In 2005 we sold The Pickle Pot and farm and found ourselves completely liquid and with nothing to do. We rented a small pondokkie in Howick and sat thinking about our future.
I need to spend a little time putting you in the picture before we set off, so please indulge me. We had just sold everything that tied us because we were tired, needed time to reassess our lives and I had seriously injured myself in a tractor accident which meant I had to get to know the new, not so gung-ho, me.
We did a little bit of memory maths and discovered that, in the preceding 23 years on the farm, we had worked every day except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. On the other hand, our total time off, over the 23 year period, came to approximately 17.5 weeks. We decided we needed a holiday before starting the next step in our lives.
Our planning offered us a range of options. Overseas called us but we knew very little about our own country and, as the country was in the process of massive change, maybe we needed to discover the country in which we lived? Thus we chose local and, as a result:
- Saw something each and every day that was mind-blowingly beautiful;
- Realised that even though we covered almost 17,000km we only scratched the surface of South Africa;
- Came to the conclusion that we have the honour to live in one of the most beautiful countries on Earth; and
- Met many people of all groups and circumstances under a wide range of situations. Without fail, they were fun to be with, a pleasure to know and helped us to truly value and respect this South Africanism of which we are blessed to be a part.
My wife is allergic to road travel so there were conditions under which we could undertake such a trip. These were:
- We needed to limit our daily travel – 400km per day Max;
- Our holiday budget was calculated by discovering that, according to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, we had accumulated approximately 55 weeks of leave and we spent approximately R 3,000 per week – We were entitled to spend R 150,000 on the holiday
- We had a 3 months limit on time for holidays; and
- We had to convince ourselves that we were not wandering blindly – we chose our next stop on arrival at the stop we were enjoying at the time.
With these strong limitations, we invested in a Toyota Prado (which we still have) and used caravan. These cost R 190,000 but we sold the caravan for R 40,000 when we came home so that R 150,000 was the initial spend.
We had decided to set off from Howick for Scottburgh, through the Transkei to the Cape. This plan was changed when in late May, 2 weeks before departure, the vagaries and pleasure of a Cape winter were pointed out. Thus we set off for Ballito instead of Scottburgh and then on into South Africa. In all we covered 17,900km in exactly 3 months between 15 June and 15 September.
The journey allowed us to unwind at our own pace, while the continual changing climate gave us the freedom to think and imagine at will. We came across a number of opportunities which we examined in detail but, all in all, the adventure led us to find ourselves and each other slowly and most enjoyable.
Two-thirds of the way through our trip my wife found her purpose for the future, which we have subsequently lived, while I have been slower to develop my own path. The time factor was never important and we now, as a result, live our life by a completely new set of rules.
The best thing about our trip was that, simply by accident, it was neither too long – which would have wearied us, nor too short – which would have frustrated and disappointed us. We simply went where we wanted, for as long as we wanted and stopped, again, when we wanted.
Our life since the trip has been essentially different from that we lived before. We have both grown in every way and our union has become stronger and more binding. I heartily recommend the process!!!