The long road10 July 2010
So many well-meaning people have said to us in sympathy: 'Wow, this is a very, very, VERY long road you guys are on'.
To a newly-grieving person, these words are nothing short of terrifying - a day is torturous to get through and if that's only a small segment of this very long road, then how the hell do you manage to get through the rest of the journey without losing the will to live?
But then I thought about this a little bit and realised that Simon and I know a lot about going on very, very long and bad roads after having driven back to Cape Town from London in a non-air-conditioned Landcruiser. I'm not sure if this road of grief we're on is supposed to be on foot, bicycle or a 4x4 but the last one is the one I can relate to.
So, if I think back to our trip nearly 4 years ago...
There are days when the sand is so dense that all you have to do is keep moving so you don't get stuck
There are days when the road is so corrugated and bumpy that you have to go against your natural cautious instinct and drive fast over them
There are days when the 'road' is more like a boulder-lodged river bed so the progress is so slow and you don't get out of 2nd gear for 2 days
There are days when mud sends you sliding around and you get stuck and have to rely on others around you to help you get unstuck
There are days when the road is straight, long, boring and unending but you just have to get through it
There are days when your engine is overworked and you have to take unexpected time out to maintain your vehicle
There are days when there is no road and you just have to remember to head South
There are days when you have to acknowledge official bureacracy in a language you don't understand just so you can continue
There are days when you expect bandits to jump out at you along a notorious section of road and they don't
There are days when you don't expect any bandits to be around and they take you by surprise
There are days when you get lost in an unknown city where you can't understand the signs and the locals make Capetonian drivers seem great
There are days when it is so suffocatingly hot and opening a window just makes it worse
There are days when all you want to be is anywhere else but on the road
But the mud, sand and river-bed roads at some point eventually make way for the joy and easy cruising of tar
You get a bit better as you go at dealing with borderposts and bureacracy
The terrain changes bring a different climate and there is eventually relief from the suffocating heat, even if only for a day
No matter what, there is always a cold beer to be found at the end of a long day on the road
And that the immensely beautiful sights and experiences you have along the way would have been impossible without having travelled the road
I would do anything not to be on this road (we have often said we would leave our home and everything we own and walk away with absolutely nothing if we could get our son back) but looking at it this way makes it seem surmountable.