It started out so well. The bright sun in its cobalt sky, popcorn clouds providing a picturesque beauty to an otherwise harsh semi-desert landscape; the air conditioner, keeping the Toyota’s cab a cool 25 degrees in the 41 degree heat outside. The sign saying we were 20 kilometres from the Namibian border had just flashed by, signalling that we were about 130km from Upington, and the real start to our Namibian adventure.
Suddenly the vehicle shuddered, and with a loud thud, a comb of coolant swept backward from the hood, covering the windscreen and the sides of the bakkie. Switching off immediately, we coasted to a stop and I stepped out of the vehicle into the white-hot day to have a look at the damage. The raised hood revealed a 30cm gash in the top of the radiator where it had burst. This bakkie was going nowhere and might well spell the end of the Namibian trip.
I started the vehicle and limped about 100 metres or so back to a picnic spot we’d seen and walked around trying to find a blob of cell phone reception. Fortunately, we’d thought to hire a satellite phone from SAT4RENT – a small company delivering superb service (more of this company in a future article). With an unexpected stroke of luck, we were able to telephone Outsurance and organise a tow-in service. ‘There goes my no-claim bonus’, I thought as the operator politely told me the tow-in vehicle would be with me in approximately 50 minutes.
“She’s either insane or she didn’t listen to me telling her we were 130km from Upington,’ I said to Mrs Chips who was perspiring freely in the heat.
The magnitude of the disappointment was difficult to describe. Months of preparation in relation to ourselves, our camera and camping equipment and the vehicle; all looked like it was going to come to a wretched end. There was nothing to do except sit in the scant shade of the roadside picnic spot and reflect on everything that all that had transpired to date.