The Bucket List (or: How It All Started)

If meeting mountain gorillas isn't on your bucket list for some reason, put it there now.

If meeting mountain gorillas isn’t on your bucket list for some reason, put it there now.

A few weeks before my 36th birthday, I started to feel a Niggle. The Niggle started out so small I barely noticed it, but it fed off a plentiful diet of deskwork and email and grew into something worryingly large and obtrusive. It felt like the mental equivalent of a lump that you refuse to see a doctor about because you know perfectly well it’s serious.

At first I thought the Niggle had appeared because I hadn’t travelled for a few months. For most of my life, I’ve been lucky enough to travel fairly frequently, and for many years I even worked in the travel industry as a sort of journalist/photographer/digital-type person.

So it was unusual for me to have no travel plans. Instead, I had a fun job (that no longer involved travel), a house, two cats, a mortgage, and a retired father who insisted on cooking dinner for me at least once a week. It was enough to give me the screaming heebie jeebies.

Noticing my Niggle one night after dinner, my father observed that I was “trying too hard to get the most out of life”. I could only boggle. How can you possibly try too hard to get the most out of life? What other reasonable course of action is there? A slow, soggy sinking into the sofa?

So I spoke to my other parent about the Niggle. She told me about a movie called The Bucket List where two men learn they’re terminally ill, so they draw up a list of things they want to do and head off together on a road trip.

I know I shouldn’t have been able to relate to this scenario considering that

1. I am not about to die (Niggles aren’t fatal, as far as I know) and

2. I don’t have a convenient travel companion in the next hospital bed.

But for some reason the notion appealed to my Niggle.

So I made a list of some of the things I want to do, starting with seeing a kangaroo (not in a zoo). However, it struck me as rather ungrateful to ignore all the things I’ve already experienced, so I made a list of those too.

10 Things from the ‘Done’ Bucket (in no particular order)

  1. Climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. Had heated argument with fiancé at summit. Did not marry fiancé.
  2. Tracked mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Baby gorilla jumped on me and gave me headlice.
  3. Spent a week at Bulungula, the most idyllic place on earth. Didn’t get any sleep due to boyfriend’s dog lying under the bed and growling at goats all night.
  4. Climbed two extremely active volcanoes: Le Volcan in Reunion and Oldonyo Lengai in Tanzania. Disappointingly, neither erupted while I was on them.
  5. Sky-dived in Sossusvlei and paraglided on skis in Switzerland. They were tandem jumps, so a tad woessy, although the instructor’s harness snapped on the paraglide jump, so that made it quite interesting.
  6. Bungee jumped at Vic Falls. This was a couple of years before that same bungee cord snapped.
  7. Saw the Great Migration a couple of times. Realised I could never capture the magnificence on camera so hummed ‘The Circle of Life’ a lot instead.
  8. Slept in the same room as a rock star. The rock star was Jamiroquai. The room was Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge presidential suite. The guy from Jamiroquai wasn’t in it at the same time as me.
  9. Got charged by a baby elephant on foot. Obviously the baby elephant was on foot. The point is, so was I. And elephants, even baby ones, run faster than I do.
  10. Drank rum swinging in a hammock on a pirate ship. Admittedly it was a fake pirate ship, but it was in Mauritius. And one of the ‘pirates’ proposed to me. Did not marry him either.

10 things from the ‘To Do’ Bucket

  1. See a wild kangaroo, preferably hopping nobly across the plains. A wallaby, a platypus and a koala would be good too.
  2. Swim with piranhas in the Amazon. Pink river dolphins would be a plus.
  3. Hike the Fish River Canyon. With crazy adventurer Johan Bakkes, if possible.
  4. Get close(ish) to a volcano that is busy erupting. See actual lava. Maybe scoop it up with a spade like James May.
  5. See Mt Everest. From a distance. Do some of the Anapurna trail and drink yak’s milk.
  6. See an aardvark or a pangolin. Any anteater, in fact.
  7. Learn to speak Spanish well enough to do more than politely order a big beer.
  8. See the northern or southern lights. Preferably the aurora australis because I’m southern too.
  9. Ride on a carnival float in Rio wearing a sparkly bikini. Although the bikini part might be pushing it.
  10. Visit the glow-worm caves in New Zealand. Remember to keep mouth shut so glow-worms don’t fall into it.
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One thought on “The Bucket List (or: How It All Started)

  1. Kangaroos and wallabies (and wombats too for that matter) are usually very easy to see – they tend to lie very still and bloody on the side of the road. If you want to see a live one you have a keep your eyes peeled on the roadsides at dusk – preferably before they jump out and bounce onto your bonnet.

    Don’t forget to turn the flash OFF on your camera. Apparently I’m responsbile for the deaths of thousands of them, because I used the AUTO setting on my camera!

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