Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spring on its' way...

The only thing that survived my motorbike accident was my Canon EOS 400D. I want to believe that it survived the impact because out of all the things I packed, this was the item I took most care in making sure that it was properly secured in my top box. For this I am eternally thankful. Because of this I was able this morning to take a picture of one of the first signs that spring is on its way back...a baby chameleon. What a beaut!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Not broken, just broke

It is amazing the words of encouragement I am getting from everyone around me after my accident. (I prefer to call it a mishap as "accident" sounds too severe). It really lifts my spirit and is very much appreciated. It's also interesting to see who sympathizes with my mishap and who doesn't, but what interests me the most however, is what people think was the worse for me to deal with...

Yes, it's friggen sore to sit with a bruise the size of a decent Calitzdorp watermelon on your right thigh, or to hop along on one foot because the other one has torn ligaments. But if you think of it, there was no blood and no broken bones. Because of that I really don't mind sitting here popping a DICLOFLAM® every now and then for pain. If you compare the damage to my bike to the damage to my body, then only the bike can really claim to have been in an accident. I managed to do a proper skydive roll when I hit the ground (or this is how I colour it in to make it sounds cool), but the bike gear and the landing on sand rather than concrete was really what saved me from landing up in the ICU. A couple of years ago when I landed up in a Cameroon Hospital with an unknown bug that had me wishing for an early death, that was when I needed encouraging words for the pain I was suffering.

The injuries I have sustained in this accident is nothing compared to what my brother-in-law had when he was bumped off from his motorbike by a front loader on his way to the Kruger last year. Besides, the doctor also gave me 5 VALIUM® tablets to experiment with when "the body goes into spasm or when the sleep doesn't want to come". So, thanks for all the best wishes on injuries, I have it under control and I am doing fine.


"You must be so disappointed that you could not finish the tour?" In 1984 I broke my arm while playing an important rugby game and I couldn't finish the game. Was I disappointed? No. In 1994 I ended my PhD half-way to get married and to do something else and never completed it. Was I disappointed? No, not at all. In 2011 I couldn't see the Vic Falls because I had a bike accident on my way there. Am I disappointed? Why would I be? Ever since I've been back from Windhoek I've had a lot of thoughts and things going through my head about this tour and the accident, but somehow disappointment has not really shown its face yet. The only things in life that I am disappointed about is not learning to fly an aircraft, not learning to play the piano, and not learning a third language like French.  If I get a sponsor and really put my mind to it I am sure I can still do all these three before I die, but no, I will keep flying my paraglider, play my guitar and keep replying with "Je suis désolé, je ne comprend pas". I guess the closest I came to disappointment was the fact that I couln't control my bike when I hit the sand and that after I paid big bucks for a sandriding course.

I left what's left of my bike in Windhoek. The BMW dealer suggested we ship it back to Cape Town because they will forever take to get all the parts they need to get it back on the road again, and with the assessors and insurance people involved it would be easier to get it done in Cape Town. When I left I knew the bike could start up, so it had a heartbeat, but what the actualy damage is I cannot say yet. I took a few pictures of the more obvious damage but was unpleasantly surprized when the mechanic pointed out a few issues which I didn't even see as "damaged parts". I have a strong feeling as I am lying here in bed waiting for the BAD NEWS that my bike might finally be written off. Is that good or bad?

If I need words of encouragement, then this is what I need it for. No, actually what I need is a sponsor. Yes, let me be honest, my injuries and my disappointment pales in comparison with the financial impact this little "mishap" is going to have on me. When I bought the bike I knew there were dangers involved. Like most people I also thought that it would never happen to me, or at least hope that it never happens. What one does not think about then is the financial impact this could have on you when it does happen. But, like my wife always says..."this too will pass". Oh man, how I wish that day would come soon.

Thanks for all your words of encouragement. I have received best wishes from so many people. It really lifts one's spirit when you know that people really care. Just so that you know, I am doing fine. My head is fine, my spirit is fine and everything else is fine. I am definitely more BROKE than BROKEN at this stage. I can send you my banking details if you want to make your best wishes more tangible, but for the moment all I can do is wait for the the BAD NEWS and in the meantime get on with life. When that final invoice arrives at my door, THEN I will make good use of those 5 VALIUM® tablets....


That little voice...!

I don't think I will ever call myself an extremist or an adrenalin junkie, but ever since I was a child I preferred the more adventurous outdoor activities to the more moderate day-to-day activities most of my fellow peers were in to at the time. While my best friend was reading stories about "Trompie en die Boksombende" I was outside popping wheelies on my Western Flyer Chieftain or falling off my skateboard trying to do my first full 360. This never changed as I grew older, much to the dismay of my mother of course. I remember one evening while we were at the dinner table how she desperately tried to change the topic of discussion. Kiwi Extreme set up a bungi jump at the Gouritz bridge 25km away from where we lived and she didn't want me to know about it. Her effort was fruitless because I had jumped just a week before but never told her in an effort to spare her the agony of dealing with it. This was just the way I liked living my life and still do today.

One thing I can say after all these years is that no matter how close I tried to get to the "edge", I never did something foolish to get myself pushed off. I know that there are so many people (including my mother) that would immediately jump up and say that I have just been lucky or that I can thank my lucky stars, guardian angel and whatever for that, but I have something else I feel deserves the credit for that. I know many people will testify that they have little voices in their heads telling them to do this or that or to NOT do this or that. Some even blame their miserable lives on these little voices while others will dedicate all their success stories to them. I also have a little voice, and we are quite close friends to be honest. I daily thank my little voice, because I honestly believe that this little voice has NEVER prevented me from doing anything exciting or adventurous but it has ALWAYS kept me from doing something foolish or irresponsible.

I have always wondered about adrenalin junkies and why they do the things they do. Why does one person see no danger in jumping from a plane while another will always feel uncomfortable with the idea? And why do some not only jump, but push the limits to the extreme by wearing squirrel suits or opening up their chutes minutes before impact? Where does one draw the line? I could never get the answer to that, so I decided many years ago to listen to that little voice instead.  When the little voice told me to pack my glider while the rest of the guys proved that it was still safe enough to take off, I obediently packed my gear and enjoyed the rest of the day watching them fly. When the little voice told me that even though the waves are smaller than it was on my previous surf session and that I might end up on the rocks today, I left my surfboard in the car and watched the guys taking the one perfect wave after the other without thinking that I am losing out. I think my biggest achievement ever was to never feel like a loser waiting it out when everyone else was out there enjoying themselves. I believe the day when you go against your little voice for the wrong reasons, that is the day when you start looking for trouble and start moving "too close to the edge".

When the opportunity to do this bike trip to Vic Falls came up, I was all fired up and ready to go. This was an opportunity of a lifetime I thought, and if you think of it, not really that dangerous at all. When our tour leader bombarded us with information of what could go wrong, I got a bit annoyed with all the negativity associated with his mails. I was not telling myself that what we have planned is not dangerous and that we should not prepare ourselves, I was just looking for more positive things to convince me that we are doing the right thing. The reason for this was because there was a little voice speaking to me all the time and I didn't like what it was telling me. I had a list of things about this trip that I did not feel happy about, and even though my little voice told me that over and over, I still decided to go ahead with it. It would be the the first time in my life that I ventured into an adventure against my better judgement....

It is day five of our trip and I am sitting in my bed in Cape Town licking my wounds. Well, not literally licking them, but surely aware of them. On day three I had a minor accident that left me with a couple of bruises and a damaged bike. Sadly I had to come home while my friends continued with their tour. For some inexplicable reason I am a bit relieved that I am here and not still on my bike somewhere in Africa right now. For some reason my little voice let me off easy this time, even though it is still going to cost me an arm and a leg to get my bike back on the road again. Thank God only figuratively for me.

I've had enough time to think about this whole trip and how it ended for me. I cannot put my finger on any of the items on that "worry" list that made me lose control of my bike and I am not looking for excuses or for anything or anyone to blame for my mishap. What I do know and strongly believe however is that I should've listened to that little voice when it told me that I should back down from this trip. My bike might be broken into pieces, but fortunately my spirit is not. In the greater scheme of things, this is a minor fall-back and a good lesson learned. My only advice to everyone out there is, "Listen to your little voice, it's there for a reason...."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

To Vic Falls and Back

Tomorrow morning at 7 am I will be leaving on my bike trip to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and back. We are three friends from Cape Town hoping to cover the 6000km + distance in 14 days...more or less. The map below shows our planned route. Due to no connectivity I will not be updating our trip as we go along, but I do hope that after our safe return I would be able to give feedback on the trip as well as some pictures.

We will be covering 4 countries (excluding south Africa) and will go through Namibia twice. I have not been to any of the four countries before and is really looking forward to meet my "neighbours". I believe after crossing 6 border post I will get a good impression of how kind they are... ;-)