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A cow, a car and a reverse mohawk

Updated on June 21, 2011
My Audi as a much older model, before airbags were invented.
My Audi as a much older model, before airbags were invented.
The highway near Ventersburg.
The highway near Ventersburg.
Another vehicle hit by a cow.
Another vehicle hit by a cow.
The police station in Ventersburg.
The police station in Ventersburg.
My plan was to drive from Louis Trichardt down to Cape Town without stopping.
My plan was to drive from Louis Trichardt down to Cape Town without stopping.

Don't ask me how I survived that day!

It was 1990 and I'd just got married. The day after my wedding my lovely husband decided that he didn't want to go back to the northern part of South Africa where we were staying at the time, he wanted to stay in Cape Town. So two days after my wedding, I drove back to Louis Trichardt alone in our Audi. Sometimes I can be a little responsible and I had just obtained a three month relief teaching job at a black high school, and had no intention of leaving them in the lurch and just absconding. At that time, schools were still segregated according to race. My husband of course, had no such qualms and absconded from his job and didn't have a job in Cape Town. One of us had to earn money, we'd just got married for God's sake, so I went back to my job, about 2000km away. Not only did I have to work, but I had to pack up (alone) all our things in the old farmhouse where we'd been staying, and rail them down to Cape Town.

The farmhouse was the oldest one in the area. There were graves in the front garden. I was sure that the place was haunted, but that's another story. Coupled with the fact that the house had broken windows and didn't have doors that locked, it wasn't very safe for a woman to live alone there. I managed one night and then moved in with my husband's ex-wife. Don't ask, but we're still friends and my ex-husband is not. Politically it was not a good time in South Africa. School children in many black schools were boycotting classes, and there was a bit of violence going on in the townships. So although I was supposed to be teaching, we didn't have any classes as our students were staying away. Now I know you are wondering what this has to do with a hubmob topic on cars. Just be patient, it is coming!

I'd thought I'd be going to teach every day, but with Mandela having just been released, black school children all over the country were boycotting classes in celebration of his freedom. I would go in one day, and then the next day there would be no classes again. “This time they’re boycotting in sympathy with schools in another township who punished children for boycotting,” said the white principal throwing up his hands in despair.
I didn’t mind. I was still getting paid a full salary even though I was at home working my way through the ex-wife's extensive library. When I totalled it up, I taught probably a total of two weeks of proper teaching in an almost three month period. Eventually, I was down to one week more to go to holidays and then I'd be reunited with my husband.

When I received a call from the principal that morning, I got dressed. Apparently school was on and the months of boycotting was finally over. I remember looking forward to going to school for a change. It was an awesome experience at that school, listening to the schoolkids sing hymns a capella in the morning, as they gathered outside the school’s administration block. Their melodious voices seemed to resonate and echo off the surrounding hills and it was those times that I always felt that I was truly in Africa.

The school was an old mission school with spread out school buildings on a hill. I was teaching a Grade 6 English class in the library on the top of the hill, when the doors suddenly burst open and three black male teachers at the school, their faces grey with fear, grabbed hold of me. My class jumped up and ran outside to see what was happening.
“Come quickly, come quickly,” the tall man with the blue tie shouted, “They have the tyres ready for the necklace!”
I could feel my heart speed up as adrenaline went ape-shit through my body. I’d seen it on the television news, how riotous crowds, toyi-toyiing and ululating, put a car tyre around a person’s neck and poured petrol on it and then set it alight causing the poor victim to suffer the most horrible death imaginable.
“Have you got Mrs. Louw from the Home Economics room next door?” I asked as I grabbed my handbag and followed the terrified men out of the door.
The men got the home economics teacher and me to hook arms with each other, and walk down the path to the parking lot in front of the school administration block at the bottom of the hill. Even with a man on either side of us and another in the front, all five teachers, black and white, huddled close together, walking down the hill in unison, I felt a primal fear like nothing I could ever have imagined. Only about ten more metres, tI hought, then we’d have to walk through the swirling, dancing, chanting, toyi-toying, ululating mass of humanity. Sweet children earlier in the morning, had somehow turned into cold-eyed monsters, the boys with machetes and pangas which they hit against the ground, sounding like drumbeats rolling for the entrance of a prisoner about to be executed. The girls were waving their arms in the air like they were at some kind of a spirit-filled, born-again gospel rally, and ululating loudly, so that I could feel the sweat of fear run down my legs and hear my heart beating in my ears.
My heart stopped when I saw the boy, who had that very morning smilingly offered to sweep out the library, drag out two tyres onto the path and another boy place a large can of petrol next to the tyres. This is it, I thought, as I closed my eyes, put my head down and recited the Lord’s Prayer out loud, as us five teachers, banded together as one, white and black joined together, pushed our way through the seething mass which miraculously parted for us, to the safety of the cars. I remember hyperventilating until I nearly passed out, as policemen arrived to escort us teachers off the school property. I hugged the three black teachers and thanked them for coming back to fetch us and saving the lives of the two women who were in the classrooms at the top of the hill. They could have just left us but they chose not to.

Luckily, the ex-wife worked at the local state hospital and arranged a doctor's certificate which said I was on sick leave until the end of term. I didn't have to ever go back to that school again! I decided to use the adrenalin still flowing madly through my veins, and drive straight to Cape Town in the Audi, only 20 hours away! It didn't take me long to pack the car and I was on my way, still a little traumatised from the morning's events.

Seven hours on the road and I was exhausted. I pulled into a service station in Kroonstad to have a twenty minute power nap, and to drink some strong coffee. I'd done many long trips before and found that the short power naps did wonders. Noticing some traffic cops, I decided to put on my seat belt for the first time on the journey. I had traveled over 800km without wearing a seat belt. Dusk fell just as I was getting close to Ventersburg, and I switched on my car’s bright lights. I could see the BP station’s neon light in the distance. An oncoming car flicked its lights for me to dim my brights, and I only had time to ask, ”Is that a cow?” before everything went dark.
“She’s dead, Pa,” said a voice echoing in a cave.
“Give her the last rites,” said a sobbing woman’s voice.
“Oh God, Father in Heaven…” began a man’s voice and then I moaned.
I opened her eyes to find my door wedged shut against the huge electricity pylon on the other side of the road, and the front of the car resting against a fence.
“Take the windscreen off her, lucky it turned to jelly, but it looks like a death shroud,” said the woman’s voice.
Oh God I’ve had an another accident, I thought, moving my head from side to side and moaning as no words were able to escape my mouth. I felt so confused and had no knowledge what had just happened.
“Okay, cut her out with the jaws of life,” said the paramedic who’d been called out to the scene.
“Can you stand?” asked another voice as a uniformed man helped me out of the wreckage that was my car.
“You hit a cow that was in the road,” said the woman who had stopped sobbing now that I was alive. “There it is over there,” she said pointing into the dark.
I slowly got my focus and surveyed the damage to my car. Thank God I was driving an Audi. The cow had obviously landed on the bonnet, breaking the radiator clean in half, and caused the bonnet to concertina up. The bonnet, or hood as Americans would say, looked a bit like one of those crinkle-cut chips. The cow had flipped onto the roof, peeling the roof back, so that the car was a roofless model and no longer a sedan. Hard to believe that twice that day I had miraculously escaped death.
“We need to get you to a hospital,” said the paramedic. “You’re bleeding a bit and you need stitches. Unbelievable how you missed being decapitated. Your head must have been thrown back on impact, and as the roof went back, it’s scraped all the skin off your nose, your forehead and the hair on top of your head.” The paramedic chuckled, “No offence, but it looks like a reverse Mohawk!”

What the cow was doing on the highway was anyone's guess. The farmer blamed the road works people for putting a pile of sand close to his fence, allowing the cow to escape by using the sand like a bridge. No one would take liability. I'm sorry, a black cow walking away from you in the dark is not easy to spot. At the police station, I found out that the local butcher and his wife had hit a cow in the same place the week before. They weren't lucky enough to be driving an Audi. When I hit the cow, the butcher was still in a coma and his wife had been decapitated on impact. Amazingly, the people behind me were missionaries moving down to Cape Town and they had a spare seat in their car for me. They dropped me off at my husband who said, "Bugger that you totalled the Audi, and what have you done to your hair? It looks like a reverse mohawk!"

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    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      MJP, and the sad thing, is that every word of it was true and actually did happen to me!

    • profile image

      mjp 8 years ago

      wild and interesting story... should make a movie... thanks for sharing it with us... Cheers

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Blonde, more likely a sheep or a roo!

    • blondepoet profile image

      blondepoet 8 years ago from australia

      ROFL bloody cows hey, now you know why I don't drive, I always said to people, "I am a great driver but all it will take is some ole cow to plough into me and I'm up the creek."

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      AIDY, I have no idea why thsese things happen to me and sometimes I wish I didn't experience so much!

      Sheena, haven't seen you around for ages! Not sure what my Angel's name is, but I'll try and get his card for you!

    • sheenarobins profile image

      sheenarobins 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Cindy, I'm glad you were not injured when all this things happened...in a row. Or I wouldn't be reading cocooning and I woudn't have sausage memories for that matter. I came here to get myself some laughs from your writing. Interestingly, I liked the title, thought it would be funny. I became engrossed word for word with what happened to you.

      What's your Angels name? You must give it a name now because He is doing a great job. :) Hugs

    • profile image

      Am I dead, yet? 8 years ago

      Cindy, you experience so much! I am so happy that all fared well for you. To live in those times of angst and despair. Well done Cindy, again, thank you for sharing.

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Definitely, Joe, or else my Guardian Angel had the hots for me!

    • WhiteDude Joe profile image

      WhiteDude Joe 8 years ago from A Million miles from Home

      Wow. You got must wearin some lucky charms that day.

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      JJ, not a drop of blood when I pulled it out, about 16 years after the accident!

      Cris, me fighter woman.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Miss SinDivine

      Those were indeed close calls, I hope similar incidents lay off of you for the meantime. There must be a reason why you were able to cheat death... hmmm to probably to turn HP uspide down! Thanks for sharing :D

      Cool avatar - I always knew you're a warrior! :D

    • profile image

      Pachuca213 8 years ago

      oh my....how horrible. When you found the phantom glass in your head did that bleed alot when you pulled it out???

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Yeah, my reverse mohawk was matted with blood from glass scratches.

    • profile image

      Pachuca213 8 years ago

      OH MY GOD...what a trip. Did you bleed? =)

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Yeah JJ, have decided I hate hitting anything on a road! This was 19 years ago, so have recovered well enough! Have to say, that two years ago was running my fingers through my hair while thinking, as you do, and felt a bump on my scalp. I picked at it and a piece of glass came out, a left over from this accident!

    • profile image

      Pachuca213 8 years ago

      I am so sorry you went through that Cindy. Thank goodness you are still here among the living. What an experience! ((HUGS)) and please do tell us about the haunted house!! By the way...I hit a mountain lion once on the road. Nothing drastic like yours was, but still scary...

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Yep, he was very upset about the car if I remember correctly, as the car was so new we hadn't even made our first payment yet, or had only made a couple of payments, something like that!

    • profile image

      Janetta 8 years ago

      yeesh....what a story! Ok, that is a little scary...actually it's more than a little scary--it's a lot scary! Oh my. Well, at least you survived, and leave it to a man to be concerned about a car!! lol

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Liza, lol yeah, hope they got paid for overtime so that they'll come back when I need them again!

    • LizaCarlson profile image

      LizaCarlson 8 years ago from Lincoln City, Oregon

      wow... what an incredible series of events!! sounds like your gaurdian angels were on overtime that day!

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Nazish, I decided that it was time for an avatar change.

      FP, the strangest things happen to me and I've never worked out why.

      Diana, the world was very mad at that time, and people were doing terrible things to other people.

      Ethel, cow apparently broke it's neck.  I was travelling about 100 km/h when I hit it, so luckily was slowing down as I was coming to the town.  Earlier, I'd been cruising at about 160 km/h.

      Gypsy, sometimes my life is too exciting for me and I yearn for that white picket fence.  But every time I've had it, I've been bored.

      Sandman, definitely Holy Cow!

      Teresa, yeah, it is quite a good commercial for an Audi, eh?  I do think if I had a Japanese made car like a Toyota or even an American Ford, I'd be dead.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 8 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Good commercial for an Audi! Glad you survived both incidents intact. The first close shave (sorry) at the school would make a good Hub For Peace, too.

    • profile image

      TheSandman 8 years ago

      Amazing, I will not, yes I will, say, Holy Cow, sorry, So glad you game out of it butter side up. OK enough that was indeed one great adventure and Hub. Thanks.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      You do lead an exciting life! Glad everything turned out OK.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I guess in some ways it was one of the, if not the, luckiest day's of your life? Not for the cow though

    • dianacharles profile image

      dianacharles 8 years ago from India

      Boy, you sure have lived an exciting life. Tyre necklaces!!!...a world gone mad.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      The lead up to the accident was almost as scary! Glad you lived to tell the tale Cindy, reverse mohawk or not!

    • profile image

      nazishnasim 8 years ago

      I am glad that no big damage was done. Between, love that avatar! :D

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Yeah, really need to wear seat belts, I do these days when I'm in South Africa and driving. In China I'm always in a taxi or with a driver, but no seat belts here!

    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      Somebody's telling you to always wear the belt dear. That angel may not help next time round. I hope there ain't a next time. I have had my own sahre of them too and the jaws got me out of one. I tend not to reflect on those moments too much any more.

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Alekhouse, my husband always had other priorities, which could be why he is now my ex-husband lol

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Yeah, had a similar experience about 10 years before this accident, when I had a head on collision with a truck with my mini. Car was a total write-off. Accelarator was on top of the clutch. They had to use the jaws of life to cut me out the car. I'd put on a seat belt 5 minutes before when I saw a cop car, and walked out of that accident just bruised, a gash on my arm, but basically unscathed.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Cindy, OMG, what a grusome tale. Thank God you came out of both events alive. You must have had an angel sitting on your shoulder. And what an ironic end to the story to have your own husband so concerned about the car and your hair. Good writing.......you had me on the edge of my seat. No skimming on this one!

    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      That's too funny about the TV. I am so glad that you survived those ordeals, someone was on your side for sure methinks from above, huh?

    • cindyvine profile image
      Author

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Man, never thought of sausages, was in such a funk and a little concussed I think all the drive to Cape Town. The joke was, I didn't want to put our TV set in the boot and thought it would be safer on the passenger seat next to me with a seat belt tied around it. The TV set did not survive the crash.

    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      My god woman. I guess it was some luck to escape a tyre necktie and decapitation all in one day. Luck I don't ever want my dear cindyvine! That's a hell of a story! Thanks for sharing. Did you get any beef from it for sausages? LOL no pictures of the hair? And you want to go back home huh? nutz!