Murphy is my second name. 
My last camping experience… 20 years ago at Sodwana. It ended in disaster. Stitches…I collided with a tree at full speed!!!
This time different – I was in control of the planning… what can go wrong???


Armed to the teeth – Pop-Up tent… Pop-Up mattress… Pop-Up sleeping bag… Pop-Up pillow… Pop-Up fokkin everything!!! All I needed was Pop-Up swimsuits and panties… the salesman looked at me as if I’ve lost my marbles…

Left on Wednesday morning. Halfway discovered I was a day too early!!! Bad omen – who knows. Booked into grand guest house in Vredendal…. sommer a trip down memory lane. ESKOM followed me!!! Lights off…. waiting for the generator… nothing happened… Enquired….no generator…Shit!!! Not to panic…. camping lights!!! Where??? Left the fokkin bag of lanterns, candles, LED lights, kopligte, flitse, wrest-lamps, waist lamps, foot-lamps… all the shit at home!!! Sitting in dark waiting for ESKOM to fix the short….

Happy happy leaving Thursday… Namibian border… school holidays… flooded… 46 degrees… waiting…”Ho you coming in but not you’re car?? Not possible!!!” – ” But I’m turning back. I’m doing the river rafting”. No, no, no, you cannot leave your car here and go back…” Three hours later and four managers to understand…Passport stamped and back to South Africa with my car… arrived at Umkulu River Rafting…miernes van tente en river rafters… info meeting… “Hanlie, you’re alone in a canoe” – I knew it!!! Murphy!!! – “Everyone up at 6h00… first group to leave… issued with a dry-bag and cooler.”

Running like chickens to prop everything into 60 liter dry-bag… too much… leave half in car….make-up??? Ja-wat kan nie lyk soos Jan-koei-se-gat nie!!!

Now for the tent!!! Salesman said… unzip… POP!!! And so it was!!! Easy peazy. Mattress – unscrew… POP!!! Pillow – unscrew… POP!!!. Sleeping-bag – unzip – POP!!! MANN!!!! Everything works like a dream. Except… I’m not feeling too well… flu… sore throat… Oh no!!! No medicine for flu… only bandages, Voltaren gel, snake bite serum, scorpion bite cream, sunstroke tablets…Imodium…
Anti-depressants!!!.

Pitch dark… everyone scurrying around.. dragging dry-bags, towing cooler bags, tents… Me?? Pop-Up isn’t Pop-In… 7 men … sweating, swearing, folding, re-folding, re-re-re-folding…. cannot fit the tent into the bag… Desperate… Time running out. Threw tent in car…see how it popped for the last time!!! Will sleep under the stars!!! And sue the salesman when home!!!

All canoes dragged to the river. Dry-bags and cooler bags fastened with thick ropes… No-one told me that!!! No water, food, cell phone, camera, sunblock…nothing on me… I’m stuck!!! And going SOLO. First stop lunch… no water, food, fokkol from 7h00 to 13h00… I’ll surely die… if not from hunger then thirst.. 45 degrees on river.. suicide!!!

Rowing started off slowly… soon everyone complaining and moaning about heat… Me – wanted to scream “Shad up!!! – try rowing alone!!!” ….nauseous… throwing up in the canoe… guide worried.. put me up in canoe with psychologist… almost throw up a second time…Two control freaks in one canoe… Oh my WORD!!! Not good… Not good at all…

Rapids coming up… Me and psychologist not blending well…. rowing in different directions… rowing in circles… bumping into the others… screaming at each other….Went into the first rapid too fast…. sideways!!! Got stuck on a rock… wiggle, wiggle, wiggle… still stuck. “Hanlie, you’re small – get out and push us off the rock!!!” – … slipped on the rocks… under the boat… nearly drowned… back into boat… Next rapid too soon… same story… getting gatvol… “It’s because you’re so heavy that we get stuck every time!!” – “No, it’s because you cannot keep direction!!!” – “OK, so next time you can get us off the rocks!!!” … next time never came…. .

Lunch time… Dankie Vader… Lying on the grass. Exhausted. Fever. Praying for my own canoe. Unanswered….Up and away… Fastest rapid ahead… focus, concentrate, Shad up…slowly approaching… Then. Midst third wave… wrong stroke… Canoe capsized!!!

Woman overboard!!!

Man trapped under boat!!!

Guide diving in… others joined… Me?? Clinging to a rock for life and death… part of swimsuit gone… who cares… I’m alive… no crocodiles in sight!!! Blusher and eyeliner floating by…. pieces of clothing….all on its way to Oranjemund… Done for the day… Slept under the stars…

Day 2 – fever bad… maybe 4 Anti-depressants?? At least then happy while sick!! Canoe-mate teacher…. calm, compliant… we made a good team. I made it ’till afternoon… back to base camp… to the nearest doctor.

Day and night became one… dozed in the shade of the milky way… woke in the gleam of the morning star… magical….

Big Surprise!!! News of my misfortune traveled fast…. Soft hands… soft hearts… Invited to stay over in Lambert’s Bay… The most beautiful apartment…. on the beach front…..treated at Isabella’s Harbor Restaurant…. Unforgettable…Blog Friends, Soul Friends, Genuine Friends….

Everything in life happens for a reason. Notwithstanding… An experience of a lifetime!!! 

I have not laughed so much in years… Mostly at myself, my discomfort, the complete and utter madness of my venture….  and yet… so  rewarding. Met the most wonderful people…caring, compassionate…. 

BUT MOST OF ALL

I’ve challenged myself…. I’ve challenged my fear to do things on my own.. alone… without being scared…. afraid… worried…. concerned about opinions…. I’ve broadened my horizons….

And discovered …. I won’t die if I FLY SOLO!!!

It’s actually FUN!!!

It’s liberating!!

It’s therapeutic

It’s healing on this journey from HELL TO HEALTH!!

HV.