Tribute to the 2011 Waddlers by Carin Cloete – National Zoological Gardens

Penguin waddle flashback: A tribute to the waddlers!

It is a week before the actual penguin waddle and I am all psyched up in the vibe of excitement, still not fully knowing what is waiting for the waddlers, but bravely looking forward to it. I always wanted to physically make a difference for conservation.  Now is my chance and with such a great team nothing can go wrong.

It has begun. Day one has dawned on us and off we go. The waddler group is excited and laughing and joking is heard along the way. We waddle forward in the rain, full of jokes! Along the way stories of hairy and feathery babies are shared and friendships are created and cemented. The waddlers are learning to really know each other through thick and thin! Everybody is getting his own pace and place in the group.
The weather is playing with us and really testing our commitment to our feathered friends….but mother nature does not know us.  We are on a mission, one that will not easily be swayed!
As we push on, the giggling and chattering makes place for occasional grunts of pain and sighs of tiredness. Waddlers are starting to actually waddle and not because they are trying to mimic the penguins but because they can not walk comfortably anymore!
But still there are smiles on our faces and as the days pass we learn to know about muscles that we did not know existed. Ouch! Double ouch!
Pain becomes our companion and an internal battle begins between pain and the will to succeed. We learn to laugh at our pain while we ponder about the penguins and what they are going through and suddenly our effort seems but a drop in the ocean.
No pain, no gainno …no gain becomes our inner anthem! I love penguins…ouch, I love penguins…ouch, I love ouch.I ouch ouch.  Why am I doing this again.ouch..oh, for the penguins… Great!
We get our strength from the people showering us with friendly first class hospitality, the smiling faces of the kids accompanying us and the friendly motorists hooting at us and our devotion to win our inner battles and to achieve our goals set for this strip. ALL FOR THE PENGUINS!
Come rain, come shine, come wind (although that was a bit difficult for me and I contemplated putting a brick or two in my pants to stay grounded).  Throw your best at us and on we battle. Plasters and muscle medicine becomes our best pals. Powerade our petrol.
One foot in front of another, head down…on we go.  ALL FOR THE PENGUINS!
Amazing comfortable overnight facilities and friendly treatments soothes our sore muscles and bruised, weathered psyches after each difficult day, preparing us for the next day.
The sight of  penguins waddling on the beach brings tears to our eyes and reminds us again of why we are doing this.  It creates a powerful sense of achievement. Just what we need to go on.
130 km for the penguins. The team is hooked.  2012, here we come!
Carin Cloete.

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