2011 Waddle Thoughts by Hayley McLellan – Two Oceans Aquarium

Hayely McLellan (left) and Gabrielle Harris (right)

When taking on this project everything seemed a mountain to me. I am new in the Cape region having hailed from KZN and my overwhelming feeling was that I do not know the area nor have many people contacts. Well as the preparation days marched (waddled) on I realized just how wrong my preconception had been in terms of the support that became available to me. I think the lesson that has been the loudest to me is that if my passion is communicated the support has the opportunity to present itself

For the first few days that I contemplated which direction to move in nothing really happened. It was only once I opened my mouth to express the idea as well as the needs of this project that various individuals came forth to aid me and the team to get arrangements well under way.

With everything falling so perfectly into place, all that was left to do was attend the PAAZAB conference to present the details of Waddle 2011 to our peers and then get waddling! The enthusiasm from our peers was infectious and soon everyone had Waddle on their minds.

Gathering all 7 Waddlers along the way to our start point in Gansbaai was the beginning of the actual adventure for me.

Our first night together was very relaxed although Im sure we each had our individual thoughts going on in our heads as to what lay ahead of us Personally, I do not think I slept an hour that first night. I generally sleep well no matter where I am and can only imagine that I was feeling very responsible for the other 6 fellow Waddlers as well as our support driver for the duration of our journey. When the rain pelted down and the wind howled at around 4am I could only trust that whatever the weather we would push on with our quest!

The start of the first day was a bit of an anticlimax as the equipment, which was to expertly track our progress, and I failed one another. So while I had been the one insistent that we begin walking on time I was now the one holding the group backaaarrgh! Needless to say we did not start on time that first day. I will mention, at this point, that by day three I decided to give up on this piece of technology as it was simply proving to be a personally frustrating start to each day which I chose not to experience. After all I was doing this for fun too!

The other thing I learnt was to trust the pace. While the first day or two I set a crazy pace, the days that followed simply unfolded naturally and with more ease and enjoyment. I think the team appreciated my adjustment especially when I chose to fall back in the group a lot of the time.

Although we walked for hours every day the days certainly seemed to fly by for me. I actually do not particularly recall all the thoughts that must have been in my mind at every step, which tells me that I must have been very much in every moment. Excellent! I do recall being aware of the slow moving landscapes around me and being in appreciation of a beautiful backdrop to our waddle. Driving this route in the future will have special meaning to me and that was the general feeling that I got from most of those participating. In times of feeling my pain I would distract myself with a banner, or our penguin mascot Promise, and get heavily involved with the passing traffic. Playing in the traffic has a whole new connotation for me now!. The other motivating thought during times of discomfort was pain is inevitable, suffering is optional

I did find it interesting that we were an all female team though this does not surprise me as I find, in my experience, it is typically the female gender that rise to causes such as these. I do, however, think we created enough excitement this year that may encourage a few of the men in our industry to join in next year! Heres hoping

Our/My end of day reward was always our accommodation which, for the most, was entirely sponsored all the way. What a treat to be so warmly welcomed at each stop and allowed to soak our weary, and some days rain-soaked, bodies. With the enormous generosity of all our sponsors we felt supported to attend to our task at hand.

Although lunch was always on the waddle, breakfast and dinner were, without fail, a hearty rested affair with a wholesome meal to support the body. The opportunity to reflect on the day was generally the order of conversation as well as clarity for the day to follow. With Renee & Gabby both professionally blogging I felt confident that our cause was being sent around the globe for all to celebrate with us every step of the way.

After a warm and comfortable nights sleep I was always in high spirits and ready for the next leg!

The support that continued to make itself known from the realm of our animal fraternity sure kept us going until the very end… For me the support on our last day of waddling in the rain to Boulders Beach was the very best. Here I saw the commitment from folk when it would have been so easy for them to use the wet weather as an excuse no to show up and demonstrate their support of the African penguinTo all extra waddlers that joined us along the way, my deepest appreciation!

The relationships between the eight of us ladies was free and easy, always with a mutual respect for the other. Thank You, each one, for the wonderful rapport created during this time.

I know that we are all already looking forward to Waddle 2012!

Hayley

 

 

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