• Petra Vandecasteele

Adventure or Divorce, a true story

Many years ago, as I was sitting on a rock and enjoying the views over the Orange River and the Namibian mountains from my camp in the Richtersveld, South Africa, a lone Defender drove past. After a few attempts to find the right spot – when you sleep in a rooftop tent you need a flat surface if you want to sleep comfortably – the passenger stepped out of the vehicle, inspected the surface with satisfaction, and gave a slight nod to the driver who switched off the engine. They looked like a couple that had slipped into a silent routine, the type of ease that comes with many months of travelling off the beaten track.

The next morning I invited the woman for coffee at my camp fire. The man had left to explore the surroundings. We immediately clicked and for me it was a rare and welcome opportunity to speak my mother tongue. What are the odds of meeting a fellow Flemish person in a god forsaken place in Africa? "How did the two of you meet?" I wanted to know. "That is exactly what I reminded Henk of when I put a knife to his throat," she replied rolling her eyes. "When he first asked me out on a date, he arrived in a fully equipped Land Rover and everything in his attitude led me to believe that he was a keen adventurer. All our conversations were about exploring the African wilderness, and when he proposed to me, I really believed that I was going to marry an adventurer and explorer in heart and soul. We talked about leaving our home to travel through Africa for a year and I believed him. After our first anniversary, he promised me that we would travel as soon as we had saved up enough. After year two we had saved up enough, but then he was too busy with work. Three years later, he had even more business commitments. Then, it became five years and he was still not ready."

"Honestly, I felt taken for a ride," she confessed. "I realised that I had not married the hot adventurer-explorer who would take me on a mind-blowing expedition through Africa, but instead found myself with a coward couch potato who tricked me into an illusion." "So, what happened next?" I asked, impatient to know how the drama would unfold. "I had enough of it," she continued, "So, I made him sit down, looked him straight in the eyes, and said, "Here's the deal, Henk: we're either going to do this expedition now or we're getting divorced." "So, how did he respond?" "He was stunned and looked like a ghost." I couldn't help laughing imagining the scene. "Eventually, we started to share ideas and looked at the map, but that was it. He soon fell back into the habit of putting work and other commitments first. I realised that more drastic action had to be taken, so a few days later I walked into his office and put the divorce papers neatly on his desk with a little note saying, 'Adventure or Divorce, take it or leave it. You have 24 hours to make up your mind.' And this is how we got here in South Africa, our final destination after having traveled almost a full year through Africa ..."

I love this story. It shows that sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones to make our dreams a reality. Time flies and before we know it, it's too late to do what matters most. There will always be excuses and responsibilities, real or perceived, but there are times when we must just shove them aside and allow ourselves to be free. Free to live, to breathe, to enjoy life to the fullest. Sometimes we must just do what must be done.

If you also feel the urge to experience an adventure in the wilderness, then send me an email and ask me how I can turn your dream into a reality. It's great fun. I promise you!


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