Day 17: Conclusions
Sitting on a cosy sofa. Mentally crawling my trek from Johannesburg to Cape Town, recovering the main experiences and key lessons:
The People: I've only come across positive and helpful people. From The Free State to the Western Cape - one of my central memories is the boer who would stop by with his bakkie to offer support: A lift, some water, his phone number - or just some words and a little chat in the solitude of my daily grind. The people along the road raising their hand for a salut, waving a hello or the truckers giving me a motivational horn. These experiences stand in contrast to all fears and dark stereotypes that are being bred in- and outside South Africa. Maybe it just was the luck of the naïve.
The land: Within two weeks I've seen dozens of different landscapes and habitats: From colourful Soweto to the bushveld round Johannesburg, the Free State bursting with maize and sun flowers, the shift to drier regions as I approached Kimberley, the peaceful Karoo, to the fruitful and mediterranean terroir as I moved through the Windelands into Cape Town. All sceneries had some things in common: The red soil, the rich flora and fauna, the width and majesty of the space and the wonderful skies.
The mission: I failed to walk all the way from Johannesburg to Cape Town. After 4 days I had to reduce my equipment to keep up with the daily average of 60 kms. After 7 days I felt that my body had adapted to the daily strain, however, not my left ankle. It felt worse from day to day. And that was the end of the story. That quickly, after one year of preparation. Good that I found a proper bike in Kimberley. What would I change if I had to repeat the trek? Option 1: The original equipment, solo, a max of 40 km per day - and no running (I got really impatient on two occasions after 14 hours on the road and started to run with my equipment; didn't help my ankle at all). Option 2: Very light equipment, the original average of 60km per day, incl. a support vehicle like I had it with Dania while I cycled.
Resetting myself: The past two weeks stand in total contrast to my ordinary life. The daily portion of nature, sport, exhaustion, adrenaline, and acquaintaces have no doubt reset my mind - and tought me a lot about nature, my equipment, my limits, South Africa. Coming back to Cape Town I've enjoyed the most unusual things like sitting in car, going to a shopping mall, doing nothing. And I'm very much looking forward to continue my trek through South African literature. And last but not least I'm fully ready to get back to lots of work.
Thanks to all supporters, especially Dania, Ben, Wendy, Gerard, Mom, Dad and all friends who've encouraged me with comments on this blog.