Feeling the fear

My last blog entry was not very long or interesting. However, in it I flagged a trek I did in Zimbabwe, New Year 1996/97. What is interesting (to me) is that when I had my astrological chart for 1996 drawn up, Gail told me that I would end the year on a physical high.

I was in Zimbabwe to do research for Honours. I stayed with family in Harare until Christmas and then at my brother’s farm.

After Christmas my brother and sister-in-law took me to Aberfoyle in the Honde Valley to spend New Year with a group of friends. The valley is beautiful, there are tea and coffee estates, mountains, cataracts and some pretty scary treks. The plan was to walk up to a waterfall on New Year’s Eve day. I have to say I was not keen. I’m scared of heights, snakes and rickety bridges and ladders. Nevertheless, I said, “Yes!” After all, what did I have to lose?

 

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A recent photo of Aberfoyle in the Honde Valley (thanks Fen)

Mozambique is a stone’s throw away. The countryside was (and probably still is) wild and woolly.

The first part of the path was not difficult but quite soon it became rugged, broken and uneven. The first crossing seemed to be reasonably easy … although, as you can see, I was a tad apprehensive (that’s me hanging back, arms akimbo, thinking about giving it a go). The bridge was wobbly but not as wobbly as some of the others that we crossed.

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Made it!

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This crossing was a question of balance and hanging on for dear life.

Then there were ladders that had to be climbed to get to the next level …

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There were cataracts to be crossed, wet and slippery and so damn exciting!

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The destination was an amazing cataract but I have to admit that by this stage my courage had deserted me so I waited on the other side while braver friends crossed over the final bridge and stood under the waterfall. I was, if I remember, shaking from the exertion and the adrenaline.

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Not forgetting that as we went up, so we had to come down again …

Later that evening we celebrated New Year and I danced until I fell down on the floor, totally exhausted. Someone took this photo of me and I’m grateful because how often do you get such a candid shot of yourself? And for those who thought I was dead and/or drunk – I wasn’t!

exhausted

And then most of us jumped into the pool and had a swim.

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Aberfoyle 1996/97

It took me days to come down from the high and I made a vow to myself that I would in future say “Yes” if these frightening adventures were offered. Life is too short (or too long?) to be sitting home and turning into a couch potato.

Unfortunately I have no way of crediting the photographers. My camera decided to stop working and never worked again, ever. I do thank you all for your photos and for my sister-in-law and my friend, Fenella, for passing on the photos to me. Twice. I lost the first lot and only found them again recently.

 

 

 

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Feeling the fear

Digging into memory isn’t easy: Being there

This is really difficult, digging back in memory to find the holiday. Wendy remembers the young guide and ghillie but my memory of him is dim. I have no recollection of any of planning for the trip and rather think that Cliff and Wendy did all the organising. I do tend to be a ‘passenger’ even to this day.

Be that as it may, the cabins where we stayed were (I think) the only buildings at the north end of the island, right on the beach. We never ventured as far as the south end of the island (about 37kms away) but I recall that there were some wealthy South African dentists camped there on their annual fishing junket. The cabins were double storey and so stuffy we all slept outside under mosquito nets. There was funny smell inside, too. Rats, definitely a rat stink. There was no electricity and no cooking facilities either. Glifford did a magnificent job cooking all our meals outside on a primitive barbecue.

The first night in the camp I heard a curious rustling noise from inside the cabin. Roland wasn’t budging so I had to go and find out for myself what was going on. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of gigantic cockroaches in the shower, frantically hustling and rustling. “How can this be?” I thought. In retrospect, the insects must’ve been after water – although I have no recollection of any piped water into the chalet. After a couple of nights I got used to the rustling noise and ignored it. I doubt if we used the shower anyway, maybe to wash the salt off after swimming or maybe we just chose not to wash.

Swimming in front of the cabins was not an attractive proposition. When the tide was out it was just mud (and sea cucumbers) as far as the eye could see. When the tide was in, I knew the worms were underfoot. The swimming beach was a short walk over the dunes, on the ocean side of the island. Each day Roland and Cliff would make a shelter for Kath on the beach. They broke branches from the casuarina trees that grew a short distance back and made a tepee to keep the sun off her. She would play in it and when she was tired she’d make a little sand pillow under her towel and sleep.

Wendy and I would take turns to snorkel on the coral reef. Always, there had to be someone to keep an eye out for sharks. Sometimes we would swim together while Roland and Cliff kept watch. They spent a lot of time  in Cliff’s boat, out fishing and we ate a lot of fish. Roland remembers some of the fish he and Cliff caught but I don’t. I did find a beautiful shell which I kept for years as a darning aid. It looked a lot like the one in the illustration but a darker brown.

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Next time (and I hope I can keep this up) I’ll tell you about the good witch, Agapanthus. I made up the story to keep Kath amused and it went on for many episodes. Then, there was the terrifying trip back to the mainland where we were caught in the tailend of a tropical cyclone.

Digging into memory isn’t easy: Being there