Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Africa is not for sissies!

Finally we have internet! J
It took a long time to leave SA and this I found frustrating! After spending a night a ZaZoe (really stunning place) we set off again…hoping to finally leave. Jen had a whole bag of oranges with her and was told by the boys to dispose of them if she wanted to carry on with the trip – apparently elephants like citrus fruit and will trample cars to get to them. She was very popular at the petrol station where she handed all the locals a dose of vitamin C. Upon arriving at Zanzibar order post we discovered it was closed and so we backtracked…for about the fifth time on that road. Eventually we crossed into Botswana. We stayed at a freezing Elephant Sands where I had a bad experience with Bushmans Insect Repellent – it took all my nail polish off! We met Gav and Jen at breakfast looking quite proud, they had arrived somewhere before the Austin’s. Their faces fell when they realised that we had packed and were ready to go – back to 2nd.
Things slowed down considerably once we arrived in Zambia, the official at the border was very methodical and took his sweet time. We found a stunning lodge called Shackletons, I think we all wanted to park off there for a few days, great hospitality and delicious food.
Travelling to Kafue we gave out lots of soccer balls to children on the side of the road. To hear their screams and see the pure joy in their smiles when they realised that we were giving them the balls was very humbling and emotional for me. Somewhere between Muluezi and Mulanga our SA flag snapped off the car, so Gav and Jen carried on with the patriotism and put SA ‘earwarmers’ on their mirrors. There was a lot of bundu bashing and tree bending, followed by a snacky lunch in the bush for some stamina. Amongst us there are 3 garmins and no two said the same thing whilst driving on the forgotten roads of the Kafue Park. Our vehicles were attacked by tsetse flies and so we all armed ourselves with repellent. However, when Jen and I had a roadside wee, we discovered that we needed to extend our area of ‘repellent coverage’ to our bums as well! Needless to say we are still scratching! We did 220kms in 9hours. In these parts, when asking how far something is, the answer only comes in hours rather than kilometres – understandable after this experience.
We were all looking forward to Kaingu, just to relax for a few days. What a nice surprise when it turned out to be a gem, with a beautiful location and great hosts. We went fishing on the Kafue, Echtbert did the steering, Jen and I relaxed and supplied the beer and the boys fished. Gav caught a lot of fish and dad…not so much. I kept everyone entertained by getting stuck in the mud and spending the next half hour trying to find a place to wash my hands, feet and hat without sinking again. We had a delicious bush lunch with cold beers – Africa is not for sissies! Gav commented that he enjoyed fishing ‘colonial style’ – not once did he have to touch the fish that he caught. Bright helped him out and was repaid by receiving the fish for dinner. After a serious night of ‘Jameson Raiding’, dad and I went fishing with Bright again – dad refusing to leave until he had caught a fish. Finally he reeled in a silver barbel and we were allowed to moor. When the sun had relented a bit, we took a trip to the iron smelter (very interesting) and then had sundowners and snacks on Shumba Rock. We were all sad to leave, after thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Having a drink with a very entertaining Andrew at Fringilla, he suddenly asked “Ok so who is the paedophile here?” This resulted in a roar of laughter and the explanation that we are related, both of us turning our heads ad showing our identical noses!
After Lusaka we experienced some hairy potholes! Jen’s theory proved to be very helpful – if you see skid marks, start breaking, some serious potholes will follow.
Currently we are at Kapishya hot springs, they are truly amazing and very beautiful. We explored Shiwa Ngandu this morning – very interesting - and are getting ready to watch the soccer now. Until next time…

Friday, August 6, 2010

Alan's Final Perspective!!

The last time that I actually applied my fingers to my BlackBerry (or a keyboard) was on the 1st July!! Why so long ago? Driving all day every day took a lot out of me and when we stopped for the evening the last thing I felt like was thinking about what to write, so it was a blessing in disguise when Fiona arrived and took to writing the blog like I took to drinking Jamesons!! Some of my thoughts were shared in Fiona's writings and all our daily activities were well documented.

My biggest regret about the trip is the fact that it was far too short for me!!! Whilst I felt that I needed to come home, there is/was no real reason to have done it other than that I had to be back at work on the 2nd August.

To have been able to spend more time seeing more of Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Mozambique would have been ideal for me. I feel that a lot of the time was rushed getting to places and when we got there very little time was spent looking around the actual towns we were in. (When we were in Tanga we met the couple from Namibia who were spending 6 months on a trip - now that is what I should of done!!!!)

North of our border is so different to what we have in South Africa - yes the roads are bad, the food served is different (but the same if you bought and cooked it yourself), being out of your comfort zone is not always great, camping is great if you spend longer than one day in a camp and have decent ablutions, hotel etc are fun to experience (well some of them), beers are great to taste, local gins are lovely (except the one made from banana in Uganda), all the people we met were so friendly and helpful and the beauty of the countryside is staggering to drive through.

The highlight of the trip was definitely seeing the gorillas. Whilst the journey on foot is not so memorable I will never forget the feeling of being so close to these wonderful creatures. I have watched the video that I took of them a few times and it reminds me of how regal and imposing they are. The mind boggles at the thought that there are actually people out there that actually kill these primates. May the gorillas be protected forever!!!!

"Lowlight"? None really other than The Beast giving me grief but with hindsight I am pleased that I was able to DISABLE the Steve Autoclinic so called modification.

I appear to others to have returned a different person (besides the tan) and on reflection of this I can honestly say that I have been re-energised at all levels.

Will I do it again? Damn right but this time I will be probably being doing it on a motorbike and for a longer period! After I met the chaps from Bulgaria and Italy, who have travelled through Africa on motorbikes, I would love to do the trip this way and forefill my initial dream. Clearly the logistics of this would be little different.

So for now that is me and I will be posting some more pictures this week-end and I will also try to attached a section of the odd video taken.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Inhambane accommodation

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28th - 29th July Fiona's last Perspective

Today was spent at the market haggling the prices down to an acceptable level and then buying a few gifts, before lunch in Tofo. The price starts at double what the real value is and eventually you might be lucky to pay the locals price.

We all had Barracuda & Chips at Casa Barry. The prawns seem non existent at the moment.

We drove to look at a few beaches. Mozambique reminds me a bit of Thailand and the Transkei. It is not at all what I expected and I am honestly not sure whether I like it or not.

One annoying thing is that wherever you go, as soon as you get out of your car, you are harassed by a million people trying to sell you something. You can be in the middle of nowhere and as soon as you get out of your car there are 10 people standing around you with their hand out...

The cellular companies advertise by painting the roadside Kiosks in their colours with their branding. North of Malawi most of the buildings were painted dark pink for Zain and yellow for M cell. In Mozambique every second little building or roadside Kiosk is painted in blue with Vodacom branding. It is hugely overdone.

I loved our accommodation in Inhambane, the room being on stilts and being able to sit on the deck and watch the fish swim by, the crabs scuttle around trying to catch dinner, and of course the crisp white linen, that's always a deal closer for me!

We slept well, knowing that we were leaving for home soon.

We left Jen & Gav early the next morning and headed for Maputo, whilst they headed for Durban. Gav's brother is not well and he is going directly to Durban to see him.

We stopped en route to buy some Peri Peri and then again to say hi to an old freind Dennis and then headed for Maputo.

So, after 6 hours we arrived in Maputo.

That evening we took a taxi to a local Portuguese restaurant recommended by Dennis, called Cristal. We must have been the only non locals eating there, just what Alan and I like.. Good Chicken, good Prawns and good Vinho Verde.

Komatipoort here we come!

Tomorrow we would be home....

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

27th July Fiona's Perspective

This morning we set off for Inhambane, a 4hr drive. A fairly good drive, except for a 20km stretch of roadworks. A single dirt track became the road and there was no way to overtake the trucks and slow Bakkies! Well, Alan found a way! I felt like I was in the Dakar!

We got to Inhambane by 1.30PM, in time for lunch. Unfortunately our eagerly awaited Prawns and chips were actually Shrimps and chips.
We tried out the Pao (Mozambique bread) as suggested by Sam, one of my staff at the office. Alan quite liked them and had 3, the last one with a layer of Chilli and hot chips.

We found a place to stay and settled in for the next two nights after Jen negotiated a discounted rate (50%) because we were South Africans, we are nice, it was low season etc

Dinner was great and Alan finally got his Chourico sausage. It was warm enough to sit outside next to the pool for dinner and with an African singer playing Guitar in the background (sounding a bit like Trini Lopez) it was perfect.

Our rooms are made of wood and are on stilts out in the bay. Going to dinner, the tide was in and water surrounded the room, coming back, the tide was out and our room seemed to stand on stilts on the sand.
The rooms were out quite a way from the restaurant and pool, so it was either a long walk up on an elevated gangway over the water or a ride on a golf cart, which was quite fun after a few drinks.

I think we have definately ended the holiday on a high note. The accommodation is great! There is nothing quite like crisp, white linen sheets and a patio with steps down into the ocean.

Tomorrow we will be lunching in Tofo, visiting an old Lighthouse and buying some gifts at the market (not sure if we can actually fit anything more into the car!!!)

The countdown has begun...

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gav & Jen - Inhambane

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Lunch @ Inhambane, Mozambique

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26th July Fiona's Perspective

After a quick cup of coffee (Jen's jump start for the day) we set out for the coast. The first big town that we hit was Chimoio. We stopped to draw money and put in petrol. The ATM queues were down the road, but to our delight, the Std bank ATM was deserted. Reason - No money!!! So after waiting an African 5 minutes for it to be refilled (actually 30min) we drew money and were then able to fill up with petrol and continue towards the coast.

With every country visited, there are always roadside stalls, but there are subtle changes in each country. Mozambique definately has a different feel to it. Besides the Portuguese writing everywhere, it just feels different.

The drive today was fairly stress free due to the roads being good and relatively free of traffic, so we made good time and only had to give one policeman a bottle of water. Actually he wanted Coke and couldn't speak English, so he looks at Alan blankly and says Coke? Alan says no, we have none and gives him a half finished bottle of water.

By 3PM we arrived in Inhassoro. We stopped in at Seta Lodge and had Prawns & chips and a bottle of wine with a sea view. Well, that was just for me. Alan had his own meal and some Whiskey. Gav & Jen ordered Calamari expecting rings and got a Calamari steak instead. I think something got lost in translation.

After that we decided we were not going anywhere and booked chalets for the night.

Mozambique is going to be a quick overview for us. We can always come back again as it is so close to home.

We sat on the deck whilst the sun set and Alan & Gavin attempted to work their way through yet another bottle of Jamesons.

At about 10PM we all went for a walk on the beach as it was full moon, the tide was out and it was the romantic thing to do.

The holiday is coming to an end, and I can't say I will not be glad to sleep in my own bed, be able to love my dog again and be back at the office.

Too much of a good thing can ruin it...

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Monday, July 26, 2010

24th & 25th July Fiona's Perspective

Today was relaxed, a bit of a boat ride along the coast, and some wine with lunch and an afternoon snooze whilst Alan and Gav watched rugby.

All in all exactly what we wanted.

Our last night was spent with Taffy and Jen, sitting around chatting, laughing, drinking and listening to Ismael Lo.
We all couldn't believe the time had passed so quickly and were really sad to leave.

So, we left with Herman, the wooden caricature of a Giraffe and set off before Gavin and Jenny for Blantyre. We would catch up with them after the border crossing into Mozambique.

We met Elizabeth's (our domestic worker) father and sister outside a prearranged spot near Lunzu.
Rhoda, her sister helped me buy some Malawian material and have a few sarongs made up. Thereafter we followed them back to their home in the village, Rhoda on the back of a bicycle taxi and her father on a motorbike taxi.

The rest of the family was waiting outside for us, the children all in their Sunday best. After some introductions, we were shown the house, the yard, the chickens etc. They had a big parcel for Elizabeth and gifts of homegrown Paw paw, eggs and peanuts (all pre shelled) from his garden for us. We gave each child a soccer ball and some pens. I took a couple of photos and Alan Videotaped Precious, her son whilst he kicked his new ball around.
Soon it was time to go as we still had about 700km to do before dark and Gavin had already crossed the border into Mozambique.

The border crossing was once again uneventful and we ended up about 40km behind Gavin & Jen as we had entered Mozambique at a more southern Border crossing.

We caught up with them in Tete, where they had stopped for coffee and to get some take away Chicken and chips.

A quick stop along the road to eat and we were quickly on our way again. The overnight stop was still 300km away and it was getting dark and everyone knows you don't drive after dark in Mozambique or anywhere north of our borders if you can help it.

Well, so much for no night driving. We drove till 8PM, which meant 2,5hrs in the dark, which was not great as we were tired, having been on the road since 7am. Trying to phone ahead for accommodation was interesting as no one seemed to speak English and my Portuguese is a little rusty (ha ha).
We finally decided to aim for the closest place as the cell signal was almost non existent and trying to call ahead was just becoming impossible.

The closest place seemed to be a Kruger Park replica, in the old days. It was a bunch of Rondavel's alongside a lake. With the decor to match the Kruger lodges. But it seemed vaguely clean. So we lay our weary heads down on the pillow and we were lights out.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

23rd July Fiona's Perspective

This morning we chilled, waking a little later than normal and deciding to drive in to Monkey Bay harbour and see the old ship the Chauncy Maples, 101+ yrs old from the days of Livingstone.

After breakfast, we set off for the harbour. About 4km after we hit the tar, we got pulled over by a Policeman standing in the middle of the road. The embankment on our side of the road was so steep that Alan pulled over to the right hand side, off the road onto the dirt. We then got a 20min lecture on how it was illegal to park facing oncoming traffic and it was a major offence in Malawi (where goats, cows, bicycles etc are all over the road). After apologising, we then reversed and parked on the road, on the correct side, in the middle of the lane, blocking traffic, but that was ok, totally legal!!! We were then asked for Alan's drivers license, and when that was in order, he asked to see our fire extinguisher, which is actually not a legal requirement, so we showed it to him. Alan then asked him what else he would like to see as we would love to show him anything he wanted to see (facetiously). This put him on the back foot and we were allowed to go.

Wouldn't it be great if all the burnt out trucks lying next to the road had had a fire extinguisher on board, maybe they wouldn't be a shell of their former self!!!

We stopped at a roadside stall, called 'Toys R us' a couple of guys sitting under a Lapa making wooden replicas of Landrovers and Landcruisers. (I have uploaded a pic of their signage). So we ordered one to be made to look exactly like our vehicle and showed him a photo on my camera of Gavin's vehicle and ordered one for him too. Incredible workmanship.

Back for lunch and an afternoon snooze! Well, actually I snoozed and Alan repacked the car to fit in all the Curios I had bought. Especially Herman the Giraffe, a caricature of a giraffe that Taffy&Jen had just brought back from Zambia from a lodge they had stayed at. It wasn't for sale, but they managed to purchase it, just to give it to ME!!!

Afternoon drinks were relaxed and we sat chatting to Taffy and Jenny (South African owners of our accommodation), watching the sun set, when I got an sms that Gav and Jen where close to Monkey Bay and where were we.

They arrived about 30min later and joined us for dinner, drinks and more drinks. So, the team was back together.
We decided then and there that we would extend our stay by another night...

Do we have to leave?

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Toys R us

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