In 2011, my beautiful South African friend was getting married. I had promised her two years prior, that when she was to get married I would be there at the wedding. I asked my friend in the UK if she fancied a trip to South Africa with me and we would make a girly road trip out of it. She agreed and off we went…
The ceremony was amazing, set on the banks of the Blyde River with the Drakensberg Mountains as its backdrop, Moholoholo Ya Mati resort was the perfect setting for an African wedding. After a week of catching up with friends and visiting the Mpumalanga region our adventure really began.
We flew down to Port Elizabeth and continued our road trip down along the Garden Route experiencing the glorious natural beauty of the beaches, mountains and lush green vegetation. We went caving, zip-lining, on safari and had some surf lessons at Jeffrey’s Bay.
Finally, we arrived in Cape Town for our final few days before heading home. Cape Town had so much to see… Table Mountain, Robben Island, the V&A Waterfront, Camps Bay, Simon’s Town and Cape Point to name a few.
One evening along the vibrant and cool ‘Long Street’ we had the most amazing dinner at Mama Africa trying the ‘Wild Game Mixed Grill’. Crocodile, Ostrich, Kudu and Springbok which were all on the menu and tasted delicious. After dinner came a little salsa and a few Cuba Libres in the Cuban Lounge and oysters for dessert.
Finally we ended up in a good old Irish bar called ‘The Dubiner’ where the drinks were flowing and the party was happening. Across the bar I found ‘my pirate’ drinking with his friends. His name was Gavin and he was a sailing instructor out on a night out with his students who had just finished their certification. Whether he did or did not tell me he was a pirate remains unknown as a few drinks were to be had, however that was how he was known to my friends and I for the next couple of years…
We met up with ‘the pirate’ the following afternoon for lunch. I thought he was amazing and apparently the most beautiful human being I’d ever seen (or so I kept telling my friend the evening prior after a few rums). Lunch went well and when it came to saying goodbye, I was genuinely upset as I would probably never get to see this guy again. After we walked away though, I had this gut feeling and told my friend ‘I’m going to marry that boy one day!’ She just laughed, ignored my silly comment and we carried on with the remainder of our trip.
After connecting on Facebook and messaging to and fro for a couple of years (yes, years!!) Gavin finally came to the UK with work. He messaged me and asked if I would like to meet up with him in London. Of course I said ‘yes’, however I hadn’t seen this random boy in two years and hardly knew him in the first place, so I was naturally nervous.
The weekend came and went in a flash. We both connected extremely well and I felt there was something there, however this guy lived in South Africa and seemed to travel the world a lot with his sailing, so obviously nothing was ever going to come of it. Goodbyes were said and once again I was left feeling a little downhearted that this was probably the last time I would see a guy I really had fallen for.
Another 3 years went by with the odd text here and there to see how each other were doing. Relationships were had by both with different people and life carried on as it does. One day, I had an email from Gavin asking if I would like to go and join him in the British Virgin Islands for a holiday. He had a new job over there working on charter boats and wondered if I fancied meeting up. May I just add, I am pretty well travelled, however I had never even heard of the BVI. I was single, I had just been living in London and had moved back home to my family and thought… Why not?? I could do with a break…
I booked my flight and was leaving in a few weeks. What the hell was I doing?? I know I’m a pretty adventurous girl and well travelled, but I had just booked a flight to a Caribbean island I’d never even heard of with a boy I’d met twice, for two whole weeks. What if I don’t like him anymore? What if he doesn’t like me? What if he’s a serial killer?
I arrived at the airport and there he was waiting in the arrivals hall. I was terrified, he also looked terrified and probably had the same feelings as I did. Why the hell did I ask some random girl to come stay with me for two weeks? He was still as handsome as I remembered though, so I was a very happy girl.
We had the most amazing two weeks. For the first week, we spent time exploring the island, getting to know each other, enjoying the sun, sea and beautiful beaches. The second week didn’t go as planned… He told me a charter had come up and he had to leave and go and work for a week. OK thanks… leave me on my own after I come all this way to see you I thought! As he left for work, I went back to the apartment and got myself prepared for a week of beaches and sunbathing. Then I got a phone call. Gavin had mentioned the situation to his guests and they told him to bring me along on their weeks vacation. ‘The more the merrier’.
We spent the week with one American couple and a Brazilian couple. It was the most amazing week I think I’d ever had. A boat full of strangers, intruding on their holiday and they made me feel like a long lost friend. We explored all of the islands in the BVI, we sailed, we snorkeled, we fished, we drank wine and shared stories over dinner. I was truly grateful for these wonderful people inviting me along on their once in a lifetime trip and giving me the opportunity to do something I would never of dreamed of (or could have afforded) to do on my own. I also got to spend more time with Gavin and really get to know him.
After the week was over, Gavin asked if I wanted to come and work with him. I asked him what I was going to do for work. He told me a chef on board the boats with him. I laughed and told him ‘ I don’t think so, I can’t cook’. He told me I could learn… hahahaha.
The holiday was over and we were at the airport saying our goodbyes once again. I had the most wonderful time and I was truly going to miss ‘my pirate’ this time.
I got home and returned to my 9-5pm office job as a personal assistant. Driving an hour to and from work in the dreary, gloomy winter weather, I was dreaming of the holiday I had just been on. Gavin called and asked if I’d thought anymore about what he’d asked me before I left. Again, the BIG issue was I couldn’t cook. He told me I could take a cooking course and he would teach me (he is also a trained chef). ‘There’s no issue’ he told me, he would also help me in the galley. We’re a team…
I went home that evening, discussed this crazy boys idea with my parents and decided, what do I have to lose? If I can’t do it, I can always come home and find another job. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Go for it!!!
The following week I quit my job, said my goodbyes to friends and family and packed up to start my new adventure… My parents were worried sick and my friends thought I was mad moving halfway across the world to live and work with a boy I hardly knew (yes, I moved in with him straight away) and to do a job I had no idea about (I still couldn’t cook). But, what the hell hey? You only live once!!
‘If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.’ – Richard Branson
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