• Sandra Caganoff

Soothing our scars, one swat at a time

The hike I did last week began on a WhatsApp group, Fynbos 24 to 26 March. I was invited by a friend, soon others joined, and then we were nine. A group of women who did not know each other well or only had vague connections.


Our online conversations were about food. Should we do the hike catered, how much wine should we bring and who will curate the evening cheese platters. Do we need hummus, what about gluten-free options, and how many bars of chocolate? Are there fridges, what will we eat for breakfast and lets all bring our own plasters.


We chose not to do catered, although changed our minds the day before, decided not to wax, kept our uni-brows and did not discuss insect repellant.


THAT WAS OUR ONLY MISTAKE!


The hike was perfect. Tougher than we had expected, 28 kms in 3 day with lots of ups and downs, rolling hills and valleys, exquisite wild flowers, great views and 35 degree heat. We swam along the way, some taking off all our clothes and plunging right in, others doing breaststroke amongst the water lilies. We got to know each other quickly, which is what walking does, and as women do, we opened up our hearts.


Everyone has a story.


We told our stories between swatting the horse flies.


Stories about love, loss and love again. About first marriages, failed marriages and second marriages. About the difficulties of relationships and of dating and we laughed and we cried and we all said that Netflix is sometimes easier than sex. One woman told us about her Tinder date at the beginning of lockdown and how her date is still in her home, sharing her love, her space and her bathroom.


Bathrooms came up a lot. And how so many of our bad times took place in bathrooms, which are also, our places of sanctuary. The bathroom is sometimes the only place in a house to have a quiet moment, catch your breath, maybe weep.


On the trail we had good quality private bathrooms, something unheard of. We didn’t need the privacy though; we built up camaraderie quickly.


Pass the wine, I said, while killing a mother of a horse fly.


SWAT.


Crisps please.


SLAP.


Is that a joint I see?


WHACK.


Goodnight darling friend, sweet dreams, SLAP CRUNCH FUCKING FUCK FUCK I GOT HIM.


We walked, we drank from rivers, we traversed mountains, we shared our snacks and between us we killed 12876 horse flies.


NOT ENOUGH I SAY.


I am home. I have googled horse flies and what purpose they have. None whatsoever except to suck the living blood out of you.


WALLOP.


As I write, a week down the line, I am still a little itchy. Our Whats App messages on the group are now about our scars.


We survived. We have the battle scars to prove it. They’re good. They remind us of where we came from.


Thanks girlfriends for a brilliant trail, it was truly marvellous.


I’m sorry I ate the snacks before the trail began.


And I’m sorry I left a horsefly in my boyfriend’s bed.


SLAP.



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