The Journey

Vilanculos and around

With Stanruza running on fumes, we drove into Vilanculos, and after our usual “drive around recce” , we settled down  at Villa la Mar, just out of town, and - you guessed it -  overlooking the sea. Our initial impression of the area was a bit disappointing, with large expanses of  exposed sand dotted with marooned fishing boats, in stark contrast to the  coast further south. The horizon was broken by several of the islands  the area is renowned for.

 Going nowhwere slowly!Our view from the lodge

Our accommodation secured, we headed back into town , and found a “supermarket” to stock up on some provisions, and a local fisherman to supply us crayfish for another gourmet dinner. One of the crayfish was the biggest crayfish I have ever seen on a plate, we named him Oupa Kreef.

 Oupa kreef..al ooit iemand n kreef sien verorber!!!! (The beercanis a huge one, not a normal can)

Our lodge was huge, designed to sleep 6-8, but with several lodges empty, and many of the surrounding accommodation still uninhabitable after the 2007 cyclone, our host was not worried about letting us loose in the “mansion” – 3 bedrooms,  2 bathrooms, one en suite, lounge, dining room, huge kitchen, 2 sun decks (both with mandatory view), swimming pool 5 meters away …. ( this is a tough life we have chosen, but someone has to do it!!).Problem with staying at places lke this is that you get  used to the luxury and it starts feeling like home!!!

 

We spent the next day with long walks along the beach, swimming in the pool, and a quick trip into town to fill up with diesel, and find an internet café, before packing up Stanruza  for an early start  the next day, when we hoped to say goodbye to Mozambique (for a while, we know we will be back to this beautiful country), and head to  Matendere Ranch in Zimbabwe, the home of the Du Plessis clan, via Mutare

 

Pomene and the road to hell

Chris Rea sang about it, so maybe he too went to  Pomene! Following John Pfaff’s advice NOT to miss Pomene, we left Inhambane  and drove back to the main road.  About an hour later a small sign pointing off  to a sandy road said “Pomene” , so Stanruza once more was put through his paces .

 58km said the sign,  as the “road” wound its way  through forest, small villages and subsistence farms, and then into virgin bush and grassland, seemingly untouched by humanity. The sandy track  slowed travel to a snail’s pace at times,  with welcome “Pomene Lodge” signs every 10 km  the only  break in the seemingly never ending  trail.

 The road to Pomene, or is it Vietnam?Mongrove swamps......Petro, dink net aan al die goggas!!!!! Doom help nie

As we neared the coast, the track hugged the edge of a mangrove swamp, with the mud of the swamp only a meter or so next to us as we  drove on. A few huts and signs of civilization reminded us of  aVietnam” feeling – really  weird!

As we broke out of the swamps, we drove at times on the beach, along  a long stretch of flat sandy wasteland, the track eventually ending at Pomene Lodge.  The main reception area, bar and restaurant is truly stupendous (John, the trip was worth it, you are forgiven), with a huge swimming pool lined with palm trees taking centre stage.

                  Filter coffee in the wild!

The lodge has a series of  self catering lodges, chalets and campsites, but was largely uninhabited when we arrived. Faced with the hell drive back on the same road (despite what the maps books say, there is no other “road’  out of Pomene), we decided to camp a night, and found a campsite with our prerequisites – sea view and the sound of the waves breaking only  20 meters away.  Annaliese   proceeded to rustle up some gourmet filter coffee – the Carol Boyes sugar spoon really makes a difference (Anna Maria, for some unknown reason the spoon was not packed, but is now our constant companion..a little bit of class amongst broken nails, sand everywhere, flea and insects bites all over my body!!)-  and   a first-class braai  ended off the night.

 

Despite heavy rain that night, our rooftop tent came out tops, and the next morning we packed up, and drove out  on the RTH back to the main road, and headed back north towards Vilanculos. The next 50 km of road consisted of Mozambique’s version of  the surface of the moon, with more potholes than road at times. Driving next to the road when possible was preferable, but Stan held together  well and somehow we made it to the other side.

Our closing thoughts

Annaliese:

As we are leaving this vibrant and slow, developed and “uncivilized” anomaly of a country, I will always think of it as the true example of how it is to love and live fully in a world where nothing is ever permanent; in Mozambique the force of nature truly takes its toll and the signs are everywhere; a world where each solution must be tried and shaped to fit , the correct solution clearly is not always obvious; a world where experimentation and risk are vital to forward motion. A lot of work still needs to be done, but as nature takes, so it gives back and it seems that the people of Mozambique is truly in tune with the rhythm of their country.

I am sad to go and all I can say is “obrigado” for letting me share in a fraction of the multitude that this country can offer. We will be back!

One of my favourite sites in Mozboat building Moz style!

Stewart:

Think of endless blue oceans, unspoilt beaches, warm waters, colouful reefs teeming with life. Think abominable roads, expensive fuel, mozzies, bugs of all shapes and size. Think warm sun, friendly people, easy living, great seafood. This is Mozambique, where nothing is too much trouble, or everything is too much effort - take your pick.

We will be back for more, sometime, somewhere.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE................................

To all of you that send us messages via the website, our webmaster is still working on the whole thing, but we cannot reply if you send it on the site and we would LOVE to , so Lucy, Adele, John etc and all that send mails, please mail us on info@rootsinafrica.co.za as we want to reply but do not have your mail add.

 

Love & Hugs

 

Zim detour to SA

Six in the morning saw us departing Vilanculos for Zimbabwe, only to get news that Mugabe (spell it backwards – ebagum!!) was kicking up a fuss about his own departure, and the tension factor was rising. So we made a late decision to turn south instead of north when we hit the National Road, and headed back to Maputo, and then west to Nelspruit. Sorry Du Plessis family at Matendere, we would have loved to spend some time with you, but will catch you on the way back.

Despite a few hiccups on the way, including the electric motor on the driver’s window packing up, and losing the diesel tank cap at a petrol station at Xai Xai – and not realizing until we got to the border!! - we made the border, and through the organized chaos there, and on to Nelspruit, booking in to the local Protea hotel for the night, utter luxury after 12 hours of traveling.

No matter how bad the news was

Nothing beats our stunning sunsets, the first view we had as we crossed the border,stunning scenery wow good roads, shops yeah!!

It was both weird and wonderful to be back in South Africa so soon. Nice to be able to speak to friends, and stock up on provisions in familiar shops, but not nice to be affected by Eskom ( Annaliese was all ready to blow dry her hair when the power in the hotel went off! and was I pissed off as it would have been the first time for 3 weeks that I tried to look half decent with an attempt at atraight hair. Alas it was not meant to be), to hear about the latest rates hike, petrol hike, Mbeki saying here’s nothing wrong in Zim…. Some things, it seems, will never change.

We spent Saturday morning at Landrover Nelspruit ( where the receptionists were named Annaliese and Joleen – how weird?!) who sorted out our problems with Stanruza. Special thanks to them for their friendly and efficient service. We also hit the local Riverside Mall and Vodashop (again!) to allow Annaliese to get in a quick shopping fix, and to get the modem back up and running , and then decided to head north west to Tzaneen for a few nights in the Magoebaskloof mountains.

the stunning views on our The view from the Inn

way to Tzaneen, just before we experienced a hectic thunder storm

quite scary for 2 Capies!!! 

Arriving in Tzaneen with a welcome SMS from Peter Logan that the Stormers had eventually won a rugby match at Newlands, we drove on to Eagles View Inn, above an old tea plantation, where we booked in to a B’n B. The Inn is perched on a mountain top, surrounded by thick botanical-like gardens and misty tendrils of cloud drifting in and out .

Stew having breakfast, so smartEven though Stan gave us some problems,                                                                                                                     we still love him. 

As you can see, we experienced cold weather or the first time on the trip, felt so strange to get out the tracksuits!! Well should get us used to the UK and Bristol! 

We planned to rest up here for 2 nights, and then leave for Botswana early Monday morning.

The border and Nata

We have been without any contact with the outside world for a number of day, no radio, no internet, no TV and mostly no cell reception…….hmmmmm, never realized I am quite the addict!!

We are now in the delta in Botswana and will be back in Maun tonight where we will try our best to get connected! We had lots of time to think and thought that we will get fancy and try and give a little bit of stats on each country for those of you that are interested!!

Here goes, Botswana is the size of about France or if you want Texas, but there are only 1,7 million people!!! The country only has 2 “cities” , Gabarone the Capital and Francistown (I think it is stretching the meaning of city a bit, but hey, who cares!) Maun is the only other big town and is seen as a “village town” by the locals. There are apparently at least 14 different tribes, but the whole country speaks Tswana as their main language. Enough of that for now!!

We left Magoebaskloof early on the 14th and what stunning scenery, we were traveling at times at 1500m above sea level with morning mist, green green and green plantations, forests etc through Polokwane to the border. Botswana is not our 22nd country as we have been there before, but the 3rd on this trip , if it makes sense! To be honest, both of us approached Botswana with trepidation as we had bad experiences here before, every time we have been here…..true to form, the shit started at the border where the lady at the exchange place would not take my dollars( sounds familiar!!) as she claimed it had a stain!! (TIP TIP, if you EVER travel through Africa, check every note the bank give you in fore with a microscope!)

That sorted, we finally crossed the border with no further hiccups and looking at the countryside, everything came flooding back, all the same as before, I remember Botswana as a country filled with anthills, donkeys, 60km p h zones every 20 kms and roadblocks for no apparent reason……..that was exactly what it was like, again!! All I could think of was “bland”…. Even the roads are bland and boring……could it be that we missed the bad roads in Moz???

      A typical village

We drove to Nata and spend the night at Nata Lodge, a stunning place and we both decided to give the country another chance as it was so great to swim in the pool and their permanent tents are stunning and very well furnished with all the essentials. Only bad thing was that it was time for budget and calculating expenses! We realized that we were totally overspending , so from now on, no restaurants and fancy places to stay.

Arriving at Nata Lodge Our home at Nata Lodge

The pics will follow as will the rest of the story, we just want you all to know we are still alive and well .

Ok back to the time at Nata lodge, if you are planning to stay here, remember that you are allowed to braai and do your own food, we HAD to due to previous overspending, just get some wood from the guard. We had a nice evening, even had some rain…..also bland compared to the hail, thunder and pouring rain of the night before in SA. But ..before Botswana faithfuls get upset with me,” bland” is also good, it is peaceful and slows you down to allow you to appreciate the little beauties in life, it soothes your soul and calms you down which is maybe what we both needed.

The next morning we left for Maun and the Okavango Delta after Stewart COMPLETELY annihilated me in Canasta!!!!!! HELP Anna Maria…. (Sjuut do not tell him, but it is better this way as he is so ultra competitive so better he wins!!)

 

Maun and the Delta

 

We left Nata relatively early as we seem to be getting better with packing and repacking..(if you hate packing, PLEASE do not even consider doing a trip like this!) on our way to Maun and Audi camp. We checked out a few websites whilst we were still in SA and decided theirs looked good. Maun (pronounced “Maaou” by the locals)was also a true surprise in that we got a great rate for changing our dollars…….Halleluja, they had no complaints about our notes, (by the way, the Pula is stronger than the rand so Botswana is NOT a cheap destination) the town also had all the necessary shops like Shoprite, Nando’s etc (you will note that my needs have changed from nice interior /clothing stores to FOOD and PETROL!!!!) We were busy changing our opinion about this country…….

BUT oh my word, when we arrived at Audi camp, we nearly got into our car and turned around…not the look of the place, but the absolute rudeness of the reception staff ..We have been all over traveling, have done budget, done 5 star, done groups , done package, done individual and been in a number of continents, but NEVER have we seen such incompetence and rudeness combined, I do hope that someone will let the owner know as it was horrendous. I do know that the Botswana people are in general very aloof and not as warm and forthcoming as the Zimbabweans, Namibians and Mozambicans, but my goodness this was too much. First we were completely ignored, then we were looked at as if the cat dragged us there through swamps, then we were completely overcharged, no apologies, just “oh yes, here is your refund……” no Welcome, no explanation of the amenities etc!!!

 Our site at Audi

That over, we finally found our campsite (NOTE MOYA……. Camping !!!!!) and to calm and cool down, went for a swim in their stunning pool. The place is VERY well kept , the ablution blocks the best I have seen, nicely decorated and clean, but people, please do something about your reception staff, they are hideous! The eve we were briefed for our Delta/Makoro trip into the bush for 1 night and 2 days by the delightful Bob, one of the managers. He explained that we will leave the camp at 7.30 the next morning and then do a 2 hr bundu bashing trip on our way to the delta,we will then be transported on a Makoro (similar to the Dows of Zanzibar just with a flat bottom)  where we will spend the night in the bush with our guide and polers. A bit of info about the Mokoro’s , every Mokoro is owned by a poler and to become one needs a lot of practice. You can start at any age, but it is easy to tell the difference between an experienced poler and an inexperienced one. The cost of a mokoro is 1500 Pula, about R1800 and they need to be replaced about every 5 to 8 years. It is made out of a single piece of wood/trunk so they mostly made out of Boabab or Sausage Tree stumps.

 Bundu Bashing on our way to the Delta..wonder if Stan would have made it!

We arrived at the village where our polers live after a nightmare trip in one of those open game viewing Toyotas….looks very Hollywood safari style, but bloody windy and cold AND extremely bumpy so early in the morning, and most of all, my back took a bad hammering, can’t win them all. We did come across 2 elephants on our way though, so that made up for  lot.After entering the Delta area which is surrounded by buffalo fencing to keep Foot and Mouth disease out, we collected out poler, Killer Jimmy (so baptized by his parents according to him, but just for the record, he is not the type of person who will allow the truth to stand in the way of a good story!) and Dennis (turned out to be the strongest little man I have seen in my whole life! About Bianca’s size with Zack’s strength!)

 Loading the MokorosStrongman Dennis

We were truly amazed at how these guys managed to get all the stuff for the camp on a little boat like that, tents, fold up chairs, a table, food, pots and pans!! Check the pic. Off we went on the Delta and what a truly amazing experience this was. You are literally part of nature as you are so close to the water with only the sound of the delta surrounding you. Stewart and I were on a mokoro with Killer Jimmy and strongman Dennis took all the camping gear. We met up with an overlanding crowd on the Delta and here we realized how good our polers were, as one of their Mokoros took in water and had to stop to empty the water out. This trip on the river is a photographers dream and I went overboard with pics. At one stage we had to dodge a Hippo as they are very dangerous and if disturbed, will go for the mokoro.

    

Scenes from the Delta                               The famous pair!!                                       The polers(note how close to the water you are)

We arrived at our “campsite” which is just a clearing in the bush and started putting up camp despite the fact that Richard, the cook, gleefully pointed out the hyena tracks all over exactly the spot where our tent was supposed to go……….remember my fear of getting up at night to wee and the hyenas!!!!!!! Nobody seemed too bothered about that though. Other than that it was lovely though and after a rest, we went on a walk with Killer Jimmy(KJ) as out guide. We came across an elephant burial ground and also saw Giraffe (my favourite animals as I find them so graceful) as well as the standard Zebra. Got back to the camp just as the sun was setting and a stunning meal cooked by Richard awaited us. We chatted around the fire for a while, but since this trip our sleeping patterns changed a lot , we seem to be dead tired at about 8.30/9 O’Clock in the eve and are up at least at 5.30 in the morning, so we went to bed (or shall I say tent ) early, needless to say I spend a nervous night as I needed to do my things a few times during  the night and Stewart is a sound sleeper to say the least…….he did go with me once though!

   Killer Jimmy (check the cap)Our Bushcamp

A bit of tree hugging! 

The next morning we had an early breakfast and Stewart left with KJ on another walk, unfortunately I could not join them as my back, due to the previous day's bumpy ride and long walk, was quite painful. I spent the morning finishing my book (need to stock up again soon as i am running out!), whilst Stew had an eventful walk  ... see below.

KJ and I set out early, in search of wildlife, and especially elephant, which I was keen to see on foot. We walked next to one of the many  inland pans, where evidence of elephant, hippo, and other smaller animals was very evident. I asked KJ why the hippo dung close to the water was scattered. He said the hippo did this themselves when returning each morning to the water. He did not know why, but told this tale to explain why:

    “ Long ago Mr Hippo and Mr Fire were good friends. Mr Hippo lived by the dam, and visited Mr Fire  up on the hill. One day Mr Hippo asked Mr Fire to visit him, But Mr Fire warned him that he was very hot, and might burn his home. But Mr Hippo insisted, so Mr Fire came down from the hill and visited Mr and Mrs Hippo. But the heat got too much for them, and they sought the cooling shelter of the dam.  Mr Fisherman was furious, however, as he was certain Mr and Mrs Hippo would eat all his fish. So Mr Hippo agreed they would leave the dam every night, to eat grass, and to prove to the fisherman he had not eaten any fish, before he returned to the water every morning, he would scatter his dung so the fisherman could check  what he had eaten.”

We saw giraffe, some nondescript antelope, but no elephant, until heading back to camp, we spotted 2 elephants. We carefully circled them, both magnificent creatures, lords of the bush. Unbeknown (at that stage) to us, there was a 3rd elephant close by, that is until  we surprised  the 3rd elephant – or was it he that surprised us! We had approached him upwind, so he had not realized  we were there until we saw him. KJ and I quickly backtracked, and skirted around him  and headed back to camp. After a 21/2 hour walk, the elephant had been less than 20 minutes walk from our Camp!

Later that same day, we packed up camp, and headed back to the pickup point  in the mokoros. But our elephant viewing was not over, as we came across another Nellie, casually bathing in the river, and not about to give up his bathroom privileges to us mere mortals. KJ and the others recognized this elephant, which only had one tusk showing, as a particular problem-child.   No amount of shouting, banging of pans and clapping of hands  disturbed  Nellie’s ablutions, until KJ hit on an ingenious plan to set fire to a small reed thicket  upwind of the  elephant. The resulting popping and cracking of the fire  sounded so similar to gunshots that Nellie beat a hasty retreat into the bush! KJ had saved the day, and we were free to resume our  leisurely mokoro trip downstream.

He obviously needs NO gym!What a life!

We arrived back at Audi Camp at about 6 O”Clock,absolutely bushed, but there is nothing that a cold Windhoek (according to Stew their beer is shit) a Savanna as well as a great shower can’t cure!! Stan was all fine after having spent the night away from us. Unfortunately there was no internet connection as we wanted to check e mails, so we went to Maun to find an Internet shop as well as fill up with Diesel and buy the necessary groceries. We found the Internet shop just 15 min before it closed and quickly downloaded some mails and wrote the first part of Botswana just to let you all know we are still alive. Stew discovered to our surprise that the diesel was actually cheaper here than SA (JOKES>>>>we actually turned back at the border between SA and Botswana to fill up as we believed that it will be more expensive here!!) Unfortunately we were too late to get groceries, so we ended up getting Nandos burgers, yummy!  Got back to camp and packed until late ,as we decided to leave early the next morning for my homeland….Namibia. We changed our plans a bit as we had seen  all we wanted to see in Botswana. We therefore had 3 extra days before we are supposed to be in Windhoek ,and as I have never been there, decided to go to the Caprivi. We heard about a nice campsite on the banks of the Kavango River, Ngepi camp, which was close to the border, and decided to go there for 2 nights. (Great minds think alike and just as we decided that this will be our route to Windhoek, we got an sms from Izak telling us al about Ngepi camp!!)

 Rush hour at Maun.....prefer this to the N2!!!

The next morning we left early , but first hit the morning rush hour just outside Maun… as well as a suicide bomber in the form of a Hornbill that flew straight into our windscreen!! What a start to another great day in Africa. We stopped at Mohembo to spend our last Pula at Choppies supermarket (you an even buy the “Rooi Rose” magazine here !!!) and crossed the border ..yeahhhhhh !!!!!!!!!

 

 

Our Final Thoughts

 

Annaliese:

 

Hmmmm, what shall I say….. Botswana is a land-locked country, and that is how it made me feel, land –locked!! I missed the passion and warmth that I got used to in all the other countries I visited and lived in thus far on our great continent. But the sunsets are beautiful and  the Delta experience , specially the Mokoro trip, was great. Not too sure if I will be back though.

 

Stewart:

 

Other than the Delta, a flat, featureless country, with strangely  aloof people. Not somewhere I will come again, when in search of Africa’s soul. For #**#!# sake, even their beer is tasteless! The Delta is amazing though, with the mokoro trip and the bush walks a highlight.

 

A truly stunning sunset

Stats and Helpful Info

The following are some stats as well as some info that might be helpful to future travelers:

 

(Please note that the prices are relevant at the time that we traveled and should  therefore be adjusted. The cost of the accommodation does not include some “freebies” like staying at friends or bushcamping, and the amount reflected is per couple per night)

 

Country :                  Botswana

 

Dates:                        14th April to 17th April 2008

 

Exchange rate:       1 Pula = R1.20

 

Number of Nights:             4

 

Distance traveled: 1854 kms

 

Average distance per day: 463 km

 

Cost of Diesel:        R9.00 per litre

 

Average fuel consumption: 7 kms per litre

 

Diesel used:                        264 litres

 

Worst Road/s:         Road to the Delta from Maun

 

Best Road/s:           All major Roads

 

Favourite new destination:Okavango Delta

 

Average cost of accommodation:R452

 

Number of Bushcamps:   1 night

 

Cheapest Acommodation:Camping at Audi Camp at R330 per site per night

 

Most enjoyable: Nata Lodge between Francistown and Maun

Caprivi Strip

in

We crossed the border into Namibia at about 11.30 and unexpectedly , it was a very emotional homecoming for me! The first question I was asked by the Border official was if i am family of Anton's . So I first shed a few tears and then we were on our way to Ngepi camp.

What a stunning country..(I am being totally honest!) I just felt so proud to be a Namibian by birth as everything is so well maintained, the vegatation stunning and green, the roads excellent, the people friendly and to top it all, just as we entered Namibia, two elephant casually crossed the road right in front of us!

A true Namibian welcome!

We then proceeded to Ngepi camp and it justifies all the raving reports we received from this place. Our campsite (at R150 per night good price after exorbitant Botswana) was right on the river bank with a view to die for. So we replaced the sound of the waves with the sound of the Hippos!! We promptly set up camp and proceeded to take a dip in the famous Hippo and Croc pool

Our site at NgepiSwimming pool Ngepi Style

If it is your thing, the birldlife here is amazing and the "ablution tour " is the thing to go for!!! the owners obviously had a tremdous amount of fun with the building of the facilities and to see the loo's is truly an experience!!

one of the showers!Some of the loo's

Ours was the best though , out in the open with a perfect view of the river,and as the sign says, if you get a surprise by people on the river, just cover your eyes with 2 blocks of loo paper!

We also met fellow Capetonians, Jo and Cheryl who now live in St Helena Bay and had great fun discussing the beauty of life in the bush. Good luck to you guys with the rest of your trip and we are looking forward to keeping in contact.

The last evening we had to do some proper planning as we decided to drive the 938kms from the camp to Windhoek in one go. We needed an extra day in Windhoek as Stan needed some care and attention, firstly due to the lady drivers connection with the tree in Xai Xai!!!!! ( The bent hinge is now causing the tent to be totally out of balance) and Stew also thought it a good idea to give Stan a service before we go into the bundu proper. The plan was to pack everything before it is dark, but as we are getting too used to not being time bound, we had to grope around in the dark to pack. At about 8.30 Namibian time(They are on daylight savings and an hour behind SA) I realised I never paid for the camping and we rushed off to reception!! And of course, there was a bar and of course you cannot just stand there and not use it!! We had a few and met up with Chris and Lara now from the UK.in the middle of their 6 month trip through Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique. Chris is originally from Escourt, Lara is an attorney fromLondon! Another one that we met on this trip!! It seems that all the attorneys worlwide are escaping to the bush!! Thank you to them for all the info and also the article on Angola, will keep you guys updated on the trials and tribulations of our trip. We also met Mike and his lovely wife, so it was great to compare notes and interesting that they had the same complaints about the unfriendly Botswana people!

We spend a sleepless night and got up at 4.30 to finalise the packing and finally left the campsite at about 6 in the morning.  

Windhoek for the 1st round

in

How strange is the human race!!! We are never satisfied, once agin, the road to Windhoek was worldclass, but it is VERY straight and soon we were complaining about it!! I however did not allow Stew to do too much of that as it is after all my home country and everything WORKS, it is sparkling clean and such a pleasure to travel here, the 958 km stretch took us only 8hr 30 min so we had lots of time to explore..to those ofyou that think Stan is slow.....think again, good time we had I would say!!

As far as the countryside is concerned, Nam is green, green and lovely. If any of you guys decide to travel here soon, the loo's at the petrol station in Rundu is the cleanest public one I have seen in years!!

Stew has a new love in his life, Mr G , his Garmin which he finally got to work, so now instead of looking at the road while he is driving, he is looking at the machine and continously offers updates on our height above sealevel (why??) In any event, Mr G is wonderful and took us straight to Puccini House in Windhoek where we decided to stay for 2 nights(6 Puccini Street, Windhoek West.) Just for an intersting bit of news, we struggled a bit to get accommodation ,which surprised me. Upon further investigation, we were told that due to the problems in Kenya, the recent upheaval in Zim as well as the ( perceived by the foreigners) problems in SA, Namibia is being flooded by tourists. I for one am glad as they deserve it.

What a great place Puccini House was, for R375 for the room per night including breakfast, it was the nicest and best value for money accommodatrion we had on this trip. Christelle and Jaco, the owners are doing an excellent job, and Jaco even offered to fix the damaged hinge so the tent can last a bit longer and yeah....updated our Garmin maps for us AS well as gave us lots of tips on Angola, Thanks guys, you were stars and we are looking forward to keeping in contact. They also suggested a stunning restaurant for the first night we were there. It is a training school for chefs, BUT, the smartest decor in a restaurant you will find anywhere and great food. Nice, the place was the brainchild of a couple who converted their family home into the school/restaurant and the sales of the restaurant funds the school. Please have a meal, it is worth it.

Windhoek is stunning and the development has been amazing since we were last here about 7 years ago.Only thing though, no bussiness here for GHD's!! The air is so dry that my hair is straight, not even a hint of a curl, girls as long as straight hair is in fashion, it is cheaper to stay in Windhoek!

We also met a truly great couple, Mark and Nancy at the guesthoue. They are from Holland, Nancy is a social worker and Mark is in IT , they have been backpacking through Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania and Namibia for 4 months! They invited us for supper and we had the greatest Sweet and Sour chicken dish made by them!! Just to let you all know, we admire them so much, they love Africa and continued travelling even after experiencing a horrific armed robbery at a lodge in Zambia! Guys we wish you all the best with the rest of your travels and please do not give up on your dream of travelling through the rest of Africa(in your LANDY of course!!)

Unfortunately we also had a very sad and emotional time as Rudolf's dad, Willem passed away unexpectedly and our hearts were and are still broken for our darling son. It was very difficult not to cancel our tickets to the UK to visit Zack and to rather go to them in Cape Town, but both Ruds and Chrizel would not hear of it, so we leave these two beautiful souls in the hands of our other beloved friends and family in Cape Town, we know you guys will all take good care of them.

Our next update will be from Bristol in the UK!

 

 

Bristol with the cool dudes

What a weird feeling........to come from Africa, camping and warm weather to the UK with rain and feezing cold!!! We arrived at Gatwick after a sleepless flight (for Annaliese)  as usual, even though Air Namibia was great to fly with. The immigration lady was trying her best to be rude and I nearly lost my cool, but all well and we got to Victoria station in no time. Had 2 sandwiches and 2 coffees for the staggering amount of R160!!!! and decided that it is better to just sit and wait for our bus to Bristol, even though it was about 3 hours wait. I did however pee out 1Pound as you pay a bloody fortune for even this!! The busride was great and absolutely stunning, even though it is cold for us, the blossoms are out and the green with the yellow of the Canola fields was a delight to watch.The trip to Bristol was 2,5 hours and we could not wait to see Zack and just give him a hug. We arrived in the best weather they had this year and I cannot describe the joy to see our son!! We took a walking tour to their house and on the way he pointed out a few of their local places. Bristol is a stunning city with a real student vibe and in general the boys are really happy. Their house is stunning and their landlord Bally , a great guy. He works mostly in London so he offered his bedroom to us for the one night which was so kind and saved us a lot of money. Lets take you on a little tour:

Bristol, the College green and CathedralCanola Fields on the way from London to Bristol

The local pubGroceries for the boysMr Barman, tie and all

The guys have a system here!!! (That is Liam and Zack) they get cheap booze at the store down the road and then take the booze with them to the pub, sit in the garden and have a great time as if they bought it there!!

Bristol waterfront where Zack works this is the view from his restaurant

The happy family having a pub lunch!Liam off to work...how smart

We spend the first day getting some groceries for the guys and nearly had 20 heart attacks looking at the prices of things!! It truly is unbelievable how expensive food is and we are so proud of Zack, he budgets perfectly all the time and became quite the cook as it is cheaper to eat at home. The guys spend the first 2 evenings going to the pub and staggered home late in the eve, whilst I tried to get rid of the jetlag and did some ironing!

We left on Friday morning for Newquay, the UK's BIGGEST & most famous surfspot!

Newquay and Surfer Dudes

We left in our hired black mamba car and took the road less travelled on the coast to Cornwall and Newquay, the surfer capital of the UK. On the way , we stopped at the most amazing little villages, as Zack said, typical Agathe Cristie murder mystery places!!The dudes in one of the Village graveyards!!!!

 

The drive through the countyside and along the coast gave us a glimpse of a very different England, and a coastline that would do the Wildcoast proud. We stopped for a "Sunday lunch" in one of the villages, consisting of a 450 year old church, 4-5 shops, as many pubs and about 100 homes.

We had booked into a holiday caravan park, into a furnished caravan, complete with double glazed windows, heater, tv and dvd, (this reminded us a bit of the Trailorparks in the USA and Zack said he feels just like Eminem!!)We have no idea how and when these people actually camp here as it is supposed to be spring and the temp was 14 to 16degrees Celcius!! After booking in we drove through Newquay for our first recce of the beaches and entertainment spots.

The main beachHarbourNewquay town

Liam was not too impressed with the 2-3 foot waves, despite the wavline being shared by literally hundreds of surfers. But the sight of sea, beaches and surfers certainly lifted the spirits, and put us all in the holiday mood.

 

As we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary (thanks Erik for the best wishes) that day, we found a cosy restaurant down at the harbour, where we had a delicious seafood meal, for which our incredible son insisted on paying for, thankyou Zack from the bottom of our hearts. It was truly special to be able to celebrate with you. We then hit the town, finding 100s of clubs and bars full of revellers showing us why Newquay is known as both the surf and party centre of the UK, needless to say, we joined in as only beerloving South Africans can do!!

Aniversary coupleChecking the surfThe dudes at Newquay

 

The next day Liam and Stewart went for a surf recce, but the bustling Saturday shopping centre won out, and we spent the balmy (16 degrees) day wandering through the town centre, before settling down at "the Central" bar to share in a bit of UK's religion - football. For the record, Chelsea beat that other team that Rooney plays for, sorry, their name escapes me .

3 Mad SA GUYS!!!!!!!Ruds & Chrizel......

                                                                                            they truly followed your advice and had ice cream whilst I froze in the car!

The beauty of Newquay is truly astounding, and it was great to spend the time with the boys. We sampled the local fudge and icecream, apparently famous for Cornwall's "clotted cream". Liam's hopes of a good surf, however, disappeared with the swell, which the locals later told us had been "great" for the last month, but had now probably gone north for the summer . So we cancelled the surf, and instead Liam,Zack and Stewart braved the 11 degree early morning weather and had a swim instead, much to the amuzement of the locals.

 

Lands End

On the Sunday afternoon set aside for Liam to surf the non existing waves, we decided to drive to the western-most tip of England, Lands End. Despite much grumbling about the drive, we all agreed the trip was worth it when we eventually got there. As you drive west the land becomes more and more desolate, with tiny villages seemingly unchanged since the days of the pirates.It was truly a "timewarp" experience and so good to see the natural beauty of the area, totally different from everything we have ever seen. only problem was the FREEEEEZING weather, the wind is bitterly cold and this is spring!

The cliffs at Lands EndIt reads "USA" as they were trying to convince me that you can                                                                                                                                                                     actually see USA from here !!! (I know I am blonde)

We wandered around the windswept moors above the rugged cliffs of Lands End,made the locals' day with our crazy antics (one lady couldn't walk she was laughing so much at Zack, but you'll have to ask Zack for details, checked out a small working farm in the area that has been there for 700 years, Zack posted off some postcards, and then it was off back home,

Just to prove that we were realy here!!

but not before we stopped off and had a drink in "the first and the last pub" in England, which had its own tunnel down to the cliffs as a legacy to its historic roots of smuggling. The whole area's history is one of smuggling and highway robbers as we discovered when we took the boys on a bit of an historic trip to ensure they got their fill of a bit of history!

Bath and Stonehenge

Zack had arranged his schedule to spend the whole of Tuesday with us, and as we still had the car, we decided to visit Stonehenge, and then meet Gill (Stewart’s stepmom, visiting UK from Zimbabwe) and Michael (Stewart’s brother, living in UK) in Bath, and see what the Romans made such a fuss about.

The weather had turned cold (11 degrees), or at least we thought it was cold, and the trip to Stonehenge was complicated by road closures, but we eventually found it. After driving along small country roads for what seemed like hours and hours, the stones of Stonehenge suddenly loomed out of the horizon of Salisbury plains. We parked in thecar park, dressed as warmly as we could, and took a walk round the strangely eery rock formations.

The fomation at StonehengeJust to show you how cold it really was !!!

Dating back initially some 5 000 years ago, some of the smaller stones originate from Wales, some 380 km away, and some of the larger 3 storey ones, from 30 km away. Although not as impressive as the Egyptian constructions of the same era, we were nevertheless impressed with the Brit’s primitive attempts at castle building.It was so great to spend time together as a family again and we promptly made a video of the 3 of us singing happy birthday to Kloe, Ruds & Chrizel, just to show that you are permanently in our thoughts. XXX

The biting wind soon got the better of us, so we headed off back to Bath, where we met up with Michael and Gill, and then spent a couple of hours wandering around the Roman Baths, a massive structure of naturally hot water pools, temples, bath houses and Roman artifacts, that kept us wandering around, marveling at the Roman’s ingenuity.

The family together

Zack said this guide smelled as bad as he looked!! The Roman baths

We then spent another few hours in another Bath institution – the local pub, where we caught up on family news Good luck to Gill as she returns to Zimbabwe , where at least the beginning of the end, if not the end itself, of the abnormal life people there are living, is in sight.

Our final Thoughts

 

Annaliese

As we sit here at Gatwick after having left Bristol this morning, I have difficulty in conveying my feelings. I am so very proud of my son for having made such a huge success in a foreign country despite his bad rugby injury and despite being away from his family and most of his loved ones, but at the same time I am so sad to leave. The trip will be hard from now on as it will be difficult terrain, difficult to connect by mail or cell and even harder as there will be no visits to and from family and friends for a while, but the show must go on and I am eternally grateful for having had the opportunity to spend quality time with 2 of the 3 most important men in my life, it was great to be able to do some home cooking even though the facilities were typical bachelor style, it was great to laugh out loud and to cry even harder, to have a jol and just to be typical tourists together.

I think the UK will always be a country of emotional highs and lows for me and I will love and hate it at the same time till we meet again!!!

Supper at the flat, we used the table for the FIRST time!!!!

 

Stewart

Incredible to see how Zack and Liam have adapted so well to life in a foreign country, I am proud of them. They have learnt a lot, had good times and bad, and will be stronger and better for the experience. I found visiting happy and sad, great to spend quality time with Zack, and to speak to him about his hopes and aspirations for the future, a future that proudly includes South Africa. Sad to know he is now a man, capable of making his own way in life without us. I am proud of you, Zack, and look forward to seeing you and Rud's soon. Enjoy the rest of your stay , and your well deserved upcoming holiday with one of the loves of your life.