Birthdays come & birthdays go, but this one felt different, special somehow.
As I slowly awoke to the unmistakable sounds you can only hear in the early morning, in the African bush, I thought, "I must be dreaming". Through the years the kids have always presented me with a birthday card… More often than not, the card featured sailing boats & wild ducks… Imagine my surprise & delight, as I opened my eyes to be faced with a very vocal yellow billed duck waddling along the dam wall not 3 meters away from Nyati's window. It seemed to be looking straight at me & calling, as if inviting me to join the early morning stroll around the dam… In my dreamy state, I took this as another sign, a sign that this was destined to be an exceptionally good birthday… Hee hee , how right I was.
Nyati & I were still parked at the De Rust game farm. I'm finding it difficult to leave this little gem of a place. Lazy afternoons are spent lurking in the bush beside a small, but busy, watering hole visited daily by hundreds of different buck, geese, duck, guinea fowl, owls, cranes & storks to mention just some of what I remember. After sunset, which is around 6 pm now, its a short stroll to the boma & bar to settle around the fire listening to hilarious stories which get more & more believable as the beers go down.
Anyone living overseas would appreciate drinking beers here… At R 11.00 a bottle, & R 20.00 to a pound stirling, we use them to wash down T bone steaks & potjie bread straight off the braai… Oh ja… Did I mention, its warm & not raining here either. 😉
The state of Nyati's "house" batteries had been of some concern since before I left Kloof… One battery in each bank was being heavily over charged while the other one was, for all intents & purposes, as good as dead. A stroke of good fortune brought me into contact with Riaan, a young electrical technician, formally on the mines, now working for A & R Engineering as a quality controller.
Riaan has an old series 2 landie that he built up & is a serious off roader himself. He offered to take a look at the problem… "Oh shit", he said, "Ja Oom, now THIS is going to be a bit of a challenge".
Anyone who's ever been fishing at night will know that "pit of the stomach" feeling when you confidently step forward & hurl your bait into the darkness, past the rocks, towards the deep water… a perfect cast, "Ah yes, that's it, right onto the fishs plate"… Then that horrendous moment when you feel the line looping out of control, spooling off the bloody reel in all directions… Sssqwaaaak… Smack, bang, wallop… That's it… An overwind, a birds nest. "Oh shit, I came here to relax… Now THIS… Why, why, why" ?
"So, Ja, Okay… Did you do this Oom" ?
I shake my head… I know who did.
"Oh, Okay… Cos only a DOES would mix 12v & 24v like this ".
He wouldn't react at all well to that.
"Lekker, Okay… Lets sort this out ".
A few hours, a 24v to 12v converter, & a pair of new batteries later, & the "birds nest" had been transformed into an orderly, balanced, efficient electrical system. Working on 220v, 24v, & 12v seamlessly, all batteries charging & discharging in perfect harmony. Hey hey… What a GREAT birthday present.
Nyati simply beamed… You know, like that lion must have when Daniel pulled out the thorn ?… Like that.
During the unravelling, Riaan found the Jabsco was drawing 9 amps when pumping, & suggested I change it for a 24v unit. "Here we go again", I thought… It had been found hellova funny, back then, whilst wiring Nyati, that when ever I ran a tap, the radio went off… Ha ha ha… But the signs were there… Trouble in paradise… "Oh look, the tides receded way out, the cats & dogs are all running for high ground… I wonder why" ?
With another stroke of good fortune, a willing supplier was found, & after some great teamwork between Lesley in Kloof & Natasha in Cape Town, Nyati's new water supply pump hit the road to Welkom… Who says it can't be done ?
Baie dankie Riaan. South Africa, no… today's World, needs problem solvers like you.
It was my turn to get the T bones which I did, before driving the 36km back to De Rust. Nyati's running in & simply purring now. I'd made a stupid mistake when installing the fuel change over valve, & that had cost me dearly in diesel returning from the engine being spilt onto the road. But thats all behind us now, (literally) & we're starting to drive as a team. To all those guys who tried to explain how driving a truck differs so much from driving a car… "My word, I think I'm starting to get it". We simply cruised back, a great smiley feeling with us the whole way & no more glares & pointing fingers from passing, diesel splattered, motorists. 😮
What a great Birthday.
Die Nagdigter had made some special Birthday pot bread with raisins & a light sugar glazing to go with tonights T bones & boerewors… A real MAN'S meal. These boerjies might talk funny, but WOW they can cook.
Now, there's a wonderful character, "old South African", if you get my drift, staying here while building the new shopping mall in Welkom. He's a mad bastard & reminds me so much of my dear departed friend Babes Van Der Walt, "the Dutchman". Babes, wherever you are, I know you'll be keeping an eye on this one. Kabous & his girlfriend, Kristina …(I'm going to HAVE to check the spelling of her name, or risk castration… Oh ja… She's another Issie Van Der Walt alright.)… travel the country, building things & bow hunting. They look good & work well together… They're doing it, they're living the life. Tonight they presented me with the greatest biltong knife I've ever seen. One of Kabous's, I couldn't believe it. I know I got tears in my eyes & I'll treasure this gift for life.
Charles, Die Nagdigter, then went off with the communial wrapping paper, a firelighter box… (Earlier, they'd trapped me into saying a present should ALWAYS be wrapped)… & came back with an electric mozzie killer to protect my life, & a signed copy of one of his poems that I particularly enjoyed, to protect my spirit … Man, these guys are a different breed of people… Hard, fully grounded. What a privilege to be able to spend this time with them.