Third Time Lucky

Today is our sixth day here at Boesmanland Werkswinkel. Saturday they took the head off the engine, Monday they took it to the engineer who skimmed it and ordered the parts, Tuesday they put it all back together and Wednesday they installed the new liftpump donated and delivered by Dup Diesel and gave the Big Green Truck a road test.

Seems like Sampson’s last minute extras were worth it after all: the combination of Sandown’s synthetic oil and Evans’ waterless coolant definitely saved us. Water alone would’ve boiled the radiator and cooked the engine. Nico couldn’t believe it when Sampson unscrewed the radiator cap as soon as we arrived – they all stood back agape as it didn’t explode all over him. ‘Black gold’ they were calling the Evans coolant by the end of our stay, carefully pouring every precious drop back in.

So I have been stuck in the middle of a dusty yard, in the middle of an industrial park, on the outskirts of a small town we’d already seen enough of, with two kids for six days. Hmmm. And this is supposed to be a holiday.

Kids playing at the Boesmansland Werkswinkel holiday resort

Kids playing at the Boesmanland Werkswinkel holiday resort

Not surprisingly, on Monday we went back to school (a week early, but don’t tell the kids). Three to four hours of lessons fill the mornings, but the hot afternoons have been challenging.

We start every day with a walk. On Sunday, the kids walked up this:

View of surrounds

View of surrounds

They were thrilled to see meerkats and dassies, and had fun with their walkie-talkies.

On Tuesday we walked to the end of the industrial estate and found some humble houses perched on a hill beyond the fence. Looking down across the valley, I thought I saw a thin skein of water across the length of the rocky plateau just below us glittering in the morning light. Then I realised with a shock that it was a layer of broken glass. Where people party, this is the depressing outcome.

On Wednesday we tried to get beyond the litter. We walked directly opposite, between plots, over a tiny stream and up the ridge beyond – and miraculously found ourselves in a fynbos meadow of unspoilt green, like humans had never been there to blight it. Succulents so diverse and strange, like alien plants blasted to earth: some with grey-green fingers and others with star-shaped splats of flat leaves stamped on the ground. After Frik had told us a story the day before of how he once picked up a diamond from the ground and sold it for R8000, the kids were convinced that, if they looked hard enough, it was just a matter of time. They came back with pocketfuls of quartz, but sadly I had to tell Ruby that her ‘diamond’ was in fact just another glass chip from the bottom of a bottle.

What we found on our walk: wild melons and assorted quartz

What we found on our walk: wild melons and assorted quartz

As beautiful as diamonds hey?

As beautiful as diamonds hey?

On Tuesday afternoon, after Zola had made himself superpopular by skateboarding through oil across the workshop floor, Nico kindly volunteered to drop me and the kids in town. We spent an entertaining hour at the Namakwaland Museum, housed in the old Synagogue, an eclectic collection of old ploughs, sewing machines and typewriters alongside five generations of Jowell family photos, bonnets and wash basins. It’s disconcerting when your own history officially becomes History. “They used to listen to music on THIS?” said Zola incredulously, pointing to a vinyl record. “So did I when I was your age!” I retorted.

The museum opened in 1991 and I don’t think anyone has dusted since then for fear of disturbing the ambience. We asked the lady at the door if she could identify what the different coloured lumps of Northern Cape crystals on display were. “Minerals” she said, nodding her head confidently, “Definitely minerals”.

The tub of icecream we bought from the Spar was more inspired and Nico fetched us in time to divide it up between the eight of us staying at Boesmanland Werkswinkel before it all melted completely.

So yesterday, the test drive went fine, but we decided to leave in the morning rather than setting out at 5pm. Today we said our fond goodbyes to Nico, Frik and Thys and set off to stock up with vegetables again. An hour later, they had to come out to the Spar carpark when oil started leaking out of the engine on the other side from last week… It turned out to be Sampson’s fault for idling too long, trying to warm up the cooking oil.

Truck heroes Nico, Thys, Frik and Sampson in overalls, pretending to fit in

Truck heroes Nico, Thys and Frik plus Sampson in overalls, pretending to fit in

We’d like to pay tribute to the team at Boesmanland Werkswinkel who have now done twice as many hours as they thought it would take, and all for half the price we would have been charged in Cape Town. THANK YOU Nico, Frik and Thys, you guys are stars, with the patience of saints, and deserve all the best in your new business.

So we are now setting out for the border. Again. Fingers crossed we make it this time and the next installment will be from Namibia.

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9 Responses to Third Time Lucky

  1. Kathy says:

    Hi Guys, hope you make it to the border without any more mishaps, we really love reading your blogs and can’t wait for the next one.

  2. Sarah Larter says:

    lots love to you all. xx amazing people and lots stories

  3. Loreley Yeowart says:

    All part of the adventure! Loads of love xxx

  4. Carole Pearce says:

    So wonderful to speak to you, and hear that all is well. Good Luck. Love you all Massies ?

    Carole Xx

  5. Albert says:


  6. James says:

    Sam, the entrepid engine reporter… I love your writing and the way you bring life to your travels. I know you feel that you have not gone far enough.. But, ( and there is always a BUT) you’ve gone further than most of us dare to dream! Go Rex Go! Take all of us on this dream of a trip around Africa!!!

  7. spencerjude says:

    Sending you love. Uncle

  8. Roger says:

    Who said anything about a holiday??? It is an adventure!!!

    Regards, Roger & Letitia

  9. Jerome says:

    I see you’re in the right frame of mind – the setbacks are part of the overall experience, contributing in no small measure to the sense of accomplishment when you finally complete your journey; Every trip I ever did, people used to say I was “miserable until something broke” and we got it fixed and got going again – Good luck on the road again!

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