I know I don’t look like one, but I am a worrier. My motto in life is: Why relax when you can panic?
And I have become extremely good at panicking over the years.
I have as yet had fairly limited exposure to Africa, but there is currently no reason to believe that I won’t be my usual anxious self. If my past experience is anything to go by, an overland trip from Victoria Falls to Nairobi is only likely to heighten my anxiety... Sossusvlei: The task is to walk down a sand dune I have just clambered up. But I don’t like that the sand is shifting under my feet, so I decide to rob down on my bum. I might have had a fairly dignified (i.e. unnoticed exit) if our guide and AH hadn’t decided to speed up the process and pull me down the dune by the legs. My protests went unheaded – or so I thought. The travel guides forget to mention the great echo in Sossusvlei!
Desert Homestead Sundowner ride – another Namibian adventure: I am reliably informed that I am the most anxious person who has ever come for a ride. My guide seems surprised, and I am surprised that she is surprised. After all, I had informed her beforehand that I do NOT like animals, do NOT like heights and do NOT like anything resembling speed. Granted, my horse Franz could really not be accused of speeding, but he was HUGE (and he was an animal!), so 2 out of 3 panic factors make anxiety on my part pretty likely.
Of course I am told to relax. Has anybody ever told one of you naturally adventurous people that telling an anxious person to relax will simple make us more tense? (And very, very frustrated and angry – but maybe I am only speaking for myself here...) Anyway, at the end of the ride, my legs seemed to have frozen around poor Franz. I could only get down by swinging my leg over the horse’s head onto a cooler box... And no, the sundowners didn’t help to make the ride back more relaxed. I STILL looked like a sack of potatoes...
And AH? He had a whale of a time. He relived his youth while galloping across the African desert...
Climbing Lion’s Head – a South African adventure: It took me two attempts to climb that mountain because near the top a helpful soul decided to install some step ladders. They are screwed into the rock, so quite safe, but they are next to a steep decline which makes them feel decidedly unsafe for anxious me.
So the first time around, my friends made it to the top without me. The second time I thought I would risk it as I had AH with me. At least I knew what to expect and had mentally prepared myself for those step ladders.
What I had NOT prepared myself for was AH’s adventurous spirit (and male pride) taking over. We were told by a group of lads that we had not really climbed the mountain if we had not experienced the chains. (Yes, climbing ladders with an abyss next to you is a walk in the park for adventurous souls...)
Anyway, the fact is that AH chose to walk a different path on the way back. To this day he claims that the path looked easier and that he never heard me say that we would end up at the chains – which of course we did!!!
No, I do not know how I got down them. There was no harness to give the illusion of safety, let alone a safety helmet, but back then I didn’t want to have to climb up the mountain again and find the safe route.
As soon as I felt firm ground under my feet, I burst into tears. AH asked very sensitively what we would be doing next. After all, the climb had only taken up half the day. (AH has by the way decided that I need regular “nature training”).
I hope these few examples are demonstrating that I am qualified to write this blog about my next adventures in Africa...