When I read back at some of my writings, I think I may have given the impression that it was too rough but I think this was probably the best trip we have done. We got to Lake Turkana this time which was a huge mile stone for us. We had a great team and we worked together so well, we had lots of fun and I think the fact that Ernest and I had done it before helped to build the confidence of the other guys as to where we were going and what we were going to see.
There has been a tremendous deterioration in the roads and the infrastructure in the countries where we travelled but then to be fair, a lot of the time it was due to the fact that they were being rebuilt and in a few years’ time when those roads are finished, the whole experience in those countries will be completely different.
We visited 14 different game reserves, went through 10 different border posts and drove for 15,000 kilometers and did it all in 80 days. Wow, that was quite a trip!
We sat together the last night and everyone spoke about what their highlights for the trip were and we spoke about what fun the whole experience had been and how much we had gained and learnt. One of my personal difficulties on the trip was a stupid thing like making my bed when I am in it, which is what I had to do every night. You know making your bed is one thing but try making it when you are in it is quite another and then to make it worse I had to sometimes make it with Ernest sitting in it at the same time. He is too impatient to sit outside and wait till I am done so I have to make him sit first in one corner of the tent, then the other while I straighten the sheets etc.
Oh well, I guess it was not like boarding school where someone inspected if the sheets were tucked in properly.
Then of course there is the washing…when you put those clothes in the bucket and put in the soap and water, you cannot believe the color of the water... It goes this sort of brown color and just never seems to rinse clean.
Kim said that the one amazing thing for him was when we stayed at the hotel in Moshi, he had two showers, about an hour apart and after the second shower the new white towel he used still turned a darker shade of brown.... And he was in an air-conditioned car, not like Ernest and I sitting in our dust bowl of a hippo!
We all agreed that the worst thing that you have to contend with are those dam tsetse flies, they have the most terrible sting, they are so persistent and you just don't know they are sitting on you till it is too late. We all got so badly bitten by the dam things and poor Rouvierre had the worst reaction to them, her hands and legs swelled up and made her look like a cabbage patch doll - not for too long though as she definitely won the prize for the smartest dressed and best looking of the lot of us. We all looked scruffy and bedraggled and Rouvierre came out looking like she had stepped out of a vogue magazine- sis on her.
The mozzies are also a total pest and in actual fact probably the most dangerous thing that you come across in Africa. We did get bitten but not too badly and I do think we were also most of the time not in peek malaria time so that was good planning on Ernest's part. However as Ernest said -not every mozzie carries Malaria even though I wanted to kill him at two in the morning when he said it, half-awake while I was frantically swatting them.
We saw some really funny sights that stuck in our minds, one of which was seeing this lady sitting side saddle on the back of a bicycle with eyes like saucers being peddled at full speed down a very long steep hill by her "taxi driver". He had a grin from ear to ear and she had a look of such terror... The contrast was hilarious and they were only half way down so what her face was like at the bottom of that hill would have been funnier - I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be her. Then there was a guy on a motorbike carrying two goats. The goats had their chins resting on each of the guy’s shoulders observing the road. It just looked so funny, we wondered if they were chatting to the driver!
We saw one bicycle with five people on it - dad, mom and three children and then the motorbikes with five adults... How the person on the back actually stayed on was a mystery to us.
We saw trucks so loaded with people that there was no standing room left inside the back of the truck; so they were hanging onto the outside of the truck all the way down the side.
Then there was this one station wagon with the back door open, the actual back of the car was not more than three inches off the tar and there must have been 10 pairs of legs hanging out the back of the open boot plus another 6 or 7 people crammed inside the back that the 10 were sitting on top of, how the thing was going was a mystery as the front wheels were barely touching the ground.
We met so many new interesting people, doing all sorts of things that we had never heard of. Africa is a very harsh place and people do the most amazing things in order to survive. One of the sad things though is because of the latest spate of Somalian terrorism in the area of Lamu in Kenya plus the recent outbreak of Ebola, the lifeline of Africa, which is basically tourism, has been slashed tremendously in places like Kenya and Tanzania, so, a lot of the people who were making a very good living and doing well are now reduced to subsistence level.
However Zambia appears to be just booming, they have a President who has the support of the people, a Kwacha that is worth double the Rand and more new buildings going up than I have ever seen before. Huge tracts of land have been taken over by farmers (from Zim and South Africa I believe) and you travel through miles and miles of wheat, maize fields and cattle farms. There is so much less poverty in that country but there is also evidence of more and more Chinese involvement.
We often ask ourselves why do we do these trips and why do we brave the bad roads, dust, dirt and possible danger?
It is a hard question to answer but I think we just love the adventure of seeing all those new places, getting to see and experience all the different people of Africa, the different cultures like the Masai, Samburu, and the Turkana to see how they live their simple lives without too much interference from Western civilization.
The one thing about African travel is you have no idea what lies around the next corner, there is absolutely no predictability about a trip like this. You may have to stop in the middle of nowhere and camp and you may be lucky enough like we were, to land up in absolute luxury for a few days of bliss in five star lodges and have hot bathes in a copper bath tubs. You interact with people who are so different to anybody you have ever met before and you connect and experience very briefly their existence.
Specifically on one evening we sat for hours with the Masai chiefs swopping stories. I will never forget that little girl on Lake Turkana who put her hand in mine and would just not let go. She gazed at me with such admiration and I could just feel the pleading from her for me to somehow change the life that she had been fated to live.
I will treasure the picture that Steve took of me and all the little girls that were holding onto my hands and arms. Then there was the time where we stopped to take pictures of a breathtaking view and were joined by two Samburu warriors holding AK-47’s and who thought it very amusing that Rouvierre wanted to hold the gun and be photographed with them.
There is always the first few seconds of fear... Will they harm us?... and then comes the smile or the welcome. I don't think during our whole three months of travel we were ever in danger from any of the people that we met. They were fascinated with the “Strange White Travelleres”, they wanted to see what we did and how we lived but there was never any danger. I remember so well the old man, who looked like he was going to keel over because he was so thin, but he took the food that we gave him and sent it back to his children and ate nothing of it himself.
The vistas and vastness of Africa will forever remain in our minds, it is beautiful in places, harsh beyond belief in others and this kind of wilderness cannot be found in many places on planet earth today.
Another reason we felt this was because when you camp in the reserves, you get into very close contact with the wild life, the prices that they charge in the reserves are outrageous but you will never experience the closeness of the animals any other way. The elephant that put his trunk through the screen door and destroyed it to get at the beans that we left inside The Queen and that come walking past and graze around the camp at night to the monkey who jumped up and took an apple out of the bowl that Rouvierre was carrying.
To wake up in the morning, look out of the tent and see an elephant with a tiny baby 5 meters from the tent quietly feeding on a nearby tree, or hear the lions roaring close by and not knowing whether they are 10 meters or 100 meters away.
Steve, whose tent was on the ground frequently had buffalo, hippo or elephants feeding around his tent. Andrea insisted that Steve had a shocker with him every night, not that I think this would have done any good but it made her feel happier.
Ernest was incredible the way he planned the trip so that we were there at the right time of the year, plus he drove The Queen all the way up and down for 15 ,000 kilometers, that was a feat of note.
Ken was absolutely incredible the way he handled his body problem, he was determined to finish the trip no matter what, so he did what was needed, had the operation in the middle and continued on to finish up with all of us. That was something very few people could have done and he really deserved the support and admiration we all felt for him.
Steve our wonder boy, we could not have done without him. He kept the whole show on the road, fixing anything and everything that went wrong with the cars and roof racks and water systems and tires and shocks. The list goes on and on.
Kim was always there, right behind Ernest, he kept up the pace, bought all our veggies in the market, carried things backwards and forwards for us girls and threw water over anyone he suspected of being a wild animal! Beware anyone trying to give him a fright in the future he has perfected the technique. He was the best washer upper and us girls really appreciated that.
The girls, Rouvierre, Andrea and I work fantastically together, we had breakfast and lunch down to a fine art. As soon as The Queen stopped, the kitchen was open and the men had their stomachs filled. We know that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and we had them all eating out of our hands... Well, sometimes anyway!
The “BB” award of the trip was won jointly and severely by Kim, Ernest and Andrea.
· Kim for taking a fridge all the way through the trip and never turning it on... How is that for dumb!
· Ernest for bringing empty gas bottles all the way through.
· Andrea for her secondhand boots which we’ll never let her forget. She really took the teasing well and we need to get a picture of those dam boots to prove that they did exist.
So once again thanks to all our followers - we appreciated your support; and more than that thanks to all my fellow travelers, we did it, we went, we experienced and we conquered and I am sure we will never forget the wonderful nights that we spent around the camp fires in the wilds of Africa, listening to the night sounds and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company - with a cup of coffee in hand of course!
Over and out!
Thank you for everyone that followed us on our journey!
Thank you for everyone that followed us on our journey!
PS We will post more photos of the trip, so keep on visiting the blog.The connection and sending photos was limited, so the best photos of our trip are still to come.