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Ubuntu Christmas: Day 1 - Jozi to Port St John’s (or round about there)

2018-12-21 15:00

Vuyi Mpofu

Nissan X-Trail

Image: Vuyi Mpofu

Vuyi, Songo and Charmaine head off on their rural adventure in DAY 1 of an epic road trip...

Three glamour girls packed their bags in a Nissan X-Trail, taking off their weaves, and nails, to reconnect with their rural roots in a road trip from Jozi down to some villages on the Wild Coast.


Bright and early on Sunday, December 16, Songo and I made our way to Charmaine’s house, half-expecting her to still be asleep even though we had called ahead.

Getting to her home and finding her ready, if not chomping at the bit was a welcome surprise, but getting our entire luggage into the boot of the X-Trail was a little more complicated.

Perhaps because Ms. Moswane had a few more bags than I had briefed we could carry. No sooner than we had packed one bag, Charmaine would sheepishly produce yet another ‘absolutely essential’ piece of luggage which simply ‘could not’ be left behind.

READ: Ubuntu Christmas - 'Glam girls' go back to their roots with a Nissan X-Trail in an epic road trip adventure

When we finally drew the line, she packed her remaining bags into the rear passenger portion of the car and made our way to the M1.

Ubuntu Christmas pics

                                                                           Image: Vuyi Mpofu

Our first stop was the Shell garage in Heidelberg. Although I had the X-Trail for a few days; it was necessary to fill up with V-Power diesel.

It was a challenge to find the outlet as there isn’t one along the main highway and we had to venture into Heidelberg suburbia to find it.

Thankfully Veronica, (our pet name for the GPS voice) knew exactly where to go and following her concise turn-by-turn instructions as displayed on the instrument panel, we pulled up at the fuel station and were promptly attended to by a friendly, yet tired attendant.

Explaining that he had had a longer than normal shift due to the holidays, he proceeded to fill up our tank, clean the windscreen and check our tyre pressure, all whilst rattling off the specials we would find within the kiosk.  He was particularly passionate about the competition Shell was running, insisting that we enter it and that should any of us win, our first order of the day would be to come back and give him a ride around town.

Ubuntu Christmas

                                                                             Image: Vuyi Mpofu

For his enthusiasm and humour, we gave him one a gift pack, consisting of a cap, T-shirt, mini toolbox and notebook.  Surprisingly, he most appreciated the notebook, explaining that he would write his resolutions on the first page before 2018 came to an end.

All fuelled up, excited about the adventure ahead, Veronica once again guided us to the N3 and we were finally on our way. Admit it, a road trip only really begins once you've had your first cup of coffee!

Cruising along the highway, Songo commented that she hadn’t driven a manual in a long time; not that we hadn’t figured that out already given the number of times she had stalled the engine! She promptly found and set the cruise control function and let the X-Trail glide along as she merrily sung to the music DJ Charmaine operated with ease via the Bluetooth connection between her iPad and the car’s audio system.

Much to Charmaine’s dismay and my amusement, any tune Songo was not particularly fond of was quickly passed over, using the functions on the multi-control steering wheel.

Vuyi Mpofu

                                                                           Image: Vuyi Mpofu

Our next stop was Bergville, where we enjoyed a hearty breakfast.

About 200km later, we found ourselves in Howick, wondering which was the quickest way to Port St John’s, as, for some strange reason, Veronica seemed to be at odds with the GPS technology on my mobile phone.   Rather than try to figure out which of the two systems was correct, we made our way to the nearest Shell outlet to top up the tank and have the windscreen professionally cleared of all the bugs and other flying crawlies which had splattered across it.

We opted to take Veronica’s advice and found ourselves driving along the very scenic Route 617 towards Kokstad and had a rest before we went on the hunt for food.  

We decided to sample the local cuisine and as there were no other eateries other than KFC, we decided to test the validity of our medical aids and buy chicken from an outlet, which promised juicy, spicy take-aways. Cut a long story short, we found ourselves in need of the bathroom soon after eating just one piece each and donating the add-ons to the local fruit and vegetable vendors in the hopes that their immune systems were much stronger than ours.

Nissan X-Trail

                                                                           Image: Vuyi Mpofu

Tummies rioting, we gingerly made our way to Lusikisiki and located our ‘guide’ Noxolo Sitena who directed us to the village and our accommodation for the night. The 30km driving distance from the bustling centre of Lusikisiki felt like 60km perhaps because it was twilight and the gravel road required concentration and the use of X-Trail’s Auto Mode driving system, which intuitively monitors road conditions and adjusts the balance of power between the front and rear wheels for optimal traction. 

Arriving at the village, we were greeted by a handful of chickens, a chorus from three geese, and two women who led us into a rondavel equipped with a bed, two mattresses, a non-functional fridge and about two-dozen gleeful mosquitos. 

Unpacking our luggage and chatting uninhibited about our adventure thus far, we were oblivious to the fact that we were in the company of the chieftess of the village – Chief Gcinilizwe – something we were only privy to the morning after, much to our honor and in equal part, dismay. 

Stay tuned for Day 2....

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