Africa, Aitch, Family & Kids, Travel Africa

On Safari with a Bushman – 3. Cook’s Tour

Cook’s Tour:

Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique via Botswana. We only had a month, so not as leisurely as we would have liked. Can hardly believe it was fourteen years ago! The kids are now 19 and 15!

Mostly we drove at a leisurely pace and didn’t do great distances. We did put in a long day of driving on four stretches, which allowed us to chill most other days: Lusaka to Chipata in Zambia; Blantyre in Malawi to Tete in Mocambique; Tete to Vilanculos in Mocambique, and lastly Zavora to Nelspruit back in South Africa were all long-hauls. On those days we left early with the kids strapped in and sleeping. We’d drive for hours before breakfast. Aitch always had food or entertainment for them.

LuangwaWithKids (1) Tom

For the rest our days were unhurried. Slowly with the windows usually down, as we didn’t use the aircon. Anyway, speeding and potholes are not a good combination. At places we liked we’d stay up to three nights. Each of our five three-night stays felt like a complete holiday on its own. The Bushman off-road trailer proved its worth at every stop.

Waterberg, South Africa

Zambia

On through Botswana and to the Zambian border at Kasane where a ferry carries you over the Zambesi. One of the ferries had dropped a big truck overboard and got damaged, so only one was in operation, which slowed things down. Took about four hours and we were safely across the Zambezi river in Zambia. Tommy took to the “fewwy” in a big way and called all boats fewwies for a while. The battered and half-drowned second ferry and truck and trailer were visible looking sad at the side of the river. The border post was pleasant enough. They charged us more for our “minibus” and tut-tutted sympathetically at my exaggerated protests that this was not a fee-earning taxi, but just our vehicle! Laughingly insisted “Well, sir, it’s the rules”. Had a good chuckle and they wished us well in their country.

In Livingstone we camped on the grounds of the Maramba River Lodge. It was full, so we squeezed in near the gate – not the best site, but quite OK. Lovely pool again. Drove to the falls at daybreak where a vervet monkey snatched Jess’ breakfast apple out of her hand. Our first sight of the falls from the Zambian side. Spectacular even though low.

Drove to Taita Lodge on the very lip of the Batoka Gorge downstream of the falls overlooking where we had rafted years before. A warm welcome and a great lunch on the deck hanging over the river. Ice-cold beer, great sarmies. Looked for Taita Falcons, saw Verreaux’s (Black) eagles soaring below. Tom & Jess banging on the dinner drum and xylophone was un-musical, but no other guests around, so no one minded – in fact the staff loved the brats and spoilt them with attention. I thought I’d better step up and perform as Aitch had been doing all the lessons and homework, so I taught them Cheers! Salut! and Prost!

Whoa!

On the way out of Livingstone we hit the best section of road we saw on the whole trip – brand new wide black tar with centre white stripe and side yellow lines! Amazing!

BUT: Just as we hit the smooth, the ole kombi died. Stat. Not a shudder or a hiccup first. Just suddenly nothing. That much-dreaded “CAR TROUBLE” thing! Well, after 197 000km I spose it’s OK. Unpacked the back and lifted the lid to stare at the engine. That’s my mechanical trick: I stare at engines.

Some school kids walked up and said ‘Don’t worry, they know a mechanic at the nearby village’, and the toothy one on the battered bicycle offered to go and call him. Sure, I said, not hopefully. “JP” from Gauteng, on his way to service some big crane, stopped his rented car and kindly offered his assistance. Soon he was joined (I was amazed) by Carl the mechanic, who arrived with a metal toolbox on his shoulder, and between the two of them they peered, prodded, unscrewed – and broke the distributor cap! Using mostly my tools and swallowing the ice-cold drinks I passed them, they eventually gave up. ‘Must be something computerised in one of these little black boxes’ was their verdict. Right!

‘There’s a VW agent in Lusaka’ says Carl cheerfully. Right! 200km away. As they’re about to leave, Carl spots a loose wire under near the sump. Finds another loose end of a wire and joins the two. VROOOM!! Apparently the wire was from a cutout switch to a heat sensor in the block. The kombi roared to life to tremendous applause! Well, four of us cheered. JP said ‘My pleasure’, Carl said ‘R200’, I said ‘Bargain’, Trish and the kids said ‘Thank you!’ and we were on the road again!

Next stop Lochinvar National Park at the south end of the Kafue National Park. We’d never heard of it but saw it on the map. Quite a bumpy road got us to the gate after dark. ‘Sorry, but you can’t go in’, said the soldier with a gun. ‘Sorry, but I have to’, said me. ‘You see, I can’t let these little kids sleep out here and nor can you, so hop onto your radio and explain that to your main man’. Back he came – ‘Sorry. The main man says the gate is closed’.  ‘You just didn’t explain it to him nicely enough’ I said – ‘Please tell him I can’t, you can’t and he can’t leave a 22 month old sleeping in the sticks’. Off he went and back he came. ‘The main man will meet you at the camp inside’. ‘You’re a marvel, well done, thank you!’ we shouted and drove in on a 4km free night drive in Lochinvar. No animals, but some nightjars. A primitive camp, so we rigged up our own shower. Nice big trees.

It has beautiful flood plain lakes in the middle of dry surroundings.

South Luangwa National Park in Zambia was my main destination – I had read about it for decades. It was everything and more I imagined. Flatdogs Camp just outside the park was a blast, too. Big shady trees, a hearty meal available if you didn’t want to cook, and a swimming pool with a slide. Jess loved it so much she wore a big hole right through the bumular zone of her cozzie.

Flatdogs pool. Jessica heaven. Wore a hole thru her cozzie!
Flatdogs pool. Jessica heaven. Wore a hole thru her cozzie bum!

We met an American Mom with three kids. She’d married a Zambian man in the USA and had shipped over a converted school bus to tour around Zambia.

Jess and the three ZambiYanks and their Schoolbus
Jess and the three ZambiYanks and their Schoolbus

Then into the park – a long-awaited dream. It was terrific. Saw puku antelope for the first time.

Sausage tree huge-er!
That huge tall Thornicroft’s giraffe suddenly looked small

To get there we had to drive from Chipata town – that dreaded road we’d been warned against! Well, the grader had been a few days ahead of us and it turned out to be one of the smoothest stretches of the whole trip!

Luangwa Road small_cr

On to Malawi

Chembe village on the shores of Lake Malawi, and freshwater snorkelling off Mumbo island in Lake Malawi, cichlid fishes, and bats and swifts in a water cave.

MalawiWithKids (5)
Chembe village beach fig tree, Lake Malawi

We stayed at Emmanuel’s. Fair-minded people will agree with my assessment of it as ‘luxury’ but Aitch veto’d that and stuck it firmly under ‘basic with roof’, even though the shower was almost en-suite.

Outside the room, Aitch was in heaven:

Mocambique

Leaving Malawi we crossed the wide Zambesi at Tete, where we stayed in a motel on the right bank as we wanted to head straight off the next morning. Probably Aitch’s least favourite lodgings of the trip – mozzies and an empty swimming pool. Leaving town two garages had no petrol. They said the word was that the town on the far bank had, so we crossed back over the Zambesi, filled up and crossed back again. The kombi liked that!

The mighty Zambesi at Tete

Our biggest luxury was three nights at Vilanculos Beach Lodge. Sea, sand, a bar, lovely food, huge soft beds, friendly staff. Especially João, who spoiled the kids rotten, writing up cooldrinks to our room number! They thought he was a wizard.

We took a boat to Bazaruto Island and then on to Two Mile reef offshore in the big Indian Ocean. Lake Malawi and Bazaruto were Aitch’s main snorkeling destinations and she LOVED them both! Two-Mile reef really is ‘like an over-stocked aquarium’.

Two-Mile reef

Two Mile Reef Bazaruto
Two Mile Reef, two miles east of Bazaruto Island off Vilanculos, Mocambique

Zavora Bay near Inharrime. Stunning lakes and a wi-ide bay; A reef at the point, so you can walk in and snorkel in sheltered water for a kilometre; Lovely cottages – houses, really, on top of the dunes overlooking the bay. Our best find in Mocambique. We hadn’t heard about it before and we fell in love with it. We agreed: “We MUST come back here one day!”

MocamWithKids (13)
Ponta Zavora, Mocambique
Zavora beach
One Child, One Beach

Here’s where the kids got sick. We tested them – high positive readings for malaria. Luckily the lodge owner gave us Co-Artem pills which we fed them and then set off early next morning for South Africa.

When we got to Nelspruit hospital they tested all clear! The Co-Artem had done its job perfectly!

Two Memory Highlights: The rivers – stunning! The Chobe, Zambezi, Kafue, Luangwa, Shire, the Zambezi again (at Tete it’s wi-i-ide and beautiful), the Save and the Limpopo rivers were all magnificent and welcome and we stopped and stared. South Africa has some lovely rivers, but these were wider, swifter-flowing and clearer.

The friendly people. Everywhere we went we were helped and fussed over and we heard laughter and “No Problem!”, and quite often: “Are these your children?”

Accommodation: We camped 14 nights; Basic shelter with roof 6 nights; Comfy lodgings 7 nights; Spoiled ourselves with luxury 5 nights;

Duration: Five 3-night stays; Three 2-night stays; Eleven 1-night stands;

================OOOOOO==================

Cook’s Tour: Thomas Cook (1808 – 1892) was an English businessman best known for founding the travel industry. In 1855 he took two groups on a ‘grand circular tour’ of Belgium, Germany and France, ending in Paris for the Exhibition. The expression ‘A Cook’s Tour’ was humorously used for any rapid or cursory guided tour: “If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium”.

Africa, Birds & Birding, Food, Travel, Travel Africa, Wildlife, Game Reserves

Five Forests

Just back from a Five Days, Five Forests birding trip to Zululand: Nkandla, Entumeni, Dlinza, Ngoye and St Lucia coastal forests.

My highlight was Ngoye, about which I’ve heard so much over the years. Especially after Aitch went without me: “Have you been to Ngoye Koos? Oh, no, I remember, you haven’t. So you haven’t seen the Woodwards Barbet then? I HAVE!” Only about a hundred times, she rubbed it in!

I hadn’t planned anything but once I’d walked in Nkandla I said to my Zululand birding guide Sakhamuzi Mhlongo, “Forget the coast and the vleis and farms – we’re sticking to forests, and so the Five Forests © & ™ idea came about. I think it’s a winner! Stay in the forests so dawn finds you right there with nowhere to drive.

COMFORT
Nights at the B&Bs and the Birders’ Cottage we cooked up a red meat storm, washed it all down with frosties and early to bed. On walks I took my binocs, telescope, rucksack and deckchairs. Mostly we simply found great spots like forest edges and parked. My guide Sakhamuzi was great and said (well, he would, wouldn’t he?) that he enjoyed sitting still. Said mostly birders want to rush from one spot to the next! I said he should get deckchairs and specialise in khehlas and gogos. ‘Charge a premium, carry a hebcooler and you’ll make your fortune, young man,’ was my advice to him! Call it Gugile Ancient Avian Gadabouts (GAGA) © & ™; Find a fruiting tree, and let the birds come to you.

I took plenty snacks and drinks in my rucksack, so the waiting was comfy, luxurious and munchy. Next time I’ll take some poncho or dark sheet to break the human outline – see if that fools the voëls.

We stayed two nights in the Birders Cottage in Ngoye. Perfect for getting up at five every morning and getting straight into the forest at first light. Saw and heard lots of birds which I’d seen before but had written BVD next to them (“better view desired”) and one great lifer. Yes, Aitch-in-the-clouds, I did the see the barbet, so I laid that bogey-bird to rest!

Barbet green

Ngoye Forest
Grass- and rocklands above the Ngoye Forest – and the Mitsubishi

WHEELS
Craig Naude’s magic Mitsubishi Colt 4X4 V6 3000 was superb. I needed first gear low ratio in places in the forest where the rutted tracks changed to slippery clay, and steep drops into stream beds meant equally steep climbs out of them. Boy heaven.

COASTAL FOREST
At St Lucia we got into the forest at dawn, too, then walked on to the mouth of the estuary by 6.30am and low tide. Waders and terns remain confusing to me, and the sooty tern Sakhamuzi hoped to spot had trekked back to Mozambique. Pity, as it’s one of the easier ones to ID. Oh, well, as the baby tern said to the mother tern: Can I have a baby brother? Certainly, said the mother tern: ‘One good tern deserves another.’

Five Forests Heron
St Lucia estuary with heron in the surf

On the way back we spotted a dwarf chameleon; then we sat in the forest in comfort again and a Green Malkoha (old green coucal) obligingly flew into a tree and displayed his banana beak in full sunlight.

Green Malkoha

Driving back to the B&B a Lemon Dove (old cinnamon dove) sat on a track at the side of the road for so long we eventually drove off! First time I’ve ever done that. Usually you just glimpse them flying off.

Great break – the first real birding since before Aitch and I became child-infested. I’d forgotten what early mornings without scarecrows was like! We spent 32 days on our trip up to Malawi when the kids were 5 and 1 and only saw one bird, and that was a Zambian nkuku whose cousin was deliciously on our plates at a shisanyama at the roadside in Livingstone. I exaggerate. Slightly.

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Bruce Soutar wrote: Pete eye think this is a compliment – from Rooooth Garland:

Please tell Piet I LOVE his stories and want to see more . . . He makes me smile, even though he’s a drunkard and no good at flying. Does he have a blogspot I can sign up for? Xx
PS: Sakumuzi is a huge Twinstreams fan . . . Lovely man.
Ruth Garland – Sydney Australia
Ruth’s Dad was the legendary Ian Garland, whose exploits at Twinstreams in Zululand did heaps to save, propagate and teach about indigenous plants.
=======ooo000ooo=======
khehlas and gogos – Old men and Old ladies
gugile – ancient, as in buggered; decrepit; you know
nkuku – chicken
shisanyama – red meat on red hot coals restaurant; not teetotal joints
——-ooo000ooo——-
Bird List in Nkandla Forest

Lemon Dove; Dusky Flycatcher; Blue-Mantled Flycatcher; Knysna Turaco; Red-eyed Dove; Redbilled Wood-Hoopoe; Greater Double-collared Sunbird; Grey Cuckoo Shrike; Rameron Pigeon; Black-headed Oriole; Cape Batis; Black Saw-wing; HEARD: Dark-backed Weaver; Emerald Cuckoo; Chinspot Batis;

Bird List in Entumeni Forest

Narina Trogon; Cape Batis; Olive Sunbird; Terrestrial Brownbul

Bird list in Dlinza Forest

Woolly-necked Stork; Grey Cuckoo Shrike; Spotted Ground Thrush; Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon (peach view calling in full sunlight on dead tree) – Delegorgue’s; Puffback Shrike; Cape White-eye; Green-backed Cameroptera; Sombre Greenbul; White-eared Barbet; Paradise Flycatcher; Olive Woodpecker; Black-bellied Starling; Black&White Mannikin; Collared Sunbird; Lesser-striped Swallow; Trumpeter Hornbill; Red-fronted Tinker; Yellow-rumped Tinker; Crowned Eagle juv; Yellow-bellied Greenbul; Redcapped Robin-chat; Scaly-throated Honeyguide; Purple-crested Turaco; Square-tailed Drongo; Terrestrial Brownbul; HEARD: Yellow-breasted Apalis; GT Woodpecker; Olive Bush Shrike; Southern Boubou; Black-headed Oriole
 
Bird list St Lucia and in St Lucia coastal forest
Woodwards Batis; Rudd’s Apalis; Yellow-bellied Greenbul; Green Malkoha – LIFER in South Africa for me – full sunlight saturation view; Grey Sunbird; Livingstone’s Turaco; Burchell’s Coucal; Whimbrel; Osprey; Grey Heron; Fish Eagle; Spoonbill; Yellow Weaver; Green Pigeon; Speckled Mousebird; Swift Tern; Black-winged Stilt; Avocet; YB Stork; Pink-backed Pelican; Little Tern; Three-banded Plover; Blue-cheeked Bee-eater; Lemon Dove – saturation close-up; Crested Guineafowl; Pied Wagtail; Cape Wagtail; Goliath Heron; Great White Egret; Little Egret; Thickbilled Weaver; White-breasted Cormorant; Palm Swift; Brown-throated Martin; Black or Common Swift; Chorister Robin-chat; Crowned Hornbill;

Bird list in Ngoye Forest

Green Barbet – LIFER for me; Yellow-streaked Greenbul; Tambourine Dove; Delegorgue’s Pigeon; Crowned Hornbill; Olive Woodpecker; GT Woodpecker; Orange-breasted Bush Shrike; Mountain Wagtail; Red-eyed Dove; Hadeda Ibis; Narina Trogon; HEARD: Wood Owl; Diederik Cuckoo;

Other creatures: Samango monkey; Red Squirrel; Thick-tailed Bushbaby (heard at night); Rainbow Skink; Banded Forester Butterfly;

On the roads and roadside stops: Jackal Buzzard; Pied Crow; White-naped Raven; Red-collared Widow; Fantailed Widow; Stonechat; Barn Swallow; YBK; Dusky Indigobird; Fiscal Shrike; Dark-capped Bulbul; Palm Swift; Long-crested Eagle; Black-headed Heron; Hamerkop; Pintailed Whydah; Black-chested Snake Eagle; Common Quail; Rufous-naped Lark; Croaking Cisticola; Wing-snap Cisticola; Mocking Cliff-chat; White-bellied Sunbird; Amethyst Sunbird; Brown-backed Honeybird; Black-collared Barbet; Black-crowned Tchagra; Neddicky; Yellow-throated Longclaw

bird pics from hbw.com and Johann vd Berg stellenboschbirds.com – thank you

Aitch, Motorcars_Automobiles, Travel, Travel Africa

Low Flying in Malawi

We flew in on our first trip to Malawi. Me and Aitch. At Lilongwe airport we hired a car from the brochures on the desk, where the man on the phone said they didn’t have any presence at the airport but they were nearby, they’d be there in a jiffy. Cheap.
The airport emptied till it was just us, so we took our bags to the entrance and sat in the shade waiting. There was no-one there but a bored youth sitting in a Honda with sagging suspension, but we were chilled and the airport garden needed birding.
Eventually I went back to the desk to phone the man. He was amazed: “My man should have been there long ago!” ‘Twas him. ‘Twas our car: The Honda. “No, no” we laughed, “there must be a better car than this!” (thinking of the rough roads we’d be traversing). “Come back to the office and choose” said the friendly man. Well, of course, it was their best car, bless them, so off we headed to Kasungu National Park in our dark blue Honda Civic with Formula 1 ground clearance.

In the park we drove with one wheel on the middle bump and one on the left edge of the road. On the open road we drove slowly and avoided anything above deck. Vwaza Marsh, Nyika Plateau, Nkhata Bay and beautiful Lake Malawi.
South of Nkhata Bay we suddenly came on a stretch of smooth road! I crept the needle up to 40km/h. Then 50 and eventually 65! “Careful, Koos” admonished my Aitch, clinging white-knuckled to the dashboard (kidding! Sort of). Then we came up to the big yellow grader that had smoothed our path. It moved aside and we went past with a wave to the friendly driver. The road was back to interesting so I slowed down to 40. “Slow down, Koos” admonished my Aitch. We’d been doing 30 so this still felt fast to her and I knew she was right but I had tasted speed . . .

WHUMP! We hit a brick and I knew immediately that we’d be getting to know this remote stretch of Malawi. I parked on a low level bridge and leaned out to peer under the car: Oil pouring out the sump. Do you have any soap? I asked Aitch. Here, she said shoving a bottle of liquid soap into my hand. Um, no, a bar of soap. Ever resourceful she whipped out a fat green stick of Tabard mozzi repellant. Perfect I said and shoved it in the hole. It went into the sump without touching sides! To break the tension I took my binocs and went for a walk and straight away things got better. “Come look!” I called Aitch “A lifer!” A Fire-Crowned Bishop flitted around in the reeds of the stream we were parked above.

scan0004 Our lifer

Aitch made us a snack and we waited. Before too long someone came by. On foot. A few schoolboys who said Not to worry, they know a mechanic in a nearby village. He will fix it. Great! I said, Would you ask him to help us? thinking Actually guys, there’s no ‘nearby village’.

An hour later a car zoomed by without stopping. Unusual for Malawi. Another hour later and a Land Rover stopped, the driver got out and shook his head sadly. He couldn’t help us as he was in a government vehicle. As he drove off we saw his female passenger appearing to give him a thousand words. He stopped and walked back with a 5l oil can in his hand. “I can’t sell you this oil because its guvmint oil, but I am going to give you this oil” he said. Great, we accepted it with alacrity. It was half full. It was a start.

Another hour or so and some figures approached us on foot, one with a greasy green overall and a red metal toolbox on his shoulder. It was our mechanic! The schoolboys had come through!

scan0002

Soon he had the sump cover off and I started tapping the hole closed using a shifty and a spanner. As I tapped I asked if anyone – perchance – had a bar of soap. Nope. No-one. Holding up the cover to the sun I tapped until not even a glint of sun shone through. I had closed the hole. As we started to replace it, I muttered “I’d give twenty kwacha for some soap” whereupon one of the guys whipped out a sliver of red Lifebuoy soap from his pocket. Boy! Did the others turn on him! “How can you be so unkind to our guests?” was the accusation and they refused to let me pay him more than four kwacha for his soap, despite my assuring them that it was worth twenty to me.

scan0003 Magic mechanic watches as I tap-tap

As we prepared to depart we gave them each a cold can from our hebcooler, paid the mechanic his dues (he didn’t charge travelling costs) and gave them each a cap.

scan0001 Our rescuers pose

1500km later we handed the car back and I told the man at the airport: “Please check the sump. Its leaking oil”. It wasn’t, but I wanted him to check it.

Family & Kids, Life, Sport, Travel Africa

Hook, Line & Sinker

In  2008 we took ourselves up to Mabibi. Lovely snorkelling spot on the Zululand coast. Aitch had just finished her chemo and this is what she chose as her “what would you like to do now?” With best friends Jon & Dizzi.

Thonga Beach Mabibi (11)

We luxuriated in the lodge and went for a daily snorkel in the reef at the point nearby. Lolling around the shallow reef checking out flocks of fish of all shapes n sizes one day, Aitch suddenly rose up and leapt about shrieking something about a sore earlobe. Luckily the water was only thigh deep so she could wade shorewards shouting ouch! and eina!

Six year-old TomTom had seen the fish, got out and rushed off to fetch his tackle. Getting back he had cast in where he’d seen the pansizers, and caught his Ma!!

Family & Kids, Home, Travel Africa

Thutty Yizz! (that’s ’30yrs’ to you)

Aitch never held my culinary skills in high regard. Her favourite meal to mock was my chicken-onion-n-potato-in-a-pot special which she described as pale and tasteless. It wasn’t. It just looked bland. With enough red wine taken internally it was fine.

She was right about my braaiing skills, though. Luckily Tom’s genes skipped back about seven generations to when burning dead animals on a naked flame was considered an advance in civilisation, not like I believe it to be: a pointless exercise now that Eskom has been invented. So he is now my braaiing stunt double.

Tom braais

To show that I’m an early adopter, I’ll have everyone know that when Aitch met me back in ’85 there was already an AEG microwave ensconced in my bachelor flat, faithfully re-heating coffee, poaching eggs and heating up the half hamburgers I would find on my chest after a good night out.

Which same microwave gave up the ghost this week. That’s correct. My AEG microwave, bought on 26 March 1984 fizzled on me on the 26th of March 2014. How’s that for hi-fidelity?

And just to show I really will avoid playing the primitive pyromaniac if I can help it, here’s a picture of me pulling my shirt to hide that same microwave behind me at Kosi Bay, Zululand ca 2002. I snuck it into the kombi knowing their campsites had Eskom power and knowing that heating up Tommy’s bottles was a fiddle without it.

microwave in Kosi Bay 2002

Update: Now I’m pissed off it packed up after only 30 years:

93-yr-old woman is pissed off her oven packed up after only 53 years!

In 1963 John F Kennedy was president of the US, the Beatles had released their first album, and Winifred Hughes of Crewe, then 39, paid £79 for an ultra-modern Belling Classic electric oven. It turned out to be an amazing bargain. Winifred,­ now 92, used it almost every day since and, she says, “it never let me down”. Sadly, just last week, the thermostat finally gave up, and Winifred says she is “heartbroken” her beloved Belling is no more.

53-yr-old stove

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Peter Brauer wrote:

“…which she described as pale and tasteless. It wasn’t. It just looked bland. With enough red wine taken internally it was fine.”

Wasn’t she talking about you??

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~

Terry Brauer wrote:

You truly are the nuttiest oke I know. For a greenie this is like true confessions. Nuking your food.

Go Tommy! You inherited your mother’s skills . .

Family & Kids, Life, Travel, Travel Africa

Generous Souls

Off we went to St Lucia estuary for a camping long weekend. Let’s take the minimum guys, we can buy food locally. Just clear out the fridge and bread bin and let’s go. We’ll buy charcoal and meat and etc from the local Spar. I didn’t even take any wine!
Let’s take a tent for the three teenage girls, and the 12yr old fella and I will sleep in the back of the pickup. The simple life.

Except I realised at the first tollgate that I had left my wallet in Westville. Complication. To turn back or not. In my rucksack I found Tom’s saving card, daily withdrawal limit R300. I had just changed his password, as we had not used the account for ages, so we were good to go. We just gotta be frugal, kids.
And that’s where they blew me away. All four of them said “Dad, we’ve got money! You can have our money, Dad”. They each had R200 pocket money for the weekend and offered it freely! What stars.

Thanks guys, I may need that, but I have enough to fill up with diesel and we’ll just go easy and discuss it before we spend anything, OK?

The next morning I managed to activate my eWallet and cellphone banking at an internet cafe so could now draw R1500 a day! Problem solved! I gave them each R100 to thank them for their generous offers. Their eyes looked like chocolates and ice creams!
Off we went to the game reserve (entrance fee R245) and to the water park (R120 for the four of them). We wuz rich! The girls bought swimming shorts with their money.

St Lucia camping 2

The next day that amount had kindly been reduced to R200 (“for my safety” – Thanks FNB!), so I had to make the speech again, and again they rallied around with their offer of chipping in, but with Tom’s R300 and my R200 we were fine. We ate boerie rolls both nights – cheap!

St Lucia camping

Here’s an isimangaliso* pan with buffalo, waterbuck and zebra (click on the pic). The Indian Ocean is just behind that high forested dune:

St Lucia Mar 2014 (5)

Tom got on with fishing . .

. . while the teenage girls did what teenage girls do . .

– Jess too a lovely picture of some grass – with a kudu as a backdrop –

~~~~oo0oo~~~~

*isimangaliso means ‘miracle, wonder, surprise’ in isiZulu

Travel, Travel Africa

Must have 4X4

We only got stuck four times. Once on the beach at Lake Malawi and three times on or near beaches in Moçambique.

In Malawi I got out to let down my tyres but a group of people from nearby ran up: “No, no. Don’t. We’ll push you out!”
Turns out they were Bahá’í Faith folks having a picnic on a day of religious significance to them (maybe the Birth of the Báb in 1819?). They believe in World peace. Me too, brothers! World peace, a friendly push and not having to re-inflate my tyres is what I believe in! Handshakes and good wishes all round.

All three times in Moz we didn’t have long to wait and a guy rolled up in a Land Rover or a Land Cruiser, stopping in front of us and shaking his head pityingly in his khaki shorts. “You really must have 4X4” he’d say and I’d agree and ooh and aah about his rugged vehicle. Then he’d pull us out chop-chop, tell us where they had been, tell us where NOT to go (and make that route sound so exciting that we’d sometimes go exactly there!) and drive away still shaking his head.

I reckon if we had gone in a 4X4 we would have missed out on some good advice and on meeting some friendly people!

Image

I blogged about our trip here:

https://onsafariwithabushman.wordpress.com/