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Author: Donna Leung 

Guest post submitted 15 March 2017 via Leka Escapes.

10 January 2017

It started off as a simple idea: Let’s go hiking.

My friend studying in the UK (let’s call him Louis, because that’s his name) was paying a visit to his homeland for 2 weeks and we decided to explore Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve in the South of Johannesburg. Since he had not driven in a few years due to the convenience of public transport, it was decided that I would drive.

It was a wonderful day, the African sun was showing Louis what he has been missing and the sky was a vibrant blue. Two kilometres away from picking him up, I hit a pot hole. I knew it was serious when I felt the inevitable tilt of my car towards the front left tire. Not to mention the two helpful drivers who pointed out my flat tyre at two consecutive robots (traffic lights to any UK readers). Louis and his father helped me change my flat tyre to the spare one, a biscuit tyre that definitely would not have survived the drive to Suikerbos and back. We drove to the nearest Tiger Wheel and Tyre to get a new tyre; an hour later we were on the road, feeling relieved that the worst part of the day was over. Driving down the N3 we caught up on memories from Wits University and gossiped about our friends. As we reached the R550 off-ramp, we got pulled over by Metro police. I handed them my license confidently, I had paid my fines and had my car serviced a month before..this won’t take long. As fate would have it, my brake lights were not working. One fine later, we were on our way again. Feeling deeply embarrassed, I was convinced this was the worst day I have had in a while. Needless to say I didn’t feel like I was doing any justice to the population of Asian female drivers.

We parked and started our 10km hike. The sun was glaring down on us, we had planned to start at 9:00 am, but with all the delays we started at 11:30 am. Not deterred we marched on, soaking in nature’s beauty. Having lived in Europe for the past 5 years, Louis was use to daily walks for buses, trams and trains. I, on the other hand, had a stark reminder of how long it was that I last went hiking. This sentiment was echoed in our conversations where he would ask me a question and I could only respond between deep breaths. It was kind of him to have slowed his pace down for me.

We stopped for a lunch break, keeping an eye out for the local wild life. We had hoped to see zebra and wildebees, but they seemed to have been hiding from the midday sun. Just then a lizard appeared from under the rocks and made its way to the top. It stared at us and decided that we were too slow to be a threat. It continued to bask in the sun, soaking up every photon that hit its body while we huddled for shade under a tree. As if its appearance was not enough, the lizard started to do what appeared to be push ups. We counted the reps as he did his morning workout..30..very impressive. We both laughed at the absurdity of the lizard being our personal trainer, forgetting the horrid morning. In that moment, it was all worth it.

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