Sunday, 17 March 2013


I'm still alive, just buried very deep in southern Africa and far away from my real life.

I'm in Botswana at the moment, and have seen so many beautiful and amazing places and people in the last 3 and a bit weeks ... I could cry a little at the thought of having to go home again. I'm already plotting my return trip to see the next chunk of this stunning continent.

I have no idea what I weigh, as I haven't been near a scale since being here, and sometimes not even a mirror for days at a time. All I know is that my clothes still fit and I'm very brown! My feet are filthy as I haven't worn shoes when I can avoid it for several weeks, my hair is a tangled, unconditioned, sun-lightened mess, I've worn makeup once since getting here .... and I'm absurdly happy.

Day to day life is a long way from my norm, as we're frequently up by 5.30 or 6am, and in bed by 10pm as a result. I've given up putting up a tent when I can avoid it (i.e. when there's no hyenas or elephants around) and have taken to sleeping under the stars and a mosquito net tied to the back of the truck. Food is whatever we're dished up at meal-times and occasional snacks when I've remembered to buy them in the last town we drive through.

The only problem I'm finding is that if you keep expanding your horizons, you realise how much you've still got to see and experience.

The Germans have a wonderful word for it: fernweh. Literally - far-sickness; the longing for far away places and the yearning to travel.

- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Cape Town Calling

I've made it to Cape Town, as they kindly decided to let me into South Africa, and it's bloody lovely here.

For one thing, after a week of sharing a very sparsely furnished house (so basically there were beds and one long table with chairs and that was it) with 9 other people, no air con and some extremely temperamental plumbing, I now have a double bed and lots of hot water with a functioning AC unit - luxury!!!

I also had my first meal today that wasn't rice, veg and a bit of meat. And a bit of chocolate - it would have melted in 3 seconds in Kenya. But for all that, Kenya was wonderful and I miss it mightily.

Over the last days of our work in Magadi, we finished painting and fixing at the school and helped run a free medical clinic for the local tribes with the help of 6 wonderful doctors from Nairobi. I even learned a bit of on-the-spot Swahili so I could help dispense the medicines .... which was fine until we started encountering older tribe members who only spoke Maasai. Still, we bumbled through and managed!

All in all, it was an emotional and amazing week, and I'm so glad I took a chance and wrote that off-the-cuff application all those months ago.

It was hard saying goodbye to everyone at Nairobo airport yesterday as I'd grown close to so many of them do quickly ... and it was also frightening to be flying off to countries unknown for my first solo trip!

One step at a time though, and I now find myself safely installed in my hotel in Cape Town. I arrived yesterday evening and just took the chance to relax last night as it was a looooooon day as we'd been up at 2am to leave for the airport.

This morning, I took a deep breath and (after a lengthy lie-in) I found a launderette to sort out my filthy clothes from last week and then navigated my way downtown to explore the Waterfront area. It's vibrant, pretty and lovely, albeit VERY full of tourists. Still, I passed a leisurely lunch in the shade readying and people-watching and then wandered a little more.

I attempted to get a taxi up to Table Mountain to get the cable car after that, but got there to find the cable car closed ..... grrrrr. As it was sunny and clear, it didn't occur to me it might now be running so I hadn't attempted to check .... Doh!!

I did argue the taxi-man down on the fare though as he dropped me back at my hotel and then tried to charge me double the agreed one-way fare from the Waterfront to Table Mountain .... since my hotel was only about the distance back I pointed out that was rather steep and won! Yay me - I hate bartering arguing, but stood my ground - twice in 24 hours in fact, as a man at Johannesburg airport attempted to fleece me for a $10 tip yesterday for telling me where Terminal B departures was and then insisting on walking me the whole way. I was brave and said a couple of $'s was plenty for what was a 3 min walk - I felt mean but $10? No way! Note to self - don't stand looking lost next time!

Tomorrow im getting a quick day tour in of Cape Point, Chapmans Peak and the Boulders Beach penguin colony amongst other things, before I head off on my big tour on Monday.

Weight-wise, I've no idea where I stand, but I doubt last week's rice, meat and veg diet did me any harm. The only bad stuff I had was the occasional fizzy drink or beer to cool down, and we were running round from about 8 til 6 most days in 40 degree heat.

I'm relaxing for the couple of days I'm in Cape Town, as I imagine our diet on the main tour will be pretty basic since we'll be cooking in a camp kitchen for most of it .... no chocolate or snacks and I can't see there being too many alcoholic drinks ... and that's assuming I don't catch some dreaded stomach bug. I've been ok so far, but accommodations last week were scrupulously clean at least! You never know - I might even lose some weight this trip! :-)

One big discovery for me - apparently I love watermelon!!! Can't believe I thought I hated it for so long!! Still, doesn't change the fact I hate normal melon though :-)

- Posted from my iPhone