Friday, 2 November 2012

Small small world...

Do you find yourself saying: "When I have time I'll do this and that or someday when I have enough money saved I'll do this and that..." But that someday, time and money never seems enough and the opportunity passes you by, because you made excuse after excuse to delay your commitment. Well, recently I found myself making many future plans and no effort to take action.

I always spoke about how I wish I could just do some of the amazing adventures you see on television or read about in books. When I asked myself "Whats stopping me???" I had no answer and could not find a convincing excuse to help me procrastinate any longer. At 24 years old with money saved after my time working on the yachts, I could afford to take a few months off a do whatever I liked. Whether it was backpacking through South America, learning to kite surfing in Vietnam or cycling through Africa, if I finally pushed myself to commit it is all very possible. I have the opportunity to do it now, because there is nothing tying me down. I am young, fit, healthy, single, unemployed and hungry for something to challenge me physically, mentally and emotionally. And so I decided to stop talking about all the amazing things I plan to do someday and actually take action and do it now.

Taking the plunge in West Palm Beach, Florida. This is when it all started, I'v always wanted to try skydiving, but I delayed doing the jump for ages because people thought it was crazy, dangerous and unnecessary.  When I finally let myself commit and actually do it, I had the very best time... Since then I approached all potential adventures, challenges and exciting opportunities with a new open-minded attitude.
My research allowed me to came across the Tour d' Afrique cycling challenge, which is an organized tour starting in Cairo, Egypt on the 11th Jan 2013 and finishes in Cape Town on the 11th May 2013. The full tour riders travel through 11 countries and cover a distance of 12000 km from start to finish. Everything about this tour made me excited and it was an easy commitment... I contacted the Tour d' Afrique cross-continental bicycle touring company based in Toronto, Canada. They said it was very last minute, but there was still space for another rider. Immediately the preparations to cycle from Cairo to Cape Town began.

In the beginning stages on my preparations, Justin kept telling me about a South African modern day explorer who had come to Saracens earlier in the week to do a motivational talk for the rugby team. This young, energetic guy told stories about his most recent trip which was kayaking around Iceland with Dan Skinstad. However, his first adventure which kick started his career was about being the first man to circumnavigate the African Continent by bicycle. While Justin was telling me about this explorer by the name of Riaan Manser, my memory kicked in and I realized that I have actually met him before. I doubted myself at first, but when I looked at the picture on his book, I was almost sure that 5 years ago, when I was starting my career on the yachts, I sat next to Riaan Manser on a flight from London to Cape Town. I had just quit my job onboard a 45m motor yacht based in Antigua and was heading home to study at Stellenbosch University. We swapped stories the entire flight, Riaan told me all about his trip around Africa as he was busy promoting his book "Around Africa on my bicycle" and I told him all about my time on the Super Yachts and the amazing places I got to visit. The conversation we had was fascinating, and I remember thinking how I wish I was brave enough do something like cycle around Africa.

So when my sister in-law, Georgina, put me in touch with Riaan to set up a meet and greet I was super excited, just to see him again. In the back of my mind I wanted to ask if he maybe remembered me: "I'm the yachting girl that sat next to you on a flight years ago..." But then I thought NO NO NO!!! That just sounds a bit weird, especially since Riaan has become fairly well recognized over the past few years, he might just think I'm a creepy fan. So to keep myself from embarrassment, I kept my mouth shut... But then to my surprise, Riaan asks me over the phone: "Sorry Tess, but this might be a strange question, did you work on the super yachts before, cause I think we sat next to each other on a flight sometime ago???" I was shocked to say the least and over the moon that he remembered me after all that time. Small small world, cause here I am now 5 years later and asking the man himself Riaan Manser advise about my cycling challenge from Cairo to Cape Town, which I believe he inspired on that flight from London to Cape Town.

In the end, it seems as though I am brave enough to do something like cycle though the African continent.
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