Monthly Archives: May 2015

YEAR TWO

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06:30, Melbourne, Australia, May 13th, 2013

It’s still dark outside as I sit in my car and contemplate what it is that I’ve decided to do for the rest of my life. I have stomach jitters, the kind you get when you jump off something high and realise, as the earth rushes up, that maybe it was just a little too high.

Then my sub-conscious starts to hound me.

“What the hell are you doin’?”

“I dunno.”

“Are you sure about this?”

“I dunno.”

“Dunno? You better know, mate. There’s no turning back. You’ve shut the door. Literally, you don’t have a key to get back in.”

I look back at the family home.

“Good point.”

I turn the engine and head off into the city to pick up Cookie, my travel buddy for the 5,400 K drive to Darwin through Australia’s outback.

Fast forward to May 13th, 2014, Mossel Bay, South Africa

The summary of the second year of non-stop travel starts from South Africa and continues on this amazing continent up to Kenya (all stats are just for the year between 2014-2015. To view Year One stats, click here: https://thenomadicdiaries.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/year-one/)

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Distance covered: 17,065 km (10,603 m)

Total number of countries visited: 7

Total number of islands visited: 7

Total number of hitches hitched: 135

Total number of trucks hitched: 27

Total number of rides in police cars: 1 – From the roadblock to Big Blue Backpackers in Nkhata Bay, Malawi

Total number of free rides on public transport (buses and taxis): 12

Total number of boat rides: 12

Total number of vehicle breakdowns: 2 (no fault of mine)

Total number of personal breakdowns: 0

Total number of phones dying: 1

Total number of items stolen: 1 small daypack lifted from my tent at the Zambian Oktberfest containing:

  • 12-year-old Animal
  • 13-year-old Leatherman multi-tool
  • Headlamp
  • Hoodie
  • 3L camel pack
  • Various gifts collected on the way
  • Sandals… again

Longest wait for a ride: 4 hours, 20 minutes in offensive heat, Salima, Malawi.

Shortest wait for a ride: 1.3 seconds, Mulanji Town, Malawi. Hopped off a ride and the car behind stopped for us.

Longest distance with one ride: 941 Ks – Iringa to Mwanza, Tanzania

Longest time spent on a single ride: 2 days on the truck from Iringa to Mwanza, Tanzania

Longest hike until picked up: 10 km

Total number of books read: 20

Total number of places gigged: 37

Total number of gigs played: 83

Total number of gigs played for rides – on rides: 6

Best gig: The Lively Lady, Arusha, Tanzania. Small place, heaps of people. Great vibe.

Worst gig: Rafiki’s, Nakuru, Kenya. Just couldn’t connect with the electric guitar. And I was shite.

Favourite saying: Pole-pole (pronounced: Pol-aye-pol-aye). Means, ‘slowly-slowly’ in Ki-Swahili

Easiest language to pick up: Ki-Swahili

Most random moment: Meeting Irish Dave (corktocape.blogspot.com) in Livingstone, Zambia. He started his long-distance motorbike ride from Cork, Ireland to Cape Town, South Africa on the same date in the same year (and at almost the same time) as I.

Irish Dave

Total number of visas denied: 1 – Ethiopia doesn’t issue overland visas unless you’re a Kenyan resident. Bastards.

Longest time spent away from the ocean: 10 months (have yet to surf. Merde)

Total number of reefs snorkelled: 5 – Mnemba, Bawe (x2), Tumbatu, Nymevemba – all in Zanzibar

Deepest free-dive: 10 meters – Mnemba, Zanzibar

Total number of scuba divers spooked from said free-diving: 3 – Mnemba, Zanzibar

Total number of sea urchins stepped on: 1 – 6 barbs in the bottom of my left foot, Zanzibar

Total number of jellyfish stings: 1 – blue bottle, Zanzibar

Total number of jellyfish hitting me in the face: 1 – Zanzibar

Total number of near death experiences: 5

– Chased by a hippo while I was on a boat in the Zambezi River, Caprivi Strip, Namibia
– Charged by an ostrich at Lake Kariba Bush Club game reserve, Zambia
– Almost slipped off a mountain hiking up to The Mushroom Farm Eco Lodge, Livingstonia, Malawi
– Almost slipped off a cavern wall at Menengai Crater, Nakuru, Kenya
– Almost runover by a matatu (mini-van bus), Nairobi, Kenya

Favourite Conservation Project: ALERT Lion Conservation, Livingstone, Zambia lionalert.org

Total number of sexual propositions for money by local women: 15 (all were turned down)

Total number of hammocks fallen out of: 1

Total number of snakes relocated: 3

Total number of snakes successfully operated on and released: 1 – it had impaled itself on a thorn which lodged in its side.

Total number of snakes eaten: 1 (tastes like chicken)

Total number of chickens slaughtered: 1 – Kasama, Zambia

Total number of times arrested: 1 – full story here: https://thenomadicdiaries.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/jailbreak/

Best barter: 3-day safari at Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya with bigtimesafaris.co.ke

Total number of publications written for: 5 – Travel News Namibia, Current Conservation, Zeta Media, Africa Geographic Magazine (current) and an African hitch hiking guide for hitchhikershandbook.com (current)

Total number of night outs with loss of memory: Can’t remember

Total number of mountains climbed: 2
– Mt Mulanji, Malawi (2,700m. Missed the 3,001m peak due to bad weather)
– Mt Meru, Tanzania (4,566m)

Highest peak summited: Mt Meru – 5th highest in Africa at 4,566 meters

Favourite beer: Mosi, Zambia

Best acid trip: Vortex bush doof, South Africa. Tab called ‘Dolphin’. And boy, was I swimming.

Best weed: Malawi Gold, Malawi

Best music festival: Sauti za Busara – Sounds of Wisdom – every February, Stone Town, Zanzibar.

Total number of mosquito bites: 67

Total number of fire ant attacks: 1 – stepped into a nest while taking a photo at Lake Duluti, Arusha, Tanzania

Total number of emergency toilet situations: 2

Total number of times caught-out without toilet paper during emergency: 1

Worst injury sustained: Ear infection. Whilst free diving in Zanzibar, some cheeky little bacteria wiggled itself into my right ear and made friends with some fun-guys (get it? Fun? Guys? Fungus? Meh)

Total number of hospital visits: 2 – to sort out above mentioned ear infection

Total number of nicknames: 11 – Jesus, Moses, Noah, Chuck Norris, Jack Sparrow, Ntingo (means ‘someone who can survive anywhere’ in Ki-Swahili), Hamlet (don’t ask), Osama Bin Laden (not my favourite), Robinson Crusoe, Castaway, Rasta-mun

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BIGTIME SAFARI

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Another adventure on Africa Geographic magazine with the help and generosity of this awesome company:

 

 

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LOVE THY SOUL

P1040022“I’m going to play you my favourite jazz album,” Hassan said as Ana and I sat down at a table in his sweets and coffee shop. “If you can guess who it is, coffee is on the house.”

He pushed play on the stereo and I listened to the opening chords of what appeared to be a pop-rock song. A husky voice began to emit from the speakers. I’m no jazz aficionado. Rock’s more of my expertise, which is what I told Hassan when he challenged me.

Two minutes in I turned to the shopkeeper. “It’s not Joe Cocker, is it?”

 

Hassan’s jaw dropped and a glint in his eye suggested, ‘The prodigal son has returned’. “You’re the first to guess right in the many years I keep challenging people.”

Ana was shocked. Heck, even I was shocked. Hassan rose, came over and shook my hand. “Coffee’s on the house.”P1040036

The coffee shop was located right behind the old market on the outskirts of Mombasa’s Old Town. Resembling Zanzibar’s Stone Town, it’s full of alleyways, 400-year-old mosques and a Portuguese fort, Fort Jesus, on the coast line.

Hassan offered coffee with ginger, cumin and cardamom spices. “They cool you down quicker,” he said.

A religious man of the Fatimid dynasty (named for Mohammed’s daughter) he had, “Hitch hiked 15 countries in Africa back in ’69. I studied archaeology in Glasgow, Scotland. My roommate at the university introduced me to jazz. John McLaughlin was my first session. But my favourite would have to be George Martyn.”

He has a collection of 8,000 vinyls.

“This shop has been in my family for 145 years,” he proclaimed. “Since 1868.” Although a man of religion he also believes in science. “The words of the Bible and the Koran must be taken esoterically and not literally,” he explained.

As we sipped the spiced coffee he shared with us his tales of his Indiana Jones-styled expeditions during his time as an archaeologist. “I was working with the National Geographic Society excavating in Jerusalem and discovered the House of Simon and Daniel’s grave,” he reminisced. “I also found Queen Sheba’s house – the one she got after King Solomon divorced her – in Ethiopia.” He also discovered five ancient mosques in Egypt’s Alexandria and resolved what was –at the time – one of Egypt archaeology’s greatest mysteries.

“Ramses the first and Ramses the second were both buried with their wives,” he began his tale. “But Ramses the third – the pharaoh during Moses’ time – wasn’t and for many years archaeologists dug and excavated looking for her. They thought she must be buried deep within one of the pyramids. I told them, ‘You’ll never find her because she followed Moses’ religion. Therefore she isn’t buried with Ramses.’”

“Abraham had two sons,” he drew up on a piece of paper. “Itzhak and Ishmail. God told him to sacrifice Ishmail but then that would mean he was a pagan God so it couldn’t have happened. Through the lineage of Itzhak we get the prophets Noah, Moses and eventually Jesus. Through Ishamail’s line we get Mohammed who was only proclaimed a prophet at the age of 40. Each prophet teaches mankind a valuable asset.

Adam taught agriculture. Moses taught pastoralism, Noah carpentry, Abraham navigation by the stars and sun, Jesus the dying of cloth and Mohammed was business savvy.

Mohammed, in fact, was an orphan raised by his uncle. When he was 14 he went to Damascus which was the main business hub of the day. He and his uncle met with Rabi Buhaira who warned the uncle that he must get Mohammed out of the city for there was a murder plot against him. He had been discovered as a future prophet.

Abraham had built the kaba, the black rock in Mecca.”

“What does it represent?” I asked.

“Beit – house,” Hassan said. “When the bible speaks of loving thy neighbour it doesn’t mean it in the literal sense of the guy next door. No, it means love your soul. Your soul is your nearest neighbour.”

Love thy soul. I like that interpretation.

Hassan had given us a plate of what appeared to be chips and a honey glazed pretzel which turns out, wasn’t. “You eat them together,” he explained. “It’s an Indian breakfast.”

The pretzel melted in my mouth with a sweet honey-like filling oozing out while Hassan grew quiet all of a sudden and apologised that he needed to rest a bit.

“I’m feeling a bit dizzy,” he said.P1040031

We took it as a cue to leave him be. We warmly shook hands and parted ways. I’m no religious follower or student.But Hassan’s interpretation and world view were a breath of fresh spice after visiting incredibly religious countries that took the Bible literally. On top of everything else he was also a scientist and still believed in the teachings of his favoured religion without taking it too gospel as most believers do.

 

“The Bible and Koran should be taken esoterically,” he had stressed repeatedly. “That’s how you avoid fanatics that give religion a bad name.”

It really was down to a simple belief – love thy soul and everything else will fall into place.

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