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’?”
“Are you sure about this?”
“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.
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/)
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
- 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.
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