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.
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.