I have been asked to give a bit of a scaled down version of my blog and what it is about. Why i started writing it and and a bit of history.
So here goes. To say I have led a colorful life is putting it mildly. I actually have very few regrets however like everyone i do have some. My parents traveled extensively in 1969 and had me a year later. We had a very loving family and i was a normal happy kid. My Mom passed away from cancer when i was 14 and my Dad used the small amount of money he had to send me on a backpacking trip with Trek America. As per my mom’s request he send me travelling and into the University of the World. I think she knew already that I was not going to be the best student. I spent a month travelling the USA. I got my ear pierced, bought a bottle of tequila and kissed a signorina in Mexico. Rafted the Colorado river and flew in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon. I saw my first pair of boobs in New Orleans, loved the debauchery of NY and little old apartheid South Africa was never going to be the same.
I took my mom’s death badly and bottled up my feelings. In those days men did not cry. I rebelled as a teenager but at 17 the military taught me teamwork, respect and that i was no better or worse than anybody else. I travelled Europe in my early 20’s and met some of my best friends working as a barman upon my return. My substance abuse started around then and combined with alcohol i was larger than life. I got into tourism at 25 and worked my way up the food chain and at 30 found myself flying with wealthy guests around to Pvt game lodges and on African safaris. I set myself a goal of owning my own successful business by 35. At 33 i had the pleasure of taking over The Cardboard box backpackers and absolutely loved it. For 18 years i ran the business and i lived and breathed it. I have no regrets about running it however my alcohol abuse was fanned by the social interaction 😉 During this time i was also able to start my tour operation and i ultimate closed the backpackers to devote 100 % of my time to where i was making 99% of my income. Wild cherry adventures.
In 2009 my father passed away and it totally destroyed me. No point in harping on but i had hit the wall. I was devastated and just like handling my mother death i took it out on myself. I passively tried to hurt myself. My abuse had hit an all-time high and i was lost. I had nobody!!!! Or so i thought! In 2010 i just had to escape. I had a calling to nature. To the wild where things are fair. I decided to walk. I can’t really tell you why but i knew my salvation was in the desert. Maybe i just had to get away from the city or thought geographical change would solve things but i was in no state to remember. A very good friend who i lived with and took the full hit of the Tsunami suggested i cycle but i just wanted to walk. She suggested i walk from Lüderitz and i thought why not.
So, in 2010 i spent the most amazing 65 days walking around the dune sea from Lüderitz to Swakopmund.
I came back from that and life was better for a while however addiction is a strong disease and i soon returned to my excess ways. In 2014 i had come the full circle and found myself hitting the wall again. I had given everything up except alcohol after my dad died but did try again a few times for the fun of it. They all ended badly like the time I thought I was being trafficked by an east European taxi driver in Prague. (To what I had convinced myself would be www. tubbylove. com 😉). This time i hit the road and walked for over 3 months. When i was in the desert i felt at peace. It has simple rules. It is fair. Tickle the lions balls and you are going to get eaten. However respect him and he will bear you no harm. I honestly cried like a child when i was forced to come out and save my business. When the lion is away the mice will play!
By April 2015 i woke up after a heavy night in London and coughed blood onto the wall. In October in Thailand i was on a bender and 10 days after getting home i was in ICU with a bleeding ulcer. Those of you that know anything about alcohol abuse will know you stop really eating and have a craving for salt. I think it is the lack of minerals left in your system. Normally the first sign the end is near will be an ulcer as you literally drink a hole into your stomach. I spent 3 weeks in hospital but as i did not actually get any professional help i started drinking again. By the October i suffered alcohol induced hepatitis. It honestly was the lowest point of my life. I was told it was unlikely i was going to survive and it hurt so bad. I lay in a hospital bed for weeks waiting to die. It hurt so much that i made a decision that if i made it i would never drink again. The hardest thing for me was the that i was not ready to die and it made me really scared that I was going over to the other side completely alone. As the demons in your head play havoc, it becomes your worst nightmare. I was going on from here completely alone and it was a real reality check.
Against all odds i managed to survive with the help of my liver Doctor and therapist (who i adore and their honesty and straight talking was the ultimate key to me stopping). As everyday people we think there is some kind of shame in having mental health issues. Let me tell you that these 2 doctors together managed to get through to me and i have now been clean and sober for almost 7 years. They taught me how-to live-in society without alcohol. It was harder mentally in the first 2 years after stopping than it was to quit. You feel you don’t belong and take the wrong things out of what people say. You have extreme paranoia and It honestly is not easy. You find your life changes naturally and you begin to realize how much crap we put into our bodies through our lifetimes. What you eat, drink, effects your health and state of mind. Who you socialize with? Your employees or your Boss. How you are treating them and how you are being treated. The banks and the people who are pressuring you. Everything has a reaction. So why do that to yourself?
In life you should be in control. If you feel bad after eating mushrooms why would you eat one again? Why do we let all the negative things happening at the moment take up so much of our time? Why are we not spending 99% of our time on the things that make us happy. Sure your job may suck but when you leave there, leave it there. Don’t take it home with you. We have to realise that we all have made mistakes. Shit happens, we don’t always think clearly. We are human. There is absolutly nothing you can do to change the past. However how you behave at this exact moment defines your future. You honestly need to try leave your past behind you. Its your past. It may not be who you are now.
Its not how far you fall. It’s how you rise that defines you!
Make a decision. Who is it you want to be? What is it you want? How do i want the rest of my life to be? We have a clean slate now. It is never too late. Now is the time to make the decision. Do i want to be happy? Only you can decide.
Those of us in tourism have lost a lot and we are all fighting for our lives. However i have gone back to something that makes me happy. Walking and being at peace in nature. I love leaning new things and watching as the little critters in the desert go about their day. I love the fact that i can now share it with people and i feel stronger by hearing of other peoples strength when faced with lifes challenges. For the first time in the last really really long time i am truly happy. Suddenly i realise i need to spend time with the people who make me happy. People with positive energy. I need to work out where my stress comes from and then limit my time with that. Spend more time doing positive things.
There is unfortunately a very very low percentage of people who manage to stop after abusing alcohol. Most don’t want to stop. You may know or think you have a problem but you actually enjoy the good times. Because you actually enjoy your vice it will always win. I was in a lot of pain at the end and mentally i was a goner so i honestly took it to the physical limit. I do get cravings, but they are easily squashed as soon as i think of the pain.
So in 2016 i walked for the first time sober. I started in Swakopmund and walked north up to Cape cross, inland through the Messum crater, past the SRT camp and up to the huab. North past palmwag and up to the Hoanib.
In 2017 i walked with my friend Steve for the first time. It was such an adventure. We walked from the Hoanib to the Kunene via, Puros, Hoariseb river, marble mine and the Mariannefluss to camp synchro. 300km in 22 days on some tricky terrain. We absolutely loved it.
In 2018 Steve, Len and myself walked the puros canyon and up the Hoariseb to Mt Himba.
As a few years of sobriety had gone by and i started to feel again. I had also started swimming and in winter i would love the cold water as the pain made me feel alive again. Addictions will slowly chisel away at you like a parasite and ultimately consume you. It takes away your feelings. Your emotions. The icy cold water reminded me that I was alive. The colder the better 😉
During my long walk of life, I have discovered the healing properties in Nature. Especially the mental wellness. Us here in Namibia are truly blessed to have such a beautiful country. It has some amazing highlights. However, the most attractive thing for me is the open space and the feeling of being the only person for many km, s with only the sounds, sights, smells of nature. How the animal kingdom lives by the sun and wind and moisture. How your mind opens when it is not full of life’s obstacles. How you have need for little else than warmth, food, water, shelter etc.…. There is no need for excess. The answers to life questions start to appear and the mind stops spinning. Even the most perfect F1 engine gets re-tuned after a race. When last did you give your mind a rest and a re-tuning?
Why dont you come on a Camino? Get back to Nature and let nature fill you with positive energy.
For those of you that have not seen the itinerary for the Damaraland Camino here it is.
I will be walking across the Dune field in Damaraland over 4 days/5 nights. It is a 56km walk that promises to be a real adventure. We will wild camp and have a 2 man back up team. Just us and nature.
We meet at Camp Madisa at 18-00 0n day 1. Your camping and dinner is included at Camp Madisa. The fire will be ready after the briefing and we will have a nice braai.
Included. Camping equipment including tent, mattress, sleeping bag and pillow, (if you need or bring your own). Camping at Camp Madisa and The Brandberg White Lady lodge,, back up vehicle, trailer and 2 staff, meals, ice for a few days, firewood, Damaraland borehole water and guide.
Not included. Drinks, Medical insurance, and items of a personal nature. Anything not listed above.
To get into the swing of things we do a 14km walk today. It is along the Goantagab river and an medium day. We will stop for breakfast under an Anna boom and for tea at poacher’s gap. Late morning, we leave the river and head into the dunes
We walk until around 12 noon then stop and build camp. The afternoons can get hot, but I have a 10m x 6m shade netting we use to escape from the sun. We have a 2-man backup team and a mobile camp. However, our aim is to get to Moringa camp today. I will walk with you until breakfast where we will look for tracks, fauna and flora. Thereafter you will have time to walk on your own and meditate as you let nature fill your senses.
We will however not be far away incase you need anything.
Please remember Moringa camp consists of a tree! We use bottles of water to wash, and we have a toilet seat on a frame. We will dig a hole, erect a screen and there will be total privacy. Bring matches to burn the TP DBBL
We leave the Goantagab behind us and head South. Up the rolling Dunes for 14km. It is a hard day but wow what a place too be. We walk as a team and never leave a soldier behind! So, we walk as fast as the slowest walker and the idea is to leave your stress at home and spend some time on yourself. This is your time. Be nice to yourself and those walking with you . We have 2 rules. You may not speak about Covid, Business or politics and do not walk too far from the group alone. This is a wilderness area and there are free roaming Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, Cheetah etc.……! Our aim is to walk to Euphorbia Gulch. 14km There is Zero light pollution here and the stars are unbelievable. Let us see what we can see. However, when its full moon out here you do not even need to bring a torch. The Sunsets at Euphorbia gulch light up the BRANDBERG and this truly is a special place. DBBL
Today is our first downhill walk of 13km to Cheetah Camp. The whole day we will be walking straight at the BRANDBERG. What a sight. We will have crossed the halfway point and spirits are high. Our walk will be on lots of sand, but nobody cares because its downhill Our food is simple but nutritious and we cater for all food requirements. The afternoons are your time. Read, meditate, have a drink, or do what I do and recover in the shade. We have a 2-man support staff. We walk and they do everything else. Put up your tent, cook, clean etc.…. Please do not arrive with your Samsonite . 1x Day bag to walk with and a soft kit bag please. DBBL
Our final day, this is a magnificent day’s walking. We drop down the mini escarpment towards Breakfast tree! The terrain is gravel plains and after breakfast we stroll amongst the Granite boulders before dropping into the Ugab river for the last 5km. We will walk to BRANDBERG White Lady Lodge and we will have achieved our end goal! Let the festivities begin!!! BL
Your night camping at Brandberg White Lady Lodge is included and a final braai. The transfer to Madisa to pick up your car is also included.
What to bring.
Torch. Extra batteries.
Spare boot laces
Sun block. Lots.
Wet wipes. Lots.
Hand wash. There is a lot of sand out there.
2 x 1L water to carry in your day bag.
Snacks for energy. Easy to carry.
We take a max of 16 walkers and can arrange a date with you if you have a private group.
N$3800pp Children under 14 N$3200pp including camping at Madisa & Brandberg White Lady Lodge and Meals.
If you want a room at Camp Madisa and Brandberg White Lady Lodge just pay the difference between camping and your chosen accommodation.
We will shuttle you back to Camp Madisa to collect your vehicles.
Due to the heat in Damaraland, I will only be running 2 more Damara Camino’s this year.
I will then be starting the Skeleton coast Camino – Messum route.
Many people have asked me for various routes, and they will come in time. I will walk a Skeleton coast camino on the 13th August
Day 1 13-00 Meet at Cape cross lodge.
You will leave your cars there and we will drive by 4×4 shuttle to the Messum crater. Along the way I will tell you about the Messum and we will visit the Lichen fields, Koppiealeen and some rock engravings. We arrive at our camp on the rim of the carator in time for sundowners and a braai under the stars.
Day 2 We will walk to the Messum terraces and along the Messum river. Stopping to see the rock formations and life in the desert wake up in time for some sun.
Day 3 We walk past Giant Welwichia’s and start the trek along the Skeleton coast “Masetta”. A 20km vast gravel plain. Camping on the gravel plain.
Day 4 We hit the coast and walk south towards cape cross. We look for chameleons and learn about the coast and its wildlife. Camping on the beach
Day 5 We continue along the beach and end off our Camino at Cape cross. We will have a celebratory drink and we then go inland to Spitzkoppe for a bit of warmth and to celebrate our achivement.
Day 6 After breakfast return home at leasure.
So, do I have any adventurers out there? Do you want to be part of something that you can say you were the first to do?
Come join me for the RECCE for the skeleton coast Camino – Messum route. 70km 1st September- 6 September 2021 Come celebrate spring with something different 😉 N$3000 once off. email@example.com +264812331833
Includes, meals, water, back up, camping equipment, permit etc…..Contact me if you are interested.
I will have a more detailed itinerary for you after the RECCE walk.
Here are the dates of the Caminos for 2021
18th August Damaraland Camino Ladies Only N$3800pp
25th August 2021 Damaraland Camino N$3800pp
1st September Recce walk of the Skeleton coast Camino – Messum route N$3000pp once off.
8th September 2021 Damaraland Camino Ladies Only N$3800pp
15th September 2021 Damaraland Camino N$3800pp
13th October 2021 Skeleton Coast Camino – Messum route N$4999
For November/ December and to the 15th of January i will be running a 3day 2 night Camino in the Khan & Swakopmund rivers. Close to the Swakopmund area. They will run every Tuesday and Friday.
In late March 2022 i will be walking the Kaokoveld Camino from the Klein Serengeti to Etendeka lodge and there is some interest in a Camino along the Kunene river from Ruacana to Epupa falls in early April. Please let me know if you may be interested. firstname.lastname@example.org
With that i honestly wish you well. Stay strong, stay health and get vaccinated!
When i am in Windhoek i will try to organise some Saturday morning walks.
Hopefully i will meet you on one of the Caminos 🙂
This is for my Gypsy girl. XXX