Star Date:  November 2011
  Northern South Africa


Hello Dear Family & Friends!


( Hello.  Sotho South Africa)




"It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another."

(Nelson Mandela - Beloved 'Madiba', Former President of S Africa) 

The Essence of Africa.  How does one capture the essence of this fascinating continent without sounding like a travel brochure or using every cliché in the book?  Unlike anywhere on earth this massive continent offers unequalled diversity.  Pure, raw impact.  Where else can you go to sleep with the sound of lions roaring, hike along the top of a thunderous mile wide waterfall, or have lunch with a bone crunching leopard?

Animals abound.  Predators stalk you, wild cubs and babies charm you and lacey, luminescent butterflies remind us of the impermanence of life.  Scenery and unique wildlife are so spectacular that it takes a pinch from a passing monkey to bring you back.   Gazing over the golden plains, across a misty mountain valley or trekking through a primitive forest, one realizes the entangled web of life of which we are all a part. This is a gift of creation and must be handled with the care deserving of a precious bequest.  We are stewards.  It is time to take care or lose our legacy - forever.

This rich, irreplaceable natural history alone will draw you back time after time but scenery and wildlife isn't all that Africa is about.  It is the people.  The smiling, dancing, laughing, writhing, pulsating spirit of the people.  An element of joy is always there, portrayed with a broad genuine smile or under a thin veneer of hardship, just waiting to explode.  With "so little" the people of Africa have "so much".  Spending time in a remote thatched village or playing with curious children in a run down schoolyard confirms this observation.  Where else would you see a young boy proudly wearing his earphones and moving to the music?  Only problem was that the earphone cord just ended and weren't connected to anything!  He was connected to the music of Africa in his heart.  Who needs an iPod?  Sitting in the cacophony of a colorful market pumping with energy, or with locals along the shore of a fishing village on a star filled night, reminds one to slow down, observe and absorb this essence.  Appreciate the simple things around us.

It started watching the fiery red sun setting along the Zambezi River in Zambia.  Next to us were a 'white' Afrikaner couple from northern South Africa on their way to Mozambique.  Hitting it off, they offered for us to stay in their home while they were away, giving us a base from which to sell our van.  They lived in a farming community near Soweto, outside of Johannesburg.  Arriving late at night we parked under a tree outside their high, barbed walls.  To our disappointment wires had been crossed and the person with the key was not available until after the weekend. Instead the welcoming 'colored' neighbors invited us to park in their yard, extending a bedroom to us once the van was cleaned out and waiting to be sold.  They were extremely helpful and openhearted, admitting that we were the first 'white' people to visit their home, and never a 'black'.  After coming from the acceptance of the rainbow of races in Hawaii, we found this interesting.  Warm hearts, whatever the color, shine bright and these dear folks were leading the way to dissolving differences in a country crying out for tolerance.  

Quenching our insatiable thirst for more time with African animals, Pilanesberg and Marakele National Parks offered more close encounters with our magnificent wild friends.  We were invited to stay in yet another township by a park employee for 3 nights.  People stared as we took our evening walk through the dusty but tidy streets.  White people were simply never seen here.  Locals joined us for our evening walk around the township with our host or invited us in to their tiny houses with warm hospitality.  These 'black' locals were concerned about criminals from outside coming to rob them, as is the fear in white suburbs.  They just wanted a peaceful life, a simple place to live, a job, food to eat.  A little frosting on the cake would be nice, but that isn't the reality for most people here.  They've learned to settle for a crumb of the cake.  Under all this racism, everyone just wants the basics of life.  All of humanity, world over, longs for these same essentials of life.  Deep down we are all the same - all one.  

The "kicker" of this whole scenario is that some of our new friends were 'white' Afrikaners, some were 'colored' and some were 'black'.  They would seldom interact with each other, yet alone invite each other into their homes or neighborhoods.  Instead these beautiful South Africans of all colors opened their doors and hearts to a couple of nomadic Hawaiians, proving that change is not only possible but happening.

Driving the continent pushed our limits at times, blasting us right outside the envelope. What envelope?  Africa isn't known to be the easiest place to travel but it has an adventure around every corner.  We can proudly say we had no real trouble while traveling throughout Eastern and Southern Africa for over 2.5 years.  95% good people and 5% not so good.  We hung out with the first group, not focusing on the 'bad boys' who make the news headlines.  Challenges in logistics rise daily forcing one to acquiesce to the flow of the continent and connect to the rhythm pulsing through her veins.  Ride the current for the trip of your life.  Be forced into the present moment - open to what presents itself.  Forget what the media portrays.  Yes, as with periods in every country's history there are problems; mostly caused by the disease, famine and ensuing strife surrounding war.  Conflict is often fueled from abroad with hopes of pillaging natural resources during the chaos.  But Africa is not the dangerous "hell- hole" it has been labeled.  Turn off CNN or question the reports.  Africa is a surprising, intriguing and enlightening continent waiting to welcome you with open arms.  Learn her lessons and be prepared to be changed for life.  Once experienced you will be forever dreaming of Africa.  


And so it goes.........................................Next month once again life changes our plans mid-stream.  When people ask us what our plans are we often smile and with tongue in cheek, give our possible itinerary.  This time we went to sleep dreaming of Africa and woke up back in Asia.  We bid farewell to our beloved Africa.  We shall return. Until then let's be thankful for the gifts we are given and make the best of them.  We can complain about not having shoes until we meet someone with no feet.  An attitude of gratitude goes a long way in life.  Thanks for stopping by.   Take care and Keep smiling!

Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner from Cape Town, South Africa, tells the following: "There is a story, fairly well known, about when the missionaries came to Africa. They had the Bible and we, the natives, had the land. They said 'Let us pray,' and we dutifully shut our eyes. When we opened them, why, they now had the land and we had the Bible."


Love, Light & Laughter, 
xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph



Travel notes:

$1.00US = 8.5 S African Rand ZAR

David Livingston's books are worth a read:  Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambezi and its Tributaries and the Discovery of Lakes Nyssa and Chilwa (London 1865)

Johannesburg is worthy of it's reputation for crime and violence.  Travel with care.  That being said we spoke to many people who loved living there.  Just outside, 50 miles or so, is much more relaxed and the nearby game parks are worth visiting.  

Weather is an important factor in Southern Africa.  Travel with the seasons.  We had perfect winter/spring weather, heading north as the weather got colder.  Not checking the rainfall in many places will end with the roads being washed out if you head to remote areas.  It gets really cold on the southern coast of South Africa but no snow - you just have to watch out for rogue penguins crossing the road!  Next stop south - Antarctica!








Our route around Madagascar, Eastern Africa and
Southern Africa for 2.5 years.















Shining smiles in a 'black' township in South Africa. 
Children, by nature, are accepting and loving. 


We spent 3 nights at Robert's home, camping in his yard.  The
only 'whites' who have ever done so in this area.


This Mama had a smile and sense of humor to match her big heart.


Gathering water at the well at the end of each block.


Loved the yellow hat.  This friendly neighbor joined us for a walk
each evening.  Although his expanded home was built of tin and
plywood his yard and home were immaculate, as were most in
the neighborhood.

A corner of this lot was transformed into a soft, lush grass area,
with the help of hand carried water.


We had a lot of fun with the local kids.  He won
the 'make a face' contest.


We were welcomed warmly into this 'colored' couples family home.
 The first ever 'whites' to do so.  Warm hearts, whatever the color,
 shine bright and these dear folks were leading the way to
dissolving differences in a country crying out for tolerance.


One of the many friendly 'white' South Africans we met along our
 journey.  While fixing our tire he shared tales of walking up the west
coast of S Africa with just his clothes and some matches for 6 weeks.
They are a hardy breed down here.


A strange 'white' tribal ritual.  This poor soul was about to be married
the next day.  In true Afrikaner tradition, prior to his bachelor bash,
he is paraded around town in racy ladies clothes, with a tire
and chain on his leg to remind him what he is getting into!


Irrigation transformed this dry valley into a green oasis.


It pays to heed the signs.


Just down the road this pride of lions was on the move.


Focused on dinner they were oblivious to our presence.  


Yet another hungry lioness appeared after the coast was clear.
 Always pays to check before stepping outside.  Although
focused on their poor unsuspecting zebra or gazelle, they
could always be persuaded to try a vegan
hors d'oeuvre.


A mighty rhino.


Stately giraffes enjoying sunset time.


A small family behind a herd of over 50 elephants.


This tiny guy was busy practicing with his versatile little trunk.


Make my Day!


"I wonder what's on the menu for tonight?"  Vultures have
it made - food served on a platter!


Mom & baby baboon resting in the sun.


Animals from A to Z.


Aloe plants come in many shapes and colors.


Right out of Lion King, this warthog flashed healthy size tusks.


A cabin for rent right above a watering hole.


The ladies out for a stroll.


Hornbills are always checking the side of the road for a tasty morsel.


A mighty baobab.


A good reason to drive slowly.


This placid lake was home to a multitude of waterfowl, crocodiles,
hippopotamus; with herds of elephants at the shores.


A cormorant drying his wings after diving for fish.


Just when you thought it was safe for a swim.


Lovely lotus graced the coves.


These 'lumps' are actually the most dangerous animals in Africa,
 killing the highest number of people annually.


Just a couple of steps back.  Those hippos are fast asleep!  
Robert spent the day with us enjoying the spectacular


A large nest of fish eagles.


Kingfishers rule near the water's edge in Africa.


An elegant blue heron strolled the lakes edge.


A shy foot long lizard slowly crawled out of the grass - a perfect
snack fo
r any large bird.


An abnormal truck?  Wonder what the
driver was like?




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