Battleaxe on cheating death, Lanzarote instead of Tanzania

In my last post about Chichester I mentioned that I had bought expensive walking boots for a charity trek to Tanzania that I never went on, owing to death-cheating happenings. I have been reminded that I never told the story, so here it is. 
     In February 2011 a group of housing professionals went to Tanzania to support Homeless International, a charity committed to improving housing conditions for slum-dwellers. I’d signed up to join them. I was at the end of my career in social housing and wanted to put something back for all the good times I had enjoyed.
     Others I knew were going, including my old friend Jackie. The trip involved five days working on a housing project in Arusha, five days trekking through the boiling hot bush in the Tarangire National Park and up the side of the Great Rift Valley, and two days sight-seeing, including a visit to the Ngorogrongo Crater. It looked arduous, but great.

Tarangire National Park (Audley Travel)… never went there
Lake Manyara… or there
Great Rift Valley (Safari Travel)… or there
Ngororongo Crater. Nobody in the group got to see this…

     In the summer of 2010 I raised the money for my trip through sponsorship from old and current clients. I also discovered that the others who had signed up were mostly athletic young things. I was probably the oldest, and the least fit. I went on a diet and joined the gym. 
     All went well until the autumn, when I developed slight abdominal pain and thought I could feel a little lump in my lower tummy. I thought I had strained a muscle and went to the doctor in order not to disrupt my training schedule. He said that as I was going on this strenuous trip he’d just send me for a routine ultrasound.
     I still remember the feeling of utter horror when the ultrasound man said he had found a ‘mass’ on my ovary. Then, a blur of consultant visits, MRI scans etc., and just before Christmas 2010 I had an operation in Birmingham Women’s Hospital to remove all detachable female bits. The mass was a cyst, but inside the cyst was the beginnings of ovarian cancer. It was caught so early I needed no further treatment. I was very, very lucky. If I had not been preparing for the trip I would not have gone to the doctor so quickly.
      Needless to say Tanzania was off, and I felt sad to be left behind.
     The story is not over. In Tanzania, ten days into the trip, the group were travelling in a fleet of jeeps. The jeep I would have been in (sitting next to Jackie) was driven too fast, went up a bank and turned over. It was not fitted with roll bars. Most of the passengers managed to throw themselves clear in time and only suffered minor injuries, but one woman (next to Jackie) was not quick enough and was, tragically, killed. Most likely, I would have been sitting in her place and would not have been quick enough either….
     Back in England, it was very snowy, and so we went off to Lanzarote. It was great to get some sun, but we didn’t much like the island.  The coastal strip was covered in boxy little apartments, all  too touristy and felt a bit tacky, and the interior was featureless and bleak. It was warm enough to swim in the pool, but quite windy. We went to a volcanic national park and rode on camels. Quite interesting, I remember, but not much volcano – our guide had to throw straw down a hole to get a faint puff of smoke and flame.
     Our hotel in Costa Teguise,  the Gran Melia Salinas, was good, however. It was a fantastic 70s building, partly designed by Cesar Manrique, with a fabulous tropical atrium where frogs croaked all night. It had massive pools and its own beach.
     Out of everything in Lanzarote, I liked the cactus garden best.  I’ll put a few photos below.
     This is a quick post because on Friday we are off to Madrid for a week – I’ll have to write something else before I go.
      Looking on blogging sites/Facebook groups, many other bloggers seem to write posts every day. How on earth do they find the time? What is the point? I mean, who would want to read it all? Beats me. Once a week is plenty for me.

Snow in our garden in Birmingham
Lanzarote – view from our room
Hotel atrium
Cactus in Lanzarote
Cactus in Lanzarote
Cactus in Lanzarote



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