Driving in the Savannah is not for the weak at heart. You need to be fearless and have a keen intuitive sense of the road. Bumps, gullies, puddles, all with no sense of depth...laterite boulders poking out from the red Savannah road…understanding this road is a skill. The Landover is a 1955 Series I - in questionable condition - but fortunately Ryol knows every part and how to fix it, even when it doesn’t seem possible. Ryol is also my driving instructor…finally.
I had gone to him and said that I want to drive the Landover…. oh but how he laughs….”No Mrs.…you don’t” I protest and I promise him that I have driven all over the world and then I beg…and he continues to laugh…then I get angry, ”Look Man, I drive in New York City, this can’t be any worse.”
A little while later he pulls up in front of me and says, “Ok then…let we go” I jump in and he begins to explain all of the pedals, buttons and the knobs. He drives me out onto the small airstrip and turns around and comes back and then he gets out and says, “Ok, come.” I hop into the drivers seat. This vehicle is a BEAST! You have to fight with the steering wheel and ride the pedals…and then there is the Savannah Road…. it is indescribable experience…but I refuse to let him see that I am panicked.
Next I am allowed to drive the guests to and from the big airstrip 3 miles away, with Ryol sitting by my side. He is quiet. His hand out, palm down, moving it to the right or to the left to guide me over the road. When we get back, I receive high praise, "You know Mrs., you drive this ting better than them boys.”
After a few weeks of practice, I’m feeling pretty confident. Ryol comes to me and says, “We have too many guests. We have to take both Landovers. You going drive one and me the other” and you know, I did. Salvador was beaming as I drove off behind Ryol!
But the real test came a few weeks later when we went to Kwaimatta to give out the Christmas presents to the school children. Many of our staff had come along with Diane, Salvador and myself. When it was time for us to go home, Ryol says, “Come Mrs., show these people how you can drive”. At first I tell him that he should drive. After all it is 45 minutes to Karanambu AND I have never driven on these roads AND both Diane and Salvador are voting for Ryol to drive. ‘Come Come Mrs., “ I agree to drive out of Kwaimatta to the main road. I do and everyone is cheering. But when we get to the main road I stop, Ryol indicates with his hand to move forward, "Let we go” I go a little further, quite unsure of myself. Di sitting next to me, Ryol next to her. The back packed with staff and Salvador and small baby and two boys on top of the Landover. These roads are foreign to me. The bumps, the gullies are much more severe. Ryol encourages me, Di says, “I think you are doing brilliantly Love,” There are many times that vehicle tilts as we go over a ridge and the girls scream…and I am terrified.” Go GO GO, accelerate!”” Ryol says. “This road, this is how you will learn”. At one point we come to a swamp. Ryol gets out and walks through to see the depth of the water. He gets back and says “Put it in 4 wheel drive”. I do and we go through it slowly…but we make it!
When we finally get home, Diane says, “You know, that was very impressive. I only closed my eyes once!” I said, “ME TOO!”