Category: Serious

VictoriaFalls

From left to right:

  1. Sunset over the Zambezi River.
  2. Hippos seen from a safe distance.
  3. Me standing at the edge of Victoria Falls, on the Zambian side.

On Friday, 22 June, hours before I was to board my plane from Cape Town to Victoria Falls Airport, the fear and anxiety I had felt when I first booked my tickets, had not dissipated. My imaginative mind kept making a detailed list of all the things that could go wrong.

  • My shuttle would arrive late and I would miss my flight. (And if I were to be honest, I would admit that there was a little part of me that was hoping this would happen. A “real” excuse not to do something that scared me.)
  • There would be some problem at customs and I’d be forced to fly back home.
  • There would be another National Shutdown in Zimbabwe and I wouldn’t find anyone willing to take me to the Zambian border.
  • I’d have to argue with every taxi driver about the fare.
  • I’d get lost and wouldn’t know how to get back to my hostel.
  • I’d be underwhelmed and disappointed by the sight of the falls.
  • I’d be painfully and achingly lonely. That after spending only a few hours in Victoria Falls, I’d want to flee home.

 

These negative thoughts would occasionally be offset by the highlights reel of previous travel experiences. I remembered each an every stranger, who helped me when I lost or didn’t quite understand how to use the subway. I remembered the old Turkish guy, who gave me a lift to the bus station on his scooter, placing my unwieldy suitcase firmly between his legs. I remember taking a “taxi” in Mozambique. The taxi was a bakkie*, with a canopy made of wood. And I remember marveling at the men, who stood on the edge of the bakkie, arms clinging to the wooden frame. And I remember wondering about safety standards of this particular automobile. But only briefly. When we started moving and I felt the wind in my hair, this momentary doubt was replaced by a feeling of being free.

 

And I remembered all of these things, and I smiled. For a moment, the fear and anxiety I felt about travelling, was assuaged.

*Bakkie is also known as a pick-up truck in other parts of the world …

 

Two things I’m most proud

1.Completing the Comrades Marathon
ComradesWeeks before running the Ultra, I’d told my dad that this was the first and last Comrades. I was convinced that I would hate every second of it. I was afraid that I would fail badly; that I wouldn’t make it pass the 20km mark before I would start vomiting, cramping or crying.
Well, I did it. I managed to run 89km in under 11 hours, earning my second bronze medal for an Ultra this year. And I only wanted to cry at the last 5km of the race.

Insert quick rant: To get the start of the race, my peers and I took an official Comrades bus from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. Our bus driver got lost IN Durban and we arrived to the race late! At some point my fellow runners and I told the bus driver to stop, we bolted out of the bus and sprinted the last 1km to the start line. By the time I arrived at the start I’d miss the national anthem and the race had already started.

 

2. Hiking Lion’s Head on my own
LionsheadHiking up Lion’s Head is something I’ve wanted to do for ages now, but it isn’t always easy to find a partner in crime. In the end, I simply decided to go up by myself.

 

Two things I’m grateful for:
1. My brother-in-law
He found me at the last 5km of the Comrades, the point at which I finally hit the wall. The point at which I’d decided that I’d simply walk the rest of the damn thing. It was at the point that he delivered some vital information. He told me that I had 38 minutes to do this in under 11 hours. Realising that this was achievable, my body responded positively.
2. My Comrades running partner
On the day of the race, I met a guy who would pace me for 90% of the race. He told me when to run, when to walk and urged me to eat. Unfortunately, I lost him at the last 10km when I stopped to use the portaloo. Without him by my side I found it really hard to urge my body forward.

My intention for June:
To track every kilometre I run during this period.
Try to figure out my next big goal or adventure. I want to hike the Fish River Canyon but I’m not really sure how to make this happen. This isn’t something I’m keen to do on my own. This is something I would need to do with a group.

On 29th May, I’ll find myself in Pietermaritzburg attempting the Comrades Marathon (89km or 56 miles). That’s little over a month away.

early_morningsPhoto taken after a 20km run. 

Friends keep asking me if I’m excited for the Ultra and I’ve been rather tight-lipped about the endeavour. Excited doesn’t describe how I’m feeling. Terrified and anxious is a more accurate description. But I don’t say any of this to my friends. I’m afraid that they won’t understand exactly how worried I am. I’m afraid that instead of listening, asking WHY and trying to understand how I’m feeling, they’ll simply brush away my concerns, offer empty platitudes and advice. None of which I want or need.

 

Right now I simply want to say, I’m scared. I’m scared that I won’t complete the thing. I’m scared that my body won’t be able to cope with the distance. I’m scared that I’m not mentally tough enough. I’m scared that I’ve taken on more than I can handle. I’m scared of how crushed and devastated I’ll feel if I fail. I’m scared.

 

Typing this I realize that the biggest truth is that I’m afraid of feeling disappointed. And it is this fear that making me cautious, less hopeful, less willing to dream, less willing to aim higher, less fearless. Instead of aiming to finish in 11 hours, I’m simply hoping to scrape by. TRUTH.

*

Random photos

April2016

From left to right:

  1. Milkshakes at The Creamery. I went with Lime Curd. Yummy.
  2. Ships at the Waterfront.
  3. The Big Wheel at the Waterfront.

SeaPointOn Sunday something weird happened – weird enough for me to want to put my fingers to keyboard and blog about it.

 

Let me start by setting the scene.

 

It’s 19:00 on a Sunday. I’ve just been dropped home after having a rather eventful day. I’d spent the afternoon at the Root 44 Market in Stellenbosch, where my friends and I hustled for seats in the shade, mocked each other mercilessly, and after eating delicious ice-cream, declared that we’d made some good life decisions. It was a good day.

 

You’d assume that after spending hours in the sun, I would want nothing more than to climb beneath the covers. But I wasn’t tired and the sun was still out. I wanted to see what else life had to offer. So grabbed my iPod and my car keys, and headed to my favourite place in Cape Town.

 

Once at Sea Point, I immediately plugged in my iPod and gracefully glided down the promenade. Fine. There’s nothing graceful about the way I walk. I bounce. Perpetually. I give the impression that I am completely unaware of ISIS, Donald Trump and the consequences of global warming.

 

So there I am, bouncing along the promenade listening to the dulcet tones of Frank Ocean, when I notice a woman taking a photo of a guy. The guy is approximately two meters in front of her. Two things come to mind.

  1. She should be pointing her tablet in the other direction to bathe him in the pastel shades of the setting sun.
  2. I better move fast to avoid accidentally photobombing the guy.

 

And just as I’m busy scurrying away, the woman beckons towards me. I’ve got Frank Ocean blasting in my ears, talking about forever, and I can only assume that she wants me to take their photo. I graciously agree. And just as I’m walking towards her, right hand outstretched towards the tablet, the weirdness happens.

 

In lightning speed the guy is besides me. He wraps his arm my shoulder and smiles. She snaps a photo. I’m dumbfounded. Did that really just happen? And before I can react, the guy smiles at me and points both index fingers towards my face. It’s a friendly gesture; there is nothing sinister about it. The type of pose you’d strike with your best friend. I smile awkwardly. The woman snaps another photo. My instincts FINALLY kick in. Flight or fight? I hightail it out of there. A million thoughts whirl through my mind. The movie, “Taken” comes to mind. I check my handbag to see if my belongings are still in place. I wonder where my photo will land up. Will he tell his family and friends, “This is what women in Cape Town look like?”  I tweet about the moment.

 

IMG_4211Painted ladies. Alamo Park. San Francisco.

It’s August and I’m back in Cape Town. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, reflecting. I’ve been thinking about all the things I’m proud of and grateful for this past month. I’ve also been thinking about what I want to achieve in the upcoming months.

Grateful

I’m grateful for friends, who are willing to spend a couple of hours in the airport while you wait for your plane. I am grateful for the friends I am made during my 5 week sojourn in America. I am grateful for an aunt that misses my presence and invites me to supper the day after I’ve returned. I am grateful for friends that trust me with their secrets. I am grateful for having people to come home to. I am grateful.

Proud

I am proud of having the courage and confidence to print out one of my photographs and put it up for auction. And more proud for not falling apart when no one bid on my work. Not everyone’s going to like what you put out there (some people will find it depressing) and that’s okay. And even though no one bid on my work, this won’t stop me from producing and perfecting my art. I’m going to plugging away at it. I’m going to keep entering photographic competitions.

This is going to sound silly, but public transport in foreign countries scares me. And because of this fear I generally end up walking EVERYWHERE. But because of my limited time in San Francisco, walking everywhere simply wasn’t feasible so I ended up taking the bus and the train. And I’m proud of this little achievement.

I’m proud of myself for joining the running club in Davis for an afternoon run.

Goals for August:

  • Attempt to make an awesome couscous salad. Ha! Unfortunately, I still don’t have a clear idea of what I’d like to achieve during this month.

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A few days ago I celebrated my cousin’s birthday at De Waal Park. At first I was wary of going, De Waal isn’t my favourite urban park, that honour belongs to Green Point. But I had fun. There was lots to eat, the sun was out and their was plenty of opportunities to people watch.

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My favourite moment was watching this man teach these young ‘uns how to tightrope walk. He was so patient. Kid to young man, “Who teached you to do this?”

Last month I downloaded and completed Nicole Armstrong’s monthly review template. I’d planned to do the same thing this month, but found I couldn’t. Listing my achievements for September was easy enough (42km in sub 5 hours). It’s the looking ahead section that I had trouble with.

 

I couldn’t think of anything that I was fully committing to or consciously prioritizing. Instead I kept focussing on what I couldn’t achieve within in THIS month. I kept telling myself that there was no way I’d be able to attain my goal of running a half-marathon in under 2 hours (my current PB is 2:01); that it would take months of training. After days of this BS it finally dawned on me. Well duh. Of course, I wasn’t going to attain my goal THIS month or anytime soon. I wasn’t doing anything that supported my goal. I wasn’t actively pursuing my goal. I wasn’t focussing my time and energy on getting faster. Instead I’d been skipping my regular training runs, choosing to nap or read a book instead. And even when I did turn up for my runs, I took them easy, deciding not to push myself.

 

Once I had the epiphany, coming up with a basic idea of what I need to commit to or consciously prioritise, was easy.

  • I need to start wearing a watch and start timing my runs.
  • I need to commit to running at least four times a week.
  • I need to start participating in weekly time trials.

 

I am still a little fuzzy on the details – I’m not sure how much mileage I should commit to and if 4 days a week is enough. There all also a couple of things I’ll need assistance with. There’s this Park Run, a timed trial that happens close to my apartment. It happens every Saturday morning, and I’ve been meaning to go for the last 9 months. I’ve registered and printed out my unique barcode, but I’m terrified of attempting it by myself.

A few days, I baked – salted popcorn chocolate biscuits (cookies). The recipe is one I’ve tried several times, with much success. And even though I’ve baked some pretty kick-ass cakes (I am SO modest), on this Sunday I was reminded of how easy it is to “fuck it up”.

But this isn’t a blog post about baking. This is a post about a conversation that took place that evening. I’d invited some of the girls over to my place to taste my wares (and I’m totally talking about my baking here, guys). At some point during the tasting, the conversation turned to weddings. One of the girls stated that she would rent her wedding dress. Naturally this statement was followed by an outburst from me. I desperately wanted to spend my honeymoon hiking through Chile. Note: I am nowhere close to being engaged.

Gorillas - Lime Wildlife Centre
Photo taken at Limbe Wildlife Sanctuary, Cameroon.

M: Sid, would you ever consider dating a guy who wasn’t into sports, adventure and the outdoors? He is in good shape, makes you laugh, he’s smart, treats you well …

I was confounded. It’s not that I wouldn’t date a guy who wasn’t into sports. It’s just … I spend an inordinate amount of time dreaming about (and Googling) my next big adventure (snorkelling in Lake Malawi, gorilla trekking in Uganda, hiking the Fish River Canyon, running the Victoria Falls Marathon), that I just can’t fathom spending FOREVER with someone who didn’t want THAT.

I want someone who will run the last 5km of a marathon with me. I want someone who prefers to stay in a clean backpackers instead of fancy hotels. (Key word in that sentence is “clean”). I want someone who prefers the outdoors to big, bustling cities – a weekend at Yosemite National Park instead of New York City. I want someone who craves and actively seeks out adventure.

I want

It’s June and I don’t have any travel plans for the rest of the year. This year has been great – adventure wise. I’ve spent a couple of weeks in India, gorging on fresh fruit juice and curry, ziplining from a fort and crying at the sight of the Taj Mahal. I’ve spent a few days in Joburg with friends, watching Joss Stone perform live and feeding giraffes. There was Cameroon on someone else’s dime. And there was sunshine and bike rides in Durban.

Limbe, Cameroon
Photo taken in Limbe, Cameroon.

It’s June now and I don’t have any other trips planned. A friend asked me to consider a roadtrip to Grahamstown. I shut her down before she could put forth her argument. I am broke. I’d just managed to pay off my credit card debt (or more accurately I’d finally reimbursed my brother, who’d paid off my debt). And I wasn’t planning to get back into debt, especially not for a local trip to a small town.

Besides I have other plans. There’s a bookcase that needs purchasing. (I’ve concluded that my current system of discarding novels beneath my bed, no longer works.) There’s also a coffee table, vacuum cleaner, ironing board, juicer and washing machine that’s needed. BUT these items will have to wait. Instead of being a responsible adult (how boring) and purchasing the necessities, I will be scurrying away money for my next big adventure.

At present, I’m still undecided as to where to go. There’s Malawi, whose images of its lake have left me breathless. There’s Ecuador, my lifelong dream, with its volcanoes and lush forests. There’s Turkey with its hot air balloons and cave dwellings. And there’s my 19 days of leave that needs to be spent. So I have the time and I have options, I just need the funds. (I am totally willing to sell a kidney to raise the funds. Not necessarily MY kidney. Ahem.)

So until I’ve accumulated enough moola, I will remain here. I will remain content. I will focus my attention and energy on becoming a better runner, cook and person. No, scratch that. That “better person” thing sounds like way too much work. I’ll just stick with running and baking.

If you’re a lover of photography, ballet or the female form, then do yourself a favour and check out The Ballerina Project on Facebook or Instagram.

Here are some of the pictures I skilfully lifted from their Facebook page.
ball

ball2

ball3

Gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s enough to make me consider taking up a ballet class or two. (I went so far as to Google adult ballet classes in Cape Town.)