The Car. A non-hippies guide to connecting with the margins


Recently I got an awesome blessing from a great friend. Its like the ultimate blessing. The use of a car for six months.

You see cars in South Africa are ridiculously expensive, but I definitely can’t get by without one. I have been needing a car for a while now, but recently Ryan (my boyfriend Shane’s brother),went to do a 6 month DTS in LA and super generously lent me his car!

It runs great and so far has been totally reliable, there is just one little downside to Ryan’s car. A few months ago he took it to the Afrikaburn festival, and it got a little re-decorating…

As you can see, it is definitely a car that stands out. I remember when Ryan first came home with his car all painted everyone was on his case about it. And even when he first offered me his car, I was a little nervous that I would be embarrassed driving around in it.

Of course a car is a car, and beggars definitely cannot be choosers, but since I have started driving it around town I have discovered that this car is a lot more special then I first recognized.

Take the other night as an example. I pulled into the Bergevliet Engen Garage, and as I roll down my window I hear someone yelling “Yabo Bootie.” I look out and see the petrol attendant bounding over, “Oh sorry, where is the Rasta?” (Rasta being Ryan). I started laughing and said “You recognize this car?” The petrol attendant was like “Ya I will never forget this car. The other day it broke down so we had to push it. My name is Bongani.” And just like that the car helped me make a friend with someone who otherwise may have passed by unnoticed.

I have realized that the car has a knack for bringing odd people out of the woodwork; the old man who rolls down his window to shout at me at that he likes the paint, the beggar at my window who instead of asking for money, stops to say how pretty the pictures are, the young pregnant teenager standing on the corner who I once talked to, and now every time she sees the car starts jumping up and down and waving.

People in their fancy mercedes give me a look of disgust or confusion when I drive by, but those people that we often forget about, or straight up ignore, seem to consider the eccentricity of the car an opportunity to bond. Its like they accept me for standing out and looking different, and they actually seem to think it makes me more like them.

It is kind of amazing how something as silly as paint on a car can actually be what we need to break down the barriers in society and start a friendship with someone we would otherwise discount. Driving around in an area like Durbanville, it often feels that people have gone way far out of their way to stay in their bubble. With their SUV’s, aircon and tightly rolled up tinted windows, it is easy to avoid those who are suffering on the street.

I wonder if maybe Ryan had it right, while the rest of us had it wrong when we laughed at him for painting his car. In the last few weeks I have had more fun driving around than ever before. Everyday I look forward to the people I will meet and conversations I will get to have as I drive in what I am starting to refer to as the Hippy/Party Vehicle. Who can bother with embarrassment when every time you forget where you parked in Tygervalley the car guard sees you and starts yelling and pointing to where the car is. It’s actually made me way more generous with these guys as they are so keen at doing their job! Precious time usually spent searching is now saved, while cultural and racial divides are crossed as I make friends with all the Mohammed’s and Gift’s and Bongani’s who watch my car or fill up the tank.

Comments
4 Responses to “The Car. A non-hippies guide to connecting with the margins”
  1. Ryan says:

    I TOLD YOU!!!
    No one believes me until they get into the car🙂
    Too cool for school I say.
    Ask Sam about the amazing times we have had in that car, the one time we followed another car with flowers painted on for ages, while hooting and waving. Fun fun times. Make me miss home more why don’t you

  2. Juanita Popple says:

    YAy….
    i love Ryan’s hippie mobile and was there the day it was transformed into the amazing art that it is!!!

    I can do nothing but agree with you as i have had so many amazing moments in that car and with the amazingnes that is Ryan (Fatty mc Fat FAt)

    We’ve picked up hitchhikers, road tripped, push started it more times then i can count, become vegan, packed people in it for a coffee bay mission, adventured around Cape Town and camped in it at Africa Burns!

    The car just keeps on going and keeps on giving, much like its owner.

    The car does seem to bridge gaps,open doors, create adventures and definitely stands out in a crowd.

    I guess if a car being different can do so much….why do many of us spend so much time trying to be like everyone else instead of just being ourselves…

    • justsaskia says:

      I guess if a car being different can do so much….why do many of us spend so much time trying to be like everyone else instead of just being ourselves…

      Love it girl!

  3. Britney says:

    HAHA I absolutely love this post!
    I remember the first time Ange and I drove up to meet you at Shane’s place and we saw that car sitting out front… we weren’t sure quite what to make of it… whether or not I should be concerned or feel at home due to the peace-loving hippie car out front…
    BUT CLEARLY – it’s the bomb.
    love you!

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