Wednesday, August 7, 2013

living the best day ever - by hendri coetzee

I met Hendri in 2006 when I arrived in Jinja, Uganda. Fresh off a Kampala coach and fairly new to rivers I was excited by the stories I had been hearing about the Nile and the funky folk that lived along it.

I had spent the previous 3 weeks rafting the Omo River in Ethiopia with Hendri’s best friend and partner in crime Pete Meredith but Hendri’s reputation preceded that moment. I’d seen documentaries he’d starred in, heard tales of madness, bravery and adventure and I was hardly a river chick who hung about in those crowds.

He superceeded his reputation in every way. Smart should have been genius, gorgeous, shockingly so, out spoken – brazenly. Not scared to go against the crowd in fact Hendri thrived on being different.  He was full of ideas, crazy ones, realistic ones, passionate ones. It was his idea to raft the longest river in the world and he did. He hand paddled crazy rapids, opened new lines on waterfalls, took troubled kids out of their comfort zone and into war zones using his psychology degree to show them there was more to life. His ideas and plans got him into mischief, into the depths of the rain forest in DRC and later to the depths of his mind as he began meditating.

Being Petes’s girlfriend meant I had access to this charismatic, cricket loving character who loved me like a sister.

Hendri leaving this earth life brought many of us close together.  His legacy had spread over continents, he had touched a lot of hearts and changed a lot of lives. I was fortunate enough to spend time with him and his family over the years in South Africa and since his death his mother Marie and I have become dear friends. If you ever have the opportunity to meet or connect with her, don’t miss it. She embodies love and is a living inspiration. She has the biggest, gentlest heart, is honest, brave and intelligent. No wonder she made such an epic son.

Marie asked me recently if I would be keen on writing on Hendri’s blog? How could I refuse? So I accepted the offer and then had a mild panic attack – What would I say? Would I be smarty, funny, adventurous and cool enough? Would I do his memory justice? Would I be able to help launch his book through regular blogs? I write now nervously. I wish with all my heart it was Hendri continuing this blog himself – making us laugh out loud and shocking us with fearless exploits – But it’s not, it’s me. Keeping the memories alive and one of a chain of  friends involved with publishing Hendri’s book and fulfilling his dream of getting it to print.

The book  Hendri wrote is not an autobiography it is a memoir. Reflections on his life. It is part adventure, part psychology, part travel. It is captivating, engrossing, funny and un put downable. His writing is smart, lucid and lyrical and through his words he inspires and reminds us all to “live our best day ever” every day.

The book is about to be self published. It will be ready before Christmas. We invite you his friends and peers who were part of his life to purchase a copy (first 1000 limited edition) and help us spread his story globally. Please use your social media contacts and friends to get it out there. If you have a story or a photo you want to share you can email me on And I will add it to my entries. I look forward to sharing this exciting phase with you all.
Watch this space