The Swartberg farmer’s wife who set off to walk 1 500km from Sani Pass to the southernmost tip of Africa to raise awareness of and funds for the Reach for a Dream Foundation completed her journey last week.
Jacqui Wells left home in March and reachedCape Agulhason Wednesday.
Children from a local school, Struisbaai Primary, joined her for the last kilometre of the walk, linking arms to create an archway for her at the triumphant end.
Wells said she was overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of South Africans.
“Not once did I feel threatened.
“People along the way were amazing. My back-up driver Erica Landry, and I would stay the night at one farmstead, only to find the farmer had called a friend further along the route and asked them to accommodate us for the night. That farmer would then do the same.
“One woman near Oudtshoorn heard we had nowhere to go and, as she was away, simply left the keys to her home in the door for us. There was a welcome sign and coffee in a flask and rusks to welcome us.”
While Wells was inclined to highlight the positive things, make no mistake about the many challenges she faced.
Seven weeks on the road, walking 40km to 50km a day, can be tough and lonely.
Wells went through three pairs of takkies in the time, which became worn from the tarred roads.
She also picked up an infection in her left leg that lasted three weeks.
“When you’re done walking for the day, you can’t just stop and rest. You have to unpack, set up camp and prepare meals for the next day. When my leg was sore, Erica would make me ice-packs and I would sleep with them on,” she said.
“TheKaroo, which we had anticipated would be hot, was in fact miserably cold. I walked through eight days of rain.”
She said when times got tough, she kept telling herself “pain will pass, but failure is for ever”.
She joked that her perseverance paid off, as the champagne was reward enough to make her want to do it again.
Wells said she missed her family and dogs the most. Little pleasures such as her “own coffee” in her “own kitchen” and watching her favourite soapie, 7de Laan, were among the things she missed most.
She said many people had since asked her if she “found herself on the journey” – a question she found odd.
“I couldn’t have done it in the first place if I didn’t know who I was and what I am capable off,” she said.