Life is all about balance.
We need the lows to truly appreciate the highs.
Being happy all the time only exists in our social media lives.
The reality of 2016 has been one of extremes. The highlights were abundant and beyond anything I had dreamed for myself. The lows, well, can you get any lower than Zuma and Trump 🙁
Like any other year, in 2016 I have had moments of 100% magic, experiences that were above average, times that were just”nice” all counterbalanced by crap days, admin, boring chores and frustrating curve balls.
Let’s start with the magic.
By now you all know that I wish I was a ninja but I am actually the biggest fraidy cat in the world. This year I tried really hard to face some of my fears .
Fear of heights and a generally overactive mind that imagines all the ways I could die doing an adventure activity.
I went aqua hiking in Reunion Island
I swam in the Devil’s Pool on the very edge of the Victoria Falls in Zambia.
Obviously I was convinced I would be swept over the edge, but I survived it and actually the scariest part was the unseen fishes that kept biting my feet, that was creepy.
I zip-lined. In the dark.
I have a love hate relationship with zip-lining. I love the feeling of flying but I am petrified of heights. Add to this the fact that I was not very good at braking and it gets messy. I would twist and turn totally out of control while imagining plummeting to my death in the valley below. Then, I learned how to brake (finally, after completing over 10 zip line experiences, I’m a very slow learner) and now I am addicted to zip lining. Cape Canopy Tours took it to a whole new level with their full moon adventure. Except the moon stayed hidden behind the mountain and only appeared as we were hiking out. Ziplining in pitch blackness is bizarre, unique and a total rush, especially when you know how to slow and brake like a pro 😉
I went underground to explore the lava tunnels on Reunion Island
I fought my claustrophobia (only just) and spent a fascinating and slightly terrifying 2 hours underground in the lava tunnels formed by the many volcanic eruptions on the Island. I will confess to joining a few others in our group for a brief moment of panic and hyper-ventilating, but I did it, I’m glad I did it and I would even do it again.
These whirlybirds tap in to all my usual fears of crashing, dying and heights but I’m over that now as I was totally spoiled with helicopter flips this year. I learned a valuable lesson. Up to half an hour in the air is fine, anything longer and the airsickness kicks in along with desperate teeth-clenching to avoid vomiting. Viewing Cape Town from the air with NAC Helicopters is a must do experience, you can read about mine here
I fell in love with a river and despite the drought, flying over the Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River with United Air Charter was a hugely emotional experience.
Exploring the whole island of Reunion from a helicopter is an adventure second to none. We flew over volcanoes, through skinny gorges and spiraled dizzyingly above multiple waterfalls before calming down to serene views of the beaches and coastline. Some serious flying skills by Pierre from Helilagon during this mind blowing hour in the air.
Wild animals are always amazing and seeing them where they belong, in the wild, is a humbling experience. Swaziland blew me away with the beauty of their reserves, their conservation success and the abundance of wildlife there. I trotted past zebra on horseback, viewed elephants bathing, giraffe eating, hippo yawning and lions sleeping. All over just a few days in this fabulous kingdom.
It sounds like my life was a non stop perfect adventure, so before you start hating on me, lets get back to reality. In January and June I had surgery to remove skin cancer from my face and arms. More to still be removed,but that is a issue for next year. Please wear hats, load on the sunblock and beware of the sun.Skin cancer is a big problem in our country and it comes and bites you years after your over exposure to the sun.
My hot water cylinder burst,and a new one set me back ZAR15K, I nearly cried. My car decided it needed a new everything and then some dip-shit reversed out of a parking place on the side of a road and hit me as I was driving past. This was in Sedgefield while I was on holiday. Of course the driver had no ID, insurance or license. In fact they were even unsure of their own address. Turned into an admin nightmare.
My beloved Xperia Z3 phone had 3 CPU’S replaced as it kept overheating and then dying. Vodacom were beyond unhelpful, my insurance people were awesome but I still spent too many ZAR’s buying and iPhone 6s and I am still locked in to the Z3 contract. 🙁 I think I am not an Apple fan because compatibility is a tech nightmare.
Let’s get back to the happy stuff. Highlight on the home front was getting my 2nd grandchild in April. His name is Oliver and he is an adorable brother to Stella who turned 3 this year.
Four days into this year I decided impulsively to commit to posting a pic a day on Instagram. #366daysofmakingspace. I was inspired by Heather Mason whose photography I am in awe of, and she never missed a single day on the project, and she started on the 1st. I missed a few days due to illness or absolutely no connection, but I did make the effort to “make space” for photography and it was awesome. There are probably too many images of Table Mountain on my account but I realised that actually I don’t care.
My photos are for me. I experiment, photograph what appeals to me and it thrills my soul. I have climbed trees, mountains, bridges, roofs and walls, risked speeding fines chasing a sunset, captured incredible moments, stood on the middle of bridges, roads and railway lines to the extent that my friends created #DiDontDie. I have spent about 1000 hours on photo missions this year, learned a lot and am no longer daunted by how much more I still have to learn. This is an exciting adventure and all consuming hobby that I am loving.
I was surprised to have three images accepted for the Cape Town Igerbook (hope it comes out soon) and did my first ever weekend taker over on Instagram for Kaapstadmag. Thanks for the vote of confidence guys.
Please follow me on Instagram, I’m begging 🙂 In my quest for the perfect shot only a few phones and one camera have been harmed.
I almost became a foodie
I have had some outstanding culinary experiences, I ate Miso soup at 89 on Copper, the restaurant at Brahman Hills in the Natal Midlands. I rate this as the best eatery I experienced in 2016, if you are ever in the area treat yourself. I even read the whole article on Anje Rautenbachs Degustation Experience, after I had looked up what degustation means.
I tasted countless mouth watering feasts in various towns along the Cape West Coast Foodie Route, drank bucket loads of pink gin in Zambia, sipped and became addicted to Groot Constantia’s Grand Constance and became a fan of many of the various flavours of Rooibos Tea by Carmien, read all about this proudly SA company here. It’s just not in me to be a foodie, but huge respect for the creative people who use food as their medium for art.
I explored some new areas and returned to old favourites.
Ladismith on Route 62 was unexpectedly fabulous (blog post coming soon) and the Natal Midlands is a place I will definitely go back to.
Brahman Hills and the Midlands Meander in KZN
Piket-Bo-Berg was another eye opener and place I had never heard of. Take a drive on the N7 and visit this place if you are in the Western Cape. Read about People Rocking Nature on the N7 here.
I loved road tripping to Oudtshoorn and showing off Gansbaai and the West Coast to Anje. Covering the Fynarts Festival in Hermanus reminded me just how creative South Africans are.Read about this amazing festival here.
This post is way too long, if you have read all the way to the end, thank you. This is just a fraction of what I experienced in 2016. I am tired. So much of the really awesome adventures were concentrated into a very short time frame that saw me catching 22 flights in 11 weeks. At the end of that fantastic, manic round of travel I got some nasty bug and was forced to my bed on and off for 2 weeks.
Now I have a Siesta Travel Pillow, road and air travel will be a time to catch up on sleep as these nifty blow up dreams allow you to get comfy, snuggle up and sleep, even on the smallest plane seat. Check them out here. Siesta.
Overall 2016 has been very good to me and I am lucky to have shared it with great friends, my supportive travel family ( you know who you are) and wonderful clients who have become friends and introduced me to inspiring places and new people.
Thank you everyone who has been part of my journey in 2016.
After all the adventures I have had, I broke my toe in my kitchen last week 🙁
Happy 2017 everyone.
PS. Once again I have been inspired by Heather Mason.
I am committing to a blog post a week for every week in 2017.
This is going to be really tough but it is the ONLY way my poor neglected blog will get attention, and I know that certain unnamed bloggers will nag me and hold me to this promise. Wish me luck.