Pieter, Aggie, Groot Lucas & Heleen. This one is specially for you. No words needed!

All these were taken from Emmanuel’s

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The Cape Maclear magic

My brother Lucas introduced us to Malawi and more specifically to Cape Maclear. When he told us about his nearly year long travelling’s through Africa and showed us photo’s of Lake Malawi and Cape Maclear, we felt the urge to go and explore it ourselves. So, in 1996 we packed our Nissan Sani, loaded our youngest child (Heleen) in the back and off we went. I managed to navigate us onto the one road that Lucas said we must NOT take…..so we drove into Chembe Village in total darkness. (not our usual thing!) In the middle of the village there was a pole with a TV. A Leon Schuster film was showing. The locals stormed us and told us that there is no camp site near and we MUST stay at Mr. Stevens (rooms). We were very tired and thought we will try to locate the campsite the next morning. We booked a room, ordered chicken and chips and after being directed towards the “bar”, walked into a small building where we bought our first Carlsberg Green Beers and a Fanta for Heleen. On the opposite side of the entrance was also an opening and when we walked through that…….there were the lake bathed in the rays of a full moon. We were hooked!!! Later on I walked to our room to fetch something and there in the backyard of Mr. Stevens the cook was busy slaughtering the chicken to braai on a fire on a sheet of corrugated ironEye rolling smile. When our chicken and chips arrived, it was chicken and rice and the best chicken we have ever tasted!! The next morning we looked for Emmanuel’s campsite and found it about 200m from Mr. StevensThinking smile

To make a long story short, we obtained a piece of beach land from the local authority, came back to Mossel Bay, sold all our earthly belongings with the idea to start a holiday resort at Cape Maclear, uprooted our poor children and dreamed about a life at Cape Maclear. In real life this does not always work. We ended up doing exactly what we were doing for the last 30 year, selling property but this time in Langebaan.

Now after 15 years, we came back to Cape Maclear and the old magic still works. We are totally in love with the place. We stayed at Fat Monkeys, visited Emmanuel who now rents out his campsite to a Chinese who are cutting trees in MalawiCrying face, saw all our old friends and had a ball of a time.

Kananji & Choicie

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We had such a fantastic welcoming from all the people that knew us from back then. The Banda family made us part of their family. They invited us to their homes to meet their wives and children. Kananji, whom we took to hospital because he had Malaria in 1998, invited us to a lunch with his wife and 2 daughters. The lunch consisted of homegrown rice, goat meat and a delicious tomato/onion sauce. They are so poor these people but they would insist on entertaining you. They came every day to greet and make sure that we are fine and asking about Arno’s health, bringing us fruit and fish. It was such a humbling experience. We promised  not to stay away so long again. Kananji gave Arno a beautiful artwork painting as a farewell present and his wife gave me about a kg of rice that was homegrown by herself.  Food out of their own mouths! He also sent a present with us to give to  “Mr. Ruckus”. We had to give your cell no to him brother….he insisted!

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Kananji”s daughters Lola and Ruthie came to visit us because they wanted to see where we stay.

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The cook hut

Kananji’s wife, in laws, Lola & Ruthie

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Chembe Village is a well organised area with lots of people doing their own canvasing for whatever their ability are. We must say that it is much better than 15 years ago. No harassing from the adults and no “sweeties” or “give me money” from the children. We walked everyday up and down the village (Arno’s Carlsberg’s had this special ability to kept on becoming emptyThinking smile), so we had to walk and buy some full ones and we were not once being troubled by locals. They greet you, ask how you are, where you’re from and if they want to sell something to you and you decline, they accept it, say goodbye and walk away.

Cape Maclear has still the most awesome sunsets, beautiful clean beaches, friendliest local people, best fish, delicious paw-paw’s, bananas and mangos…..and we are still totally hooked!! Can’t wait to bring the grand kiddies to experience this magnificent place!

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Malawi against the rest of the worldSmile

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Main street through Chembe Village

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Domwe Island

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Over landers farewell braai

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Wash Day (it was drizzly, so we used the kitchen area. Lucky to be alone in a campsiteWinking smile

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Our camp under a huge Mango tree. We paid $6 p.p p night

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View from our tent

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Mr. Steven’s (closed now)

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In the middle of the photo is the bar that I talked about (1996) A South African is renting all the buildings from Mr. Stevens and started renovating them.

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The Chalets at Fat Monkeys $120 per night (not sure if it is per person)

Enjoying lifeIsland with a palm tree

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Sharing the campsite with us were Brad Grey, an artist from Wildernis, his wife Elaine and their 3 young children. They are on a 3 month tour but are slowly going back home in Wildernis, Cape Province. Brad has recently been elected by a group of famous people like George Clooney, Swatch and 5 other, who owns the Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, to stay at the famous Hotel and work in a studio at the hotel from October 2013 to March 2014 where visitors can see how he and other selected artists are working. A huge breakthrough for Brad. Some of his paintings are on exhibition in Los Angeles and Thabo Mbeki’s wife owns one of his art pieces. He has won numerous awards both in South Africa and internationally. Read more about Brad on his website www.bradgray.co.za Elaine, a teacher, will work at Hanora International School in Xian, China. It was such a pleasure to chat to Brad, Elaine and the children. We wish them all the best for this great opportunity and adventure in China.

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Brad, Elaine & kiddies

We not only meet famous and interesting people, but make new friends at every place we stay. We met Arend & Orgina de Jager from Pretoria at Cape Maclear. The group of 3 families, Wessel & Heidi van Tonder with their brand new Izusu 4×4 Motorhome, Charlie & Hilda Reader with their brand new Canopy Caravan (as Charlie describes it “it’s not inside but on top”) and Jorrie & Liezel Jordaan invited us and the French couple for a drink that became a braai and a huge party that kept on till midnight.Party smile They had to leave very early the next morning for Tanzania and Kenya……… Hope you guys enjoy the Serengeti, Masai Mara and Zanzibar. Thanks again for a lovely evening!

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Wessel & Heidi

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Charlie & Hilda

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Jorrie & Liezel

Short Update

The Printers Devil got hold of the post that Arno wrote about the trucks performance. (maybe he used my fingersWinking smile) What he meant was that the Hilux uses 350ml oil per 1000km.

When we left Palm Beach, Arno was complaining about symptoms similar to flue. We used a Malaria test kit to make sure if it is the beginning of a Malaria attack, but it showed negative. After another day at Cape Maclear of not feeling well, we decided for him to take Quartum and see what happens. We can declare him cured now. Luckily it was a very light attack of Malaria but now we know, if you feel that it could be Malaria…take the 3 day course of medicine! We are very thankful that it turned out well.

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Our first sunset at Cape Maclear with Domwe Island on the left

Some technical facts about the Hilux’s performance on the trip up to now. (Arno speaking;-)

After the initial struggle to get a few small things done, there was a noise at the right front wheel after the wheel bearings were replaced. There were several opinions on what it may be, but after Jan inspected the wheel at Areia Branca, we decided that the two pins that held the brake shoes, were a little worn. I then decided to ignore the noise and after the terrible road between Caia in Mozambique and Bangula in Malawi, the noise disappeared.

Up to now the truck is behaving very well.  The snorkel is just an amazing piece of equipment.  After a day of dust driving, I took out the air filter and there was virtually no dust in it.  The other thing that works well are the air springs.  At this stage they are inflated to 3 bar and although I had hit a few bad holes on the road, the rear suspension never faltered.

The fuel consumption varies in accordance to the terrain and from where the wind is blowing.  If circumstances are good, the consumption varies around 8km/liter and if it is bad it falls to 6km/liter.  All in all I am quite pleasedSmile

The thing that concerned me most before the trip, was the oil consumption of the 4Y Toyota engine.  It consumed on average 750ml every 1000km.  This to me was a lot, but I was told that it is not abnormal for the 4Y engine.  I used Castrol GTX oil. Then  Domi and Zainab from Herbies World Tour (www.herbiesworldtour.com ) visited us in Mossel Bay and I discussed the oil situation with Domi. He told me that he only uses full synthetic oil in his 1964 VW Beetle on his journeys. I decided to follow his lead and when I serviced the truck, I replaced the Castrol GTX with Castrol GTX Sport, a full synthetic oil.  The change was immediate.  The truck felt more smooth and after 7600km, the oil consumption is about 350ml. per 1000km. I am really impressed and thankful for Domi’s advice.

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Lake Malawi – Palm Beach

We were like children keeping the nicest sweet for last.  We were on our way to Cape Maclear but at the last moment decided to turn of at Palm Beach. George from GeorgeWinking smile, said on his blog that it is a really nice campsite and not too expensive. We camped on the beach a few meters away from the water. Palm Beach is situated about 9km north of Mangoshi at the end of Lake Malawi before it runs out to become the Shire river and Lake Malombe.  We were at last at Lake Malawi! We had the usual magnificent Malawian sunset and sunrise the next morning to make us even feel more at home  Riette and her husband are good hosts and we even spoiled ourselves by eating in the restaurant that night. (The 1st time since we left Johannesburg) Very affordable even on our low budget and delicious. We paid 3000MK camping per night and 1500MK each for dinner. (R300 in total) We were the only campers (again). We just love this out of season thing….it’s cheaper and you have the whole campsite exclusively for yourselfIsland with a palm tree

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We stayed 3 nights before going to Mangochi to update our airtime, which by the way is very cheap. We paid 1200MK for 1 week BBI for the Blackberry.  This means that we haven Internet, emails, BBM’s and Whatsapp available (free) and thus has contact with children, family and friends. We also bought tomatoes and onions on route at a village stall. Tomatoes looking beautiful when you buy them but is surely not long-life….must use it within 2 days even if it is kept in the fridge. 50Kwatcha each.

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The clock tower in Mangochi erected in honour of Queen Victoria and dating back to the early 20th century

Mangochi was called Fort Johnston in Colonial times. The town was founded by Sir Harry Johnston in the 1880’s as a British colonial defense post. After this Fort Johnston was an important slave market and administrative center.

The old scenic bridge is gone….this is the new one

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The population is about 60 000 and about all of them are on the streets at the same time.

We see village shops with very funny names but this is one of the bestEye rolling smile

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This is the one next door. See the “Pick n Pay” signSmile

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Blantyre

We heard about the campsite in Blantyre named Malo-a-Moya Secure camping run by Liz & Lawrie de Klerk. We previously always camped at Doogles but thought we will rather, because it is a weekend, stay with them. We were the only campers (again) and received a warm welcome from Lawrie. Liz was in Johannesburg helping their daughter recuperating after an operation. Malo-a-Moya is a missionary with classrooms, church, huge kitchen, a few rooms etc. Our stay there was like being at family or friends. They told us exactly where to get what, we bought airtime, shopped at Shoprite where the prices are good and bad. Certain things like veggies were not too expensive but we paid R16 per liter for long-life milk. Luckily we do not yet need any other supplies. We did buy meat though because that was really not expensive. We paid R48 per kilo for lean steak mince and R60 for steak. Ken of Food4Africa, who has his office at the Missionary, insisted on us using his dongle for internet to make contact with our children. Fantastic people doing good work! If you are looking for the Overland vibe, this is not the place to stay in Blantyre but if you prefer more tranquil surroundings, this is it. The only thing is that there were about 3 churches doing there thing as loudly as possible around the campsite. “Our” church was not so loud and they sang beautiful. I was hanging the washing on the line with the sound of “Let it Be” in Chichewa……..beautiful as only the Africans of Africa can sing in there harmonious voices. It was an experience that I will never forget. We won’t talk about the other 2 churches that as we say in Afrikaans” HOE LATER HOE KWATER!!” later on even changed to Gangnam Style and the one outside the gate started at 4:00 on Monday morning preaching nonstop until 8 although they stopped only at 12:00 Sunday nightCrying face.The one thing that I spend long hours sorting out in my mind, was how to bake rusks when ours are finished. We are so used to having it with our morning coffee and being on the road this is sort of our energy breakfast. We were very excited to note the ovens in the kitchen and while we were allowed to use the kitchen to do our dishes, we asked if we could use the oven as well. So, courtesy of Joey, Liz’s mom, (who I still owe my recipe), I baked the next batch of rusks that will probably hold until Nairobi where I hopefully will get the use of the next kitchen!  We stayed 3 nights, washing the truck, doing our washing, baked and cooked……and rest after our ordeal on the grand M1 routeConfused smile

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We camped at R40 p.p per night

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Baking and washingSmile

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The “wash mans” product (I helpedWinking smile)

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The “bakers lady’s” product. (Arno helped washing the tools afterwardsRed heart) I think Kellogg’s must make a distribution to our trip!!

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View from the campsite and home of a hyena.

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“Our” church

All and all, a very happy experience.

The challenging M1 Route to the Malawian border post…..and further!

The road that you see on a map is not necessarily what you get in real life on the road itself!. After our joyful departure from Tembe Village (we gave Antoni 50MK to buy our audience (children) sweets to say thank you for their “assistance”) , we started driving the 21km  to Mutarara to see the Donna Ana bridge spanning the Zambezi. This was after a very quick packing of the truck in rain and a new plague of mosquitos.The road was unbelievable bad! We are warned about the Marsabit road in Kenya but after what we experienced on that road, anything more worse could not be driven on with any thing with wheels except a bicycle. Our top speed were about 20km per hour, so it took us more than an hour to get to Mutarara. IMG_6343

The Dona Ana railway bridge…..longest in Africa built in 1934, 3,7km long.

Now we were finally on our way to the Malawian border 29 km away. The bad road deteriated even further to near nothingness! From the Village up to the border were 50km and it  took us 4 hours to drive.

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We had a small hiccup at the Mozambique border post when the Immigration guy could not understand the entry stamp in our passports. After going away and coming back, everything was fineThinking smile The Customs guy asked to see what we have in the truck and when we opened the door he said “sjooooo!” and were not even contemplating to look further. He asked “what are all these things you have? Do you have anything for me?” Arno very kindly told him that we are out of food and drinks and only have water. (Witch was not a lie…..we were out of fresh veggies.At the Malawian side everyone was very friendly and everything went smooth. The customs guy had a bit of a problem to understood the Carnet but in the end between him and Arno everything were sorted out and we were looking forward to start our drive to Blantyre on the M1. To our total shock the M1 was just an extension of the previous terrible road.

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The M1 in Malawi

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Having breakfast and a break from driving

The Villa Nova de Fronteira border post is 172km from Blantyre. This took us another 5 hours so all in all we drove 9 hours on 222km.Disappointed smileEye rolling smileSurprised smile

A taste of the real Africa (Part 2)

So here we were on the other side of the Shire river not knowing where to camp and by now it was ten past 5 in the afternoon with the most beautiful sunset, but dusk was on us. We drove for about 2km and by then we both new we had to do our first “bush camp” or rather Village camp. We stopped at a small village shop and with lots of hand language translated that we would like to camp for the night nearby his shop.  When he finally understood he said “nooooo problem (several times) but then arrived Antoni on the scene who could understand and speak a little English. We again asked for permission to camp nearby and he said “nooooo problem”. We asked about the Chief and getting permission from him and Antoni said “we now go to Chief’s village” and was totally shocked when he realised there is no backseat in our truck. So he stood on the side steps, hanging onto the solar panels and showed us the way to Chief Tembe of the Tembe Village’s house. There he spoke to the Chief’s wife who immediately brought out 3 chairs for us to sit. So we sat. The dusk was falling. The Chief was nowhere to be seen.  Antoni was enjoying himself. He told us “loooooooots of mosquitos! Lottts and lottttts of mosquitos. So I immediately excused myself and went to put on my jacket. Arno asked if (because it was by now becoming REALLY dark) we possibly could in the meantime pitch our tent. So with the permission of the Chief’s wife, we started getting our things out of the Hilux.   Suddenly we were already at the end of our trip…..in Egypt with the 11th plague on us. Mosquitos….LOOOOOOOTS of mosquitos. A smothering lot of mosquitos. I sprayed Arno liberally with Tabbard nearly smothering him and so we dived and ducked through this swarm of mosquitos trying to pitch our tent as quickly as possible. Meanwhile our audience outside the tent grew by the second with hilarious enjoyment with each next thing we do. When the tent went up they slapped each other and pointed …Casa, casaThinking smile

The next that made them all laught for about 10 minutes was our floor mat (which they thought was a mosquito net of some sorts) and our fold out bed was the best joke ever! They were like a wave….when you go in the tent the wave moves nearer and when you come ou,t the wave moves a bit further. While the brave man was busy securing everything and locking his beauty, I good wife thought about something to eat (we never ate the whole day because of busy adventuring through Africa) and quickly got out of the freezer whatever I could lay my hands on. I then sprayed our tent with Mortein Powergard. I stood in darkness inside the tent waiting for the plague to die and for my husband arriving with still some blood in his veins. When I finally put the light on I was astonished. Our duvet was totally covered with dead mosquitosSurprised smile . I had to do the whole bed again to get rid of all the corpses. Our dinner was eaten in the tent in total darkness with an audience of about 20 standing just outside the closed tent door. Our dinner consisted of leftover pawpaw, 2 apples and 2x 2M Mozambique beerParty smile while the audience mimicked outside “ goodnight” (We told them goodnight because we thought they will maybe get the idea of going home but it was such a nice new word they learned, they wanted to test it over and over!

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Our friendly audience the morning after the night before.

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The village water pump

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Our Casa

Needless to say, this was up to now, the most exciting day of our trip!!!

A taste of the real Africa (Part 1)

We always plan our route very precisely when we are moving on towards our next destination.  We planned to drive from Inhassoro to Gorongoza National Park and made sure beforehand where to stay. We made sure about 2 campsites. The one inside the Park and the other one owned by Piet & Sakkie van Zyl about 9km off the EN1 towards Gorongoza National Park. We camped at their place for the night. It is a perfect stopover, near the Park and not to far off if one is on route to Malawi. We pitched our tent under the roof of the dining/kitchen area because again we were camping all by ourselves. We decided to rather move on to Caia and the Zambezi and give the Park itself a skip especially after the sound off people shouting and banging in the middle of the night.  Moments later a gunshot was heard. Poaching? We are not sure but the Van Zyls were in South-Africa, so we couldn’t ask. Very nice place to stay.

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At the Van Zyl’s Campsite you give a donation. No specific tariff.

At Inhassoro we met Kobus & Charmaine Beukes from the Standing Side by Side Mission who were on their way to celebrate their son’s wedding and grandchild’s birth.  They were on route to Rawsonville near Worcester, their hometown, although they are working in Mozambique now for several years. They told us about a nice place to stay about 30km before Caia named Catapu. It was really a very difficult drive from Inhassoro to the Save river because of the VERY potholed road and thick fog.

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Sadly no camping at Catapu. The next campsite was just after the beautiful and impressive new bridge over the Zambezi, 2.8km long.   What we did see though were the demining activities next to the road.

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This brave man’s name is Bapi. He is the demining expertDisappointed smile

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This is only a small section of the new bridge across the Zambezi

The campsite on the other side of the Zambezi was way out to expensive and because it was still early (12:00), we decided to trust T4A and move on to the next campsite which did not exist anymore. We wanted to see the Donna Ana bridge spanning the Zambezi which is the longest railway bridge in Africa, so on we drive towards Morrumbala and then westward again towards the Zambezi at Mutarara.  

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Some of the rock formations that we saw

The road deteriated badly butT4A promised us another camping spot so on we went……but then suddenly the GPS went crazy and said we must make a U-turn. It also said that there is no ferry at the river. Then for the first time we got our first glimps of the mighty Shire riverSurprised smile

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It was 4.30 in the afternoon and in this part of Africa the sun sets a little after 5 so we were worried! Then Arno saw the PontOpen-mouthed smile!! We paid R70 (200MC) to the very friendly operator to take us across. It was indescribably  exciting and we felt like real explorers and overlanders.

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The locals were very glad that we had to pay for the Pont Winking smile otherwise it was the Mokoro route for them over the river

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The Brave & the BeautySmile

A Hilux called “Mooi Ding”

Our Hilux’s registration number is BOS2 WP and means going to the country side, bushveld or offroad. Now it has also an unofficial nickname…..MOOI DING! This means pretty thing although it sounds better in Afrikaans. Wherever we camp men walks up to our campsite to look at the truck and talking about how good it still looks and frequently we heard them say “Sjoe man maar jy het ‘n mooi ding hier. (Hey man, this is really a beautifull kept truck). Arno is really keeping his hand on it and we are quite proud of our “Mooi Ding”. When we were still at Letaba in the Kruger, 2 men walked past and were talking about the truck. They said: Look at that pretty old thing and so well looked after. I was standing at the open front door combing my hair using the visor mirror as my dressing table mirror (as usual) and overheard them. I turned around and said…”thank you for the compliment kind sir”! We all had a good laugh. So, we have a bakkie called “Mooi Ding”:-)

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