Just before 6pm on the 31st of July 1973 I was born in a small Eastern Cape town of South Africa. I obviously do not remember it myself at all but I am told quiet regularly that it was a bitterly cold Tuesday that I came into this world. My mother named me Christopher. At least now there could be both a Christopher the saint and a Christopher the sinner. I loved growing up in a small town where I learned to catch fish and spent hours exploring the seaside and falling in love with the ocean. I was forced to learn to speak both English and Afrikaans as well as an African language called Xhosa. I learned this strange dialect that incorporates many clicks of the tongue as I played on the beaches with the other children. Being the only white kid, I needed to speak the language of the majority if I wanted to have any friends.
I later lived in Johannesburg where I attended school and wasted away most of my teenage years playing snooker in seedy club bars. On completion of my basic schooling and to avoid a compulsory year in the military, I went to the USA for a gap year of sorts. Here I learned to love travel as I did short trips whenever I could while I was studying Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin.
On returning to South Africa, I worked my way up the ranks starting as a salesman for an office automation company. I hated this game and was relieved when I had made enough money to get out and get myself qualified as a chef. I enjoyed my years working in kitchens, but always knew that there was something else waiting for me. The better years of my career were spent doing culinary development and training work in remote kitchens around the globe. I got to travel and live in awesome far-flung places. Saint Helena island and Ascension, Belize, The Cayman islands and even a short stint in Croatia left me mesmerized. I relished the travel and was fortunate to explore many corners of the planet.
After years of working abroad, I tried to settle down and run my own little seaside restaurant. Life was good and the business was prosperous, but I knew that I wanted something else and so, somewhat reluctantly I sold up and moved on. I had always wanted to write and my choice genre was travel and adventure.
I needed a great story to write about. One that was about adventure and travel. One that was outrageous and crazy. One that would make for a brilliant life story. One that I could one day sit on my outside patio and tell people about while sipping on a rum and coke. I was afraid of becoming an old man and having to talk about the things that I wished that I had done, rather than those that I had.
In 2013 I embarked on a massive expedition. Together with 3 other crazy guys we rode from Cape Town to Dublin in Ireland. The crazy thing was that we did the trip on little 150cc LML Vespa scooters, unassisted by a support vehicle. The trip took 4 years to plan. It was 8 months long and took us a distance of over 30000kms through 21 countries. We visited various paediatric health care operations en route and used our visits as a way of creating publicity opportunities for their causes. After all, when 4 insane fellows roll through town on little scooters it creates something interesting for the newspapers to talk about.
It was while I was in Tanzania that I became very ill and was forced to fly home for medical treatment. I was diagnosed with bilharzia as well as some serious dehydration caused by a bout of food poisoning. I later realized however, that this diagnosis was incomplete.
The other 3 riders continued, but got stuck in Ethiopia for over a month while they struggled to get their visas for the Sudan sorted out. I rested and had time to recover. I felt ok and desperately wanted to get back on the road. During this time, I researched how to rejoin the team. The best option for me was to fly to Europe and ride south until we met again. I would then meet the team at a designated point in Italy and we would travel on to finish the trip together. So, after making plans to get a loan scooter in Paris, I jumped on a flight. Riding south on my own through France and Italy, I knew that something was not right with my health but I soldiered on. After spending some time in Sicily I again met up with the other riders. We rode on together and completed the rest of the planned route. The irony is that I never got to cross the last quarter of Africa, but ended up riding more kilometers than the rest of the team.
On arriving home towards the end of 2013 I started to get very ill again. For months I bounced between doctors and hospitals before eventually I got the right diagnosis. I had contracted a virus and it had gotten out of hand before the doctors diagnosed it correctly.
My sight was lost over just a couple of days. As I lay in hospital I was told that the blindness was going to be permanent. The virus had attacked the light receptor cells on the retinas at the back of my eyes.
I spent most of 2014 recovering and learning to live and accept life as a blind person. I slowly regained the more than 30kgs that I had lost and at a snails pace learned to use technology to get by.
So, here I am now living my dream of writing, just in a very dark and different world to the one I expected. I always knew that I wanted to be a travel and adventure writer. I just never in a million years would have thought that I would become a ‘blind’ travel and adventure writer.
I make use of Apple products; which have a voice over screen reader that reads text to me as I am typing. My life is good now and I can only be grateful for surviving the ordeal that has led me to this point in my life. I have lived an amazing life as a sighted person. I explored all corners of the globe and got to do some amazing things. I have sailed across oceans and climbed mountains. I have scuba dived in caves and along some of the planets most beautiful reefs. I have lived, I have lied, I cheated at times and got my fingers burned in doing so. Somehow I managed to always come out with my sanity and happiness.
The best thing that ever happened was when I found the love of my life. At the beginning of 2015 I married the woman I called my partner for many years and together we live in Milnerton, Cape Town with our 3 dogs aka children. My wonderful wife, Tamlyn, is a like-minded person who also loves to travel the world and have crazy adventures. We get to share most of my mad challenges as she assists and guides me through, and sometimes into trouble. I still have some of my old scooters and am actively involved in the vintage scooter collectors and club scene. I do not know if I will ever again be able to ride one of them, but I am in no way prepared to get rid of them so easily.
As I write this bio, I am also busy completing a book that tells the story of my scooter trip and loosing my sight thereafter. I write as a freelance journalist for an international blind organisation as well as my own blog and memoirs.
My favourite saying and one that I live by is by TS Elliot. “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
If you wish to contact me, I can be reach through any of the following ways:
Email: [email protected]
Home / Office Tel No.: +27 215105526
Mobile No.: +27 798669960