• Joanna

Extreme Sports & Me

Updated: Mar 21

So... it was pure bliss having my own room again. Actually, it was better to have a bed again.

Granted, it was a backpackers and not a luxury hotel, but considering the fact that I’d been sleeping in an old canvas military tent for a week, I would take anything. I could get. At one point, during the entire kafaffel with Shared-AccommodtionGate, I did go in and offer to pay extra to secure my own room.  I would have drained my credit card to avoid spending time in cramped quarters with Claudia. The problem was that the backpackers was sold out due to the much anticipated New Year’s Eve celebrations and there was nowhere else to go. Claudia stood her ground though and refused to bunk in with me.


Shame.


Think of the fun we could have had getting wasted & swimming together. 

Perhaps I should have been insulted that she made such a fuss... but the feeling was mutual. I just had to let her hang herself. Which she did.


She claimed that she had paid single supplement and therefor, deserved a single room. Fair enough... all of us travelling alone had paid this... and to be fair, it should have been respected as much in tents as out of tents. I also paid the single supplement.. Both of us were just as entitled as Takaka was.


The problem was quickly solved when Whaaaaaaaat? agreed that Claudia could move in with her. Takako was more than slightly disappointed... as should be expected. She was not particularly found of the idea of Claudia joining her... 


...but them’s the breaks...


Better her than me.


Malinga suggested a group dinner out together and chose a place called ’Neapolitian’, apparently known for their Italian cuisine. They were not, however, known for their service. 


Our waitress was appalling. If you were to write down the top 10 worst server traits, she took Gold for Namibia in each category. Efficiently, friendliness, charisma, organization, memory, speed... she failed all of those with flying colours.


And.... their internet was out.


I feel that I should elaborate a little bit more on the enchanting, mysterious & often misleading game I like to call, “Find the Wifi”... 


...no one is a winner in this game. 


No one.


So far Africa scores a big zero in connection.

The Backpackers has no internet... although the girl at the front desk insists that it does work and keeps suggesting strange places to try to connect.


Try the corner of the lobby... maybe on the left hand side of the patio... have you stood inside the pub on the far wall by the kitchen... 


I think this is a ploy to remove us from the vicinity and send us on a wild goose chase. Swap ‘goose’ out for ‘wifi’ and it’s spot on. No matter where you end up in the entire place... it 100% simply does not work.


I think it’s me. I feel like I’m the curse.

Earlier in the day, I had packed up all my necessary crap in my bag and set out to explore the coastal city of Swakopmund, determined to find wifi and get my blogs live. I hit three pubs/cafes in town before I was fully connected. At one location, I even sat down and ordered a glass of red wine prior to finding out that their wifi didn’t work. I feel the need to backtrack, because what I actually mean when I mention that I packed up all my necessary crap is that I forgot my charger, my cord and my plug... 

Not very brilliant moves in the game of connection, especially when your Backpackers is a 30 minute walk away.


I also did’t check my battery power on either device, therefor my iPad died within 30 minutes... forcing me out of my connection and back to the accommodation.


I have never considered myself an Internet Amateur, but I am.


At least I was today.


The entire town seems to be riding the same excuse wave of “there are too many people in town for the internet to worth” which seems like a load of silly gobbledygook to me. 


After about 40 minutes at Neapolitan, without wi-fi, our drinks had still not not arrived, making me think that perhaps they were going to be served with our meals??


Not the case.


I was patient for another 30 seconds and then I could feel myself reaching a much recognized state of ‘mild meltdown’. 


Get me a glass of wine or get me wi-fi... 


...one of them... 


....immediately.


I would have settled for a water.

Neapolitan did not do Italy proud. 

While we were waiting for dinner, Ruth suggested that we start a What’s App group so that we could all share photos and stories after the tour was completed. Everyone agreed that this was a good idea, so a piece of paper was circulated for everyone to share their number.


And everyone did...


... except Claudia. 


Typical. 


After dinner, the boys and I went out for a couple drinks (perhaps a slight crap shoot to find wifi elsewhere but nothing did the trick) and then back to the backpackers to get a good sleep for our big extreme adventure sports day...

Quading...

... seems like it should be fun...

Right?

Better be...

The van for the Activity Centre picked us up at 11:15AM and afte a few detours, u-turns and a few jaunts back & forth on a not-so-scenic back road... he finally got us to the centre. He didn't speak to us the entire way, which was welcoming... and unnerving.

I might even call it foreshadowing...

The Activity Centre was bustling & buzzng once again and we encountered the same chaos as we had yesterday. The usual fight to the front ensued and once we eventually shoved our way in, we managed to pay our fees and sign our lives away. We were then were whisked away to be fit with hair nets and helmets. A brief orientation was given in regards to operating the quads and we were instructed to follow the guide, at all times, single file.


Rules were posted for all to see;

  • No fishtailing.

  • No donuts.

  • No detours or going off on your own.

Seemed simple enough to me. I wasn’t particularly disappointed by any of the rules posted because I had no intention of breaking any of them.

... and off we went...


We had hardly been on the trail 15 minutes when Yu decided to go rogue. He just kept turning off the main path and attempting to make his own route. I was watching in disbelief, a little bit of horror and a whole lot of embarrassment.


I coudln’t believe it. I kept throwing my hands up in to the air in complete frustration and asking, “WHY is he doing this?”

What is seriously going on?”

Rules are rules. Follow the guide.


No one had an answer... let alone the guide, who had to ‘unstuck’ him twice...

I was diligently following the rules. I stayed the required 5m away from the quad in front of me. I slowed down or sped up when the guide gave me instruction. I looked left... I looked right... I stopped... I started...


Pat on the back for me. Good quad job.

... so far.


Then Pascale took the lead in quad delinquency & figured it was his turn to take over the rule breaking part of the afternoon. He decided to spend the majority of his time on the quad fishtailing all over the dunes.


To no one’s surprise, he got stuck. While the guide was unstucking him now, Sandros took it upon himself to donut my quad. Around and around and around.


This is what tipped the guide right over the edge.

He threatened to cut our tour short and bring us all back to the activity centre immediately.

All rules broken.

Go group!


Looking back, this probably would’ve been the perfect time for me to call it a day. Throw in the towel, thank the guide and tick dune quading off my extreme sports bucket list...


There would have been no complaints from me.

But the day continued... and so did I.

Eventually Yu was removed from his quad. I couldn’t quite decifer if he was simply horrific at steering or if he was too unpredictable to be trusted. Either way, he was forced to climb on behind the guide and leave his quad in the middle of the desert. 

He told the guide that quading was just not for him.

Turns out that quading wasn’t really for me either. 

Why hadn’t I taken the one hour tour?

But there I was... committed to another hour and a half... and becoming more and more apprehensive as the tour went on. At the beginning, life was grand on my quad... up & down, left & right... everything was good and I was essentially a professional fair weather quader. It’s when it started getting a little bit more dangerous and riske, that I started to seize up.

Thing got intense... for me, anyway.

Suddenly we were dropping down 75% angels and taking high dune figure 8’s. When the boys went big, I opted to go low. The long drops... well... I would like to boast bravery... but to be fair, the only reason I even attempted them was because I didn’t know how to back up and remove myself from the situation. Had that been an option, I would not have been the Evil Knievel you see here before you.


Had I the choice to run down the dune instead, I would have taken it and left the quad for dead.


Then my nightmare came true.

I fell.

Quad fell too.


Somehow, somewhere, some way... deep inside, I knew that I was going to meet my demise eventually but I definitely was not prepared for when it happened.


I was going Mach II, dead drop down... in the middle of double flip... landing a knarly jump from dune to dune... with a pride of lions chasing me... in a sand storm...

And then I fell..

Kinda...

Not really...

The truth is that I was desperately trying to follow suit and make my way across a particularly steep-angled dune, but it appeared that the path had been taken out by a small sand avalanche. Turns out that instead of going straight, I should have turned downwards instead of attempting to cross the loose sand. From what I saw, the guys had gone straight across.


What do I know though?


I obviously don’t understand British Humour and I am quite crap at quading.

My decision to cross the sand avalanche didn’t work well in my favour. What I remember is the quad tipping to the left... and then I tipped to the left. 

Basically we all tipped to the left.


The quad flipped and down I went. I remember flying off first... and the second thing I remember was the machine tumbling over my head. Thank God for helmets.


The quad then rolled right over my left side, plummting me in to the sand and breaking every single bone in my body. At least, that is how it felt.


Everything after that is fuzzy. I went in to complete shock. I don’t know if the machine rolled off me or if the boys ran over and took it off of my limp, sand infested, broken body. No one has told me and quite frankly, I am a little embarrassed to ask for details.

I have to accept that this is my fault and roll with it.

Sand was everywhere - my mouth, my ears, my face, my hair... my feet, my backpack, my bra and even my bum.


I stood up, shook myself off, figured out where I was, who I was and what had just happened and then I got back on my bike. I wanted to lie down and cry... but I didn’t think that was an option. 


The guide asked me if I was ok and all I remember saying was, “I just want to go back now, please.”


I put on a brave face and slowly made my way back to the activity centre praying the entire time, “Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don’t fall.


Fear and insecurity had taken over and unfortunately they were not letting go any time soon.


With every turn, I winced. Every corner, I slammed on the breaks. If the boys sped up, I closed my eyes and swore repetitively. 

The pain was real... my entire body was throbbing. Agony.

I almost burst in to tears of joy (and pain) when we reached the Activity Centre. Off the quad, off with the helmet and off to the bathroom to see any damage done and get some of the sand off my face.


The guide expressed zero concern in my well being. I walked by him after leaving the bathroom and he hardly acknowledged me, let alone reach out to question how I was feeling. It seemed odd.


Later on I figured out that I forgot to tip him.

I can’t breath in without grasping my left chest, so apologies that my unempathetic guide didn’t get $5. With every bounce or jarring motion, it feels like a punctured rib is about to pierce my heart and break through my chest.

Back at the hotel, I climbed on to my bed and started to cry. The pain was becoming more & more evident and at that moment, it just seemed like I had gone right ahead and destroyed the rest of my vacation. I hate extreme sports. 


I laid there feeling sorry for myself for quite awhile before forcing myself up and out of bed. It was New Year’s Eve, I was in Namibia and self pity wasn’t really on the menu.


I had a much needed shower and then headed in to town. Every step of the way was painful, but I clenched the left hand side of my chest and put one foot in front of the other until I was at my destination.


Of course, my destination informed me that they were closing in 30 minutes... FML


I had enough time to throw something on Facebook, chug back a glass of red wine with 3 muscle relaxants, 2 anti-inflammatories and 4 Advil... 

Dinner.


Having an 800lb piece of machinery fall on top of you on New Years Eve gives a whole new meaning to f$%ked up.

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