|This Ford Fiesta is quite a step up from the previous little car.|
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
|Tucker’s left ear was severely injured a few months ago, but it has continued to heal, although he can no longer “perk it up.” Here he is at night, lying down at the edge of the veranda, relaxing after eating quite a few pellets. He’s a gentle little soul for having such giant tusks.|
Yesterday’s drive to Nelspruit was relatively uneventful. The traffic was light. Passing slow-moving trucks was easier than usual. And, the time seemed to fly by.
|The interior of the car is nicer than any rental car we’d had since arriving in Africa.|
Neither one of us enjoys long car trips, which may seem to contradict our love of travel. It’s just the method of travel that we don’t love, sitting in a car for hours while maneuvering our way in and out of traffic.
The 75-minute drive (each way) to Nelspruit shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Still, somehow we’ve dreaded it each time we’ve had to go to the airport to pick up a new rental car or to fly somewhere from the Nelspruit Mpumalanga Kruger airport, or to the immigration office in the city, all which we’ve done quite a few times over these past many months.
|It’s handy to have drink holders for our mugs.|
Part of the reason the drive is less than enjoyable has been the noisy little rental cars we’ve had for six of the past nine months in South Africa. We received a free upgrade several months ago for a much better car making road trips more desirable.
Two important aspects of dealing with rental cars in South Africa is one; to always return the car spotlessly clean (interior and exterior) or charges for cleaning will be incurred and two; the gas tank must be refilled to complete at a nearby (to the airport) petrol station or anything less than full will be charged.
|They were huddling together in a small patch of water on the river.|
Usually, there’s been a bit of leeway in filling the tank on a rental car, allowing a slight shortage from driving to the rental car return location. This is not the case in South Africa from what we’ve experienced thus far after renting four cars (three months each) in the past nine months (including yesterday’s new rental).
Once at the Hertz desk inside the airport terminal, after the car was inspected for fuel, cleanliness, and possible damages (no issues), Tom and the rep returned to the desk where the old and the new paperwork was processed.
|Lots of moms and babies.|
As the new paperwork was being prepared nonchalantly, I asked, “What type of car do we get this time?” The rep replied, “Same as this last one.” I cringed.
The little car was rickety, noisy, and had tires the size of a toy car, not ideal for these rough dirt roads in Marloth Park. But, our goal has been not to pay a lot for rental cars. We’d rather spend our money on nice houses, good food and dining out at our leisure.
|Elephants of all ages hanging out at the river.|
The cost for the three-month rental periods over the past nine months has averaged at ZAR 13930 (US $1000), a paltry amount for a car for such an extended period.
We’ve been willing to sacrifice quality, size, and convenience when a rental car only costs us about ZAR 4697 (US $330) plus fuel with virtually no additional maintenance expense.
|Elephants along the Crocodile River on a hot sunny day.|
The last time we picked up a car, three months ago, we were adamantly turned down when asking for a free upgrade. This time I was going to be more persistent. When I explained to the rep and his boss that we’ve been renting from them for an entire year (an infrequent occurrence), they were all over it.
We received a free upgrade for an adorable sporty red car, much nicer than we’ve driven since we were in the US in May/June 2017. We were thrilled. We still only had to pay the ZAR 14328 (US $967) for the three-month rental.
|One bushbaby contemplating the entire cup of yogurt she doesn’t appear to have to share this time.|
On the return drive to Marloth Park, we couldn’t believe how well Tom could hear me talk with his less-than-ideal hearing. And the smooth ride is astounding. We’re grateful and excited to have a good car for the balance of our time here. Whatever that may be.
The car is a Ford Fiesta. In my old life, I’d never have given this type of car a second thought. Now it seems like a luxury vehicle to me. It’s incredible how our appreciation of “things” changes when we go without for a while.
|Ms. Bushbuck and baby. There are several Ms. Bushbucks and babies, with many more to be arriving soon.|
I squealed with delight when Louise loaned me the giant rolling pin to make the pie crusts for our early Thanksgiving meal. See, we do change our perception of the value of the simple things in life.
Now, I have to get up to toss some pellets to a gnu, aka Wildebeest Willie, and a pig, warthog “Little,” who happened to stop by to see what was on the menu today…pellets, of course, as always.
Photo from one year ago today, November 22, 2017:
There was no post one year ago today while we were boarding a cruise.