1. I grew up in South Africa as the oldest of 3 daughters.
My middle sister is 14 months younger than me and my baby sister 6 years younger than me. Growing up we moved around a lot. So much so, that I changed schools 15 times in my 12 years of schooling. I was always the new kid in the school. We moved so often that when a moving van drove past, our family would joke and ask people to hold onto the furniture so that it doesn’t jump into the van.
And… I haven’t stopped moving since.
2. I lived & worked in 6 different countries, including my home country!
South Africa, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Chile and currently in Canada. I lived just outside of České Budějovice surrounded by potatoe fields for 3 months. I then moved to Croatia for almost two years living in Pula followed by 11 years in Bosnia and Herzegovina living in the beautiful city of Bihać. After moving back home for about 3 years I was sent to Chile by the current company I work for to do Business Development in South America. I lived in Santiago de Chile for 4 years before I was offered the opportunity to come to Canada. I’ve been living in Barrie, ON since October 20, 2015.
3. I LOVE languages.
When I was 6 years old, just starting school, I told my mom that one day when I grow up, I will speak seven languages. I grew up learning Afrikaans (my mother tongue), English and German because I had a German friend who lived across from us. I took German as a subject in High School and first year University. Moving to Croatia I had to learn Croatian and then in Bosnia almost nobody spoke English, so I had to learn Bosnian. It was the most difficult language I learnt, especially since there was nobody who could explain anything to me in English. I started learning Spanish before moving to Chile and went to a language school for the first 3 months after moving to Santiago. I can read, speak, and write Afrikaans, English, German, Croatian, Bosnian and Spanish enough to communicate and express myself to some extent. I am currently learning French and have a few more languages in my bucket list that I hope to learn at some time in the future.
4. “Learning never exhausts the mind” Leonardo da Vinci.
I love learning. After school I went to University to study a BA with the idea in mind to become a teacher. Life had other plans and I didn’t finish my undergraduate degree but started working as a chemical lab assistant. A few years later I went to Bible School and completed a two-year Diploma. While in Bosnia I completed my BA with Islamic Studies, Anthropology and Community Psychology. At the age of 50 I went back to school to do my Global Executive MBA which we managed to complete just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am always busy with something new and will continue learning until I die.
5. One of my favourite hobbies is dancing.
My mom used to tell us how they would coax us to dance for them or my grandparents by offering us 5 cents. Even though my sister would dance for 5 cents I would only give a few twirls and would not dance until they offered me at least 20 cents. I love dancing and took tango lessons while living in Chile. When ever I travelled to Buenos Aires, I would dance the night away at a Milonga.
6. I am an adventurer and love to travel.
My very first adventure happened when I was just 3 years old. We lived around the corner from my grandmother, and I escaped through the open gate, walking the 350 meters (382 yards) to my grandmother’s house. She was sitting on the stoep when I came around the corner and started
running to her house. I was all flustered as I said “Allelie walks to granny”. It was in the days before cell phones, and it was a while before my frantic nanny and mom found out that I was safe and sound. Since then, I have had the wonderful privilege of traveling to more than 30 countries. For me travel is all about experiencing the culture and the people, to eat and drink their food and talk with the locals. My favourite way of travel is through couch surfing.
7. When I lived in the Czech Republic I started struggling with severe headaches.
I would even pass out from them at time. For the next year I would see doctors and specialists in the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary and Austria but to no avail. After a year my left arm and leg started going numb and my team leader at that time suggested that I return to South Africa to resolve my health issues. My GP referred me to an orthopedic doctor who noticed that I had a bone-like growth from my 7th neck vertebra. This is referred to as an extra “rib” as it grows in the same manner. He didn’t think that this was the cause of my headaches, but probably the cause of the numbness in my arm and leg as it seemed to be pressing on a nerve. After numerous tests to find the cause of the headaches it was decided to remove the “extra rib” surgically to resolve the issues with my arm and leg. Waking up after the surgery I found that not only was my arm and leg back to normal, but I also didn’t have the headache anymore. Who would have thought that a tiny piece of bone could cause so much discomfort?
8. I hiked the Inca trail with a fractured tailbone in 2014.
It has been on my bucket list for forever. Just before leaving for Cusco I had a hard fall tripping over my hand luggage behind me. It was the pee-in-your-pants kind of pain, but I had a flight to catch and places to go. The internet told me that there was nothing doctors could do apart from telling you to rest, not do any strenuous exercise and give you painkillers; so I opted for loads of painkillers and continued as planned with the 4 day hike through the Inca trail. We hiked from Cusco; 45km over 4 days climbing from 2700m over 4200m and down to 2400m again to Machu Picchu.
My face was so swollen the first morning I woke up in the mountains, it looked like a full moon rising. With the support of my friends and our guide I made every day as the pain travelled up and down my spine and legs. It was a gruelling hike, but an incredible experience. 3 weeks after my fall, I finally succumbed to the pain and went to the doctor who sent me for an immediate CT Scan and found out that I broke my tailbone; fractured an old injury in the 1st vertebrae and broke the 5th one close to the tip. I think I’ll take two feathers in my cap for doing the Inca; thank you!
9. One of the things I’m most grateful for in my life is my family and friends.
I am very aware of my support and safety net and am fortunate to have a group of people who I know will always have my back. This allows me to soar freely because I know that if something should happen, they will be there for me. They don’t all live in the same country or even in the country where I am currently living but they are the shoulders on which I stand tall and strong. I am because of who we all are.
10. The weirdest thing (to me at least) that I’ve ever eaten in all my travels has to be beondegi in South Korea.
We were visiting an area close to the border between South and North Korea and there were many street vendors selling food. According to our tour guide our trip would not have been complete without trying this popular street food. Beondegi is steamed silkworm pupae. If I wasn’t for the fact that I was part of a group, I might never have tried this. I must confess that I did not bite into it, but basically just swallowed it whole.
If you have read this far, thank you! I’d like to throw this back to you. Share something about yourself in the comments or by sending me an email to [email protected]. Thank you for reading!