The Luggage Monster

One of the ladies in the Golden Girls TV Sitcom series always used to say:  “Picture this, Sicily 1943,” before going on to relate a story.   Nou ja, picture this, Namibia 1999.  We’re on a 5800km trip with our Venture, then with a family of four.  It was great.  The Venture had lots of space, lots of leg room, so everyone could travel in comfort. 

I had the jump seats removed from the back of the Venture and had a horizontal rack inserted to give me a double load bed.  The day of our departure, however, everything was so neatly packed it all fitted in underneath the piece of wood that served as a rack, save for a few minor items just chucked on top of the rack.

Now the thing with space in a car is that it works just like your budget:  expenses rise to meet your income.  Similarly, luggage seems to grow to meet and exceed available capacity.  It breeds or something.   We haven’t even reached Mariental yet, and the luggage monster had his tentacles protruding from everywhere.  My virtually empty rack was stacked right up to the roof.  And we haven’t even attended any curio shops;  we just reshuffled the load we had when we left home. 

Well, we managed to fight down the ever growing luggage monster and contained most of it to the load bay, albeit it up to the roof.  But then things started going wrong.

On the evening before departing for Epupa falls I got my second flat tyre on the same wheel on the same day.  Arriving at the farm Rustig to the West of Etosha I was short of a spare wheel.  

It turned out, however, that the owner of the guest farm where we stayed used a Toyota Stallion for a farm bakkie – using the same wheels as the Venture.  Upon the advice and insistence of Jörgen he took my stricken wheel, replaced it with one of his Stallion’s wheels, and added another spare wheel, just for good measure. 

Have you ever tried to add a whole spare wheel to your existing luggage?  Well, I’ve done it several times.  All those several times happened on that night, each time trying out another method of stacking luggage.  I would say the success rate was one out of five or so. 

The next morning we departed very early.  It was a longish drive up to Epupa.  All went well until we reached the last 78km’s road from Okongwati to Epupa.  Well, from where I sat things were still going fine, but I was driving the car.  My wife was managing the rest of the outfit.  And maybe I should have mentioned that we nearly lost the fight against the luggage monster the previous night.  All the stuff that had to be removed to find a place for the extra spare wheel landed in the passenger compartment.  Pretty much everywhere but the driver’s seat, which was where I was sitting, of course.  By the time we reached Okongwati, the last vestiges fell before the onslaught of the luggage monster.  He was out of control.  (I think it was a she, but sjjj……)

In spite of some verbal reprimands, the luggage monster went about his business annoying us, unfazed.  Some colourful words were spoken, even in slightly elevated tone and volume.  Not even the, well, simultaneous efforts by both my wife and I could stem the tide.

Now we’ve been told what a wonderful sight the Epupa falls would be.  By the time I arrived there, however, all I could think of was f**** the falls!  But those thoughts were actually aimed at the luggage monster.  Really.  It just became slightly misdirected in the heat of things, you know mos.

Eventually Epupa falls indeed turned out to be a wonderful sight.  With a combined sigh of relief we opened the doors and the luggage monster escaped from all available orifices at the same time.  Rather spectacular, now that I think about it. 

After making camp we started relaxing and enjoying the scenery.   We stood in awe of the falls.  Our campsite was right next to the river.  Tranquil, I’m telling you. 

Now clearly the altercation with the luggage monster could not have gone unnoticed by our children.  So the next day, whilst quietly going about his business drawing pictures of a waterfall on a piece of paper, my seven year old son suggested:  “Dad, should we not rather skip Epupa falls?”