Road Trip for One

A few weekends ago now, I decided to go on a little road trip.  Living in Joburg, I don’t do much alone.  Dinner with friends, walks with friends, adventures with friends.  It suddenly seemed like a really good idea to remember what it felt like to go somewhere alone.  Somewhere unfamiliar and new.  To places where people who made take-away cappuccinos didn’t know my name and the chances of running into those whose stories you share are ghostly.

I packed an over night bag and hit the road. 

Well, that’s the short version.  The long version is that I explained to all my loved ones that I would be fine and call when I got there and that my car was in perfect working order and that I wouldn’t accept sweets from strangers or go into the woods alone.  And then I packed an over night bag and hit the road.

About an hour out of Joburg I started to feel like I had, in fact, gone into the woods alone.

We live in wonderous but harsh times and the open road is no place for a girl and her Diahatsu Sirion.  There were several moments where I almost, almost turned around.  My old friend ‘What If…’ was having a discotheque on my imagination and all I could envision was a woodsmen in a plaid red shirt chopping me into little pieces and burying me in the snow.  Or breaking down and having to wait in the heat of the day for Roadside Assistance to arrive.  Or, what if the town I was going to didn’t have cappuccinos?!

Mercifully, none of those things happened.  I drove through a toll and suddenly, everything started to feel okay. And just by the way, how spectacular is the South African landscape?! Even in the depths of Winter there is kilometres of patch worked space.  Room to breathe.  The horizon stretching out like a sleepy cat in the afternoon sun.

I stayed over night in Dullstroom.  It was not at all what I thought it would be.  Having only whizzed through on the way to somewhere else once, I thought that it was a little town with a little stone church and a little, generations old graveyard (I do love me a graveyard).  I thought wrong.  I read this on a mug in a gift shop – ‘Dullstroom – Eat, Drink, Shop!’.  Sadness.

A new, built to look old, little town that felt a little like an unfinished movie set.  Harsh maybe, but a town largely made for tourists, around tourists, does not a happy adventurer make.

Disheartened-ness aside, I did eat some deeelicious smoked trout pate, browse around a lovely antique shop and drink a cappuccino second to none.  In the evening I bought a bottle of wine (I didn’t drink the whole thing, Mama, I swear), ordered a burger from a nearby restaurant and, in between staring longingly out of the window at the woods below my little loft space, I watched some Olympian diving and a movie starring Selena Gomez.  It was good.  The evening, not the movie.

In the morning, feeling like I had been away for six months, I packed up my over night bag and smoked trout pate and hit the road.  Driving home is always so different from driving there, isn’t it?

Looking back, it was a slightly strange, slightly eerie, but not at all lonely weekend of newness and adventure.  At first, I worried a lot that people I met along the way would know that I was alone. And be judging or feeling sorry for me.  But that just got too tiring so I decided to not mind at all.  A much more enjoyable past time.

My next Road Trip for One is planned for a few weeks time.  There will be newness and adventure and cappuccinos, of this I am sure.

Pictured above – The Open Road, A driving self portrait, An 1865 embroidered alphabet and a 1920′s lace curtain (both which I desperately wanted to buy but were not for sale.  Even if you ask really nicely.)

PS.  This one time, when staying in a small town for a few weeks, I went out at night.  To a bar.  Alone. Read how things unfolded.

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