Out of your comfort zone?

When you go away somewhere on vacation do you find that you end up doing things that are totally out of your comfort zone – just to fit in – or make do? I am a great one for not being the squeaky wheel and blending in with the rest of the group – or even with the family but sometimes I have to admit I have done things that are way beyond my comfort zone.

For example – the whole group decides that it would be fun to go do the zipline when you are in Costa Rica. Would I go on something like that if it was left to me – hell no! But c’mon Lesley – you are the team person remember. Can’t be left out. So I end up spending 1 hour of shaking with a mixture of nerves and adrenalin (and that was just in the bus on the way to the zipline centre). Just keep smiling, Lesley, I say to myself. No-one will ever guess how scared you are.

Actually it wasn’t that bad after I had done a couple of “lines”. My goodness that sounds like something out of a drug movie. Anyway – it was good and I was glad I did it and I will never do it again. Nope – next time I will opt for a day at the spa.

The other thing that freaks me out is the drag lift at the ski resort. Oh my goodness – I would rather get on the chair any time than be towed up one of those things. No wonder they call it drag – I don’t know how many times I have almost been dragged face down. I did it but don’t need to do that any more either!

And then there was the day of taking the stick in a glider. Now I am sure you know that a glider is a plane with no engine – usually just holds two people and you fly it with a stick – that’s a pretty basic explanation. Well of course when you are doing a guest flight you get up in the air (usually towed up by a small plane and then “released” into the skies) and then your friendly host pilot casually says “Why don’t you take the stick”. “Why don’t you go to hell” I think to myself. But no…. I smile and say “Of course” and then go through 30 minutes of terror while this engine-less plane dips and bumps around the sky. Phew – don’t have to do that again. He married me!

Then there was the time when I lived in Swaziland that we decided to do a weekend road trip to Mozambique. Just to get perspective Swaziland is a small landlocked Kingdom in Southern Africa right next to Mozambique – so just a 4 hour drive to the capital Maputo (used to be called Lourenco Marques).

Swaziland has since been renamed Eswatini

Now this would have been in about 1982 or so and at this time it was still in the middle of the Civil War (see the timeline below).

1962-74 Independence struggle: Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) formed.

1975 – Independence: Frelimo rules under single-party system with leader Samora Machel as president.

1976-92 – Civil war.

1986 – President Machel is killed in an air crash, Joachim Chissano installed as president.

What were we thinking? Well again I just wanted to make everyone happy and when I became friendly with the Mozambique Ambassador to Swaziland he invited (no insisted) that I should visit Mozambique and he would arrange the tourist visa personally. What could I say?

So tourist visa in hand we packed up the car and headed East to the border where we successfully exited Swaziland with no problem and I practised my poor Portuguese as we went through the Mozambique passport control.

Then the fun began ….

Just 15 minutes down the road in the middle of nowhere a group of ragged looking men appeared in the road carrying AK47’s. They ran over to the driver’s window which my husband rolled down and then started shouting at him in Portuguese. Of course he didn’t understand a word so I was leaning across trying to explain that we had a visa and we were going to visit Maputo on the invitation of the Ambassador. That wasn’t working very well and needless to say I was becoming a bit tense. With that suddenly the Irish took over and I threw open my car door and marched around to them. With all of my Portuguese wheels racing I gave them a thorough telling off in fluent Portuguese and showed them the visa signed by the Ambassador. I said he would be ashamed of how his countrymen had greeted an invited visitor.

It worked.

The AK47’s were lowered, heads lowered, eyes to the ground they shuffled and apologised and came round and opened my car door for me. Obrigado! Obrigado! I said … got into the car and we drove off quietly. My husband just looked at me and said “What the hell?” and we collapsed into nervous laughter.

We arrived at the posh Polano Hotel and felt like suddenly we were living in the old Communist Bloc (which we were really). Toilet paper on ration and soap bars cut in half. Not much in the way of decent food at the hotel but we headed down to a recommended restaurant on the sea front and there treated ourselves to a slap up meal of Prawns Peri Peri. Wow – it was amazing. We were surrounded by Eastern Europeans and Russians who had come out to help in the struggle for power but they were just out for a good weekend too. The waiters were so happy to see us as of course there was no tourism from South Africa any more and they were excited to speak English again. Yes that was definitely a trip out of our comfort zone and when I think back on that – wow what a chance we took.

Sometimes you can experience great things outside your comfort zone – you just have to take that first step.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. Back in 1987 my first husband and I rented a car and drove through East Germany to get to Berlin. We met a number of people at Youth Hostel in Berlin who wanted to experience driving back with us through East Germany to West Germany. We agreed and a car full headed back. Unfortunately we took a wrong turn. The East German Police were on us immediately hitting our car with a battalion until we stopped. The machine guns came out and they accused us of going where we don’t belong and demanded our passports. All of us took out our passports ready to hand them over but instead my husband got out of the car and exclaimed loudly, “We are Canadians and only took a wrong turn. We are NOT giving you our passports.” I had visions of spending the rest of my life in some dark lonely prison but instead the leader (he was shorted than my husband by more than a foot) agreed to “escort” us back to the proper West Germany road. Whew! We too laughed after the fact… once we were safely on the other side.


    1. I love this story Sue. I can just imagine how you felt and yes that laughter after the fact was a real stress reliever. I hope you went out and found a good pub afterwards! Thanks for sharing – Lesley

      Liked by 1 person

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