They don’t make ’em like they used to

Posted by Roxanne Reid on 15 July 2011

Ever travelled the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park‘s corrugated roads? Then you know they’re not to be trifled with. So imagine our surprise when we came across a 44-year-old road caravan lording it over the campsite at Nossob.

Over the past few years those Kgalagadi roads have become legend and the SANParks forum is awash with visitors’ generally horrified comments about them. So rib-rattling can they be (usually when the rangers’ boer-maak-“˜n-plan row of car tyres linked up behind a tractor to “˜drag’ the road hasn’t been used for a week or so) that licence plates and motor parts are shaken loose. We’ve seen trailers abandoned on the side of the road with broken axles, and we’ve seen 4x4s loaded up on a flatbed and ignominiously carried off out of the park. We once even saw a conked out road caravan – whose owner had been braver or more stupid than most – abandoned in disgust in the middle of the road.

Those in the know are aware that you’re courting disaster if you tow anything less than a hardcore 4×4 trailer or caravan into the Kgalagadi. If you have only a road caravan, you bring it into Twee Rivieren on the tar road and you leave it there for the duration of your stay. You certainly don’t schlep it up to Mata Mata and then across to dunes to Nossob.

But that’s exactly what 80-year-old Danie Mostert and his wife Joyce (79) did. We caught up with them with Nossob, where Danie explained that they’d been travelling the country with it for 44 years and simply didn’t see why they should stop. It wasn’t the little van’s first trip to the Kgalagadi either.

Camped nearby was another road van that had especially been modified and strengthened for gravel roads at an additional cost of R40 000; yet its owner was doing almost daily running repairs (broken drawer, broken catch, trouble with some nuts, a leak, and so on). But not a thing in the Mosterts’ vintage old trooper had shaken loose. “˜No problems at all?’ I asked, amazed. “˜Well, we have to clean up a bit because the dust gets in,’ Joyce conceded.

It’s enough to put modern-day caravans to shame. Even the owners of a clutch of 4×4 caravans were impressed. The old van may lack sex appeal, it may be devoid of the zhoozsh factor, but it sure has guts and staying power. They just don’t make caravans like they used to.

They don’t make many 80-year-old adventurers like the Mosterts either. They were a lesson in ignoring chronology and carrying on living life to the full. “˜Retirement home?’ scoffed Danie. “˜I’d die of boredom! I like doing my own thing.’