The Spinning Compass | Just Drive

Just Drive

February 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

We woke up late and didn’t want to make the drive to Nelspruit as originally planned, so the question was: “what will we do today?” the answer was easy: "just drive".

As we were discussing it and getting ready we did our usual packing for the day – Camera bag with all our gear. My pink Victoria Secrets bag with snacks, extra socks, bug spray and little extras.  Leaving the house we still weren’t sure of our plans but finally the answer was “Just Drive.”

We decided to head South toward the Mahamba Gorge in Nhlangano,we had hoped we would find it but the GPS wouldn't pick anything up and we didn’t get the directions before we left the house; so it was just another day that we picked a mark on the GPS that we thought was close to where we wanted to be and we would wing it from there. It was our usual way of doing things.  But for me all I could think about is all those movies where you literally take the “wrong turn” or even worse because some of Swazi is really off the beaten path. But with how enthusiastic Justin was and I know that I am safe with him I just went along for the ride and swallowed my fears (like always and we usually have a blast). But you really have to understand the area, while it is modern there are some really rural areas, dirt roads, very high superstitious people and we stand out any where we go. 

I forget about my fears as the drive continues because the views are beautiful as we are passing through Malkerns and Mankayane. We stop at several view points to take some pictures of the amazing valley below. On the way I hear Justin say that he will get gas later, well later seemed to never come on our drive until it was almost to late. We get all the way to the Swaziland / South Africa Border and realized that we went to far. So as we turn around Justin tells me to GPS a gas station and I immediately start to panic silently. The GPS pulls one about 15 miles away and it is the closest one to us. Problem is that it says to turn down a dirt road – really a dirt road we are in a small Toyota Corolla almost out of gas, it is getting later in the day and my head is spinning with all of those stupid movies that I insist on watching. But once again the country side amazes me. The forest, the valleys, everything about this country is untouched and beautiful. We see several abandoned buildings and I have to get some pictures of them because they are so overgrown with the vegetation and it makes you wonder, how long have they been closed, why are they closed what happened to the people who use to visit them and “ OMG we need this gas station right now!”. But at the same time I am thinking about the movie Rest Stop and while it isn’t exactly the same thing, it reminds me of the run down building that the couple stops at to stretch their legs only to be viciously harassed by some crazy man. Again I shake my head and get back in the car ready to go get gas and get back to civilization and I remind myself no more movies! As the gas continues to go down the question becomes do we continue or turn around, but the problem is if we turn around we may not make it back to the last gas station that we actually seen, so we take our chances down this crazy long dirt road. Passing the locals as they walk on the dirt road breaks my heart, do we have to drive so fast to stir up the dirt, don’t we have anything we can give these children? Words cannot explain what we see as we drive through these rural areas but they all seem happy, the kids are playing and everyone waves as we drive by. We finally get to this gas station that the GPS says is a Shell Station and wow… wow… wow… it is a hole in the wall, a few pumps a lot of people and a building that can only hold maybe a cash register. But we realize that this is our only hope of getting home or going forward so Justin pulls in and realizes he forgot to bring cash with us and from the looks of this station we will not be able to use a card. Immediately the digging begins to find change and luckily we find a few emalangeni bills stashed in our gear and in the car, not much but enough to get us where we need to be. We pay the attendant and again are pleasantly surprised at how nice everyone is.

Now what ... take our chances to continue forward with our few dollars of gas or turn around and head toward the house and modern civilization. Home is what we chose due to the time and the situation, so we turn around and head back the way we came. We haven’t given up, we will try that route again but this time on a full tank and with cash! We should know by now that you always carry cash because you never know when you will see a little market that you want to buy some handicrafts from or when you will almost run out of gas and find a hole in the wall gas station that doesn’t take cards. We are not in the states where there is a gas station every few miles!

While the country is so beautiful they have to figure something out about the trash!

Once we were home it became relaxing time! We spend the rest of the night with my son TJ playing Evil Within– did I mention a stupid scary game that has literally made us all jump several times! But it is worth it because there is nothing like being scared and being held by my husbands strong arms or hearing my son laugh at my screams.

There is a quote that says the world is a book and those that do not travel are only reading one page. This doesn’t have to mean travel across the globe but if you never come out of your normal routine then you will never truly experience the world around you. Take time to experience life and just get in the car and drive. I have done this since the kids were small, I would search the internet to find hole in the wall places that were not on the big tourist websites, and if that didn’t work we just drove around until we found something interesting. Because of those trips I saw my kids smile, I learned things and seen things that I normally wouldn’t have seen. I over came my fears and I hope that I taught my kids to try to do the same thing. 

So next time you don’t have anything to do rather than sitting in the house all weekend just drive!

Extra tidbits in case you are wondering:

The route we took was past Mlilwane, down past House on Fire and then MR4, MR13 through Malkerns and Mankayane.



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