their comfort zone but so many wanted to do so.
Unfortunately, Christoph crossed over in Sept, 2022. You will be sorely missed, dear friend – you made life sunnier and warmer. Your support meant the world to me and your smile brightened my day. It was you who taught me about that thingy underneath the campervan that prevented it from scraping on the ground. A hidden technicality and one of many I would need to learn. Thank you. Please forgive me for not remembering what it’s called.
His words about people remaining in their comfort zones were prophetic. Over the months, I came across so many people who admitted they wanted to do what I was doing but something held them back. I could see they were actually jealous – some people even admitting that was the case.
A strange realisation but perhaps Nike has the right idea in their old marketing slogan – ‘Just do it!’. Their ‘swoosh’ represents the wing of the Greek Goddess of Victory who largely influenced countless brave warriors. Perhaps my choice of lifestyle will have the same effect on some 9-5ers. Nike’s new slogan is ‘Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything’. A strange coincidence.
I have actually had a number of campers asking me to pose with the campervan so they could send the photo to some relative who was stuck in a rut and convinced their life was over as society’s ‘prescribed date’ of retirement had been reached. They bemoaned the fact that they hadn’t done this or that with their lives and even though they were fit and healthy, they were mentally immobile. The relatives taking the photo of me and my ‘house’ were hoping to convince them otherwise. In fact, Trudy, another very close friend of mine, attempted to dissuade me from this lifestyle and repeated what these quite healthy couch potatoes were convinced of, saying to themselves … “At this stage of your life, you’re in God’s Waiting Room!” I refused to acknowledge that. As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t even in the queue outside the door.
I kept wanting to leave Johannesburg but doors kept slamming in my face. The renewal of my driver’s licence was a nightmare of unparalleled proportions. Finally, after a delay of two months because of the ‘system’ needing to be adhered to and then another waiting period of two months, I started to thump desks and mentioned, rather pointedly, that I could not pursue my work without my licence. As it was, I had had to apply for the licence at a licensing centre many miles south of Johannesburg. Strangely enough, this seemed to work in my favour and a kind person issued the licence quickly. However, he also told me there’d been a backlog since May, 2018. Come on, South Africa. Fix this!
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