My scariest moment in South Africa may surprise you.
A girlfriend and I, along with my three children and her baby, were headed somewhere in my Volkswagen and became miserably lost on a lonely road in the middle of nowhere. This was BC, before cellphones.
Our directions had been clear enough, or so we thought, but in a split second, the car died with no warning on the dirt road on the dark continent with no streeet lights or even ambient light anywhere. No way anyone would ever find us. Our only options were to spend the night with four children in a beetle or go find help.
I instructed my friend to stay inside the safe car with all the children, lock the car doors, roll up the windows except for a few inches.
As I stepped out, the ground seemed dry. I made a 360 degree sweep and saw nothing. Then like a tiny match in a pitch black forest, I saw a light far in the distance. It was our only chance.
I could not see my hand in front of my face. I walked until I felt a fence and climbed over it easily enough. Then this city girl continued on, praying along the way. As my feet felt the ground in front of me, I hesitantly stepped forward.
Suddenly, from a distance I heard barking dogs. At first, it seemed nice. Surely they had an owner. Thereby a phone. My reasoning seemed solid until they surrounded me. Viscious, snarling dogs that seemed to be different sizes and breeds but I couldn’t see them to be sure.
I kept my hands by my side and inched myself forward speaking an octave higher. “Hellllooo little doggies, hello little doggies,” I said, as I moved forward at a snail’s pace. Knowing they could have ripped me apart, I figured it was my American accent that bewildered them. Anyway, in ten minutes or so we approached a farmhouse. A woman came out screaming at her dogs and pulled me inside her house.
Explaining what had happened, I asked to borrow her phone. She walked me back to my car while we waited for my husband. It was thirty minutes until he arrived. We profusely thanked the woman and all said goodbye.
Those solitary moments on that dark moonless night in deepest Africa left me feeling brave, like I’d earned a badge of honor. That was my scariest moment, but I’ll try to share a few more that could compete for the title. Another day. Another blog.