While growing up I killed nothing. Ok maybe a fly or two or things by accident. However, I have always loved nature and never tried to harm humans, flora, or fauna in any way. Well almost 😉
I once as a 9- or 10-year-old child had gone into the koppies with my pellet gun and mates. I was supposed to hunt for our lunch. That was my job which I was uncertain about as had never hunted before. There was a little bird on on a branch close to our camp and my mates said that is the one for us. So, there I sat with my pellet gun aimed at this little guy. Man, I did not know what to do. I just could not pull the trigger. My Dad told me about his disastrous hunting trip and how it affected him. So, I decided to try not losing face by blaming it on my bad shooting skills. I aimed 2 feet to the right of the little bird and let off the shot. It then all happened in slow motion. I saw the pellet leave my barrel and head straight for the little mossy. I could not believe it. It left my barrel completely skew. I started to scream as the pellet hit the little bird and blew it into 100 bits. I was horrified. This was not supposed to happen.
My dad said that hunting was only ok for the pot, so I started to collect all the body parts and while tears ran down my cheeks I threw up as I was trying to force down my long expired feathered friend. Quite the ordeal I tell you. LoL……My one and only hunting experience.
So, after spending 14 days in Hospital with Sepsis and Cellulitis in my right leg I was ready for the first Damaraland Camino of the year. Too be honest I should not have left hospital and it was my fault that I did. I had missed the Kunene Camino and was not happy about that. Fortunately they had an awesome time and it went off well. Thanks to everyone for making it so.
But being me, I was not going to miss the first Damaraland Camino of the year.
On day 1 of the DC everyone arrived at different times, and it got a bit disjointed. I normally do my briefing at 18-00 but as this was not possible, I hoped to carry it off the next morning. My leg was still in bad shape, so Burger walked for me. Our normal camp site we use is a self-named area called Moringa camp. It’s up in the Duneveld and quite exposed. When we got there, we realised the east winds that are predicted to be around for a week were going to make our lives hell. So, I chose to move down close to the riverbed for more protection. Thank God I was later to find out. The afternoon went well, and we were having a great time. Chatting, relaxing, eating and being merry. Life was good.
Then I got taught a a very valuable lesson.
After lighting the Toilet paper in the toilet hole the east wind literally took 1 square of paper and blew it 1m and it landed in the grass. We have a really really really lot of grass here now. It was a great rainy season. I have never been involved in a serious veld fire, but I never want too again. It just spread like nothing I have ever seen. I was in shock. Luckily nobody was hurt.
George, Steven, Burger, and I tried to fight the fire for a few min then realised it was hopeless. We stayed in the river and our vehicle took 4 guests back to Camp Madisa. They then returned with a game drive vehicle from Camp Madisa, and we all got back to safety. Camp Madisa staff were great. They calmed us and made sure we had light and hot showers and were very kind. We slept under the stars, but I could not get a wink as I pondered the devastation that was happening out in the duineveld ☹
The next morning Ellen arrived, and, in her calm, confident way took over the walks and hosting. She is such a natural.
I however was taking this hard. I have a very close relationship with nature and these dunes in particular. This was a disaster. The elephants, the people, the flora……. AGHHHHHHHHHH NOOOOOO. I was going insane, I was helpless……. AHHHHHHHHHHH
I decided I had to try do something about it. There were way too many people wanting to know what was going on, but they were not on the ground with the fire and had no idea where it was. So, I went out to see what I could see. Luckily for me the east winds were still howling and that as the fire moved west it becomes drier, so less grass and it is just rock. The fire was also between the Ugab and the Gwantagab, so it was impossible to jump those 50m wide rivers. By my calculations the fire would just die out unless the wind changed direction.
So, I stayed with the fire. I needed to make sure the wind did not change direction.
The fire was slowing down and all that seemed to be left was what was in front of me. This was of course all happening off road, and I managed to get a vantage point up on a dune.
As I watched the fire slowly go out, I noticed some heat coming from the front left of my car. Naturally, I thought it was just overheating from all the dune driving so I opened the bonnet and walked down the hill to put out the last of the fire with some blankets.
When it was all out, I started up the dune and much to my surprise my bakkie was on fire. AGGGHHHHHHH WTF!!!!!!!!!! My leg is still sore, but I did not feel a thing. I am 4 hours from freeking anywhere and in the middle of the desert. My water was in the vehicle and as I ran my ass hole was chewing holes in my underwear. How the f$#@k was I going to get help. I have a Garmin in Reach satellite messaging device and it was in the glove compartment. I went into the car with the engine on fire and got it out. I got my dad’s good luck charm and the picture of my parents I have on my sun visor.
Then I ran like hell……….
I lay in the sand 30m from the car as it exploded, and things burnt.
Yowzah……what do I tell you now. The feeling is quite unreal. I have been a ball hair away from death on a few occasions but never have I had my senses with me. I was always too loaded or too sick. Here I was 100% aware of what was going on. Your life does not flash past your eyes but the things that are important to you are as big as sign boards in your mind. I just lay there as the light gave way to the stars and I made wishes of recovery every time I saw a shooting star. I promised myself I would never put myself in danger like this again. I promised myself a few things, but they will remain private.
I had not taken my antibiotics for my leg in 15 hours, and I had only a guest’s jacket and a 500g yogurt to make it to morning. If I was not found, I was going to walk at 5am to a place I knew had signal. I just was worried about my leg as the Sepsis and Cellulitis was now starting to get angry.
I had all the meat in the fridge for the Camino and all the valuables of Ellen, a few guests and myself in the car. This had all gone up in flames. I did not know what to say or think. I was trully in shock. As I write this I have only been in contact with a few people. I think writing this will help me process it.
It was 10pm and in the distance I could see lights. They were getting closer. Then they saw me. I was flashing……… (my light) at them.
Then there she was.
My gypsy girl in her pink bumper had found me. At that moment I have never ever loved anyone more. The Garmin InReach SOS international emergency centre had contacted them and via the channels and here she was. Can you belive it 😉
We got back to Camp Madisa at 1am and we slept like a rock.
So that was me. What happened with the Camino you ask? Well…. I have never seen anything like it. The guests, Burger, George, Steve, and Ellen just rose to the challenge. They were so supportive. They never moaned at all. They enjoyed their walking led by Ellen. Became friends, spread the love, and walked like I have never seen. They covered 17,8km in a riverbed against the east wind in one day, I am sooo proud of them. The lads produced food made with love and ultimately the Camino was a huge success. We had ladies from Namibia and from South Africa. Then Roy from Singapore who just casually filmed everything, and I think will be a social media star upon his return 😉
Yayyyyyyyyyyyyy! Damaraland Camino 12 you can really be proud of yourselves. The warmth, love and frienship you exude is trully a gift. Keep it up.
I am in a very privileged yet chosen position to do what I love. I have paid big for my many mistakes, but I am living proof that if you just keep trying things will get better. I find myself again against the ropes but like always I am ready to fight back. I learn everyday about being a better person from people I least expect it from. I realize I am only human and one day my luck will run out. That is something nobody has any control over.
I am again in hospital and will be spending the next few weeks recovering. The 27th of June Damaraland Camino is my goal and I will be there. To The Brandberg, Kunene and Damaraland participants for 2022 you all rock and well done on your achievments. To my backup team. You all are an essential part of all this and I cant do it without you. Thank you. 😉
Life is such a precious thing. We take it for granted until it is taken from us. Live everyday as if it is your last, the biggest mistake we make in life is think we have time. Go out there and do what makes you happy.
To my Gypsy girl my heart and see you at Riaan smit and Albert Frost on Friday night 😉XXX
Love to you all.
Here are a few pics from this year 😉
Camino Dates 2023
Kunene Camino A 07-Apr 18-Apr 155km
Brandberg A 29-Apr 07-May 125km
Kunene B 18-May 29-May 155km
07-Jun 12-Jun 50km
21-Jun 26-Jun 50km
05-Jul 10-Jul 50km
19-Jul 24-Jul 50km
02-Aug 07-Aug 59km
16-Aug 21-Aug 50km
30-Aug 04-Sep 50km
Mountain 2 Mountain Camino 09-Sep 17-Sep 125km
Brandberg Camino B 23-Sep 01-Oct 125km
Skeleton Coast Camino 11-Oct 16-Oct 72km
25-Oct 30-Oct 72km
Please dont hestitate to contact me should you want any more info on the Camino’s 😉
Stay alive, the universe needs you.