|Posted on December 18, 2018 at 6:40 PM||comments (0)|
It's almost Christmas and we are looking forward to having all our family here together again.
It has been a busy time since we got back from Africa and the good news is that we have got the flight tickets for Joseph and Nairesho's trip to Australia. (Joseph and his wife Nairesho, for those who dont know, are the Kenyan maasai family we have been friends and living with for the past 20 years.) They arrive on 4th April 2019, and will be with us for a total of 10 weeks, half of which will be spent on a road trip going through the centre of Australia then via Mt. Isa and Longreach over to the east coast where Joseph finally gets to meet our son Nathan,... something he has looked forward to for many years. We have the tickets, insurance, letter of invitation etc etc, all we have to do now is apply for the Australian visa, which they have to do at their end, with the help of our letter, and cant be done until beginning of January... so we are all keen to hurry up and get this process finalised. Naturally there is no way they could afford this trip without us funding it... so we have to say a BIG THANKYOU to all our customers who have donated to make this very special CULTURAL EXCHANGE happen.
Anyone wishing to meet Joseph and Nairesho can visit our gallery on any weekend in April, although Nairesho might find it all a bit daunting for her, as she doesnt speak english yet!!! However Joseph does, and loves a chat.!
Back at the galler;y, we have expanded our gift shop, and created new Icy drinks on the menu, with a possibility of new things to come.!!
So we would like to wish everyone a SPECTACULAR christmas season and a even better New Year.
|Posted on August 1, 2018 at 9:00 PM||comments (0)|
The last third of our trip this year was to sell Huberta, (the camper). Amazing how a vehicle could rake up so much emotion when you go to say goodbye to it.... but it was true.
On our last night at Mabula, we saw Nightcam pick up a great video of the Genet who came through again, and actually stopped and looked at the camera this time, we were pretty stoked with that. On our trip into Bela Bela, for supplies, we actually met the previous owners of Huberta.!! They saw her in the carpark and came running out, was very interesting learning about her previous life, seems, she was much bigger than she is now!! We also stopped in a small community shop along the road where the local community pull together to sell their wares. We like to support these places, as these are the type of people who need the support most. so we managed to find a few things for the shop back home.
On our way to Hluhluwe game park, we needed to stop for the night, and stumbled upon a place at Jozini. Right at the top of the hill was a lookout where i got out to take a photo, and a young guy came out to greet us. It was only because he saw the elephants on the side of our car that he came out to investigate. Well, it ended up being, that right next to this lookout is a community help centre, called SPACE FOR ELEPHANTS FOUNDATION, (hence why he noticed the ele's on our car) , much of the ele's and other wildlife here at the nature reserve below had been poached out over the years, so some caring international people who visited, took up the challenge to reverse the damage already done. Long story short, we were invited in to camp there, and around the fire that night, we learnt of the way the foundation was trying to ressurect the elephant population AND teach the local people how to LIVE with wildlife. One of their fundraising options is to make ELEPHANT DUNG PAPER, which they deomonstrated to us in the morning. The other off-spin from this, is that when they go to the schools to teach the children about living with the ele's, they also learn the importance of not throwing their litter on the ground and keepimg all their papers. (littering is a BIG problem in much of Africa). The logic is, that they need all the scrap paper to mulch down, plus they need the elephant dung to mix with the paper.... so it is important to have the elephants around, otherwise, they cannot achieve their business in making the Elephant Dung Paper!! It is a good incentive and one that is working!! Naturally, Bob saw a great comparison in his brick maker that he took to Bangladesh years ago, amd the way they make the ele paper,..this got them all very excited, cause you make bricks out of paper to use for cooking etc instead of burning wood or charcoal. They loved the idea, so now we are sending over the paper brick maker we have at home. If anyone else has one of these gadgets and doesnt want it, i am happy to send it over as well.
In Hluhluwe game park (spoken as: shush Loo ee) Our highlight was finding a family of Rhino on the side of the road. Strangely enough mum, dad and baby all together. The big highlight was when mum wanted to come over and check out our car. Seems she wasn't too sure about us and needed a closer look.:mad: she walked right up to the front, had a good sniff, deemed it be ok, and wandered back to the family again. So COOL!!!
Our travels to sell Huberta took us down to the coast, where we finally found a buyer. Seems simple enough doesn't it. It was,... The real trick was in GETTING THE MONEY OUT OF THE COUNTRY... Oh yes, the lovely couple who bought Huberta first tried, for an hour and a half, to make a international transfer through the bank, ~ just as we did to buy Huberta in the first place. For us into Africa, easy.... OUT of Africa. NOT SO EASY.!! No, he could not do a transfer, so we ended up taking the cash, which, ended up being a HUGE F A T wad of cash, which is something i REALLY did not want to be carrying around in Africa..,but, now, no choice. So our new problem began... , we cannot take that much cash out of the country, So again, we need to find a way to transfer it. Took us a full 5 days before we could find a way to actually get the cash to Australia.
Stupid isn't it.... they just want to make sure that the money was brought INTO the country first before they let it go OUT the country again, and even though we have bank statements showing that, the banks still don't want to part with it. Just another reason why we would never live Africa.!!! THE SIMPLEST JOBS DEFY BELIEF !!!!
So,after spending a few fun nights with our in-laws, Erna and Johan, who came to the rescue for us again, in a BIG way, we gave away most of our excess stuff to a local security guard at the caravan park, dropped off Huberta to the new owners, who had been exceptionally patient and understanding & generous; and then headed back to Jo'burg next morning.
I spent many hours trying to pack all the stuff from our camper as well as all the new items we bought for the shop, into our 4 bags limit we're allowed to take home. With that job done, we managed to spend our last 3 nights with some friends we met back in 2014 at Elephant Sands. It is so nice catching up with people again that you meet along the way. We had a wonderful time with Ros, Natasha and the family and have to thank them for their help and hospitality, particularly at short notice.
Once again, Gail was there to pick us up at the airport, and within the first 4 hours of being home, we were woken to explosions and a house fire just over the river from us. Luckily it was sheds on fire, (albeit full of rare & vintage motorcylces etc) but no-one was hurt,... but yes, initally, hearing the blasts, our minds whent straight back to Africa.
Well, that was our last trip to Africa for at least 4 years. In leiu of us travelling to Africa, next year we bring Joseph and Nairsho here to Australia and then also 2021, it will be Samson and Purity's turn to come to Australia.
So in the meantime, we have to get our GALLERY up and ready for the summer season, where we hope to raise that money to fund their trips, and as usual, give Sheldricks their annual donations. Looks like it's back to work for us,.... so, bye for now, and don't forget,...... treat each day like it's your last, challenge yourself occassionally and put yourself outside your comfort zone.... it's amazing how good you feel afterwards.!!!!
|Posted on July 10, 2018 at 2:05 PM||comments (0)|
As we sleep, the night time critters come to visit our camp. The first time we have used our new NIGHT CAMERA and it’s great to wake up and see who comes around. See the 1st night cam video in the video page.
We have bumped slowly over corrugated tracks, traversed over sandy dunes, been out in the bush most of the time, and poor Huberta (our expedition camper) getting scratched and beaten by bushes and branches has rolled along strong every inch of the way. She is a good little camper, doing what she is made to do…. get us anywhere we need to go…. And she does it well.!! Will be sad to see her go when we sell her this trip.
So far, all this trip has been SAFARI in the bush. We visited the South African side of the Kgalagadi this time, Kgalagadi Transfrontier. We were told not to judge the park as we see it this year, as this is the LEAST amount of wildlife they had ever seen here. (comment from a couple who come here every year). Actually we found that EVERY park we have been to so far, was very quiet compared to other years. The Central Kalahari seemed eerily EMPTY, a huge change from last time we were here.
Back in the Transfrontier, we stayed 11 nights, in each of the main camps as well as Bitterpans, where it is a pity we did not start using our night camera then, because in the morning we found both Lion and Leopard prints pass by our cabin and would have been great to see the video.
Sadly, in a different place, we came across one Leopard who was laying in the middle of the road. Was still breathing, but not very responsive. We thought he will surely die, but to this day, I am not sure what happened to him, as we heard reports of a sickly leopard a few days later, still alive and responsive enough to growl, so we don’t know. Is hard to find something like that, because our basic instinct is to help it…. But out here, unless it is caused by human hands, you must watch nature control it’s own world.
Our best sightings up to date were 3 cheetah who we saw about 300mts to our left under a bush. We waited… it was obvious they wanted to hunt, they eventually walked over towards us, checking us out as they came. They crossed the road in front of us and settled under a bush just 15-20mts up right of us. We were really excited to have such a close view, and they took turns in sitting up to check the area for would-be lunch meals. Then, they saw a Springbok that looked possible and the 3 of them trotted up the road away from us. Two went into the bush and the third stayed back, it was an obvious calculation of all being in the right place. When the action happened, it was fast, and sad to say, we had a bushy tree in front of the real action so missed most of it…. But… the cats walked back tired and hungry. They missed their target, and we could see the springbok standing back behind the cats as they walked back up the road towards us again, and then off into the bush.
We had seen another good sighting of a pack of Cheetah who where eating their kill, with a Jackal laying only a few meters from them, waiting his time before he could get in there to grab a piece. The cats got annoyed with him and one of them gave chase to scare him away. They moved their lunch away, but left what looks like the stomach which the Jackal took for his own lunch.
The one and only LIONS we have seen to date was a good sighting, as they had just crossed the road, so close enough to see easily as they walked up to a tree for a rest. Mum needed to be on the out-look, so went a little higher and watch over the terrain with a eagle eye while the 2 cubs (6-12 mths old) played or waited under another bush. We were with them for about 30 minutes.
We were lucky enough to catch sight of a pair of HONEYBADGERS in Central Kalahari. I say this, because their fur blended so well in the low grey bushes. Like all sightings here, you may only get a glimpse of something way in the distance, or in the shadows, before checking it out to see what it is. I did not expect to see the Honey badgers during the day, but we did learn that you will usually find a few GOSHAWK and JACKAL around where the Honey badgers are fossicking, because they know they can get the small critters that run from the other adjoining holes to get away.
We also visited Marakele game reserve. A place we knew nothing about, but needed to camp for a night. This was a really awesome game reserve with camping overlooking the water hole which allows all the wild life to visit your camp, except the Ele’s. (we were surprised to learn that this is a Big 5 park). In the morning we decided to drive up to the lookout on the other side of the tunnel, this was long steep single road with a steep drop off. Yuk. But the views were awesome. Along the way is where we found a decent size herd of elephants, with many young ones, just in the bushes on the side of the road. Then we watched as the big bull ele, lifted his trunk to smell us and the area around. From there he moved out of those bushes and across the road. We waited as a few more ele’s crossed the road, and once the big bull, who apparently was in full Musst, was gone down the road further, we moved on. As we passed the herd in the bushes just to our left, one of the mums gave us a good head shake and bit of a trump,, then as we drove around the bend, we could see the big bull in the bushes to our left up ahead. Bob chose to give him space and check him out first to make sure the bull was easy with us moving on, but as we went to go, another car passed us and the big bull was no longer happy to stay in the bushes, and came back out onto the road heading our way. We waited, but it was obvious HE wanted right of way, so we did an about face and drove back to where the herd was until he had vanished into the bush once more. He was a BIG BOY that you didn’t want to play with.!!
Giraffe have given us some entertaining viewing this trip. A group of giraffe were all having ‘sparring’ sessions one morning, but one pair were particularly good, and in my photo you can see the back hoof of the giraffe up over the other ones head and neck, who was trying to trip him over… almost succeeded.!! Pity was not quick enough to get that one on video!! At a different waterhole, we watched a big boy giraffe come for a drink. Apparently, the side of the waterhole where he entered seems to be much lower that the other side, and he had an enormous amount of trouble trying to spread his front legs wider, then wider, then even W I D E R, as he tried to balance and reach down to snatch a drink. It was really hard work for this poor guy, but he did manage to do it once, before considering coming around the other side where it was a little easier. It is quite amazing to watch how hard it is for the giraffe to get a drink. With their heads down, they are very vulnerable and the blood does not get to their head, so they cant stay there long, but they also are very VERY cautious animals.
We have truly enjoyed our safari this time, spending much time camping and some time in chalets or guest houses, depending on where we are and what our needs are at the time. Currently we are in Mabula game park where we are using a week of our TIMESHARE. We LOVE this place. The 2 bedroom traditional African style chalet is tucked away in the bush, and with the big windows and glass doors, you feel right at home. The HORNBILL (my favourite bird here), monkeys and tree squirrels are our constant companions, (mind you the monkey came in and stole my chocolate bar off the coffee table as I was working), but most parts it is great. The only fencing here, a few meters away, is to stop the elephants from coming to your chalet, but everything else can. As we sat outside around our fire one night, we watched a group of BUSH PIGS make their way through, they have come a couple of times, as well as the Antelope who pass by, particularly at night, first one direction, around midnight, then back the other direction around 6 in the morning. We have had one cat pass by our night camera which we have in front of our chalet. We are not 100% what kind of cat it is yet, but the possibilities are GENET, SERVAL, WILD CAT, OR LEOPARD, all of which are around and can pass through anytime. These cats are mainly active at night.
How cool is this…. As I just went outside to have my lunch in the sun, a family of WARTHOGS come snooping around to see what they can find. At first they are unsure of us, they fossick around, then even come up to us, standing on our deck to see if we have anything. As much as I really love this, we don’t feed them, cause those tusks can be quite nasty if they don’t get their own way.
Well, there is too much to tell, but check out the photos in the gallery and don’t forget, I try to put videos in the video page, including our NIGHT CAM movie I made. So, let me close here, and I will update in another month or so, at the end of trip.
In the words of our land Rover friends. ONE LIFE…. …. LIVE IT.
|Posted on June 3, 2018 at 8:00 AM||comments (0)|
Well here we are again. Not planning on visiting Kenya this time, but threw it in at the last month. Only here for 2 or 3 weeks to visit the families before heading back to South Africa and Botswana for some serious safaris.!!
Short stop in south Africa to pick up our camper and get the 2 new fridges installed that we brought over from Australia with us; this job is being done while we fly to Kenya just to say hello to all our friends there and do a little bit of shopping for our gallery back home.
Grandma, who they believe is now 105 years old, really lit up her eyes when we walked in... we wanted to keep it a surprise for her. We were the ones who got a big surprise when we saw how well the girls food business is going. We paid to get them started last year, (makes sence seeing as tho we put Cate through college to her chefs tickets. Anyway, knowing how basic things are in the Githurai area, where they live, we did not expect too much... but we were quite surprised to see how they had set out their cafe with nice chairs and bench tops, tiled the floor, put up mirrors, a nice sign, even bought (paying off) a deep fryer and a glass case to put the chips in. They are doing well with what they have, but when we asked why they dont cook sausages and samosas, we learnt it was because they cant 'keep' them, they have no refridgeration. Well, considering how well they have been doing on their own back, we went to look for a new fridge to solve that problem. We also found a juicer so they can offer cold juice and now cold sodas. (have a fridge in that area is a BIG thing.!! they will be one of the only ones to offer such a range of food and drinks. If you look at the photos, you see Githurai is definitley not like Beverley Hills, so everyone has to make the most of what they have. They are working hard 6 days a week, so we dont mind helping!!
Naturally we went to Sheldrick elephant sanctuary to give them their annual donation which has been part of our fundraising from our Elephants Rest Gallery at home. This year we gave them 40,000ksh ( nearly $600-), so while that is down on other previous years, that is because we our fundraising has been split in two, as we are also preparing to bring Joseph and Nairesho (our maasai family) to Australia next April.
We decided to go back to Sheldricks at 5 o'clock when the babies go to bed. We were lucky enough to see Leyasan, Beverleys elephant who she sponsors, because he, and 3 other ele's were preparing to head to Tsavo in 2 days time. This is where they take the next few years to intergrate back into the wild.
We were also privledged to chat with Angela for a good 30 -40 minutes about the last book that her and her mother (Dame Daphne) worked on and completed just before she died on April 12th this year. I had wondered if the ele's new and responded on the day Daphne died,.... I could Angela tear up a bit as she recalled the events of that day,... as she says... they knew, and they were trying to console her in their own way that they do. We were very thankful that she signed that book for us, which we will cherish.
Finally we picked up our hire car, we were given a almost brand new luxury Land Rover, which was of course very comfortable and nice to drive.... but of -course, were we were headed, was not a place we wanted to take a brand new car. Yes we needed a 4 wheel drive, and the roads (what there are of them) are just major holes, ruts and muddy washaways waiting to grab anything it can. yes, many cars and trucks get bogged or stuck and you have to wait a long time to get through. But our concern was going through bushes and trees. We even got Joseph and Samson to cut paths in the bushes so we didnt scratch the car. As if we needed any extra stress.... the rains they have had in the past month has caused major flooding in many areas, roads cut off completely, and disasters waiting to happen. In one area, the ground had opened up and caused a huge split, but this was due more to a fault line than the rain. We learnt the road had only opened up to traffic again one or two days prior. (We were wondering what we had led ourselves into)
Yep, it was great to get to Joseph and Nairesho's place. He is really becoming a modern maasai... he has extended his flower garden, and made a big vege garden, (both are unheard of in maasai world). He now has the rain water tank that we organised last year, and it was great to have fresh water close by when we needed it.
We decided to go for a walk by ourselves one day down to the old spring, about 2 kms up the track. On the way we disrupted the entire school when we stopped to say hello, and had students clambering all round us. We eventually found a teacher who didnt mind, especially when he found out who we were. (being the ones who started a lot of things in that school). anyway, off we walked to check the spring and dam, then found Joseph on our way home. It was later that night that Amos, (Josephs brother and one of the rangers) called in to let Joseph know to put his electric fence on, as there was 4 or 5 lions who have come down to our area to hunt. The following day, they had injured one cow and killed 2 sheep up at the spring where we had just been walking. So, it is fair to say that when i woke up in the middle of the night wanting to go to the kitty tray,... there was slight bit of concern..... so as always, you open the steel house door, and shine your torch around before heading out to the loo, constantly checking for red eyes shining back at you. (red eyes for cats / green eyes for sheep, antelopes etc).
Speaking of TOILET experiences, let me elaborate just a little more. Once you have scoured the area for wild life, you walk to the tin shed that sits about 30mts away. As you open the door, the stench of a 'longdrop' (hole in the ground) hits you hard then you proceed to flash the torch around and chase away all the blowflies out of the bowl, (usually a day time activity) and again to see where the family of spiders have gone. Have they moved, or still in the same spot, and where are there new webs. We had 2 big long spiders above where we keep the toilet paper on the nail, then there is a 'red-bum' one who stays on one side, and one night i had the pleasure of sitting there watching a red'bum spider running up and back creating his web. All this going on as you try to balance on the porcaline toilet bowl that Joseph has managed to sit on a few rocks and timber about 6" off the ground. To his credit, he does try to make things as comfortable for us as possible.
Our few days here was spent at home, no safaris here, (too expensive here and more worried about the wet tracks and bushes on the new car to make it worth while), so, while the older boys were in Aitong one day, i was left the younger children, so i gave 4 of them a face-painting session. They have never seen this kind of thing before and thought it was hilarious. I made one into a zebra, another was a cheetah, then a butterfly and a lion. On another day, I only had Duncan with me, and he took great delight in drawing pictures with the pen and paper i gave him. (again, this small thing is pretty special to these guys). So after dinner one night, it was especially good fun when i gave pen and paper to all 4 boys who created great little drawering to be proud of.
Much of the rest of my time was spent trying to get a phone signal long enough that i could install whatsapp and facebook on my old Samsung smart phone i gave him. Naturally it took ages ( a few days to complete) but then was teaching him how to use it. Not easy for him, cause when you cant read much, you have to remember a lot of things, and we all know what technology is like for those of us who cn read!! Anyway, we kind of got there, and Samson, (our teacher) also came to visit and was a great help one day. On our last full day with them, i saw that Nairseho's phone was also broken and could not take photos, so, gave her Bobs old smaller samsung and spent my last few hours in the morning we left them, frantically trying to install facebook and trasfer photos into the phone for her.... then we went and bought a 8gb SD card so they could, at the very least, look at their photos.
As always, we took some eye drops for maasai mum, but we didnt take our full first aid kit this time, so i felt a little lost when i found mum sitting waiting for my return, with a gapping wound on her shin. She had been chopping with the long 'panga' (blade about 12 -15" long) and she missed and cut her leg instead. By the time i had arrived, it was no longer bleeding fresh blood and looked relatively clean, but i did not have ANY anticeptic with me, or bandages this time... so the best i could do, was clean it with salty water and put a large bandaid on there that i just happen to have,.... and left a few more normal bandaids with her. It is normal practise when we are there, that we become the local nurse and drug dispensary. Mum will have a good scar out of that one!!
A special day was held by the joined group of conservancies in the area. (something we are not particularly keen on), but anyway, they we having an opening ceromony for their new conference rooms and offices. We went along and enjoyed the entertainment of the maasai dancers and singers and the school students belting out their poems with much gusto and passion. The long procession of speakers however became a rather long ordeal, but that is normal here in Africa. They all LOVE to have their 5 minutes of fame on the microphone. I was given a Kanga (wrap material) carry bag with a book and hat in it. Naturally, we forgot our hats when we left Samsons on the day, not an issue for me, but every single time Bob has taken an akurbra style hat there, he has lost it... with out fail.
Saying goodbye to the family is always hard, but the day come and we kept telling Joseph and Nairesho that we will see them in Australia next year, (once we get the name corrected in Nairesho's new passport). it was a fitting end to our time there when we stopped to see a good size herd of elephants not far off the road. Beautiful to see them in the wild where they belong. So as we bounded and grinded our way to Samsons place we just kept hoping the rain will hold off just another day.
When we arrived at Samsons area, he rode his bike in front of us guiding us a way in that would not scratch our car, and once out of the car, we had children jump right up onto us and clamber around us, holding on and squeezing like we were fresh oranges. Even Purity, she squeezed and hugged so much, you could not but feel the intense emotion she felt.... they were very worried that IF it had rained, we would not call in for the over night visit, so a lot of relief and excitement all rolled into one. After our initial cuppa and chat Samson put on his video that he has been 3 years in the making. This is a very special movie of his life and the turns that took place for him to achieve his success of going to Uni and getting his degree as Bachelar of Education. As i said, this movie has been worked on for 3 years, starting at his graduation. He brought family and friends in to interview them and explain his battles along the way. The movie went for over 2 hours, and, as it was all spoken in maasai dialect, we could not understand a word of it, so he had to translate as it went. But we did know that the movie made to inspire younger people to work towards their goals and never give up. This movie was dedicated to us, which was shown a few times during the movie, and as he says, We were the reason he managed to reach his success. We have a lot of time for Samson, and very proud of him. In fact we greatly look forward bringing him and Purity to Australia in 2021, once baby Cheryl is old enough to leave with other family members.I am proud to say that Baby Cheryl is my Name sake, but also happy for them, for after having 3 boys and a last chance at having a girl,... like everything in his life..... it happens.
I think i have babbled on well and truely. We are now in Nairobi having a last day of relaxing before we fly out tomorrow morning. Have to admit, when we got here last night, it was nice to be back where we could have an actual shower and wash y hair with running water etc. and when we slid into bed, it was so nice to feel crisp clean sheets that actually fitted and the bed and tucked under the mattress,-- to have a thick doona and big soft pillows,...--- it's the little things that you miss and appreciate..... but..... after having been enduring bedbugs a few times on this trip, it all came flooding back as the mosquitos kept us awake for the next few hours, so at 5am, we got up, re-arranged the mosquito net to tuck it up under the mattress, kill the multitude of mozzies who where also inside the net, and FINALLY,.... we got some sleep. (til 7am when Joseph rang to say goodbye... again).
Ah, it's the little things, so it;s time to enjoy a nice drink, and enjoy a pizza that Bob has ordered earlier in the day.
Tomorrow, we are back to South Africa, (where we will sell our camper before we leave at end of July), in the meantime, we are going to enjoy a lot of safaris that we have missed out on in the last couple of trip.
BRING IT ON!!!!
|Posted on February 13, 2018 at 9:15 PM||comments (0)|
We ended up spending a full week with our in-laws on the coast, had a wonderful relaxing time catching up again after a couple of years. Also caught up with our Belgium boys again spending another week with them, visiting Plattenburg on the coast all the way back to Hermannus to see the whales.... sadly, the weather was so rough that day the whales stayed out under the deeper water for the duration.
On the way back to Jo'burg we did not expect to see the SNOW on the mountains, a real surprise, but very beautiful.
We also stopped in a farm shop on the main road, got talking to the owners over lunch and eventually took them up on their very kind offer and stayed for the evening braii and overnight in their chalet. The one great thing about travelling, is that you get to meet some really awesome people along the way and at the same time, you learn a whole lot more about living in the country as a local.
Next we stopped at Kimberley GOLD MINE. With a very long history, it was quite a experience to walk through the mine itself and the old original town which boomed at the time.
Back in Jo'burg, our good friends Philip and Erika had organised a fun farewell party for us....they know how to make you feel loved and missed!! and our last job of the trip was to take back our carnet forms which show we have delivered the car back into South Africa... VERY important.
So, it wasn't long and we were back home in the folds of our own good family, and Saturday night had Venessa and myself visiting the old Strathalbyn Players 50th anniverary night. We had acted in a play there together back in early 2000's, so it was a nice way to celebrate my 60th birthday at the same time. A few weeks later we had a even bigger surprise when Nathan, our son. flew down from Brisbane for a epic surprise. Yes, there were tears of joy!!
Naturally come October, we were back into opening our home and gallery to the public each weekend. This is our way of raising funds to support Sheldrick Orphan Elephants in Kenya, and now our current project will also take in raising funds to bring Joseph and his wife Nairesho (our maasai friends/family) to Australia for a 2 month CULTURAL EXCHANGE in April 2019.
So concludes the 2017 adventure and we have already booked ticked tickets for May 2018 when we will head to Namibia and Botswana for a total SAFARI experience. Game parks all the way.!!! The life we LOVE.
See you on the road sometime!!!
|Posted on August 6, 2017 at 5:00 AM||comments (1)|
The final stretch......
It took us while, but we both got over the flu bug, or what ever it was after spending 3 days resting at a lovely place with a tuscan feel just down the road a bit from Berlin Falls. Graskop is one of Bobs favourite towns, usually cause he has a antique store that he is fond of... but also, there are some stunning areas to look out of, one being Gods window, and the areas around it, which are full of scenic spots and waterfalls. Next we arrived back at our friends place in Jo'burg, where i spend one entire day just wrapping and packing our souvies and shopping, then we drove an hour out to a little town called Parys for breakfast and check out the curios there. A braii (BBQ)at the end of the day is always a good way to go, in any part of the world you are!!
Back on the road we head south, going through the very beautiful mountain pass of Prince Albert. South Africa is full of mountain passes, each of them high & steep with very narrow dirt roads, some have strong switch-backs, but all have stunning views,- then finally reaching Plettenburg Bay. We had finally got to the coast!!! We stayed one night here at a camp site with a peacock as a dinner guest, (we often have cats and dogs which we enjoy), checked out the beach and the shops, found the table cloth weights i had been looking for, and eventually made arrangements to meet up with our belgium guys again,.. who were also heading this way from Namibia for a final meet up. We found a 2 bedroom unit with with full kitchen, laundry etc, which was only $3 more for each person a night than it was to camp at the camp sites,.. so seemed a good idea, especially with the rain that was suppose to be coming down on us. So, the first day, Micheal had to go to the hospital and try to find out why he cant move his neck,... after 5 hours waiting, they gave up and came back, so we have been treating it ourselves, ... in the meantime it gave me LOTS of time to catch up on their WEEKS of laundry.... (yes guys, if ever you get to read this blog.... you will remember this)!!! So it made it a nice evening to go out to the waterside restaraunts for drinks and dinner. The fact that the boys stayed out a lot longer than us last night, means that none of us are in any hurry this morning and i have time to catch up on my website.!!
With only a few weeks in Africa left for us, we intend to spend time with our friends and in-laws, Erna and Johan, will be so good to see them again at Mossel Bay, not far from here, (hence our journey down south to the coast) then it is back to Jo'burg to take Philip and Erika to a resort for our final week together and a thankyou for looking after Huberta (the camper) and us.
So, this may well be the final blog i will write for this trip, we are due home on the 4th of Sept. which we are looking forward to getting back there and seeing our family again. A few days later, the 9th of Sept will be my 60th birthday and by the end of Sept. Nathan and Ina should be giving birth to their 2nd son....when Ness, Jamie and their 2 girls will be visiting Nat and Ina. so lots of things to look forward to.
So, it's bye for now everyone. Thanks for coming along for the ride.
|Posted on July 27, 2017 at 5:55 AM||comments (2)|
Finally everything was sorted in Kenya and we 'ran-the-gauntlet' as you have to driving through Tanzania. Police stop check points are around every corner and at some places, we were stopped even less than 2 klm in one stretch. Knowing how hard they are on speeding and knowing most of their tricks of the trade, at one time, we did get fined for speeding, doing 67 in a 50 zone, so even tho we paid the $30- fine, we also explained to them the importance of using a radar gun on a straight line. Our pic ( which was shown to us on a I.pad) was taken from back deep on the side of the road, while on a strong bend, so we politely advised them that it is proven that those circumstances do actually give a FALSE READING.!! Yep, sure that told them..!!!! but at least we had a valid argument!
We made our way to Lake Victoria where we camped on the shoreline and enjoyed watching a kids birthday party, with a few marquees and lots of special treats etc, including Mickey Mouse,.. we were quite surprised to learn it was all for a 1 year old... but, we were given cake and invited to join the adults later for supper and drinks.
We finally reached Zambia and arrived at Kapisha Hot springs at 9pm at night. Yep, it was as good as we remember, camping on the river edge again and i love watching the bubbles creep up out of the sand in the hot springs, which really is... hot. We booked for 3 nights, and we were really happy when the Belgium guys who we met couple of nights ago finally arrived also. They got held up 4 hours at the border post!! So after changing the shocks on their Landrover, we all ended up travelling together for what became 12 days. They actually made the trip so much fun, always getting excited when a truck load of overlanders came along hoping there would be some nice girls on it. We were told Central Kalarhari park was full, so even tho it was our first choice to visit, we decided it was a long way to go just to wait at the gate IF they were really full, (which usually is not the case). Instead we went into Chobe n.p. where our 'ready-made' family (Sten & Micheal, the belgium boys) continued with us. They took us up some road where we had to have 3 attempts at getting up the sandy track, was lots of fun.
Aside from seeing heaps of giraffe and elephants, and a couple of lions there, it was a very sobering experience as we watched a young herd of ele's standing vigil over a dying a elephant taking her last breathes. One of the older ele's gently resting her trunk on the dying ele who was laying down, giving support that she was not alone. We know elephants are strongly family orientated and they mourn their loved ones as we do. In Stens photo, you could easily see the tears and we all felt the pain the herd was feeling.
It was sad to see that in the same park we came across another young baby ele who had a bad leg. We watched the baby lean against a tree, then the mother was pushing her to walk on, .. as she crossed the road in front of us, we see her having to drag her back leg in obvious pain, which made us realise why the mother had to push her so much to walk on. On yet another occasion in Kruger, we found another bull elephant walk on the road in front of us with a hugely swollen rear leg... you just know what the outcome is going to be, and you could just imagine the pain it was suffering being THAT swollen. These are reminders of how harsh life is out here, and it is not simply all cute and cuddly awwwe gee moments, it's life, it's hard.
Bob has been trying to fight off what we think is a flu for the past 4 weeks which he originally got in Kenya. We had already booked & paid to into Kruger park here in South Africa, but the day before we entered we managed to find a doctor in the main town, he explained why the medication we had been taking was doing more harm than good and put us on anit-biotics. That night, Bobs temp went up 39degrees, we finally got it down, but the 2 days we had booked in the game park was a bit of a waste.... we went on a couple of game drives but ended up coming back early just so we could rest up and have a sleep. So from there, we booked into The Berlin Falls Country Estate for 3 days just to give ourselves a real rest and not do anything... just to try to clear our bodies of this nagging luuurrrggggyy... it is a beautful and quiet spot to recover.
One of the consistent things we have been doing along the way was shopping for the gallery. Certain things, like the animal print wraps we could only get in Kenya, while some of the soap stone and timber things are best bought down in South Africa, it is a benefit that have learnt these things over the years.
Tomorrow we head back to where we started at Philip and Erikas place in Jo'burg, where we drop off our bundles of shopping and spend the weekend before heading way down south to Mossel Bay, right on the coast. Here we hope to hook up with Sten and Micheal again and spend 1 or 2 weeks with our friends and in-laws for some good catch up time.. I am looking forward to see if Sten has kept the 'Angry Bob' moustashe.
Well, lets see if i cant get some photos in the gallery this time. Bye all. Remember the motto: One Life - Live It.
|Posted on June 24, 2017 at 12:30 PM||comments (0)|
Let me tell you, it has been an extremely long and very slow drive,… not for the faint hearted.
For 10 days solid we did nothing but get up, drive,(sometimes in the dark) find dinner, (cooker not working) sleep and drive again. 75 -80% of the way is spent doing less than 50 kms an hour, due to such badly pot holed roads, town boundaries, which go on long after the town has finished, and the all important slow up HUMPS, of which there are hundreds. Fair to say it was NOT an enjoyable exercise.
The first couple of days in Botswana where the highlight of the time, due to the elephants & a giraffe who where crossing the road, and the bull elephant who visited the water hole where we camped at Elephant Sands for a night, but, aside from that, it was extremely tedious. We have driven a total of 4932 kms from South Africa, through the painstaking border controls of Botswana, Zambia, (the most expensive) Tanzania (where our GPS stopped working) and finally Kenya, so for those of you interested in stats and considering doing this trip:-. Our diesel bill came to au$711-, our camp sites/accommodation came to $174- and the total of our border fees and visas came to $770- making it a total of $1655- just for the pleasure of driving here. We are not looking forward to the return trip!!
Some-one once said to us that if you are going to cross Africa, you should start at the top and work your way down south, as the countries get better, easier to manage and more enjoyable as you go…… that was the way we did our last expedition here,… but this time,…. Yes, we seem to of tested that theory and confirm they are right,…. Cause as you drive northward, each new country is just that little more harder to handle than the last. By the time we reached Kenya, we had had enough!!
Let me give you an idea with just ONE of the average things that test your patients… Pull into the chaos that is in every border post,- bikes, people, cars and trucks everywhere with no idea where to go, but men trying to push you and tell you where to go, so they can get a few bucks out of it…. eventually you find the office to get your visa stamped etc, that is always the easy part, but because we are driving a car from a different country, we have to have a ‘carnet’ stamped, (this is like a passport for the car and very important). You may have to go to 4 or 5 different offices to get all things paid and stamped.
Anyway, the carnet, We hand over our booklet and she looks and reads it like she has never seen one before, (this is in most border posts), they read every section in great detail, walk s l o w l y over to see the car, discuss things with other staff members, look at the book again, then, as if she was taking instructions off google, she copied down all the details with the entire process taking a good 30-40 minutes. She tells us it will cost $55- for the road tax, but(this one) has to be paid in Kenyan money,… naturally we don’t have any yet, because we have only now just reached their border,… so once again, Bob is shown the way to an ATM about a km down the road inside their border, so he sets off walking to get the 4,100 kenyan shillings…… finally back he comes and told to pay at the other window,…. Ok, not hard, but wait, now we can’t pay by cash, no no, they do not use cash here, we have to use MPESA…. Which is a money transfer using your phone…… which of-course, you guessed it, we don’t have an Mpesa account yet, because we have not entered the country. AARRGGGHHH.. So another local guy who was also waiting, allowed us to use his Mpesa account, and after the 2nd time, it actually worked and the road tax was paid. Such is the stupidity and mentality that you have to deal with and test your patience to the very end when you deal with these countries.
Once through the border into Kenya, we were in a very typical town which look worse every time we come. Oh yes, This was our (un) lucky day. Yep, there was HUGE precession taking up the entire length of the very congested main road. It is ELECTION time coming up, so cars where booming with loud speakers and people were strewn across the road, motor bikes weaving in and out and total chaos ruled. Luckily as we sat in the line of frustrated drivers, a police unit passed us, and told us to follow them, we went up the next street round the corner, (where I photographed the many coffins on display for sale) until we got further up the to the front of the procession, but even that was not enough, and the officer was SO furious, he got out his car and stopped traffic to let his driver, and a few of us through. Thank heavens for him, cause we would have been there a lot longer. Naturally the heavy black clouds burst at the seam, and torrents of muddy water ran down the dirt streets. It was dark by the time we found our way to Samson’s place at 8pm, so we were so relieved to finally reach our 1st destination where we could chill out for a couple of nights.
Seeing Samson (our teacher we supported) & his family again was awesome, even tho we did spend an entire afternoon setting up his laptop we gave him a few years ago and his phone so he could finally use a hotspot and send and receive emails from the comfort of his home. Naturally their was great excitement when we finally arrived at Joseph’s house where we planned to spend 3 weeks here in Massai land.
Luckily we have already had a group of men come here to Josephs house to view the Boran cattle we want to sell, and, it looks like they are all sold.
To fill in time we went to visit our Kikuya girls Suzy and Cate in Githurai, 15kms out of Nairobi. Grandma, who is now 90 years old, still insists each time, that I stay there and Bob goes home… this has become her little joke over the many years. Cate now has a one year old daughter named Debra and Suzy is still footloose and fancy free! After much discussion we agreed to start the girls off in the small restaurant business they have talked about for a long time. Seeing as though we put cate through college where she got her Chef degree, it seems a obvious choice to get them started in their own business, which they started 4 days ago. The report last night is that they have got customers coming and liking it and so far doing very well. Bob also took the chance to show off his skills at making scones, so taught the girls his tricks of trade so they may also use them.
While in Wildebeest camp we thought we could finally cook on our gas cooker, yayyy,…. DISASTER AVERTED; The photo was taken just before the pipe burst and flames were licking the side of our camper right up to the awning at top, which luckily was not open…. But, thank heavens for Bobs quick thinking to turn the gas off at the bottle which is inside our camper.
We also visited Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary as planned, so we could give them the donation money that has been collected ($1000-au) from our gallery at home over the summer season.
While there, we picked out a lovely 3 year old ele for my sister Bev who was keen to foster and help the sheldrick team do what they do best. Rescue and rehabilitate orphan ele’s and rhino.
While in Nairobi, we managed to do a bit of shopping for the gallery back home. This is something we will do for the remainder of the trip as we go through the countries.
We also met Tash who is at the start of her 10 week adventure backpacking around Africa. Ended up that Tash came back to Josephs place with us, so was fortunate enough to see what maasai life is like up close and personal. Her first safari was awesome and she got to see almost everything, except rhino and cheetah. (cheetah are becoming far harder to find these days, it is very worrying). On Tash’s 2nd safari however, she learnt the hard way about what life can be like here in Africa, and it gave some good life lessons she will use for the rest of her adventures here. One great legacy she has left me and the family with, is how to get TICKS off the dogs!! Not that I expect the family to do anything about it, but at least while we have been here, we have de-ticked, de-flea’d and given the dogs a handful of kibble each day which makes them look and act much better now.
We did have one day where we were watching some women doing their washing, then found everyone throwing rocks at some poor unfortunate critter. I saw it was a small snake that was being pelted with rocks, so Bob calmly walked over there, stood above it, and slammed a rock on it's head to kill it properly and end it's agony,... then calmly walked away with all everyone in awe of the brave masungu!!
As far as Huberta goes, she is running well, but we have had our first flat tyre we have ever had in all these 19 years of driving through Africa.
The update with our cattle is that Samson did buy the bull, but the other 3 men failed to pay, so we did manage to sell them to a person we know of here which was a great blessing… as was the relief I felt when we got an injured cow that we asked to be slaughtered a year ago, and wasn’t…. well it is now!! The on-going saga of Joseph selling his sheep to pay for the last 6 heifers he wants, still continues.
WE have been in Africa for 6 weeks now and still not had a safari or holiday… so, today we headed to Lake Navaisha for a few days Rest and Relaxation by ourselves for a change. It is fair to say, as I always do, Kenya is hard work and test of endurance and patience, so it is no surprise that we are holding out for next Thursday, when hopefully all our money will be paid to us and we can leave Kenya and start our holiday, starting when we lap up the warmth of Kapisha Hot springs in Zambia.
|Posted on May 13, 2017 at 4:00 AM||comments (1)|
G’day everyone, yes we are now sitting in our friends home here in South Africa, preparing ‘Huberta,’ our new camper for the next 4 months of travel.
We will leave here in about a week or so, head up to Kenya via Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania before reaching Kenya and our Kikuya & Maasai family and friends there around the beginning of June.
So, just giving you a heads up, will try to keep things short and sweet. Strap yourself in, get comfy and try to enjoy the ride.... and we are busting to hit the road!!!
|Posted on January 25, 2017 at 8:05 AM||comments (0)|
A very BELATED update here... but....Back on the road, and like we said, we changed our mind about going home down the middle through to Ayres Rock, and instead opted to visit to Nat and Ina in Queensland, just a mere 1000km detour..... or that is what i thought!!! In actual fact, it was an extra 3000kms detour to get to their place in Brisbane,.... but still, a very good choice, cause we also saw lots of other interesting things along the way!!!
So, giving you the super quick short version, and hoping the pictures will go in the gallery to show you better!!!.....
Please excuse the lack of detail here, and may'places' well be out of order, but, part of our trip anyway...
The surrounding areas around Winton & Mt. Isa was interesting for it's DINOSAUR finds and excavations. Apparently it really did put Australia on the map.... even Sir David Attenborough was here to do a show about it!! U was also facinated by the UNDERGROUND HOSPITAL that was built in the fear that the bombing from up north, may be a reality here and so they prepared for the worst by building the underground hospital. My photos also show the TENT HOUSES that was very much a part of life here for many years.
Also in Winton was where the poem WALTZING MATILDA was written and sung for the first time. Gail also had her birthday here, but we didn't do the watzing matilda re-enactment for her... i know... we were slack!!!
In Mt. Isa itself the information centre and museum showed good displays of heritage of this mining town.
In LONGREACH the main highlight for us was the AUSTRALIAN STOCKMAN HALL OF FAME. Truely this is a must see place and gives a entire new respect to our good old aussie men and women who built this great nation!! We learnt a lot at the hall of fame, but even from the guy who was sitting out front with his cow in the morning, we also learnt a lot from him.... just talking about cattle and how they manage themselves etc. Later in the evening we went to the Stockmans dinner show which was fun to watch and enjoy the antics going on.
We were not aware that CROCODILE DUNDEES WALK-ABOUT CREEK HOTEL was on our way, so as we passed, we HAD to turn in and check it out.... as you do!!!! and naturally we HAD to stop for a quick beer in the bar where they have lots of photos and memoribilia from the film. In fact, it was around the 30th anniversary!!
Moving along, we went through Emerald and a few of those towns where people spend lots of time fossiking for GEMS. We had a look at what was going on and on the night we stayed in RUBYVALE, there was a show at the grounds just across the road from our campsite,... so we wandered across to listen to the live music and watch the stunning fireworks. Makes for a different night out when your just travelling the road so long!!!
We made our way up to the coast of Rock Hampton and from there basically followed the coast down to Brisbane where we finally said goodbye to Gail, and we went on to see Nat and Ina and little Jye. Great to spend a week with them.... even found time to go see the Air show that was on at the time. All too soon it was time to head home again, where we had a few preparations to make before opening our gallery to the public again in October.
So, that my friends is the short version..of a very long detour!!
Now, we are preparing for our next trip to Africa in May when we will pick up our new (2nd hand) camper that we have bought and leave with our friends in South Africa. (we have not seen this vehicle yet, lots of photos and details, so we are excited to actually see it). We will stay with our friends in South Africa for the first week, then head off driving through Botswana, Zambia etc til we get to Kenya to visit our maasai family again, and Suzy, Cate and Grandma, our Kikuya family, stay for about 5 weeks in Kenya then make our way back stopping in game parks on the way. So i guess i will be making up-dates as i go.
So friends, with a brand new year waiting to be explored,... i hope you all get to make the most of 2017 in the way you all personally most desire,.... for dreams and wishes are different for everybody. Hope you enjoy 2017.