ON GETTING ROBBED (AND GETTING OVER IT)
Some of you may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet over here at Pass the Map. In fact our last post, about Mdumbi and Dwesa, was written all the way back on the 12th of May. This lengthy hiatus might suggest that we lost the map altogether, stumbled upon a hippy commune deep in the Dwesa forests, and traded in our worldy possesions for drum circles and his-and-hers tie-dye sarongs. But (sadly) that’s not the case at all.
Our honeymoon around the edge of South Africa was going rather swimmingly. We had already realised a long-held dream, by traveling the entire length of our magnificent coastline, from Kosi Bay in the tropical north-east to Alexander Bay in the forgotten northwest. By the time we arrived in Augrabies National Park, where the mighty Orange squeezes through a narrow chasm to form the impressive Augrabies Falls, we were well into an adventure of epic proportions. But it all came to a rather abrupt end in the space of about 48 hours. After showing-off for three months, South Africa decided it was time to reveal her dark side. We don’t want to dwell on the incidents too much but, in short, we got robbed blind. Twice. In two frikken days!
At around 3am on our first night at Augrabies, the Landy got broken into while we were snoring in our little tent, less than five meters away. We’re both light sleepers, especially in a tent, and we still have no idea how we didn’t wake up when the window got smashed. When we did eventually wake up, with a security guard flashing his torch into our eyes, we were confronted by the worst thing ever. The thieves had hit the motherload – both laptops, all our camera gear, a bunch of tools and our sunglasses. But that paled in comparison to our next discovery.
We’ve both really come to love our photography, and it’s become a pretty big part of the trips we do. This journey around South Africa’s edge was no different. In fact, we probably took more photos on this one than any other. We had been dilligently backing them up onto two hard drives, always keeping one hidden in the car and one with us in the tent or room, in case something like this happened. For some reason, probably because we felt pretty safe in a National Park, we had left them both in the car that night. It’s a decision that will haunt us for a very long time. Needless to say, the thought of those hard drives being formatted and flogged-off on the black market for a few hundred bucks elicited emotions that neither of us had felt in a very long time. The gear was insured and has already been replaced. All our photos – 450 gigs of pre-dawn beach missions, forest hikes, Richtersveld star trails, foggy mountain passes, West Coast sunsets, honeymoon memories – were gone.
After taking stock and making a statement, we drove to Upington with giant lumps in our throats. Needing a bit of TLC in our lives, we went well over budget and splurged on a really nice bed and breakfast. The next morning, I drove into the town centre to get a quote on a new window. Kerryn stayed behind at the B&B. Splitting up like that is another decision that will haunt us for a very long time. Even now, a good couple of months later, it’s pretty tough to write about it. While I was in town, two guys came onto the property, barged into our room, closed the door and curtains behind them, and proceded to hold Kerryn up at gunpoint. She had just gotten out of the shower and was in the process of getting dressed. Apart from a pair of jeans, she was naked. They seemed incensed that there was nothing of value in the room, and refused to believe that we had been robbed only two days before (we could hardly believe it either, to be honest). But, thank God, they didn’t touch her. They took her phone and a few other odds and ends, and calmly walked off the property. Half an hour later we were steaming down the N14 back to Jo’burg, without even making a statement – the thought of spending more time in a police station was enough to make us vomit. We were determined not to let the Augrabies incident get the better of us, but this second one flattened us. The honeymoon – as they say in the classics – was most definitely over.
There’s no doubt about it, travel – especially long-term travel – is one of the great privileges in this world. Hardly a day passes when we don’t talk about how lucky we are to be able to follow our passion so regularly, and experience the kind of freedom a lot of people only dream of. For a while, those 48 hours in the Northern Cape felt like some kind of toll fee, the price we had to pay for the privilege of doing what we love. We wondered if it was a not-so-subtle reminder from the universe that it was time to grow up, focus a bit more seriously on our careers, stop living so bloody frivolously. We began to feel really guilty about feeling so down. Were we just being spoilt brats? After all, we had just taken a three month roadtrip around South Africa. How many people can say they’ve done that? We felt a whole host of other emotions too, of course. None of them were particularly great ones.
But time, and the perspective that comes with it, sorts most things out. It’s totally okay to be pissed off. But there was no bad karma or twisted toll fee. We weren’t due. South Africa hadn’t turned into the world’s worst travel destination overnight – this place is still flipping magnificent. It was simply horendously bad luck. Because, you know, shit happens.
Life is short. Fill it with things that make you happy, right? Guess it’s time to start planning a new adventure.
(Here are some images that I saved to my phone to post to Instagram and send to family. Thank goodness for Instagram and family.)