Why does a cat have nine lives? In ancient Greek mythology the sun god Atum-Ra gave life to the gods of air, water, earth and sky and in turn produced Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephtys.  These gods were collectively known as the Nine. In order to visit the underworld Atum-Ra took the form of a cat and embodied the nine in one creator, giving the cat nine lives.

Enough of a history lesson for now.  In my lives there have been incidents that led me to believe that I have nine lives. Some might say it’s God or an angel looking after me, pure luck, nine lives, whatever your beliefs allow you.  My star sign is Leo, not that I believe in astrology, but I rather like comparing my experiences with a cat’s nine lives.

The first time it struck me that something more than luck was involved in my survival was in December of 2007 on holiday in Malawi.  I was backpacking the country for three weeks and ended up on Likomo Island for a week with an amazing bunch of people.  Some from South Africa, a guy from India, a couple of Frenchies, two dreadlocked Austrians, a group of international students living in Cape Town and some awesome locals.  We all became one big family for that week and we had the most amazing Christmas I have ever had away from home.  A big sit down feast right on the beach with candles burning, wine flowing and good company.  Let me not drift off.  We were on the island for a week as the Illala, the old British colonial ferry, only made a stop there twice a week, once traveling north and once on its way back to the south.  With not much else to do than lounge around, drink beer and talk shit, I did some exploring of the island that is about 3km across and 7km in length.Lokomo1DSC02743

This particular evening I joined the group of students for dinner and some pub crawling in the town which is on the other side of the island. We enjoyed some good local hospitality, had some of the local brew and mingled a bit with the locals.  On our way back to the backpackers I was leading the way, as I was probably the person in the group that knew the island the best at the time.  The moon was out so I could find my way quite easily without a headlamp, and wanting to enjoy the surrounding scenery I decided not to use my headlamp and rather have my eyes adapt to the dark.  We were walking down the path, that was familiar to me, like the seven little dwarfs, all merrily in a row.  I turned left at a fork in the path.  Turning left was not the way home, but for some unexplained reason I did turn left.  About five steps down the wrong way I turned around, knowing I took the wrong turn.  The person walking behind me also knew the path well and took the correct path at the fork, and at the same time telling me that I took the wrong path.  Virtually seconds later I heard a familiar hiss and the guy now leading us shouting “Stop!”  There was a huge puffadder lying in the path.  Had he not have his headlamp on he would not have seen the puffadder, and would have stepped on it.  We waited a few moments for mister puffadder to slither out of the path and we continued on our way home.

I thought about that moment many times.  Had I not taken the wrong turn that night I would have stepped on the snake and surely would have been bitten.  That wrong turn I made for no reason at all, saved my life.   Maybe I would not have died if I got bitten.  There is a basic hospital on the island.  This incident has led me to believe that I was not ready to die that day.  To date I had more such experiences.

To be continued…….

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