It was two days before we were due to depart for Antarctica. All the team members were frantically calling each other to exchange excited words and make sure that everybody had everything. Once we were out there in the wilderness it would be much to late to peer into our bags and discover to our horror that we’d left a crucial article of clothing or equipment at home.
I had managed over the last month to keep it together and not injure myself whilst working out. I had spent many nights lying awake wondering whether I would be ready for the mountaineering or not. In the end, I decided that I would find out soon enough and that one way or the other I would just have to dig deep and find the strength to get to the top. Either way, I was going to do it come hell or high water. I had by this time lost 15kgs all in all and was happy with the results. My hard work was finally starting to pay off.
Adding to all the mayhem was the fact that my Antarctica trip was going to run right into a 4 week holiday in South Africa. I would be flying from Buenos Aires to Johannesburg to reunite with my family after not seeing them for 2 weeks. I was incredibly excited for this expedition, but I had also never been away from my children for so long and was not sure how I was going to handle it. I had started a blog about my experience with taking on this challenge and everything that it had involved in the build up to this momentous day. As a result I had been appointed chief blogger by our team leader. My job was to type up a blog which would be sent in to the Gulf News at the end of everyday, documenting our activities so that everybody including our own families, could stay abreast with our progress in real time. I was so psyched up for it and up to the challenge and responsibility. For the first time in my life I would get a small taste of what it would be like to be a travel writer and I couldn’t wait. My cat Goemal (remember the son I never had?) would be booked into the pet shelter where I knew he would be taken good care of.
Standing in front of my bed, it looked as those a suitcase and clothing factory had exploded on it. I had my expedition bag to repack in order to make sure I had everything, and then my normal suitcase to pack for the holiday that was to follow. Finally at 11:00pm I was finished. I looked at my expedition bag now sitting on the floor. For the last few months every time I looked at it I would get a small twinge of excitement in the pit of my stomach as it called out at me. Now excitement had reached fever pitch and my bag was screaming at me saying, ‘Come on, let’s go, go, go’!
I slept fitfully that night, hoping that I had remembered everything and ticked everything on the list off correctly. The next day, Jaco and I would be driving into Dubai to spend the night in a hotel before we finally set off for the airport the following day. After all the months of hard work and anticipation, I could hardly believe that the day had almost finally arrived.
The next morning despite how exhausted I was due to lack of sleep, my eyes shot open and I leapt out of bed. After a good breakfast I did my last minute checks and while Jaco was loading my bags into the trunk of the car, I said goodbye to the girls. Luckily nobody shed any tears. There was too much anticipation and the girls were very excited for me, saying they would follow the blog religiously everyday and that they were looking forward to seeing me in a fortnight’s time. Waving goodbye to them they all shouted, ‘Mommy remember, don’t drown’!
I was still laughing and waving to them as we turned the corner and they disappeared from my sight. Suddenly my heart was pulling in two different directions and excitement turned to sadness at the thought of not seeing them for two weeks. The tears started flowing and didn’t stop until we got out of town and were on the highway. When we reached the hotel, despair was quickly replaced by the happiness and joy of seeing my other team members. That evening we all gathered in the bar downstairs where we got the opportunity to meet each other’s family members and have a last meeting before embarking on our journey the next day.