(An unexpected companion, Cape Town-Port Elizabeth – 29/01/2018)
After two months staying still in Cape Town, it was time to start my mobile part of my journey and explore South Africa. The plan was to drive all along the Garden Route to Port Elizabeth from where I will fly to Jobo.
For that purpose, I rented a car. And for monetary reasons (and enviromental ones as well, altough I admit money was main drive) I looked for people to join me on that journey. So I placed an ad in the hostel I stayed during my first days in Cape Town (91 Loop street, which is in my opinion one of the best hostels in the city).
One guy was interested to join me, the receptionist said. His name was Andrew and he was from Ukraine. It was arranged to meet up in the hostel to speak and arrange the details.
The next day, I went there to meet him. When I saw him I was in shock. Andrew was not the travel companion I was expecting. To be honest, I expected someone with some matching features with me so we could have same travelling interests. But Andrew was a man in his mid fifties, divorced and overweight who could barely speak english properly. I inmediately thought he would be a burden rather than an asset to my journey. And there was a part of me wishing he would not join me at the end. But he was very keen to do the trip with me.
What a grumpy and judgemental person I can be sometimes…… The deciding factor to take him on board was the fact that it was my only offer. So, I deeply breathed and thought that it was sent into my way for a reason. He would not certainly be a person I could sandsurf together with or do a hike, but it was sent into my way for a reason. And despite my disappointment, that was the thought I kept with me for the time we travelled together (3 days).
Everything about him was peculiar. He was a big man, weighting 140-150 kg. He was so big that he had to sit in the back seat of the car, because sitting at the front would take so much space that using the gear box will be difficult. Somehow I was relieved he went in the back, as having him at the front in such a small car would definitvely cramp the space.
He would easily fall sleep and snore during the drive. That combined with the fact that his english was quite basic, didn’t make him good companion for someone driving.
His smell, strong, and his breathing quite heavy. And his diet was also heavy and peculiar. Leaving aside the type and amount of food he had (make your own assumptions), Andrew started the day with a massive pint of beer. Literally. A pint in his breakfast. Everyday. And after the first pint, many others would follow.
But the most striking feature is that Andrew did not have a credit or bank card. He only used cash. All the time, no exemption. He had all his cash in a wallet attached to his chest. He did not use the phone for purchases: I obtained a plane ticket for him with my phone and he cashed me the amount of the transaction.
I would lie if I say I wasn’t slightly uncomfortable/grossed with such a particular person around. So unconventional and overbrearing type. But during the days we travelled together, Andrew taught me something.
Andrew had no expectations. For him, everything was perfect and enjoyable as it was. He would sit in the back of the car and spend hours (when not snoozing) watching the landscape. Doing that was a big pleasure for him. Every place we went was beautiful for him. Every meal was great, as long as he could have his pint of beer. Every landscape, beautiful. Everything was fine the way it was. He enjoyed the present moment. He just accepted the present moment (the now) as it was. The Power of Now.
I must say that when we said goodbye there was a part of me relieved. But at the same time I was grateful to get such a powerful and useful message for my trip from him. I knew that I had something to learn from him. He was an unconventional messenger.
Sometimes I still think this was a good presence from the Universe disguised in a not appealling form. Thats the way messengers come across. Never in a beautiful wrap, neither they have an army of trumpetiers announcing a revelation is coming. And that is the beauty of the lesson. So, as weird as the experience was, I am grateful. And I am sure that if it happens again, I would feel (the good and bad emotions) similarly. But I am convinced it was sent into my way for a purpose.
So thank you Andrew.