Today, my dreams of owning a Ducati (or, for that matter, completing the Dakar Rally) were ground into dust. Quite literally.
But first things first.
I can’t really swim. I can stay afloat for a couple of minutes without drowning but I look so ridiculous doing it that I try to avoid most aqua activities. Which has nothing to do with motorbikes or dust, but it does explain why I was marginally apprehensive about trying out the Jet Skis at Waterworld on the morning of Day Eight. I hesitated for well over an hour while the team was busy with additional Havaianas shots, before our videographer Roland Sweet finally convinced me that a) I was not going to drown and b) he would not try, in any way, to upset my balance.
I did one lap of the lake with an instructor and realised there was not much trickery to the acceleration lever (you’ll see why this is funny just now). And with Roland not allowed within 10 metres of me, I was pretty sure I could stay upright too.
It turned out to be excellent fun. By lap three, I was branching out into (very slight) turns and zigzags while Roland literally made waves around me. It helped that the Sun City Jet Skis’ speed is limited to, well, nothing; even someone with my (lack of) coordination is pretty safe on them. And my parking, according to the instructor, was impeccable.
The rock-star feeling lasted until 3pm, when I was shown how to drive my second vehicle for the day: a quad bike. While an acceleration lever was very much on my level of understanding, once two different brake handles were thrown in, I was in my own personal hand-eye-coordination hell. No matter, though, I thought: I’ll go slowly, I’ll get used to it – this too will be fun.
Negative. By the time I almost drove into a fence for the third time, I lost my sense of humour; by the time I stalled the quad bike for the fourth, so did our Game Trackers guide. Queue tears (mine), mild panic (his), frustration (ours) and the outing was headed for disaster – until Julia (who’s a quad-bike goddess) saved the day by saying she’d drive me the rest of the way.
Ever been on the back of a quad bike? Yeah, they don’t exactly come equipped with a cushy back seat. Metal bars plus rocky roads plus butt equals the fact that I now have to perch on the edge of a chair every time I sit down. And I’ll probably have to do that for a while. And while I’m not too broken up about Dakar, I’m very bleak about my shattered Ducati dream. Because if I can’t cope with a quad bike, I shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a vehicle with two wheels. Unless it’s operated by pedals – and even then…
DAY EIGHT’S SIDE NOTES:
On the editorial shoot today, Mala slipped off a rock feature and fell into freezing-cold water, but was quickly rescued by our hero Roland (who lost a pound of flesh in the process. Almost). Her hair and makeup remained miraculously intact.
Daniel, styled in white swimming trunks to match Mala’s bather in one of the shots, caused quite a twitter among the Palace’s female guests. The fan club soon grew into a bit of a crowd – and who can blame them?
Our home base for the day was the Palace’s African Suite where – we all agreed – we would not mind hanging out for the duration of our stay. Even if we had to sleep on one of the (many) couches, day beds or sun loungers. Once the shoot was wrapped and the models vacated the ‘set’ (the heated Jacuzzi on the balcony), the boys – Huey, Roland, Daniel and Ian – hopped in for a bit of bubble therapy and a couple of beers.
Some days, this job can be really tough.