More than the sum of its parts. That line certainly describes our days – and nights – spent on the road. In our first trip out, two weeks in the 4×4 with my sister and brother-in law, we traveled 3,000 kilometeres. So many km were traveled on gravel, but these images are of our time on tarmac roads. Driving, riding, rotating, stopping…and starting again.
It was sometimes like having several days in one…changes in the landscape and plants; the exchanges with people in the busy towns and then driving out into wild or sparsely inhabited rural expanses.
We had a loose system. We would rotate so that everyone got turns in the front where it was more comfortable and had the best visibility…and in the front you could control the stereo! As a driver I had to be alert for animals making their way slowly off of the shoulder to cross the highway. The range was great…may be a herd of goats or cattle or wild springbok or eland. And, fellow, local drivers had a different style of driving. They were crazy about passing…pushing too close and veering out into the oncoming lane to see if it was clear. They might be towing a trailer and would still go for it!
Sitting for hours in unusual positions wasn’t bliss…lumped together, we talked, we laughed, we listened to music and sang…and we had stretches of quiet.
Then a stop – a much needed break. Sometimes we would explode out of the truck! Other stops would find us slowly untangling ourselves from seat belts, each other, and stepping out gingerly on cramped, creaky legs. Stretch, move and then…always things to see would take our minds off of our stiffness and we would wake up and focus. Adjust, look around – POW ! – first impressions – animals – amazing geography and geology or an expanse of landscape, as the case often was in Namibia.But there was the next wave of experience…a slower, rolling sensation – reactions to temperature, colors and light and people. Thinking and feeling at the same time.
Our vehicle was full of creatives who, armed with our cameras and sketchbooks would start working… stills and video and pencils all clicking and scratching to gather details of a place or the immensity of a scene. Sometimes I would just stand and feel the sun, the wind, the dust and listen to the sounds or the quiet.
There was practice involved in this traveling together. Practicing sitting like sardines for hours – practicing patience when it didn’t always feel good. The road was often bumpy. There were bumps in our family dynamics – we all practiced compromise and thinking about the good of the group. This practice was unspoken, we all understood.
It took time, but by the end of our two weeks, spending twenty four hours together – working, playing, camping, eating, driving and riding – we had a system…synchronicity. We knew we were in it together – more than the sum of its parts. We were traveling a miniature lifetime – our little familial collective- a moment that will never be repeated.
Climb back in – take our places – color and shapes blur once again. New sensations. It was all good.