Maybe I can turn it into a whole article
We had a nice holiday down to the coast but…
We were travelling down on Sunday 20 March in my dad’s car since my wife’s SUV which we would have normally used has been in the workshop for over 3 months (a whole other story entirely). My dad’s car is a good, not too old, reliable Toyota Corolla… except that it broke down on the side of the N2 highway halfway between Durban and Amanzimtoti. Cruising at over 100kph my wife shifted down for the uphill and the car wouldn’t engage in gear. We had to slow down and pull over. I hopped back in the driver’s seat (I’d been watching the F1 GP on my phone) and tried getting the car in gear. Nothing. We thought it was the clutch - which ironically had been replaced just under a year ago.
Either way we were stuck in the dark, pulled onto the side of the highway while other cars and trucks zoomed past. Onto the phone with my dad so he could then contact the insurance company. Various phone calls later I finally had the towing company on the line as we tried to explain just where we were based off of what we could see on Google Maps. We also needed transport for the 4 of us, me, my wife and the two kids.
Finally we saw the flashing lights of the flat bed approaching. Help had arrived! But then we had no transport for the family since we couldn’t all fit in the cab of the truck and legally could not ride in the car on the back of the flatbed. Cue more phone calls from the tow driver to the company and the insurance company - despite the fact that I had made it clear we as a family needed transport. More waiting on the side of the road. In the mean time we check how much it would be to catch an Uber for the 1hr trip to our accommodation. When the insurance agent gets back to me with a quote for transporting us it’s more than double catching an Uber - so we opt to hail the Uber. Technology can be a great help. As soon as a driver is confirmed I call him via the app to explain just where we are. He finished his current drop off and then came to us - and we see him go to the side road running parallel to the highway! Fortunately he saw the flashing lights from an overhead bridge and realised how to get to us.
Both the tow truck driver and the uber driver were fantastic. The tow truck driver would not load the car until he knew we were all safe in the Uber. We had a great conversation with the Uber driver as we drove to our destination Pumula (near Hibberdene). The car was dropped off at our accommodation as well, we’d sort out with Toyota getting it collected.
Finally instead of getting to our accommodation by 8pm we arrived close to 11pm pretty much exhausted. Friends of ours who were joining us on holiday were supposed to leave at midnight and arrive the next morning. They hadn’t been on a long trip with their 3 year old and so thought it best to travel through the night so he’d sleep the whole way. Except when they got ready to go they found he was running a high fever and so opted to take him to the doctor in the morning. We were kinda counting on them to arrive the next morning so we could at least use the car to get groceries. All the food we had was some supplies we’d bought from a garage while we travelled with the Uber. There was a small cafe at the end of the road but other than that nothing within roughly 10k’s. And no Ubers in that part of the coast. We got what few things we could at the cafe and in chatting with the ladies that run it found out about a relative of theirs that does trips into Port Shepstone for retirees, taking them there and waiting while they shop then bringing them back. All for just R100! It was perfect and we arranged a trip. It was such a relief to have meals sorted for the next few days while we waited and hoped our friends would still make it. They did come through in the end on the Tuesday, having cleared that their son did not have pneumonia (a slight overreaction…)
All was good then, we had transport. We were able to cram in to drive the short trip to the local beach and we could take turns going to get groceries. The Toyota was collected and taken to a workshop to get looked at. Then one wet and rainy day I stepped out onto the steps going down from the patio at our accommodation and my slops aquaplaned on the water. I slipped backwards and despite my best effort came slamming down on my back on the edge of one of the steps. It was one of those moments when you don’t know what to do because of the pain. A few breaths later I was able to stand up. I soon realised that while my back hurt like hell, my wrist on my left hand was not feeling good at all. The rest of the day the back pain faded while my wrist ached and swelled. Oh joy!
To cut my far too long of tale a bit shorter, I headed to a doctor the next day, hoping that this wouldn’t require me going to casualty and having x-rays at the local hospital. It didn’t, and instead I just needed to take some medicine to reduce the swelling and heal the sprained muscles. No fractures! What a thing to be excited about on holiday.
Back to the sad tale of the Toyota. It turned out it wasn’t the clutch but the gearbox which meant the car needed to go to a specialist branch to have it assessed and repaired. That meant no chance of having a car to travel back home in. We eventually landed up flying back, renting a car would actually have worked out more expensive what with the tolls, fuel and long distance premium. It was nice getting back to Joburg in under and hour from leaving King Shaka Airport. Oh yes, we also had to ask my dad to pop into our house in Joburg and get the kids’ birth certificates and my wife’s ID so they could be copied and certified so we could actually board the plane! Fortunately the scanned and then printed copy of the certified documents came out clearly enough that it looked like they had actually been stamped and we had no hassles boaarding.
Other than all that it was a great holiday. Lots of sunny days, chilling on the beach and relaxing with friends. All in all more good than bad, but man o’ man I do not have the energy to go on holiday again anytime soon!
One last thing - my dad is a saint. I’m sure he felt bad about the car breaking down on us, but I don’t know what we’d have done without his help.