imageI always find it fascinating how just the sight of particular objects can trigger strong memories, conscious or not. When you have lived abroad as child, there are of course many items that will remind you of this. There is one item I always associate with Africa. My J blog musings is about the Jeep.

I need to tell you right away that I have no knowledge about cars, so don’t ask me questions about models etc. I might also confuse the jeep with the landrover. Both were and are much used on the rough roads in Africa and I know my family used both. I think perhaps the car in the picture is a landrover. Sorry! Many places there are no roads at all and you need a car that you can trust off-road, through rugged wilderness and across rivers. They often use these cars in Iceland too, but my main association is with Africa.

Whenever I spot one, and it has to be the old kind, at least from the 1960s or 1970s, I think about Africa. I think about those bumpy drives when you think your kidneys will be shaken loose. I think about cars getting stuck in mud during rain season. I think about standing parked and all those hands that are stuck through the window, touching the fair curls I had as child. I think about chasing the fast ostrichs. But most of all, I think about driving through the wilderness at cold nights when the car lights light up the road in front of the car, but only a few metres ahead. Everything else is pitch dark as only African nights can be, with stars clear above you and only a camp fire can be spotted here and there. Sometimes animals stand frozen in the car light, their eyes shining, until they leap away.

In West Africa we also had these cars, but the modern ones with air condition and soft leather on the chairs. Where one could shut out the curious eyes, voices and hands if one wanted to. I remember one time the dorm in West Africa visited one of the families whose children I shared dorm with. They had an old car with the roof with fences where we kids could sit as we drove through the huge fields with tall grass. I felt like I was back in East Africa.

The old cars from my childhood in East Africa remind me about the Africa that is in my heart: quiet, wild, beautiful.

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