I reclined with a weary smile plastered to my face. I was headed “home”; that is back to my aunt and uncle’s house in Cape Town. I had survived my first true taste of the wilds of Africa, the last adventure being our white water rafting experience. I had rafted 17 of the most challenging rapids in the world, only having to portage around one of them. Despite a brief solo trip into the water while out on the river, I had fallen in love with the experience. All but the 750 foot incline that we had to scale to walk out of the gorge. They say it takes an able-bodied person 20 minutes to walk up out of the gorge. It felt more like hours as my knocking knees threatened to give out on me. As I struggled up the vicious hill, I watched the rafters run up the hill with all of our gear laden on them. I wanted to puke. I stopped to catch my breath and was chided and cajoled by Karel until I begrudgingly started back up the hill. I would have gladly lain down and given up in contempt of myself, were it not for his pushing and prodding.
“There is cold beer in the truck,” he stated as he walked up the hill away from me.
Motivation noted. I hated every step I took, but found the superhuman strength to carry on. Beer and shame were great motivators that day.
Now I grinned remembering the shakes that racked my body that afternoon and the many days that I had survived before that. I had seen baboons, beer drinkers, bee-eaters, bunji jumpers, crocodiles, Castle castles, elephants, eagle-eyed guides, lechwe, lecherous men, lions, mongoose, mokoros, puku, pojte pots, rondavels, rapids, sable, samils, and of course vultures and Victoria Falls. The memories were strong in mind and would take a lot of elbow grease to remove from body. My liver begged for mercy and I thought that returning to the familial lair would placate its pleas. I wondered what the future would hold and longed for the bounce of the samil back. Perhaps I would reconnect with my high school chum over the upcoming holidays, I thought to myself. Images of myself exploring wineries, wandering down to Cape Point and scaling Table Mountain were all possibilities to be pondered. I had a month of my six-month adventure tucked proudly under my belt and anticipated all the potential moments to be. The hugs I had offered to my fellow drifters were warm around me, as I sailed into the future dreams of my African tale.