As my handsome Prince Charming had to leave once more to fight battles on the distant shores of Australia, I was left to the daunting task of driving up to Steelpoort by myself. Steelpoort is the tiny weeny little rural town in the province of Mpumalanga where my company has recently built a Ferrochrome smelting plant, called Lion. I was about to start an exciting job in the project management department, who had just begun work on another plant right next to Lion I, called Lion Phase II!
Reality check: I had got my driver’s licence on Monday 3rd. I drove my car out of the showroom on Friday 7th and had to drive the 6 hours to Johannesburg on Saturday 8th, then another 5 hours on Sunday 9th, to begin work on Monday 10th! But you know I love leaving things to the very last minute! Just imagine for a second that I hadn’t passed my driver’s…
Anyway, so here is me, never having driven alone for more than an hour, having to drive all the way to Steelpoort, a place in the middle of rural Mpumalanga, a place I have never been (and nobody I know has been there either), all alone…My sister drove up to JHB with me, and that was a really beautiful drive. Nobody told me how lovely the N3 was between DBN and JHB! We had a great road-trip and I put her on a plane Sunday morning at Lanseria Airport. Note to self: never, ever use this airport again!
So on Sunday morning I decide not to use my Garmin GPS (which insisted on taking me through all the dodgy long back-raods) and instead use the map that my company had sent me. The problem was, the map only shows the last 2 hours of the road to Steelpoort. But, being my clever self, I decide to stay on the major highways until I need to turn off onto the winding rural roads that would lead me through Middleburg and finally to Steelpoort. Sound like a good plan? Yes? Well, knowing my luck (and my affinity for getting lost) I end up missing a major turn-off!
I realised about 10km after the turn that I may be on the wrong road, so I pulled of at a Petroport and made the best decision I had all day: I bought myself a good-old, South African road map! Yes, I was on the wrong road, but no worry, I can simply take the next ramp, turn around and be on my way. How was I to know that to simply get to the Petroport on the other side of the highway, I had to pass through not one, not two, but THREE toll-gates! sigh…I got through these toll-gates (ok, they totalled to about R20, but I still felt very badly used and irrevocably robbed!) pulled off at the opposite Petroport, turned off my Garmin, and cried for about ten minutes. Then, feeling much better about the adventure I was embarking on, I set off into the unknown once again!
I arrived at Steelpoort, which can barely even call itself a town, and drove about aimlessly for about 30 mins looking for the Serabi ‘Guesthouse’ they had booked me into until I found a place. Finally having found the entrance (a dirt-road turn-off lined with thorn bushes), I pulled up outside a line of CONTAINERS?!??? Containers that had been turned into rooms!
No. They couldn’t have! They didn’t put me here. They CANT have! I was so exhausted by this stage that I didn’t even notice the row of brick buildings on the other end of the parking lot. Thankfully, they had booked me into a brick room, and not a dodgy steel container! What a relief! I’ve arrived, I’m going to settle in, have a shower, and before long I will have my own place, my own bed, and get into the rhythm of my new life here. I wonder if there are other runners I can connect with. Thats would be nice, wouldn’t it? It actually quite peaceful out here, and unbelievably beautiful…what a relief! The enormous feeling of relief vanished when I actually saw the room. I had myself another nice, long cry and went to bed.
And…when I got to work the next day, the very first thing my new boss told me, was that he was sending me back to Johannesburg for a few months.