WHOOO-HOOO – WE FINALLY GOT OUR CONGOLESE VISAS!!!! We were dancing around PostNet in the Longbeach Mall yesterday when we went to collect them. All thanks to our saviour Sylvere Youmbah at the Congo-Brazzaville embassy, whom our faithful friend at the Dept of Arts and Culture Rozelle Coetzee put us in touch with.
It took a leap of faith to send our hard-won passports, all 8 of them, off into the hands of a stranger, trusting that he would do what he said he would – but Sylvere did all that and more. This wonderful man not only got our Brazza visas sorted, he didn’t charge us a cent for taking our DRC applications through personally, and even paid for the return courier. He is now an official sponsor of the Africa Clockwise adventure, with the Youmbah family legacy trust logo on the truck!
This saving of more than R4000 has made all the difference this week, as Sampson went into ‘lastminuteness’. This is a classic condition of my husband that traditionally afflicts him in June as he’s preparing to depart for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. In seven years of doing solo comedy shows there, not once has he managed to get banners and posters printed earlier than the day before he leaves. Although the dates are given to him in February. We’ve been planning this trip for over 2 years, so you can imagine what a state he’s in at this point. We’ve been living in the truck for a week now, and every day we’ve had a troupe of blokes crawling all over it trying to cope with Mark’s last minute jobs.
Martin Pollack of Treetops Renewable Energy Systems came out on a Sunday to replace a faulty solar regulator and kindly brought us a spare. Welder Ulric Conradie mended the Sunfire solar cooker, customized a neck for the Thule rack for the extra bike donated by Merida and extended the gear stick which Andrew the distributor specialist bent using an acetylene torch to make driver’s shoulder strain a thing of the past. Mike van As at De Gama Motors and his team of hunky Zimbabweans replaced broken bolts in the sump and put on a new shock absorber. Electrician and all round hero Roger James – who came to work for a week about a month ago and hasn’t had a weekend with his wife since – wired in a 24-to-12v converter provided by ACDC and tomorrow will rewire a faulty 35mm winch battery cable. (Thanks to Peter at Gateway Electrical for not charging us for the returned 25mm cable that looked Exactly The Same but wasn’t.) Long-suffering Maxwell Kuseni has been doing everything from fixing a leak under the sink, lowering the battens for the table and raising the towel rack to accommodate the new bin, to cable-tying down the solenoids in the engine, repainting the scratched door and attaching extra storage nets on the ceiling – thanks Rope World!
Thanks also to Gillian Zannos who donated R500 of free MTN airtime to Sampson – it couldn’t have come at a better time.
From my side, I am grateful to the eMzantsi team who have allowed me to abuse my office privileges, sitting on the phone for ages trying to get through to a human being in a bank. I also want to pay tribute to ‘Zozo’ Mazwana, sister of my sister Yandiswa, who managed to make curtain ties out of minute scraps of leftover material. I am not the houseproud type, but I adore her curtains. They match my cutprice plastic crockery set from PEP – fushcia pink, sky blue, sunset orange or lime green – that were the inspiration for the indoor paint job, and now it really feels like we’re living in Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread and candy house. Lastly, I am thankful that my children have been extremely patient this week, enduring long days of hanging about mechanics’ yards, or driving to Paarden Eiland for parts. Tomorrow their reward will be to go to the evocative and dramatic Land Reform exhibition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre while Sampson waits for Musical Cars to wire in the audio system sponsored by Alpine, then we’ll finally be ready to go. Maybe. Mark?