Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How many people can you fit...

Lara and I were joined in Cape Town in late February by our friends Ian, Lynette, and Sandi. The plan was to drive all the way up through South Africa and into Namibia in the car Lara and I had bought specially for this purpose. So, with some trepidation, on the morning of March 1 we all brought our packs down to the parking lot of our apartment building and piled them by our car.

A 1995 VW Jetta.

Lara carefully loaded the trunk with packs, arranging them as tightly as possible. A few minutes later the trunks was full, but there was still a full-sized backpack on the ground, as well as several other bags. We had tried to find a roof-rack, but had been unsuccessful, so somehow we would have to make things fit.

That is where Ian came in. Through some miracle of physics Ian managed to repack the trunk so that all the gear of five people could fit inside. We had to lean on it to close it, but somehow it worked. We looked at the car. Only the bottom 3/4 of the rear wheels were visible. And we weren't even inside yet.

We loaded our five people inside and backed out of the driveway. Scraaaappeee! Admittedly it was a little bit uneven. Scrape. Scrape. Every time we hit a bump we scraped the hitch in the back. We were glad to have the hitch though. It protected the bumper, which rode only a few inches above the ground.

We managed to struggle along remarkable well until we hit a dirt road a few weeks later at which point the poor vehicle just couldn't handle the weight. We bottomed out so badly we cut a cable underneath, and we had to stop regularly to get everyone out so we would get extra clearance.

In the end we decided to get new springs for the car. The first set unfortunately did not make any difference. They were better, but the car still rode right down to the rubber when fully loaded. So later the same day we bought a second set at a custom spring place. We arrived 30 minutes before they were supposed to close but to our amazment they agreed to stay open late to fix our problem.

Now our car sits nice and high! Ian is still the only one who can pack it though.