A week around Gauteng, South Africa, with Lindsey: how I risked my life on a canopy tour in the middle of the Magaliesberg Mountains.
Lindsey organized my only weekend by going to the Magaliesberg Mountains, not too far from Jo'burg (2 hours drive). Those are an incredibly long (but not too high) mountain range in the northern part of Gauteng.
We were staying in a sort of small cottage house in the middle of nowhere, and when I say nowhere I mean Cabin Fever nowhere. Surrounded only by fields and trees, the cottage was actually much better than I expected. Sure, the water wasn't too hot, but the kitchen, the bed and the electricity were all top notch.
The owners of the place (a couple of English called Glen and Cy who moved here when Cy's health was getting worse) did a great job trying to make our stay as comfortable as possible.
I tried to cook a sausage on the barbecue, but I wasn't too successful.
The wind was blowing too hard and I couldn't see what I was doing, in the darkness of the place.
Lindsey finally decided to cook it in the microwave.
I'm a failed braaimeister, I definitely need more lessons. My dad would be so ashamed of me, all these years of barbecues and I learned almost nothing.
The main point of going to this place didn't have anything to do with the cottage though: we were going to a canopy tour not far from it.
What is a canopy tour? Well, think about Stallone's film Cliffhanger: people hanging from ropes and sliding from place to place. Lindsey organized everything and I didn't know much about it.
We arrived in the early morning the next day to meet our guides (don't remember their names, but they were very funny) and the group of 8 for the tour.
After signing some release document ("If I die it only my fault so my family won't sue anyone") and after a very long drive up the mountain I finally realized what we were going into: a long series of slides on the canopy across a gorge.
You fall, you die.
Obviously the safe system was well proven and nobody had any problem with the equipment.
The day was beautiful and the surrounding incredible. I offered myself as the first to slide and show the others how to do it, just to impress Lindsey. Didn't work very well, but hey, I'll find another way to impress her.
The total number of slides was 15, all with different names, inclination, style, speed and length.
After the first slides everyone relaxed (they were all quite nervous, obviously. All but me. The man of steel) and too soon we approached the end of it.
The only problem for some (the girls) was to brake on the quickest slides. To brake you're supposed to pull down the rope with the provided glove, but the strength required is above average.
And so Lindsey, getting too much speed at one point, hit one platform too quick and bounced back: I think my heart for a split second completely stopped, but then the safe system showed us just how reliable it was, and Lindsey was back with me, only a bit shaken.
After the canopy tour was over we were served some great food, cooked by the nearby restaurant.
The day was just beginning: we drove to the Hartbeespoort Dam to spend the afternoon. The entrance of the Dam was quite curious: a roman victory arc in the middle of the short bridge.
We stopped for some food, and after failing to get on the cable way (closed for months... some people got killed or something) we went to the zoo and on the boat for a touristic excursion on the lake.
I don't normally like zoos, they make me feel quite sad about those animals, and I know that Lindsey shares my views.
But to get on the boat this was the only way.
The zoo was better than expected and animals like giant turtles or baboons scratching their bottoms always make me laugh.
The boat trip was quite lame: too slow, too short, and instead of going around the giant lake it was showing us the expensive houses and boats on the other side.
But for Lindsey, who drove all this way up, it was a nice way to finally relax.
Back home (at the cottage) we spent one last night before leaving the place. Because of the cold water in the shower we were forced to use the bathroom in another cottage and the owners apologizes by giving us some hand made marmalade.
We met Lindsey and her family (mum, dad, granny and dog) for one last lunch somewhere in between the Magaliesberg and Jo'burg, and then we drove home one last time.
After forcing them to get me to the airport my way (i.e. 5 hours before the flight) it was the usual (sad) time to say goodbye, once more time, with more feeling, to Lindsey.
I should be used by now, but I'm not.
It's so difficult to be me sometimes, knowing that Lindsey is so many miles away, and it's hard go back in London, knowing that I left her behind again.
Soon things will be different, but right now time seems to pass so slow...