Dear Family and Friends
Much has happened since I last wrote a letter describing the trials and tribulations of our move to the Lowveld as a family, some exciting and beautiful, others sad and horrific. Life has not been without its contrasts and ironies and I’m not quite sure where to kick this letter off….
I’m not the funny one and I don’t avoid difficult subjects so let’s delve into the sad and horrific.
I came off a Pafuri trail on Thursday 27 April to the news that my partner in WildSide Trails and Training, Mark Montgomery had been attacked by a crocodile, he was stable and in hospital was the only news. The full story emerged and captured attention around the world, you’ve likely already heard about it. I won’t go into the details of what happened, rather watch Mark’s account HERE. All I will say is that he doesn’t give himself enough credit for how hard he fought the 3.5m crocodile that eventually gave in and let him go. Very few people would have survived this horrific incident. With Mark as our senior guide and trainer we have had to adjust our plans and reschedule our full launch. The incident will affect the future of WildSide in many ways yet to be fully understood, but the journey is still alive and so are we.
Simultaneously another man was fighting for his life in a Johannesburg hospital, this time it was malaria. Charles Lubbe had signed up with Mark and Myself on a Pafuri Trail over the Easter Weekend. Charles was an acquaintance before the trip, but a mentor and friend just a few short days later. Two things struck me hard about him, firstly his love for his kids and family, every day we were out there he said how he wanted to bring his boys back to experience the true wilderness of Pafuri. Secondly, he seemed to have reached a milestone in life and spoke not about getting ahead of others in life but rather meeting them where they are. So often we see others as competition, as people who might take up a resource before we have a chance to. His paradigm had shifted and I sensed him grappling with the change as we had fireside discussions about our ventures in life.
Charles’s sister had sent me a message request on Facebook and I only noticed it a week after it was sent. It said that Charles was in ICU fighting malaria and the next 24hrs would be critical. I responded by asking how he was doing and sending my best, then I decided to check his FB page. The first post on his page said, “In loving memory of Charles Lubbe” No it can’t be, my heart sank, more shock added to the system.
So two men, slightly older than me, who enjoyed an Easter Weekend trail together had faced death on Tuesday the 25th of April. The one who fought the strength of the mighty crocodile survived, and the other who was bitten by the deadly mosquito died.
It’s a lot to grapple with, especially at the start of something new. It’s a reminder of how brittle and fleeting life really is. One day we are here, and the next day we are gone. Although not forever, my friendship with Charles was brief, but his words and insights he shared along the banks of the Levuvhu will remain with me, and I will pass them on. A legacy will remain.