Some things, I am irrationally unafraid of. Moving countries, changing jobs, travelling alone, making rash and sudden decisions, par example.
I like to boast about all this (as you can see) because I am literally scared of everything else.
Flying, driving, waves, jumping off things, being high up, being low down, talking to people I don’t know on the phone, talking to anyone with a foreign accent, talking in front of more than two people at any one time, sending food back at restaurants, eating fruit I have not cut myself… you get the idea.
And as I said, the last few days have been jam-packed with me whimpering about the strong likelihood of my impending death.
J took me for a very beautiful sunset walk up Lion’s Head, which is a mountain in Cape Town that, I’m sorry, looks nothing like the head of a lion.
It’s quite steep and there are lots of rocks you can slip on and if you fell in a certain way, you’d tumble down and perish. I made it (nearly) to the top – J’s spartan side came out and he made a big fuss every time we got overtaken by a granny (often) – but it really was beautiful up there.
Then he left for London, probably feeling quite relieved, and I checked into Ellerman House, which is a really, really charming hotel five minutes from his James Bond abode, and can best be described as an ode to the Great Gatsby.
Ellerman House is an Edwardian-era mansion which was once owned by a very eccentric (batshit) kajillionaire who had more cash than he knew what to do with. He never married, but instead devoted his life to studying rodents.
Now, the house is a beachside crashpad for travellers with really good taste; bursting with incredible art that lines every wall, and housing more than 7,500 bottles of South African wine in the basement. The manager, Doug, was very interesting and told me lots of facts.
My next stop was Plettenberg Bay, a 45-minute journey in a very small Cemair plane. Miraculously, I survived yet another flight.
My home this week is Monkeyland, a rather magical sanctuary for monkeys of all shapes and sizes. Paula (English, clever, heart of gold, laughs after almost everything she says, even when it’s not a joke) – has been looking after me and carting me around.
I’ve been doing lots of activities.
The first being ‘Kloofing’ at Africanyon, which basically involves getting into a wetsuit, donning a nerdy helmet, and exploring canyons… by way of abseiling down cliffs, swimming through caves, meandering through the jungle and leaping off extremely high rocks into waterfalls.
Being a fearful person (did I mention that?) I tend to book myself into these sorts of things just to unnecessarily fuck with myself.
I, along with about eight others, were led by two brilliant guide men (witty, energetic, physiques of rugby players).
The first thing you have to do is get strapped into a harness, wrap your fists around a rope, and then shuffle casually off the side of a cliff backwards.
There is skill involved in this.
Even though it feels totally bonkers, if you don’t lean back far enough (“trust the system!”), you lose your footing and they have to lower your upside-down arse in a way that is mortifying, because it means that you have failed.
I freaked out and swore A LOT but they said I was actually a natural. I don’t think they were just saying that. I’m quite good at being nimble when I have to be (the boasting returns). Also, they didn’t tell other people they were ‘a natural’, particularly the ones who had to go upside-down.
The rest of the two-hour voyage was great. I whined before jumping off every rock, but every jump was fun. I would, therefore, thoroughly recommend Kloofing.
I stayed that night at a sweet little guesthouse run by a woman with an explosion of strawberry blonde curls which reached her elbows, who was very softly-spoken and impossibly nice and smiley.
Next up: my very first game drive.