My apologies for not keeping the blog updated for the past three months. I have been in hospital and recovering from a boating accident in Lambert’s Bay.
My ride from Eland’s Bay to Lambert’s Bay, in October was as beautiful and inspiring as the rest of the journey to date – but I will update you on that later – first the accident.
In Lambert’s Bay I was given the opportunity to interview the captain and owners of a diamond barge.
‘What a brilliant story’, I thought and in the early morning on November the 2nd 2015, I cycled down to Lambert’s Bay village. I parked my bike off at the Lambert’s Bay hotel, and took a slow walk down to the harbour. The fresh early morning air filled with the saltiness of the Atlantic Ocean and the cacophony of seagulls and cormorants was invigorating.
I walked along the wharf to the catamaran, ‘Mkuzi’. She was up on the hard getting her bottom scrapped and a fresh coat of paint. Captain Mike introduced me to Steve Valentine the owner and his son. Steve gave me a quick run down and suggested I climb aboard, have a look around, and we would chat later.
I was like a kid with a new toy. I have always enjoyed mucking around on boats and in the water. Having spent time at sea, been a past yacht and dinghy owner, spent many years on the beach as a lifeguard/surfer and, in Cape Town, living in a cave on Clifton beach diving for a living.
I was in my element – or so I thought. Is it not amazing how your actions in one split second, can change the course of your life.
Taking hold of the ladder, I placed my foot on the bottom rung and hefted myself up. On the third rung my foot slipped and I fell backwards. I looked back to see where I was going to fall and thrust out my right arm to cushion the impact.
The pain was immense. I think the whole of Lambert’s Bay will be woken in years to come with the blood curdling screams and the visceral language.
Steve, a highly trained paramedic stabilised my arm. After sixty-seven years the radius bone had finally escaped it’s bodily confines by shooting out my wrist. Apparently my hand was at an extreme angle to normal. [Later Mike told me they thought I was going to lose my hand]. While they worked, I lay like a babbling idiot – apologising, thanking, cursing and getting into self-blame big time, unaware of the hard work that Steve, Mike and Steve’s son were trying to carry out.
In the photograph taken once Steve had finished his hard work, of me lying on the dock – I look as relaxed as any Sunday morning park photo. “Lying on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away”.
I will say this. I am highly impressed with the ambulance services, the hospital in Clan William and especially the staff and quality of treatment at Paarl hospital. But Steve, Mike who had to carry out the initial stabilisation on the wharf side, under blazing sun in open unhygenic conditions on a blathering idiot. Their initial treatment saved me from worse deformity and I thank them for their instantaneous actions. The depth of my thanks cannot be shown. Never forgotten.
According to the doctor the scaphoid bones looked like ‘corn flakes’ on the x-rays.
I spent three weeks in Paarl hospital. Whilst in hospital, Piet Gouws from Paarl Rotary Club made sure I was comfortable. He and his wife visited me and gave me much grounding, kept me supplied in sweets and looked after my valuables whilst I was in hospital. To them my deepest thanks and appreciation.
On my discharge from hospital I had booked a seat on the government bus to Lambert’s Bay. An interesting trip, believe me. Those Durban local taxis have nothing on our Department of Health staff bus drivers. Half the occupants were patients getting home. We should have arrived at our destination relaxed and at peace with the world. Should have?
In Lambert’s Bay Patsy Niemann and Cornel welcomed me back. Two wonderful people I had met on my arrival in the village. Cornel has the lease on the Panorama Golf course restaurant and we have become very good mates. Patsy is a business-woman who has the bottle store, a take-away, laundry business and breeds British boxer dogs for fun. She also has the contract for another business. A lady whose small stature belies the energy and ‘get off your butt and get on with it’ attitude which has made her so successful.
Patsy put me up in her lovely home until I managed to get accommodation closer to Paarl hospital. She fed me, cut my hair, cut my nails and made sure I was comfortable and in need of nothing during that period. The Wobbler actually awaits my return in Patsy’s store. She has the positive, happy personality of somebody who knows where and who she is. Huge thanks to Patsy and Cornel for looking after my gear and me during this period.
Ohh I forgot to mention Patsy also runs two ballet schools in different villages, and a keep-fit class. Patsy used to be a professional ballet dancer and judge for RAD (Royal Academy of Dancing). A truly inspirational woman.
I have to visit Paarl hospital every two weeks for check ups. The original timespan before I could move off was five months. This puts a departure date around March/April. The Wobbler is waiting for me in Lambert’s Bay and that is where my setoff point will be. But more on that in the next blog where I describe my journey to Lambert’s Bay and some of the amazing people of Lamberts Bay and where I am recovering.
Don’t give up yet – still more to come. Like life, these little setbacks are all part of the journey.
Enjoy and ALWAYS smile.
Note – Just prior to my setting out from Underberg, Jacqui and I hosted a Polish cyclist for a couple of days. This gent had been hit by a bus in Ethiopia. He was flown back – medi-lift as his back was buggered – to Poland and have an operation. He returned to Ethiopia eighteen months later to continue his ride to South Africa. He then hitched a lift on a yacht from Cape Town to South America, where the last time I heard he was in Peru.