My dear friend…
You have been with us for as long as I can remember. Even before Steven and I got married, you were with him in Letaba. Helping him through the stickiest of situations.
Truth be told, when I moved to Letaba with Alex to be with Steven, I was a little sceptical about your abilities. I was used to front-loaders and wasn’t too sure about you; Opening at the top, no heating element so cold wash only unless I added a few buckets of hot water.
But I have to admit, you have been with us through thick and thin over more than a decade. You washed your way through the aftermath of the “Batastrophe” and of the flooding of Stevens house in 2012. And you helped take care of many a ‘poop-splosion’ with both Alex and Jack. You ran wash after wash, day after day, the first 7 months of Jack’s life. His terrible reflux meant changing his clothes up to 10 times a day.
And then there was the steady stream of Steven’s uniform shirts and pants and all the dust, dirt, sweat and sometimes even blood that came with it. But you never complained. And you were always up for the task.
Until the week before the lockdown that is. All of a sudden there was a big flood in the kitchen. Steven’s quick diagnosis revealed that your rubber pipe that pumps the water out had perished. I tried to order the specific pipe at a few local hardware stores in Malalane. But because of the COVID crisis, no one could source the parts that had to come from China. So we entered our lock-down inside Kruger with us unable to fix you.
Fortunately, the camp manager in Berg en Dal and our section ranger gave me special permission to drive to Berg en Dal. I was allowed to use your colleagues in the Laundromat there. I would be lying if say I wasn’t a tiny bit glad those parts never arrived from China. (Please forgive me!) It meant that I could drive through a deserted Kruger National Park twice a week to go and do my washing.
I think those laundry days are some of my fondest memories of being locked down in Kruger. I truly saw the most amazing things now that the park was quiet and tourist-free. Lions still sleeping in the middle of the road at 11 in the morning, elephants taking over the roads again. So much in fact that on two occasions, my path to camp was blocked by a tree pushed over by the elephants.
While I was waiting for the washing machine and dryer in the Berg en Dal laundromat to finish, I sometimes sat at on one of the benches overlooking the dam or at the fence in the camping grounds. Seeing an African Civet in camp in broad daylight and seeing wild dogs from the fence was something I will never forget.
During level 5, 4 and 3 of lock-down, that was my routine twice a week. And a very welcome change to our routine at home. Then, when the DIY stores were allowed to sell everything again, and not just ‘essential’ goods, Steven got a plastic pipe and some wire. His ingenious plan of turning the wire around the pipe to be able to bend it at 90 degrees managed to get you up and running again. But the months of not working had taken their toll on you and you started emitting these terrible sounds in the middle of a cycle and before, during and after spinning. You even scared poor Alex half to death with your grunting and groaning. There were times where you sounded like an aeroplane taking off. Slowly, Steven and I started to realize that it was probably time to retire you.
This weekend, that time has come my friend. I bought myself another front loader. I want to thank you for your many years of loyal service. This new washing machine will never to able to completely replace you, but we will always think of you fondly. You will forever be remembered as the washing machine that gave the people locked out of Kruger National Park a much-needed glimpse of what was going on inside. Salute!