Floss, Gloss And Go
It happens once you get engaged, married or become pregnant. Everyone has advice. All good, solid cases based on past experiences. The problem is which one do you follow? If I had to take up all the tips, tricks and warnings I’ve had in the past week, I’d have to employ Sherpas to trek with me. We’d be laden to the gills. I'm packing. It's a five day Fish River Canyon hike.
According to the experts I should only carry 14.6% of my body weight. With a minimum load, the guy on YouTube, (who doesn't wear underwear on hikes) says, I’ll be comfortable and confident. What he doesn't know is, that this is Africa. None of the experts tell you that history, evolution, consumerism, and instinct tells me differently. I need stuff. It makes me feel safe, warm and fuzzy and secure. Stripping me of my things makes me feel insecure. The minute I have to scale down or be minimalistic a gluttonous insatiable beast awakens inside me. I have no control. Being cold doesn't turn me on. This morning I watered my potplants with the 10kg of water I schlepped up and down the mountains on our practise hikes.
Shopping. Was. All. I. Did. Last. Week. And so it came to pass that our dining room was systematically filled with anything and everything I was advised to take. I have three water bottles and a Forbes filter. Cotton socks, woollen socks, nylon padded socks, knee highs, ankle socks, gaiters, garters, tops, shorts, shirts, balaclavas, beanies, bathers, zip-lock bags and toothpaste in all sizes strewn from wall to wall. For the first time ever I have a "first aid kit" and a SPORK! My "wardrobe" is grey-institutional, yet practical and lightweight.
Succumbing to the blow-up mattress and puffy pillow, I pray, will not be my undoing. I have patch and solution too.
This palaver reminds me of the story I heard years ago when two prize-fighters, the one, not the sharpest blade in the drawer, went on a fishing expedition to Henties Bay in Namibia. Not to be outdone they went on a shopping spree acquiring the latest equipment and a new bakkie, trailor, fishing tackle, rods, reels and other miscellaneous necessities. The fish weren’t running and bites were few and far between. On the very last day Kallie caught one fish. After all the excitement had died down he exclaimed “Mike!” he said “do you realise this fish cost R750K?” “Phew!” said Mike “thank goodness we didn’t catch two”!
I’ve packed, checked the Hiking tick list. I’ve weighed myself with and without the bag and feel comfortable. The bag of treats which didn’t make the cut will not go to waste. My batteries are charged and my boots licked to a high sheen. My hat, sun glasses and walking stick are just waiting for me. I do wish I could find my one detachable trouser leg. I had to discard my rain jacket, with my luck the seven year drought will be relieved.
Ouma Marthie, my ex-Mother-in-law will be proud, I used her old orange and white scales to weigh every article, choosing the lightest item when choices had to be made. All labels and excess flaps were snipped off. I pummelled my sleeping bag into submission and did as the instructions said, it’s in the right position. Unfortunately I’ll have to unpack it all to retrieve it tomorrow night. My boots have a good layer of Dubben rubbed into the leather to waterproof them, just as you like it Dad.
With a notebook in hand I was guided through the secret compartments of our Land Cruiser, now I know where the spare tyre, jumper cables and compressor cables are. I know where to insert the jack and that the tyres must be deflated slightly when we hit the dirt road. My GPS is set up, all I need to do is press GO! I may not go beyond 3000 revs and I can go up the inclines in 5th gear, unless my revs go below 2000. I MUST check flashing red lights, God forbid that happens. I need traveling mercies.
I have my passport, drivers’ license, medical report, Namibian Nature Conservation form signed and sealed.
But a housewife’s work is never done, and so it is here. The last of the washing is spinning, supper dishes need to be washed, I see a spider’s web in the corner, shall I or shan’t I? My poppet is gently snoring, his work is done.
Finally, I hope, sleep will come soon. I don’t know whether the butterflies are from anxiety or excitement. What I do know is that this can’t be my last hike, too much has been invested in this expedition. Besides that, being fairly fit and active makes me feel alive, being outdoors in nature is exhilarating and travelling temporarily quenches my thirst for adventure. A week without makeup, a cell phone and all the other techno things that drive us crazy will be bliss. I hear the Cape Robin's awake, it’s time to say goodbye. I’ll catch up in weeks’ time.