Welcome to the next step: #CapeTownToCairo
As some of you may remember I disembarked the good ship "Northern Magnitude" in Durban (South Africa). It wasn't a new country for us within the Saga. In fact it was the 4th time the Saga reached South Africa. But it was certainly the most optimal route in order to return to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
This map will come in handy for this blog ;)
"Wait a minute? That can't be right? You were just in Mauritius and I have a map! Why did you go all the way back down to South Africa?" Well, please explain to me how you would get from Mauritius to Tanzania without flying? And if you bring up cargo ship traveling then please also explain to me how you intend to get onboard? ;) I looked at the map and made a decision: Get on a containership from Mauritius to South Africa (because I could). Then go overland through several countries I've already been to (because I'm familiar with them). Ship: 7 days. Overland: 10 days. A total 17 days while being cost efficient. Good plan! :)
Then a good reason to reach Cape Town presented itself. Cape Town is in the wrong direction if you want to reach Tanzania from Durban. But this was a good reason and worth the time and effort. So the captain of the "Northern Magnitude" invited me to stay onboard until we reached Port Elizabeth (our next port of call), which is closer to Cape Town. The bus from Durban to Cape Town takes 26 hours, while the bus from Port Elizabeth only takes 11 hours to reach the city. So we went with the "Port Elizabeth plan". However while we were still at sea on our way to Durban, there were high winds (in Durban), which caused the port cranes to stop cargo operations for several days. This in turn caused congestion and delay in Durban's port and eventually I didn't have time to wait for the ship to reach Port Elizabeth.
Captain Jens Lorenz.
To cut a long story short I said farewell to Captain Jens Lorenz and his crew, and disembarked the ship in Durban. Then I got on a bus and 26 hours later I was in Cape Town.
However I had uncleared issues with immigration in Durban, and while I wasn't the only one at fault for that - I was at fault.
I had time for a cup of tea in Cape Town before I returned back to Durban.
The only solution to fix my issues with immigration was to get back on a bus and return the 26 hours to Durban. So I did! The "Northern Magnitude" was still in Durban and I was greeted with warmth at my return. All my immigration issues were solved and there was nothing but high-fives ;) My long ride back to Durban had paid off. The captain even invited me to join the ship again to Port Elizabeth. This made sense because the ship was now ready to leave and I was a bit knackered having spent 52 hours in busses within a short span of time. The captain gave me the owners cabin once again, I filled my stomach with good food, did my laundry, slept well and bought the ships crew a round of beer ;)
That's Port Elizabeth.
We soon reached Port Elizabeth and in the nick of time, I reached the last bus of the day leaving for Cape Town. 11 hours later I had arrived.
Now you must probably be quite curious about why Cape Town all of the sudden became so important? And I'm sorry to disappoint, but you'll have to wait a little longer. Some things are better revealed at the right time... and the time is not yet. In any case I can say that Cape Town lives up to its reputation as one of the worlds great cities!
I had a good time and even found myself invited to join Shaun and his fiancé Leeverne on a spectacular trek to the top of Table Mountain. Table Mountain towers magnificently over Cape Town which is scenically squeezed in between a mountain range and the ocean.
Geographically I was quite far from Durban. So sticking with the original plan of headings through Zimbabwe and Zambia, to reach back to Tanzania, had to be revised. Both Zim and Zam require a $50 visa of me. And after searching for bus connections it proved far more time and cost effective to go north to Namibia (which like South Africa requires no visa of me) and straight to Zambia. I had to change busses in Namibia's capital Windhoek, which left me with a 6 hour window. That was great because I had originally left Namibia before the Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS) had time to arrange for media to promote their cause. With this short stopover we could just manage to fit it in.
It was great to see Rosemary again!
On that note the NRCS has really done wonderful work dealing with the draught. So it was an honor and a pleasure for me to help plead for more volunteers and donations to the cause. And frankly I'm still baffled how little we have seen about the worst draught Southern Africa has seen in over 30 years? Where is the media on that? Many of the millions of effected people are just "regular Joe's" who update Facebook on their smartphone and take care of their families. But dead cows and failed crops do not give any return next year...or this year for that matter. So now you have a completely manageable problem for ordinary people spiraling out of control. Meanwhile we get to read about Pokémon Go and Donald Trump. It makes you wonder about priorities?
After my 6 hour window in Windhoek I got on the next long distance bus and woke up the next day in Zambia. I've got great love for these Southern African countries which make my life easy. The infrastructure is great, transport is available and comfortable, people are friendly and immigration is (in most cases) easy to deal with. The food culture is also something else! There is so much meat going around and the quality is very high. The day I first disembarked the "Northern Magnitude" was also the day I restocked on biltong :) Biltong is a speciality in Southern African countries and consists of various types of dried meat. It's not completely unlike beef jerky - but I think it's better. Generally I like to have some travel food with me in case I get hungry or run low on energy. Chocolate, nuts, dates and biltong are among my favorites. The downside of chocolate is that it melts so it's only regionally good to travel with. But biltong, dates and nuts are always great and in this part of the world there is no shortage of biltong ;)
I get a great deal of messages from people through the Sagas social media. And I've met a great deal of people since I left home nearly 3 years ago. So I hope I'm excused for what comes next. It's still rather dumb though :)
I received a message on Facebook from Marguerite wrote that she has a brother near Lusaka (Zambia's capital) who would be happy to host me for a few days. She also wrote that he does honey farming. I get quite a lot of messages, but I should have connected the dots here. I only know 1 Marguerite and I've only heard of 1 honey farmer in Zambia before, which happens to be Marguerites brother. However I never thought that it was "my Marguerite" who wrote me on Facebook. I made a somewhat standard reply and kindly asked her to send me an email. Who is "my Marguerite"? Well, by the end of May 2016 I met David and Marguerite on the train from Mbeya in Tanzania to Dar es Salaam. David is from Germany and Marguerite is from South Africa. We spent several days together, booked the same hotel in Dar es Salaam and even met up later in Zanzibar. Now 4 moths later she was writing me on Facebook and for some reason I thought that I was writing with a completely different Marguerite who also happens to have a brother in Zambia who farms honey? Go figure..?
Anyway, yet another bus got me from the Zambian border to Lusaka, where I met Marguerites brother Gerrie. Great guy who picked me up at the station. And then it was only inside Gerrie's 4WD that it dawned upon me, that Gerrie and "my Marguerite" are siblings?!? Imagine how dumb I felt? :)
Gerrie in the yellow polo shirt.
Let's move on! :) Gerrie is an amazing guy who is more than capable within a long list of practical matters. He's friendly and it didn't take long before we clicked. Gerrie's business is within the bee business. More specifically the Apis Mellifera Scutellata, which is commonly known as the African honey bee...or just: bee ;) Like in: "look, there's a bee". Gerrie resides 25 minutes outside Lusaka where nature meets man. Lusaka is the kind of capital which has cinemas, malls, university, traffic, clubs, supermarkets and a lot of people. But just 25 minutes away the roads are unpaved, you can suddenly hear the birds and Gerrie's staff of 10 million bees make honey! They are either making honey or plotting to sting people to death so the trade comes with a certain amount of respect. But like with almost everything in life it's mostly peaceful and trivial and not a battle between life and death. Gerrie is still alive and so is everyone else. Besides: You've never tasted honey like this before! I happen to like honey a lot and prefer it in my tea opposed to sugar. I spread it on toast and eat it directly with a spoon if I have a sore throat. I've had my share of honey throughout my life and I can definitely put my mark on this! This is great honey: www.safaribee.com
Gerrie is still in his startup phase and is taking off quickly. A bee hive can host around 50,000 bees and Gerrie is aiming at having 250 hives by the end of the year. So let's say 12,500,000 bees! Lord of the bees :)
Enough about the bees. It's the honey that counts. And Gerrie's honey is separated from the wax through a centrifugal process! Gerrie uses other techniques as well to get his production of REALLY pure honey flowing. It's all about the birds and the bees ;)
Well...my stay at Gerrie's place wasn't only about bees. I met a few of his friends, we had a braai (bbq), saw monkeys, giraffes and we played my very first Zambian football match. Yup, that kind of summarizes that :) It's easy to laugh in Gerrie's company so I thoroughly enjoyed his hospitality. And it was quite idyllic to stay in such surroundings. I could actually have jumped on another bus as soon as I reached Lusaka. And if I did then that would have put me in Dar es Salaam a few days later. But I have my mind set on taking the much slower train from Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Yes: The same train where I met "my Marguerite"...who's David's wife...and Gerrie's sister :) The train actually leaves today (Friday) which bought me two nights near Lusaka. And that all seemed to work out fine.
Here's a rundown of where I've taken you since this particular blog began:
03.09.16: Ship reached Durban. I board a bus to Cape Town.
04.09.16: I reach Cape Town.
05.09.16: I board a bus back to Durban.
06.09.16: I reach Durban and board ship (again).
07.09.16: At sea.
08.09.16: Ship reaches Port Elizabeth. I board a bus to Cape Town.
09.09.16: I'm in Cape Town.
10.09.16: I'm in Cape Town.
11.09.16: I board a bus to Windhoek (Namibia).
12.09.16: Bus reaches Windhoek. I board a bus to Livingstone, Zambia.
13.09.16: Bus reaches Livingstone. I board another bus and reach Lusaka.
14.09.16: outskirts of Lusaka.
15.09.16: outskirts of Lusaka.
16.09.16: I board the train in Kapiri Mposhi to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Total distance traveled overland between September 3rd and September 16th: 8,573km (5,327mi).
The Saga has covered 116 countries on 4 continents and began on October 10th 2013. Think about the context of that for a second...think about the distance, just how much must have happened since I left home and how many people I've met?
I believe that: the world is not a perfect place and that we have important issues to address. But I'm sure that the world is a far better place than we can possibly imagine and I'm sure that the state of reality is above peoples general perception. We need to adjust our perception to match reality ;)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - being realistic ;)
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga