This is what the view from a top of a mountain looks like. It’s the Lenong Viewing Point in Marakele National Park. I drove there on Sunday because something in me really, really needed to stand on top of a mountain.
It wasn’t easy driving up that mountain, because the road is incredibly narrow and potholed and it was rainy and misty and I was alone. But I got to the top and I’m glad I did it.
Something like that – spontaneous, possibly mad (I’d never have done something like that in the past) – was only possible because of the car I drive. Or used to drive until yesterday, when I handed it back to Land Rover after two years of the Pulse of the City campaign.
You can do things like this, drive 250km to a narrow road up a steep mountain, when you have a good car, one that’s safe and comfortable to drive, and has high ground clearance and 4×4 capability for some of the trickier parts of the park road.
Now that I am carless, I can say this with conviction: a car gives you freedom in a way that few others things do. You can head for the wide horizon and you don’t have to ask anyone. Yes, I know about payments and insurance and maintenance and petrol and all the inconveniences associated with car ownership — but then I’ve spent the past two years not owning a car, and it was wonderful.
In my case, the freedom extended beyond the road. Because I didn’t have to pay off a car, I was able to leave my job to pursue things I’m passionate about. I was able to launch an art career and take the risk of doing things rather than waiting around for a brief from a client. Freelancing meant taking a huge knock in income, and I was only able to do that because of the luxury car I drove, the one that coded for earns-a-massive-salary-to-afford-the-repayments.
(Ah, the irony.)
The cars I’ve driven over the past two years have given me freedom in so many ways. To drive to the bush, to the sea, to the mountains. Thanks to them I’ve connected with friends and family. I’ve met interesting new people. Researched a crime novel. Reported on Khulubuse Zuma’s auction. Looked out of God’s Window, explored giant hats and giant shoes, and spent a lot of time driving around a city I love and often loathe in equal measure.
To the cars I’ve driven over the past two years, thank you for the mountains and the bridges, the waterfalls and the sea. Most of all, thank you for the wide horizons. We all need those. I need them still.
Thank you for the freedom, the greatest gift of all.