Ubuntu Christmas Day 4 - Mudding a hut and how the Nissan X-Trail saved the day

Ubuntu Christmas. Image: Vuyi Mpofu
Ubuntu Christmas. Image: Vuyi Mpofu

Waking up to the scorching heat I lay in bed thinking about how far from my everyday reality this adventure was.

Access to electricity remains a challenge in most parts of South Africa, and more so in places as far-flung as the villages surrounding Chieftress Gcinilizwe; a fact we were somberly reminded of when waking up.

READ: Ubuntu Christmas: Day 1 - Jozi to Port St John’s (or round about there)
READ: Ubuntu Christmas: Day 2 - Fetching water with a bucket on the head
READ: Ubuntu Christmas: Day 3 - More household chores

It was interesting to see the reactions of my co-adventurers Charmaine and Songo when they couldn’t charge our electrical gadgets namely cell phones, laptops, dongles, iPads, and battery chargers.

I embarked on my next challenge to help repair the wall of a hut, using a mixture of mud and cow manure. Princess Malindi’s daughters mixed the mud for me, then directed my attention to their mother who, with great aplomb, shovelled up a steaming hot pile of manure and dumped it onto the mud.

Ubuntu Christmas: 'Glam girls' go back to their roots with a Nissan X-Trail in an epic road trip adventure

With a giggle, she instructed me on how to mix the two hut repair components together using the shovel (thankfully) and then how to scoop it up and soften the lumps within it, with my bare hands before applying it to the wall.  

I expected it to have an interesting odour but surprisingly, it didn’t and the application to the wall was fairly simple. In no time, I had gotten the hang of 'mudding' and made light work of repairing the wall.

Having been told numerous times since our arrival that I was an unsuitable bride for any Phondo man, remarks didn’t affect me and instead, I upped the ante on my mudding and begun to find it rather soothing and therapeutic.  

Repairing one of Princess Malindi’s huts was probably 1 of the two most rewarding activities of the Ubuntu Christmas adventure (the other being my contribution to the firewood collection).

Rested from the mud repairing work and keen to get away from the sweltering heat and persistent flies, we drove into Lusikisiki town centre with our Nissan X-Trail to get some groceries.

We had promised to exchange accommodation for household chores at any household which took us in but in line with the giving spirit of Ubuntu, we decided to honour Princess Malindi with a contribution to grocery basics she might need for her Christmas luncheon and beyond.

For us, this part embodied the true spirit of an African Christmas and what it truly means to return home for an Ubuntu Christmas.

Purchasing basic foodstuffs such as 5-litre cooking oil, 6-pack of milk, 12.5kg flour, 12.5kg rice, 12.5kg sugar, a jumbo pack of tea leaves and some sweets, and other confectionery for the kids at a total of R600 was the equivalent of a few items each of us would spend without noticing the amount in our ordinary day-to-day lives.

For one of us, R600 is a bi-weekly cost for travel on the Gautrain, for another, the same amount is the cost of dinner for two with an average bottle of wine, whilst for another among us, R600 is a pair of heels.

Negotiating our way through the pothole infested one-way roads which make up Lusikisiki, I barely noticed the ease with which the X-Trail made the drive. I doubt the designers or Nissan SA themselves could have imagined just how agile it really is, but to help them get the idea, visualize this:

A fully laden delivery truck (seemingly without side mirrors and definitely without Rear Cross Traffic Alert unlike the X-Trail) reversing out of an alleyway concealed by pedestrians on one side of the street and two minibus taxis parked side by side so that the second vehicle is in the road directly behind the reversing truck.

Now, to best describe the agility of Nissan’s popular SUV, now visualize that in order to avert a short-lived trip and highly inconvenient crash. 96kW within the X-Trail 1.6dCi Tekna sprung effortlessly into action just in time for the rear end of the barreling bakkie to come to a screeching halt in line with my passenger side mirror.

Every single component of the X-Trail’s braking system (except the Electric Parking Brake of course) and Power Steering technology came into play that moment. 

With the excitement behind us, we loaded our groceries into the generous cavity of the X-Trail’s boot and merrily made our way through town, all the whilst mindful that even more concentration would be necessary to pilot its 4.6m long 1.8m long frame through the narrow streets of Lusikisiki.

Seeing the gratitude on Princess Malindi’s face and her daughters for our ‘generosity’ brought tears even to the most hardened of us. For me, the thought of buying groceries had been a line item on my proposal but here, in the rural Mboyti that line item had become a lifeline.

For more of the Ubuntu Christmas trip, follow Driving in Heels on Instagram here.

Nissan SA, Shell and Huawei were contributors to this adventure.

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