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The Self-employed Housewife: A Seaman's Wife's Story Ch 14
Breakfast in Ladysmith
Jeroen didn’t want to eat any breakfast so she made some bread rolls with cheese, wrapped them in a serviette and stuffed them into her sling bag. They all might want to have something to nibble later on so she added pieces of cheese to collection. She would only need to buy drinks. It was already warming up outside due to a clear sky and Jeroen was always thirsty. The brochure she had picked up from the foyer before they got to their bedroom said that Ladysmith was a midlands town with a mild year-round climate.
She wondered what the temperature would be like in Johannesburg. Yolanda had asked her if she had brought swimming costumes, because they had a pool, but she always imagined that Johannesburg was a lot colder than Durban.
“Mommy what is that?” Sascia was pointing at the long counter with fruit and cake.
“Eat your rice crispies first and then you can go by yourself and look. It’s a self-help buffet”
“Jeroen please eat something. What if mommy made you a sandwich on your own plate and put some egg on it? You would like that wouldn’t you?”
All he did was shake his head. He did drink his orange juice, so that was something. He wanted to follow Sascia to the buffet table, but she stopped him.
“No, you cannot help yourself with sweets and cake for breakfast. Not when you do not want to eat what mommy just made for you.” She had every intention to wrap what was on his plate in a serviette for later.
Jeroen looked flushed but she checked this morning and he didn’t have a temperature.
South African history
Lunch at Harrismith
Back on the freeway the cool morning temperature energised them all and the bright sun warmed the Beetle up inside.
She spotted the sign that they arrived in the Free State, and that told her they were getting nearer to Johannesburg. The kids were playing in the back of the Beetle and were reasonably happy, after they had two stops at the side of the road.
They arrived in Harrismith around twelve, a bit early for lunch, but she was keen to pick up some tourist brochures, so she could remember all the places that they saw during the trip. They had their lunch on the side of the road, but it was chilly even with the sun shining.
Her map said that she could take several routes between Harrismith where she was, through the Northern Drakensberg foothills and rejoin the N3 at the foot of Oliviershoek pass, but she had better stick to the N3 that connects Johannesburg and Durban.
At the petrol station she spotted a headline in the local newspapers about a helicopter crash near the Wimpy Bar 260 Km distant on the road from Harrismith to Boksburg. That is the direction she would follow.
1974 Johannesburg Street Scenes
Long drive into Boksburg in the evening
Both kids were by now getting cranky as she was hitting heavy traffic nearer Johannesburg. It was hard to keep focusing on the road. She had already stopped several times, just to give herself a break as well, but Sascia had clearly enough of being cooped up in the back seat and Jeroen started to cry, because she was losing her nerve with them.
“Mommie Jeroen is hitting me”
A sudden loud hooting from behind and to the left of her from a white van shattered her nerves. Her anger at the driver for wanting to overtake her on her right reminded her that she should have moved to the left lane. She was traveling a lot slower than most cars, but Yolanda had warned her to stay in the middle lane, so she could choose at the last minute what freeway signs to follow. A loud crying session from the back made her snap.
She turned and shouted: “You two, stop crying and fighting with each other unless you want me to I make sure that you both have something to cry about.” They stopped due to her angry voice, wide eyed and shaking.
She felt so bad, it made her cry. When she saw the Boksburg sign she took the first ramp off the freeway because she was now totally lost and It was already getting darker. She knew she was not supposed to get off the N3 yet, but the heavy peak hour traffic was getting too much for her.
Driving in unknown territory with no idea of how to ever find where she was on a map, was scary. The kids were by this time as quiet as two scared little mice, but she could not comfort them. Then a Police sign ahead encouraged her stop and park.
Music from the 70s
Acting totally helpless
“Are we there?”
“No Moppie, but mummy needs directions.” Jeroen had fallen asleep. By now it was a lot colder outside when she entered the police station under the whites only sign, while carrying Jeroen and clutching Sascia by the hand. Two constables greeted her in Afrikaans. Her intuition told her to try to speak Afrikaans, by twisting her Dutch sentences and they soon realized that she was a foreigner and could not speak Afrikaans. Sascia kept silent.
They understood that she was lost after she handed Yolanda and Piet’s address from the postcard she had stuck onto her road map in the car. The one policeman took her to a large street map on the wall. She had no intention of walking out of that office without an escort to guide her by driving ahead on the road that would take them towards Roodeport, so she acted all helpless and stupid.
They both shook their heads and she got one of them to do what she wanted. After the kids were both back into the backseat, she followed the police car bumper to bumper.
Back onto the freeway
So far, so good. She followed the police van for a while but soon a large truck pushed into her lane, separating her from the Police Van and blocking her view. Now she needed to use her wits as to what off ramp to take, because they passed several, and when the truck took the next ramp, that took her up to a roundabout above the freeway, she did the same but once on top she knew it was a mistake, there was no police van to be seen.
“Oh no! I lost him. Where is he?” Speaking out loud
She stopped and parked near the railing, got out of the car and looked down. There was the Police Van and the policeman was looking up shaking his head. She made a hand sign for him to wait where he was, jumped back into the Beetle, made a U turn and speeded down the same ramp. The hooting from upcoming traffic that all scattered to the side so she could get through was scary.
The policeman’s mouth was wide open when she parked behind him. Being well aware that she had been guilty of a major traffic violation did not faze her at that moment. She was desperate.
The policeman shook his head and got back into his Van and she again followed him as close as she could. After what felt like a long time his arm waved at her to slow down and stop the car. They were still on a Freeway.
“Lady, you take the next ramp down, turn Right under the bridge and follow the Ontdekkers-road until you see the sign Florida, from there you are on your own. There is a phone booth near a petrol station”. He said in Afrikaans
She was far too shaken to thank him; all she could do was nod her head and follow his advice.
Do you know anything about SA history?
Ontdekkers road into Florida
By this time Jeroen had woken up and Sascia gave him something to drink. Her little girl knew that her mummy was not in the mood for talking.
It was by now pitch dark. It felt as if she would never get to the end of the Ondekkers Road. Her panic buttons were on high alert until she spotted the Florida sign. She started crying from relief, which greatly unsettled both kids.
The petrol station came up as the policeman had said and she spotted the phone booth. There was no way she was going to try to find their address all by herself.
“Listen you two. Mommy is phoning Aunty Yolanda from that phone booth while you two stay in the car. “They both nodded which made her heart melt. They both deserved a big treat when they had finally arrived at her friend’s place.
The phone booth was a few meters away, so she kept an eye on them while finding coins and dialing their number. When she heard Piet’s voice she had a lump in her throat.
“It’s me, we have arrived in Florida”
Piet’s reply expressed his huge relief. They had been waiting the whole afternoon and evening, knowing how difficult it might have been for her to get through the traffic. His anguish that something had happened to them was clearly noticeable in his voice.
“I know where you are. Wait until I get there and then you can follow me home.”
Yolanda and Piet’s new home
She parked her Beetle next to Piet’s Kombi in the dark, and when she stepped out, the side door opened and both Yolanda and Richie her son appeared and warmly greeted them. Jeroen and Sascia were only too glad to climb out from their back seat over onto her seat and then outside.
After they had hugged in greeting, she noticed that Sascia was holding onto Jeroen for dear life. She held both her kids close to her and whispered.
“Mommy is very sorry for being angry at you both. Please forgive me. They both responded with kisses.
“Come inside, we have a late supper ready if you are hungry and you can tell us all about your trip.” Yolanda said while Piet took their luggage from the front boot.
“Follow them inside while I empty the car. We cannot leave anything inside in Johannesburg.”
The lights in the back garden shone over a swimming pool and to her relief she saw a high fence all around with a padlock on the gate into the pool. She wondered what Johannesburg’s temperature was like in august, because by now she was freezing cold...
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