We make plans and the Gods laugh…

Pat Armstrong, ACOSVO Chief Executive, reflects on her travels in our latest blog.

"I’ve been back at work a week now and it only seems fitting that I bring my travel blog to an end.  A summary might read thus:

  • Trip of a lifetime planned
  • One week of adventures enjoyed in Capetown
  • One plane engine goes on fire in Joburg
  • Plans thwarted in Sydney by 53 hour delay in Joburg
  • Husband feeling ill but blaming travel / food / dehydration etc
  • Keep going as you do, arrive NZ Christchurch day, Tranzalpine train through the mountains to Greymouth, 3 hour spectacular drive to the glacier…….


  • About turn, rewind,
  • Medical emergency 4am
  • Helicopter back to Greymouth (I follow in scary mountain drive at dawn)
  • Greymouth hospital organises air ambulance (very small plane) to take us back to Christchurch, emergency op …
  • And three weeks of ups and downs at a bedside as we negotiate complications, insurance, unfamiliar territory, find ways to communicate with friends and family and try to make sense of a world turned upside down.

My earlier blog spoke of kindnesses offered and welcomes by strangers.  I thought this one might focus on lessons learned…


1) When having a crisis in an unfamiliar world:

a) say hello index

b) smile index

c) ask for help help

I don’t think I can say I was ever disappointed (except maybe when on the phone at ungodly hours dealing with bureaucracy).

2) Look after yourself

I don’t think I could have survived without my cycle to and from the hospital and the two hours “quiet time” in the afternoon when I tried to explore somewhere different every day.  Find something that helps you feel strong – whatever that is.

3) It’s not all about you – don’t take it personally

You never know what other people are going through.  If they are abrupt, unhelpful or unkind, they could be having an even worse day than you are.

4) Never forget how transferable skills are

I had to pull on every diplomacy skill I had ever honed through chairing meetings and dealing with conflict at work over the years. The intricacies and bureaucracy of insurance companies and health services (mostly ours strangely enough) were almost as stressful as my husbands health issues. I was never so pleased to have our homeward travel plans finalised after two weeks of negotiation, research, arguing cases and providing evidence.

5) Compartmentalise                      box

Deal with what you can when you can – put the rest in a (mental) box till later.


6) Finally, don’t be too proud to marshal your supporters and soak up the positive energies.


Thanks you to all those who were there for us.  I hope you know how much it was appreciated and how much it meant to us.

The gods are still playing with us, first week back and hubby ends up back in hospital and a long road of treatment and challenges lie ahead.

The day before I am due back at work my father sadly passes away.

Next day the neighbour reverses out their drive into our car – I’m past caring but it’s almost the final straw.

I’m normally a lucky person I tell everyone, I’m hanging on to smiles and support.


Okay gods – I’m coming to get you!!


PS. Why can’t I find an image of an angry female god?  Might have to be a blog for another day!!"


To read Pat's other blogs from her travels visit her wordpress site here.