Lessons Learned from Camping

Today is the last day of our 11-days-off-for-the-price-of-3-days Easter break. Gareth and I have returned from a cold, wet and windy but totally awesome week camping, first in the Cradle of Humankind near Krugersdorp in Gauteng, followed by a few days high up in the Drakensberg mountains on the Free State side in Glen Reenen. It’s funny, but even as I sat there in our tent, freezing my toes off at 2 degrees Celsius in the middle of the day, I couldn’t be more happier. There is such a sense of freedom while being on holiday, being outside in nature, even if the weather is less than ideal. While Gareth was busy making hot drinks on our gas stove to fortify ourselves with against the cold, I knew that there wasn’t anywhere else I’d rather be at that moment.

But now we’re back, just about ready to face reality again, and we’ve had some time to reflect on the week away. Here are some of the things we learned while camping the past week:

  • The problem with public places is the public. We usually take our holidays outside of school vacation periods and on this trip we remembered why we do this. Screaming kids and mud-caked bathrooms equals two unhappy campers.
  • Good company makes any type of weather bearable. It’s the first time the two of us have gone camping with friends and we thoroughly enjoyed it. While it was raining cats and dogs outside, the four of us hardly noticed as we wiled away the hours chatting and playing board games.
  • Never forget to pack shower sandals.
  • If it looks like a wet weekend ahead, forgo the shady spot under the tree and rather pitch your tent on the grass where it will be relatively mud-free and more likely to dry out before you need to pack up again.
  • If you think you have just enough petrol left to get you there, fill up now.
  • You can never take too many warm blankets.
  • Some items are non-negotiable and should always be packed, even if you think you won’t need them, like a universal sink plug or a roll of toilet paper.
  • Blue skies in the morning does not mean your towels hanging out on the line won’t be soaking wet when you return in the afternoon.
  • Going to bed at sunset and rising again at dawn gives you 12 hours of sleep, leaving you fully-rested and ready to face the working week again.

I’ll use the next few posts to document this trip while it’s still fresh in my mind. The Spain 2010 series has been going on a lot longer than anticipated, and there’s still a lot to tell, but that will continue after I’ve regaled you with tales of cashew-eating squirrels, dialling dodos, the food in Clarens and the beautiful vistas from the top of the Drakensberg mountains.

For more posts in the Krugersdorp – Glen Reenen Breakaway series, click here.

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