The Perfect Band-Aid for a Bad Day

Life is easier to take than you’d think; all that is necessary is to accept the impossible, do without the indispensable, and bear the intolerable. ~ Kathleen Norris

Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse yesterday, I headed out to the beach where I was to meet up with a dear friend for a long catch up as we hadn’t seen each other since before I left for Argentina and we had so much to catch up on.  As I was waiting for her to arrive, a car pulls up next to me and the passenger opens her door and lets it go in the Cape Town wind. Although the parking bays were big and there was plenty of space between our cars, it was still enough to go flying with a hard crunch into the side of my car.  I looked up in utter disbelief. Surely this couldn’t be happening.

I didn’t trust myself to get out the car, I could feel my anger rising. I was so tired of people not taking care when they get out of their car and already have countless dings where someone’s door has connected carelessly with the side of my car. I watched to see what the woman was going to do, an apology would be nice. She didn’t say anything but as she got out she closed her car door and bent over to inspect my car and then came to my window. I still didn’t trust myself to get out and through the closed window I asked if there was damage. A string of words came out of her mouth but were carried away on the wind. I knew I had to get out my car so took a deep breath and braced myself for the worse. White paint from their car scraped all down the side of my car where the door connect and a dent in the bottom. It wasn’t as bad as I had expected but it was another scratch and dent. I’m hopeful the paint comes off easily with a good polish with no scratches underneath and I’m hopeful the ding will be able to be knocked out without too much hassle.  They gave me their details and the driver apologised profusely on behalf of the passenger. I was tired and didn’t have the energy to be angry and I didn’t want to be angry. This was just how my day was going. There was not much I could do expect say “It’s ok, these things happen” while offering my best smile.

I climbed back into my car and watched as they headed out to the beach.  A thought floated through my mind, I’d rather have this happen than a full-blown accident on my way home. I had to be grateful. Then a wave of emotion washed over me and behind my sunglasses my eyes burned with the threat of tears. The day had been unusually tough and I was ready for it to be over!

Luckily, the universe really does know how to put the cherry on the cake in the nicest sense of the word.  My friend arrived, parked and came flying out of her car and running round to meet me at mine and with arms wide open enveloped me in a welcome home hug! It was exactly what I needed in that moment.

With her two dogs in tow we headed down the beach for an early evening walk. The wind was fresh and the smell of the sea air filled my every sense. My bare feet enjoying the million molecules of earthbeads massaging them as the ice-cold Atlantic ocean washed over them.

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As we walked the sun, like a yellow disco ball hanging from a blue sky, began to sink towards the horizon bathing us in the magic of the moment. Watching a sunset and trying to explain it is like trying to retell a dream, recounting something so beautiful is a futile practice.

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As we strolled along the cool, wet sand catching up, I became mesmerised by the beauty around me, the soft crashing of the waves, the water lapping at my toes, the clouds pouring over the mountain top and the yellow disco ball sun beginning to set. With each step I took I silently let go a piece of my day, each step filling me with peace and renewed hope.

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I could watch a million sunsets, each one more beautiful than the next. Watching the day end so beautifully lifted my soul and reminded me that life is beautiful if you flow with its natural beauty. Resistance is what makes it ugly.

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Sunsets are a celebration of things to come and for me , I was happy to let go my rather tough day, knowing that tomorrow the sun would rise and with it I would have a chance to do it all over again, this time hopefully with a lot more ease!

Tomorrow I’m so excited to be heading up the mountain again. I won’t mention which route I’ve chosen to do because the mountain is already notching up the wind and pouring the cloud over the table top as if it already knows we coming. I have a feeling we are going to be walking in the misty cloud again but hoping that the wind isn’t too bad so we can go all the way to the top this time. What is it now, fourth time lucky?!  Hold thumbs….!

In other exciting news, chatting to my friend this morning, I unexpectedly discovered since our beach walk last night she’s been researching my next mountain climb, checking out prices and where and what and how and the idea is sinking in it seems, she wants to talk more about it.  How amazing would it be to have her on the mountain with me?! I love planting seeds in people’s minds ~ that’s how all dreams begin…

Yes, today is already turning out so much better!

         ~ All Photos By Me, except for the few of me taken by my friend, Shanti. Thanks for sharing your time with me my friend, it was perfect in every way! ~

The Nitty Gritty of Life on the Mountain!

After looking for ages, I finally found a South African flag to take up to the top of Aconcagua with me. Good thing I take pictures of it before I leave... It might be the right way around when I'm looking at it but it doesn't work when the pic is taken!

After looking for ages, I finally found a South African flag to take up to the top of Aconcagua with me. Good thing we took a picture of it before I left…  It might be the right way around when I’m looking at it but it doesn’t work when the pic is taken!

This blog post is not for the faint of heart or for the prudes. It is a blatantly honest account of life of the mountain… Probably only for the brave and the tough, and no doubt the crazy one’s too… You decide which!

With just a few days left before I leave for Argentina, I am finally starting to get my ducks in a row. Not really, but I would like to think so anyway.

The start of my packing, the floor now, it pretty much looks the same, just more items and messier. Not sure when I am going to find the time to pack.

The start of my packing, a few minor items on my study floor.  Now, it pretty much looks the same, just more items and messier. Not sure when I am going to find the time to pack…

My three year old niece found my down jacket and promptly climbed inside and finding it so snug she didn't want to get back out again.

My three-year old niece found my down jacket and promptly climbed inside and finding it so snug she didn’t want to get back out again.

The mornings of my holiday has been spent running around from shop to shop buying the final equipment I need and sourcing the little knickknacks that will be packed as well and it’s sometimes the smaller items that get me crazy excited. Things like pee funnels and poop bags. Yes, you read right!

For anyone who has ever hiked, you will be aware of the protocol when it’s time for the call of nature. Mostly you have rocks and trees around making for a perfect “rest” stop should you need to relieve your bladder along your route. But when you are climbing a bigger mountain, for more days than most would ever care to spend out in the sometimes brutal elements on a mountain, the dynamics of a “potty” stop changes completely.

On Aconcagua, things are really going to be changing for us…. Up until Base Camp we will have the “luxury” of a toilet. But from there on up, small comforts like going to the toilet at camp will be a thing of the past and all modesty literally gets bagged up! And at that height, we won’t even have the luxury of trees, rocks and shrubs for privacy. It’s a magnificent mountain but it certainly does lack certain necessities! But a hiker always makes a plan, and on this occasion that is going to be my life on the mountain slopes of Aconcagua for at least 14 days, I find myself wishing more than ever, I was simply a man. At the end of the day, life on the mountain is going to benefit the men the most.

Picture this, it’s the middle of the night and you are snug in your -25ᴼC sleeping bag and outside a blizzard is swirling around the tent. Your bladder is full and you need to wee. Badly.  You can’t wait till morning and you just have to go. Now. The thought of it alone just exhausts me.  In order to relieve your bladder of its fullness, you would need to pull on layers of clothes in order for you not to freeze on the spot the minute you step outside your tent, then you would have to find a suitable “potty” place and undo all those layers you just had to put on in order to survive. None of this is very pleasant at all and is enough to make most not want to climb a high altitude mountain. Luckily, up high on a mountain like this, we have another choice. You just pee in your tent! No, not like that…. In a bottle or in a container of sorts. This allows you to stay in the warmth and comfort of your tent, it will probably also make your tent-mate want to wee too once they have listened to you going and then you can laugh at them in return as they negotiate their way in a bottle.  As most of you have by now realised, life in the mountain would be so much easier for a man ~ it would literally be point, aim, and release! But for a girl, it’s a whole different story! We don’t have anything to point or aim and doing this straight into a bottle is simply going to cause some serious spillage!

Now you get a whole lot of devices that can help with this problem, things like “shewee’s”, a plastic little contraption that is designed to fit snugly to your body and allow you to do things like wee in a bottle through the funnel type spout that comes out the bottom. But I’m guessing a man designed these because there is serious lack of thought as to a woman’s body and how small or big these specifically designed “shewee’s” should be ~ have you seen one? They are so freaking small, without a doubt spillage would just be part of the process. Seriously not ideal when you are living in a tent for days on end!

So in my search for something that will effectively allow me to wee in my tent in a bottle I searched for something slightly bigger and more appropriate that would be sure to avoid the spillage issue while on the mountain. Not finding my search very successful, I turned to my last resort. The motor car section… Yup, I walked out with a nice (big) funnel that will allow me to point, aim and release without any worry of spilling or splashing over my sleeping bag, jacket, or God-forbid my tent team-mate! Now my only worry is to try and remember which bottle is my pee bottle! Oh and my water bottles supposedly glow in the dark so I should have no problem finding my pee bottle in the middle of a cold, dark night in my tent… Just must remember which one is the water bottle and which one is pee bottle!

Me and my pee funnel. Yes, I think this should do the trick nicely!

Me and my pee funnel. Yes, I think this should do the trick nicely!

But that is the easy part… Next we move onto the unspoken No. 2! I don’t even know where to begin with this one. There is rule on the mountain slopes of Aconcagua, whatever goes up, comes down and this includes all your bodily functioning. Yip, you read right again. Even your No. 2’s will be coming back down the mountain.

I don’t really know how this works, no one ever really asks and no one offers up the information either but from what Ronnie, our expedition leader, tell us you “go around the corner” and I’m guessing as there are no rocks and no trees it purely means somewhere a little less public and a bit more out of sight… You apparently poop in a bag, seal it up and walk back to the camp site with your valuable jewels bagged in your hand, as if it’s a prize. Apparently, there’s plenty of joking about this on the mountain and when someone first does it there is normally a big round of applause from the rest of the team. I will no doubt be going through the motions of “earth open me up and swallow me whole!” and I have no idea how I am going to face this and 14 days is a seriously long time not to go!

You see, the truth is, I am a very private person. I get that this is a bodily function and all just a part of life, but really it’s just something I prefer to keep private. I do not use public toilets, I do not use friends bathrooms to do the deed and I don’t even us the toilets at work for this normal bodily function. To me, there just a time and a place for it and it’s certainly not when I’m anyway but at home! As it is, at work I have to put up knowing all about my bosses bodily functions, he’s very open about these things! In truth, I think he enjoys watching me cringe every time. Maybe it’s a man thing!

So life on the mountain is going to be anything but dull. It’s going to stretch me further than I have ever been stretched, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be rewarding, it’s going to be another adventure of a lifetime and I’m living it even if I have to pee in a bottle in my tent and poop in a bag!

Taken a few nights ago, the realisation of what I was doing and where I am going finally hit home!

Taken a few nights ago, the realisation of what I was doing and where I am going finally hit home!

At this point, I do know one thing for sure, my tales of my time on the mountain are sure to be full of humour and things you don’t read about every day.

~ There is just 2 Days, 20 Hours, 21 Minutes and 16 Seconds to Take-Off ~

~ If you would like to make a donation towards those living with Cystic Fibrosis, the amazing courageous fighters who I am climbing this mountain for, please click here to make a quick and easy donation. All donations go directly through to the Cape Cystic Fibrosis Association ~

~ If you would like to follow my journey while I am away on the mountain, please click here.  If you are on Facebook this link will take you through to the “Adventures Global” Facebook Page. Find the “Like” button on the page and you will receive daily updates via the Facebook Newsfeed while we are away. They will let you know how the team is doing, where we are and what we are seeing. ~

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