This is the story of one of the worst (and best) holidays of my life. I have always had bad luck when it comes to holidays. I’ve had my fair share of holiday misfortune! Once, our car broke down, leaving us stranded a mere 100 km from where we started. The next year I was ditched at 11pm the night before heading to Namibia from Stellenbosch by a ‘friend’, when we were supposed to leave at 4am the next morning. Overseas, I had the same stroke of bad luck when a car drove into my scooter (or rather, my left leg) on my first day of a ten day Greek island trip, sending me to mediterranean hospital hell. Most recently, a woman vomited all over me on the plane on my way to London. Yet, of course I will never stop trying to have the perfect holiday.
So, back in 2011 my boyfriend asked me whether I wanted to walk the treacherous Otter trail with himself and a couple of his friends. I thought, ‘Why not?’. I’m not exactly ready to play Survivor, yet I always enjoy a challenge.
You have to book a year in advance, since the trail is so popular. It has made its way onto many a bucket list and attracts people from all around the world. We signed up and started preparing. At the time, I wasn’t exactly in tip-top shape, which is why I begrudgingly started jogging daily about six weeks before the walk. I was feeling fit and ready. We had our Cape Union Mart waterproof goodies all packed along with Snackers, biltong, some dehydrated packages and a bit of red wine to warm the cold nights.
Day 1 of the trail started with a downpour. And as you might know, the jungle tends to get rather muddy and slippery at these times. Staying focused at all times was crucial, but the views were nothing short of extraordinary when I got a moment to pop my head up.
The first day of the hike is but a few kilos (4.8km), so we walked at a slow but steady pace. We were about 500m from our first jungle home, when tragedy struck…
I took a sharp muddy corner, slipped and hit my wrist on a rock.
My first thoughts? IDIOT! How can this happen on day one of five? How can I be so stupid? Why did I hurry around that corner? And most importantly: What the hell am I going to do now?
Luckily we had a physiotherapist as part of the group, who helped me stabilise my wrist. Most of the other members whispered amongst each other that it might just be a sprain, yet they were quick to bring on the Myprodols. Yet, I just knew it was much, much worse. Everyone asked me what I was going to do. What else could I do, but quit? We still had 40 km to cover and I’m not talking about no cakewalk. Luckily we weren’t that far in yet.
I decided to sleep on it – with lots of painkillers, which seemed like mere placebos to me – planning to reveal my decision the next day. The morning came and my arm looked the same. Massive swelling and that sharp, excruciating pain.
I walked with the group to the nearest emergency evacuation point. Yet, when I got there, I couldn’t say cheers. I had to do it. I waited for a year and took off from work, so I continued on… little by little.
To cut a long story short, with a lot of help, pain and determination I finished the almost 45 km walk.
Ending at the gorgeous beach at Nature’s Valley was one of the best moments of my life. I must confess, I had a silent cry away from the group.
After being checked out by a doctor I found out my wrist was broken in three places. Who’s the pansy now? Suckers. Luckily I avoided surgery, yet my wrist was set in a cast for a few weeks. Totally worth it!
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