30 December 2008

Epilogue, or, Back in the U.S.S.A

I've been back in the US for about a week now and one of the questions everyone asks is 'how is it being back'? The short answer is that it is great, its been really nice to relax with the family and talk (not just gchat) with some of my good friends.

While the transition back has been very easy (except going back to work), there have been a few striking things. The first was the sheer quantity and variety of food in my parents fridge(s!), though to be fair I am impressed by that whether coming back from Africa or DC. Its also been amazing to have some of the small things back: fast internet (I downloaded a whole tv show in like 2 minutes!), potable tap water, free refills, sidewalks, etc. There were a few restaurants I was really looking forward to (cricket, chipotle) which were fantastic, but just as fantastic were the things that I wasn't expecting (string cheese, yoohoo).

I just finished a drive out to California which provided a bit more US vs Africa perspective. Through Colorado and Utah the snow covered landscapes were incredibly beautiful but also incredibly cold (-5F which is like -20C), something you don't get much of in Africa. Vegas is an astonishing strange place (I'd like to see a sociology experiment where they drop some African villagers in Vegas and see what their reaction is, or take some Vegas whales and drop them in an African village). The roads in the US may be the number one thing we take for granted (the little road my house is on in Denver is in better shape than the main road in Kenya) and no one walks anywhere, whereas throughout Kenya, no matter how far you are from a town, there is always someone walking down the side of the road, often loaded down with water or firewood.

The last thing I'll mention is a sign of society gone a bit too far, and that is red left turn signals. They are the most annoying thing in the world (well, not quite) and I sincerely hope Africa never installs any.

26 December 2008

A month in bullet points

While I promised I would put up more stuff from the last month, I am feeling quite lazy so you'll have to make do with some notes and photos. Maybe once I take that voluntary separation I'll put some more in, but for now, enjoy!


  • Great Thanksgiving in Lusaka - turkey, stuffing sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie!
  • Timebus (because there are non-time based busses) to Livingstone breaking down
  • Zambian side of Vic Falls - walking on the falls, water raising, wading back


  • 100,000,000,000 Zimbabwe Dollar note (thats 100 billion)
  • Bringing food into Zim - bread and cheese for five meals
  • Lion Walk
  • Rafting, swimming, hike up 1,000 ft canyon walls
  • Zimbabwe side of Vic Falls - much bigger, rainbows


  • Border: shoe disinfectant and condoms
  • Chobe - 100's of elephants, surrounding the truck, dousing themselves with mud, 2 day old baby, kudu, crocs, eagles, lilac breasted rollers, carpet of green, fresh downy smell, campfire, stars, black backed jackals, bacon
  • Hammock at the camp
  • River / booze cruise - tons of hippos
  • 4am wakeup, Maun for supplies, passing time - name the states, name the countries in africa, name the 4 letter countries, name the countries that end in L
  • Okavango - hot! poled in mokoros (canoes), hammock, water polo, pointless walks, marshmallows, passing time, hippo yawn, rain, thunder, lightning, 2 by 2, jingle bells, rudolph, angels, waltzing
  • Volleyball and NARB


  • Big night at Thebe, big beers, shots, tending bar, late night swimming
  • Etosha - nice campsites, springboks plonking, giraffes humping, rhino, massive cloud to cloud lightning, lions roaring
  • Nice campsite with grass, singing xmas songs in the rain, then in the women's bathroom, then at the bar, getting yelled at by Hans
  • Cheetah park - petting cheetahs, pet giraffe, feeding wild ones, cheetahs screeching, cricket, cool bar with animals skulls and skins
  • Spitzkoppe - neat granite rocks in scrubland, looked like US southwest, incredible sunset, punch party, cave, sleeping ont he mountain, windy, drunk, perishing
  • Swakopmund - don't remember drive, eating oryx and kudu, weird German town, sidewalks, streetlights, strasses, fishing barracuda, exhausting, rush when catching one, blue shark chasing a caught fish, quad biking, semi autos, up to 80kphs, rollercoasting dunes, peeking over the top, absolute beauty with sand and blue sky and ocean, great time
  • Uneventful day in Windhoek

South Africa

  • Wandering Capetown - streetsigns and points of interest, pedestrian streets, reconciliation day parade, chilling in the watefront, sushi! watching the clouds over table mountain and street performers, completely overwhelmed in pick-n-pay, bagels!
  • Wine tour - 4 wineries, sparkling, brandy, party in the bus back, blackout
  • Camps bay, 1kg sushi for R100, bus tour
  • 4:30am pickup for shark dive, chum, bait, decoy, freezing water, thinking what the hell am I doing here, 7mm wetsuits, finally seeing one, huge and looking at me, as we were leaving "shark on bait", june is best time
  • Dinner and drinking with ATC
  • 6:30 for hike up table mountain, didn't happen, took cable car, fog lifting
  • Ocean basket seafood platter
Two 007

And I'll close it out with a few funny signs / shirts that I saw:

  • On a lost and found board: "I've lost my grilled cheese sandwich, please call 032-554-0922" complete with picture
  • On a restaurants front door: "Good news, we actually serve food and drinks, so there is no need to bring your own"
  • Someone's uniform in Capetown's waterfront: "Trolley Management Services"

20 December 2008

El Fin

Today marks the last day of the trip after a pretty cool week in Namibia and Cape Town. Went sea fishing from Swakop and caught four barracudas which was actually really tough and left me sore, bruised and covered in fish blood (get the washing machine ready mom). That afternoon did quad biking on Namibia's sand dunes which is one of the better things I've ever done. You get a pretty good adrenaline rush racing up these 50 meter dunes at 75k then you look up and you are in this amazingly beautiful desert with the sea to the left, blue sky above and miles and miles of sand dunes.

Then came down to Cape Town which is a thoroughly awesome (and Westernized city). Its got a main down town, a water front and then some suburban beaches, it reminds me a lot of Sydney. There certainly are the townships with plenty of poverty and the apartheid history, but its easy to be here and forget you are in Africa at all. Wandered around, went on a wine tour that I barely remember, checked out the beaches, reveled in having ice and sushi and bagels and then went diving with great white sharks. I was in a cage and its low season, so we didn't see a ton of them doing national geographic shit, but i was still sitting in a cage in the 50 degree atlantic trying to entice 10 foot long sharks to come play. Good stuff.

Had a nice dinner with everyone from the truck last night (Springbok shanks, highly recommended), checked out table mountain today and am now trying to wrap my head around the 30 or so hours of traveling I have in front of me. When I'm home I'll put up some photos and maybe expand on the last three weeks but to eveyone out there, thanks for reading and to everyone out here, thanks for making this such a cool experience.

Tuta Onana (see you later)

12 December 2008


Its been a good ten days out here on the overland tour. Spent three of them in the Okavango Delta in Botswana where we got polled around to islands in little dugout canoes. Went on game walks and while the walking was cool, the game was lacking. From there we headed into Namibia and two days driving through Etosha National Park. Saw lots of good stuff, a couple of lions and cubs, rhinos, oryx, springboks (which "plonk"). After that we hit up a Cheetah Park where this family has hand raised a couple of cheetahs and live with them in their house (and have a pet giraffe). Pretty awesome to pet a cheetah and then watch them being fed. Last night we were in Skiptzkoppe which is a desert area with big granite rock formations that looks like the US southwest. Had an unhealthy amount of alcohol in a cave, then slept on top of one of the afermetnioned rock formations. And now I am hungover in Swakopmund which is a little slice of Germany in Africa: bakeries, VWs and traffic lights everywhere. Got a couple more days here, then off to Capetown and then coming home on the 21st.


03 December 2008

On The Road

Quick update from somewhere in Botswana. Had a great, great Thanksgiving dinner in Lusaka then hopped a much hyped time bus (because it left at a scheduled time, unlike the other busses) to Livingstone. Livingstone is kinda like Queenstown with lots of adrenaline activities, I did a great half day of rafting then walked and pet some lions. Checked out the falls which were cool, had a beautiful day but it is the dry season, so they aren't at the full force. Then joined up with tour of 23 other folks from Oz and the UK who are a pretty good group. Spent a good night in Chobe national park with its tons of elephants and are headed into the Okavanga delta tomorrow.

More soon