Day 2 on the Wild Coast

This was the first morning we didn’t have breakfast as it wasn’t included in our hotel stay. But, Reese did buy me a Cadbury’s Lunch Bar for breakfast so we filled our Camelbaks with bottled water and headed off a little earlier than usual this morning. We knew we had a hard day ahead as we wanted to go all the way to Port Elizabeth (PE for short) and we knew the roads would not be that great.

For a second day we drove through winding country 2 lane roads with livestock wandering back and forth across the roadway. In a car it might be a little scary, but on a motorcycle it is really hairy! More than once we had to wait for a cow to cross the road right in front of us in a 100km per hour zone. Luckily, the drivers coming the other way would flash their lights at us to warn us of the impending danger, so we slowed down just in case. And that brings up another interesting fact about South African drivers being polite:  even though the roads are mostly 2 lane, they do have uphill truck passing lanes on occasion, but if you are not lucky enough to be near one of those, cars and trucks are actually known to pull off on the shoulder to let you go by. It is then polite to put on your flashers for an instant to thank them, and they then flash their brights at you to let you know they got the compliment. However, when driving on those passing lanes the signs read “Stay left except to pass.” You see, a solid white or yellow line doesn’t mean much here, so the center lane is used as a passing lane for cars headed either direction. That’s why you can’t just linger in the passing lane or you are likely to have a head on collision. Remarkably, we saw only one wreck during our travels, an overturned semi-trailer truck had overturned and blocked both lanes on a divided highway north of Bloemfontein. How on earth these people survive on a daily basis while driving is a true miracle! And, there is one more reason not to drive at night!

The road sticks pretty much to the tops of hills as it meanders through the mountainous terrain of the Transkei. Today we saw a lot more planted forests than we had previously seen. You can tell them by the uniformity with which they are grown. It really did look a lot like the Pacific Northwest in that regard. We also saw some mountain lodges where people go to spend a cool and relaxing adventure weekend doing bungy jumping, zip lining, hiking, or mountain biking. They were quite nice and large with all the amenities. Overall, the drive was pleasant and we saw some pretty scenery.

It took us about 3 1/2 hours to get to East London due to all the road construction. But, it was a Sunday so we had no long waits like we have had in other places where they can be up to a half hour each. We got to East London just about lunch time and we needed gas, so we stopped at the Hemingway Mall. It was an amazing place with all the latest shops and restaurants. It was at least as cool as Bellevue Square. We made it down to the food court and found a Spur restaurant there. Spur is a South African chain of restaurants that specialize in steaks and seafood. Each one has a different American name and they all have a Western (as in cowboy) motif. We were ready for a burger so we dug in, but I wasn’t enjoying my meal much. As we pulled into East London I realized that I had left the clear plastic container with all my documents (passport, motorcycle ownership papers, etc) behind the pillows on my bed. I tried calling to no avail, so I e-mailed them my plight. It was Sunday, so I did not get a reply until the next day. They had found the document bag and would courier it to my place in Somerset West. Hallelujah!

After lunch we hit it hard, hoping to make it to PE, but the roads only improved in the area just before and just after East London and then we were back on the old two lane road with lots of road construction. It should normally take about 4 hours, but today it was much harder, complicated by the fact that we were battling BRUTAL winds that whipped us around like a toy. The bike with all the gear is a good 1,000 pounds of weight, but it almost blew us over on more than one occasion. That was complicated by the fact that we were heading in a westerly direction during the last bit, so we were facing a setting sun that was very bright and hard to see. Night time starts between 5:30 pm and 6 depending on how clear the sky is and whether or not there is a full moon, and by the time we hit Grahamstown it was already getting dark. I did not want to drive in the dark with these treacherous winds, so we exited at the city and began using the GPS to find a hotel room for the night.

What we found was a very nice little town with a rich history and grand old architecture. It is a university town as Rhodes University is located there. The hotel we chose was the Victorian Hotel, or Vic for short. It was built in the 1840s and is on the international register of historical buildings. However, the rooms were clean and modern looking for the most part, and they had a great Italian restaurant upstairs. It has been known for over a century as a student hang out and tonight was no exception. Not only that, but the hotel had free wifi and it was high speed! Wahoo!!!!

We had a leisurely dinner of Margarita pizza and Greek Salad.The pizza was for Reese and the salad for me, but we shared. There were a lot of students socializing at adjacent tables and the more they drank the more social they became. Sound familiar to those of you who are college students or are the parents of college students? It was an overall pleasant experience and we were glad we stopped there.

Traveling by motorcycle is always a bit tricky, especially in the developing world. People are known to steal anything off the bike if not the bikes themselves. There was not much parking available for us except street parking, and we all know how that went in Maputo. But, the receptionist (son of the owners) managed to talk Mom into letting me park in the restaurant. There is a wide passage way with steel bars on it, and the bike just barely fit with the saddle bags (also known as panniers). That was great and we really felt like the bike and its possessions were safe for the night. People here are so nice and polite!!!!! I would recommend the Vic to anyone, and I wish we had more time to explore the city. There were a lot of very large old fashioned buildings dating back more than a century and a half and it would have been fun to explore had we the time.

After dinner it was time for more TV and off to dreamland. I have to tell you that riding in unfamiliar circumstances is very stressful and exhausting, so every night I was ready to “hit the sack.” However, we were both feeling a bit under the weather as the ride had been cold as well. We were afraid that we were coming down with colds or something, so a good night’s sleep was just the ticket. Unfortunately, in the dark loneliness of fitful sleep my mind kept returning to those documents I had left in the Savoy Hotel in Mthatha. I awoke at 4 and stayed awake until almost 6:30 am before I fell asleep for another hour and a half. I needed my sleep as we were planning on riding the remaining 900 kms (560 miles) the next day back to Somerset West and the comfort of the Squirrel’s Peep. By this juncture we are closing in over 5,000 kms and two weeks on the road. I needed to get back to finish my work!!!


Along the Wild Coast

The drive south of Durban was through rolling hills filled with sugar cane fields and the road was a 1st World interstate highway. We made good time while the road was good, but soon enough the N2 turned inland and went back to a 2 lane road… not what one would expect for a major national highway. During Apartheid the area we were traveling was known as the Siskei and the Transkei, homelands to specific tribes of people. During those days the Afrikaaner government established what Americans know as “reservations” for indigenous peoples and made them citizens of those “homelands.” That is how they kept the country a white run democracy as the vast majority of land was owned by the 7-10 million whites. In order to work and travel, the citizens of the “homelands” had to have a pass or ID giving them permission to travel in other areas outside their homeland. The area we were traveling through this day was formerly known as two of these homelands, the Siskei and the Transkei. The latter is the “homeland” of Nelson Mandela, and its capital was Mtata (also spelled Mthatha). That was our objective for the day as the road was winding through mountains and very populated with people and farm animals along the roadway, which made the going slow. There was a huge amount of road work going on as well, so it took us all day to find our way to Mthatha… and was very stressful for the rider, not to mention the pillion (passenger in moto-speak) as they had no control over the situation.

We had several close calls with cattle, goats, dogs, monkeys and baboons during the day, but none was as scary as the lady that pulled out right in front of us in a very slow and deliberate manner. Thank God and BMW for the ABS brakes on the bike! Whew! They literally saved our lives today!

The scenery was beautiful at times and boring at others. The place had pretty much been deforested for firewood used for cooking and heating to this day. It is obvious how the Sahara desert developed in a similar fashion as first comes the denuding of trees and then comes erosion from wind and rain, then a desert. We really have to find a better way for these folks to exist without burning firewood all the time. In addition, the farmers use a technique of farming that requires them to burn off their fields periodically, so the smell of wood-smoke permeates the air all the time in winter. Talk about a huge source of CO2 in the atmosphere!!!!!

We finally arrived into Mthatha around 5 pm or so after a full and stressful day’s drive. The city was large and had all the amenities one could want. In fact, it is a pretty affluent city when you look at it. There are a lot of luxury cars on the road here, which was so out of context with the surrounding countryside. They had all the major national chains here as well as a McDonalds and several KFCs. Our gps indicated a hotel just up ahead past the McDonalds so we headed to the Savoy Hotel. It was actually very much like an American motel, a two story motel like a Holiday Inn Express type of thing, and the room was only R595 per night. Not bad! And, it was adjacent to a small strip shopping center with several restaurants, a supermarket and gas station. We opted for this place that resembled a Red Robin type of restaurant, very trendy and modern. The food wasn’t bad either as we were pretty famished. We have taken to eating breakfast, then for lunch having a Cadbury’s Lunch Bar in order to keep on traveling and make as good a time as possible, but around 6 or 6:30 we better find some food! I had a chicken schnitzel with a salad bar, which was pretty good. They tend to put mushroom or pepper sauce on this type of thing, which I could have done without. Pretty soon we were back in the room watching movies on TV until falling asleep. Reese tries to fall asleep before me so he doesn’t have to listen to my chainsaw buzzing at night, but I am so exhausted by the end of the day I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat!

During the day we met a man at a petrol station (gas station) that was intrigued by our accent and wanted to know if we were English. Pretty funny that, as we are pure Gringos. All the gas station attendants are really amused by both the bike and by our outfits, so they always gather around asking questions. For example, instead of the gas tank being in the traditional location in front of the rider, it is under the seat. So, there is always confusion as to where to put the nozzle. Then, we have packed all our stuff on the bike like the Beverly Hillbillys so it is pretty loaded down. Finally, the GoPro 3 camera is mounted on top of Reese’s helmet in a waterproof/dustproof clear case, so that raises a lot of questions in itself. Reese is filming our trip so that you can see our adventure as if you were riding along with us in a couple of months after we finish editing it. He has a remote control on his waistband that he clicks on when he sees something worth filming. Stay tuned for that!

Another Day “On the Rocks”


Umhlanga Rocks, that is. Another description would be “Another Day in Paradise.” We were both pretty worn out and not feeling up to snuff, so another day here in the lovely Cathy’s Place B&B was just what the doctor ordered. Yesterday while Reese was out enjoying the beach I went to Umhlanga Rocks BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle portion of the car dealer there. I knew the sales manager, Shaheen Bayat, and thought it would be a good chance to renew old friendships and check out the installation of the new rear tube, tighten the drive chain and do a good “once over” to make sure things were up to snuff. Other than an electrical snafu on the first full day that grounded us for a few hours and the blown inner tube in Maputo, the bike held up remarkably well. I love my bike and she loves me back enough to get everywhere we needed to go on the trip with no real hassles!

The bike checked out okay with no real problems and was washed and ready to go by the time I finished my chat with Shaheen. He and his wife had been in a dreadful auto accident back at the first of the year and his leg was broken in 4 places, so he is still recovering from his injuries. His wife went through the windshield (windscreen) and cut her face up pretty badly so she has had 5 surgeries to repair the damage… with more to come. Please pray for their well-being as they have suffered a lot. Shaheen is Muslim, as are many in the Durban area, and needs our prayers for full recovery.

Upon my return from the dealership I noticed that Reese was still out, so I sauntered down to the main village just a couple of blocks away for some lunch. They have so many great restaurants in the area, but I spied one last night on our way to dinner at the Indian restaurant that I wanted to try:  Hooters! Yes, the American chain of stores had a restaurant right there in Umhlanga Rocks and I was game to try it. My wife does not allow me to go to such places as she feels that they objectify women, but to me it is all about the food. I had a great spicy buffalo chicken salad that was just what my stomach craved. And, of course, the scenery was quite nice as well, so I lingered on and did some catching up on e-mails as I ate on that beautiful warm and sunny afternoon.

When I got back Reese still was not there, but arrived shortly after from his walk along the beach. We rested for a while and then headed out around 6 pm for dinner along the main strip where all the sidewalk cafés were located. I had a hankering for a good paella, but Reese wanted Thai, so we opted for that. The sosatis and chicken phad thai were fabulous, as was the people watching. As I said earlier, the nightlife in Umhlanga is quite active and we enjoyed the warmth of the evening outside people watching and eating. The walk back to the hotel was short and satellite TV offered a lot of options until exhaustion overtook us.

The next morning was another stellar breakfast of eggs, back-bacon (Canadian bacon to Americans), with sauteed mushrooms and tomato. The coffee in South Africa leaves much to be desired as the only good cup I’ve ever had was at Donford Motorrad, the BMW motorcycle dealer in Stellenbosch. My friend, Don Corleone, makes the best coffee in the country, but all others fall short of my Seattle trained taste buds. So, after breakfast we were off on our journey once more, better rested and on a clean and newly serviced/washed bike.

Hazyview to Maputo

Reese and I really enjoyed our time in the Kruger, and were quite lucky in our viewing of animals. We really did see them all! The biggest difference I see from the 70s and 80s is that the animals are much more habituated to human contact (well, to our vehicles) and are not nearly as skittish as they used to be. That made for much more relaxed viewing and their casual approach to the roads and things so that we could see more of them from the main roads… especially those along the river. It is winter here so the weather is mild and they are active all day rather than just at dawn and dusk, so that made viewing easier as well. There are now a lot of concessionaires inside the park and it has become more of a business than a completely natural experience like it used to be, but it is still exhilarating to see these wild animals in their natural habitat! As Reese said, Kruger is the size of Israel with huge populations of all the animals in this primeval looking landscape so you can’t ever really get tired of it. We had been looking forward to Mozambique so we could speak our Portuguese with them. When Reese and I were in Brazil alone for a year (well, alone is relative as we had a maid and driver and lots of friends, but we were without Francie/Mom), we often used to speak Portuguese at the dinner table with just the two of us. So, at the first opportunity of going through the border post we encountered the Africanized Portuguese they spoke. It was more like Paulista Portuguese than Carioca Portuguese, but it was remarkably similar. The fiasco at the border was a portent of things come. Mozambique in this highly traveled causeway was like any backwater playground of people preying on tourists and travelers… everyone with their hand out or a scam to offer. That started things off on a bad note, and as we arrived into Maputo it was getting very dark very fast. Remember the first rule of Africa? DON’T DRIVE AT NIGHT! So, we get into Maputo and know our hotel is somewhere near the water but we don’t know which one. My cell phone had “gone missing” in Plettenberg Bay so we had no way to check the internet. Almost everywhere in Africa charges by the amount of data it takes to load whatever site you visit, and that adds up very quickly, so our hot spot was out of data and we had no way to find out which hotel we were scheduled at. Through a lot of begging and pleading we found a hotel that called the travel agent our friend in Hazyview had suggested and found out we were in the Tivoli Hotel just a couple of blocks away from where we were. It was very run down on the outside, but the rooms were pleasant. The elevator (lift) worked only occasionally (TIA), and the internet never worked even though I paid $15 for it. Come to find out our room was $220 per night, a real rip off! The bad taste was getting stronger in my mouth with Maputo when I got some bad news from some e-mails about my work and my dissertation that caused us to rethink our trip. So, after dinner when we got back to the hotel it was time to make the call and head back to South Africa en route to Somerset West once again. The next morning after a nice breakfast we had to schlep our bags down three flights as the lift wasn’t working. We checked out and set our GPS to go back through Swaziland and down the East Coast of South Africa on the way home to the Squirrel’s Peep. The weather in the high veld was just too darned cold and boring to go home that way, although it would save a day of travel. So, as we are tooling down the EN4 freeway and approaching a toll booth the bike went all wobbly and the rear tire blew. Danged! What to do? It looked like the tire (tyre) had been punctured on the sidewall (remember what Reese said about us having to park the bike on the sidewalk outside the hotel the night before?). I walked over to a worker by the toll booth and asked if he could call for help from a towing company. Well, he went away and never came back! Just as I was getting really frustrated a guy in a white pickup with a crew cab pulls up and asks in English if he could help. God works in mysterious ways, but He certainly sent these two angels at the right time. We loaded the bike and all our gear into the bed and hopped in the back of the crew cab while he drove us around looking for a place to help us. We finally landed at this place that worked on tires and they agreed to help us. We unloaded the bike and I showed them how to take the rear axle off, remove the abs sensor so it doesn’t get damaged, remove the hub and then loosen the chain to get it off. It was actually very easy with the right tools and took just a couple of minutes. They vulcanized the sidewall and showed me where the valve had failed on the inner tube so I pulled out my spare inner tube and they mounted it professionally and got it back on the bike in record time. All told we had lost about 2 hours and it only cost us 100 meticais (the equivalent to less than $5). I tipped the workers 200 meticais and they were thrilled. So, we were off for the Swaziland border. The owner of the tire place was a South African from Johannesburg and he recommended the way back to the border, advising us to take a small border post that was out of the way, which we did and it was a piece of cake going through the border. BUT, on the way we had loaded the bike too quickly and Reese didn’t have enough room so we stopped to rearrange it at a gas station in a very small town. I got a drink and asked the owner which way to the Goba border post in Portuguese and that gave him an entre to start talking to us. When he found out we were Americans he immediately ran into the office and pulled out his Blackberry to show us a picture of himself in front of the White House in DC that he had taken last year. He raved on about how much he loved America and was planning to go back next year. Imagine, a gas station owner in the middle of Southern Mozambique was a world traveler!

As I said, the border post was very smooth and totally unlike our experience the previous day of getting into the country. People were pleasant to deal with and there was no long line of people going through. Reese and I had gotten our Yellow Fever shots so we wouldn’t have a problem moving from country to country, but no one ever asked us from them. I had been turned back from Swaziland in 1979 because I didn’t have one and now they don’t care! Oh well, it was good protection of our health anyway! Once through the border to the Swazi side the roads were much better and it really had the same feel as if we were in South Africa. Everyone accepted South African Rand so we were good to go. More on Swaziland from Reese…..

TIA, or, as my friend Ron Ayres says, AWA (Africa Wins Again)

We had a wonderful sleep in the Milkwood Manor and awoke to the pounding surf right outside our window. Wow, was that ever cool! Breakfast was equally awesome with a full hot  and cold breakfast. A beautiful new day had dawned, the wind was gone, and the sun was shining. What a way to start one’s day! We had great conversations with a couple who were from the UK, a guy from the former Rhodesia, and the owner, the aforementioned Dutch guy. People are so nice and wonderful here in South Africa that it makes you wonder why the whole world doesn’t come here.


We got off to a good start on the bike, but on the far side of Port Elizabeth the heavens opened and the rain poured forth. Riding a motorcycle in the rain is really no big deal with the modern apparel that is available today. We have “StarWars” looking helmets with curved face guards that make the rain run off quicky, and my BMW Allround gloves have a face guard squeegie on the side of the left forefinger to wipe away the water if need be. Our jackets and pants are multi-layered with the bottom layer being the rainproof part, so we stayed dry. The fabric is bullet proof 600 denier outer material with airflow mesh inset panels for maximum air cooling, and 1200 denier abrasion resistant sections on shoulders and elbows. Elbows, shoulders and knees all have pads in them as do the gloves, so when it started to lightening and hail we felt it but it didn’t hurt us at all.

All told it was a very long day with me driving the whole way today due to an equipment issue that gave Reese some fits, but we’ll sort it out tomorrow and he’ll pull his own weight in the deal in riding as well as he has in all other areas. It has taken us this long to calm down and get used to the pace of the road, but a couple of realities have gotten in the way of our goal. One is that Africa is bigger than we imagined in terms of getting from one place to another. Unlike the States or Europe where you know the distance and how long it takes to get there, Africa is another experience all together. There are issues of weather, issues of roadworks, and a myriad of other things that one does not anticipate that slows one down. Our progress has been longer than previously anticipated to cover the distances we have traveled and Reese has to leave earlier than previously anticipated to start his new job in Dakar, Senegal at the International School of Dakar for new teacher orientation so we are most probably not going to make our goal of following the great migration. In fact, I don’t know if we have enough time to get to Malawi! But, rather than worry about destinations we are now focused on enjoying this adventure together and are bonding more each day.

The transition from being the parent to three boys to being a parent to three grown men has been an awkward one at best. The young men want their independence and don’t necessarily want the advice, so finding the balance of being a parent to an adult is a tricky thing. I have come to an unspoken arrangement with Clay (35) and Greg (almost 33), but Reese is our “baby” and he wants to assert himself as an equal to his brothers. So, this journey is a lot about Africa and a little about coming to an agreement about how to treat each other. I am extremely proud of all three of our sons in so many ways, and the last thing I want to do is foment tension with any of them.

We have communicators so we can talk to each other in our helmets while listening to iTunes, answering the cell phone and hearing instructions from the GPS so we joke back and forth a lot during the day. One of Reese’s jobs is to keep me from subconsciously drifting into the right lane as they drive on the left side of the road here. With a car it’s easy as they have right hand drive (as opposed to left hand drive in the US), but a motorcycle is the same either way. Although the day was long we joked our way through it until we reached Cradock around 6 PM. The further North we go the longer the day, so we had an extra 30 minutes of riding today.

IMG_5053IMG_5058 IMG_5059

Cradock is a sleepy little agricultural town in the Karoo portion of South Africa. It is very much like Western Oklahoma, so it is comfortable to me. The people are honest, sincere and friendly regardless of race, but make no mistake, rural South Africa is Afrikaans country. President Obama would say they cling to their guns and religion, but they are God fearing folk who work hard at farming and their communities. Their lifestyle is hearty and so is their food. They are best known for beef cattle (like Oklahoma) and Karoo lamb (not like Oklahoma), so every restaurant offers a full range of those two as well as chicken. We have eaten way better than we should have! Tonight I had a T-bone steak for $12, and no ordinary steak. It was about a 16 ouncer and I could not eat it all. Reese had some kind of chicken dish and it was $9. The coolest thing about the difference I see now and the time we lived in Joburg in the late 70s and early 80s is that even in these small towns you see the races mixing in every kind of establishment. There are very few Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons around to foment hatred and dredge up past animosities because it is illegal to discriminate against one another regardless of race. The closest thing they have to this type of person is Julius Malema, but the ruling party, the ANC, kicked him out for his racist views against whites. Wouldn’t it be nice in America if the same were to happen? This is a bold new world in South Africa and they are making the most of it… without preconceptions and without holding on to past transgressions. To quote Rodney King, “Why can’t everyone just get along” (like they do in South Africa so recently after Nelson Mandela was elected President in 1995)?

Tomorrow we will have another hearty breakfast before heading out to Bloemfontein, Joburg and on to Nelspruit before crossing the border into Mozambique. If we make it that far tomorrow it would be great, but if not there are no worries or regrets. Africa has won again and we are just kicking back and taking what we can get from this magnificent continent!

P.S. I’m falling asleep to CSI New York in my room at the guesthouse here in Cradock as I sign off.

The Odyssey, Day 1/2



Yesterday was our first real day on the road, but packing everything onto the bike and locking up our luggage at the Squirrel’s Peep took longer than anticipated. Reese was a real champ at organizing things and finished it all off for me as I finished packing the things we would leave behind. We didn’t get off until around one, so we went to the beautiful seaside village of Hermanus for lunch at the Zebra Crossing. It is owned by Jill Rossouw, among other things, mother of Chelle who is a friend of Reese ‘s from The International English School (TIES). Reese attended TIES  in 2009 after graduating from Whitman College to obtain his TEFL certificate for teaching English in South Korea and it is located in Somerset West. That is where and how he met Chelle. So, we hung around for an hour and had some fabulous food and conversation with Jill and some other patrons before we left.


One rule in Africa is to not drive a motorcycle after dark, and since we are in the Southern Hemisphere it is winter and it gets dark around 5:30. Hence, we didn’t get very far until we had to stop for the night. We found a lovely little guest house in Riviersonderend called Lovell’s, owned by an English divorcee in her 70s. It was “English quaint” in the middle of  an Afrikaans speaking village and built in 1890. The price was very reasonable and the night was freezing in the mountains, but it was cozy as could be and made for a wonderful night’s sleep!

Africa, Day 2

False Bay

I’m sure you would like to see more exciting posts than this, but we have a lot to prepare for in a short amount of time. Hence, this post may be a bit mundane for most people’s tastes. The truth is that the phrase Leonardo Dicaprio used in “Blood Diamonds” was not new, but rather a turn of an old phrase:  “TIA (this is Africa).” This is a bit similar in meaning to the “mañana” attitude in the Spanish speaking world as it indicates that one cannot set one’s watch by Africa time. Something I have learned by traveling extensively over the past 38 years in developing countries is that patience is truly a virtue. It helps nothing and no one to lose patience and expect things to work as fast or as efficiently as in the developed world. So, we do our best and take what we can get or we have a miserable time because we never meet our expectations. Such is my motto for this trip… TIA… plan the trip but be willing to roll with the punches as they come. The latest example of this is when I realized my title and registration for my bike were lost. Luckily, I had scanned them into my computer and could print out color copies of them. I went by the Stellenbosch DMV on Friday but due to a renovation of their building they closed early (2:30 pm) and it was 2:37 pm. No luck in getting them to keep open for me, so we go back on Monday. We cannot travel to another country without having the original documents and current registration. So, my friend, Chris Coxwell, told me it may take a few days to get it all straightened out. We are not sure we can leave tomorrow, but if not we will make a plan and not be too ticked off by it. The day was spent going to the Coxwell’s lovely home for coffee and rusks (a sort of dried chunk of bread that you dunk in your coffee. It is a true South African experience and I love it). We chatted with the Coxwells and picked up the stuff I had left with them 2 years ago. I had forgotten exactly what I had left behind, so it was a bit like Christmas getting everything together. We then went to Xtreme Fitment in Strand to pick up my bike. I had them put on new tires (tyres in South African spelling), new brakes and mount some accessories. These guys are amazing and very reasonably priced. Ask for Willie, one of the owners. It was good to ride the bike again, if only for a short while. Afterwards we returned to the Squirrel’s Peep guest house to drop it all off (along with Reese) so that I could head out to the Somerset Mall for some last minute errands. I had to go to the SAA (South African Automobile Association, similar to the AAA in the USA or CAA in Canada) to check on getting insurance in countries outside of South Africa. They informed me that we would be forced to buy insurance at every border we crossed anyway, so just to wait until then to get it. Fair enough. We can do that. Next I went to the Mugg and Bean, a kind of cross between a Starbucks and an Applebee’s. I had a great lunch of a Butter Chicken Curry sandwich and garden salad. YUM!!!! I love the food in this country!!!! I returned to the Squirrel’s Peep to check on Reese and found him working out our map for you to follow on this blog site. We have a Spot Connect, a satellite communicator that automatically reads our position every 5-10 minutes and then puts a dot on the map where we are at any given time. That will allow you to follow our progress (or, in some cases, lack thereof) in real time. We don’t need cellular as it is a satellite communicator and works wherever we go. He has done a great job of figuring out all the electronics we will use on this trip such as the GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition video camera we will be using. That thing is amazing as it has higher resolution that TVs and monitors can currently show. Our most advanced HD TVs show 1080p, indicating a 1,080 pixel picture. This camera films in 4,000 pixel resolution! It is also a still camera and has all kinds of modes. It is way too complicated for me to figure out, but Reese has mastered it, along with this blog site and with the Spot Connect. He is a genius at all things electronic, and, come to think of it, at just about anything. Thank God he asked to tag along on this trip! We did not buy a bunch of groceries while here, so we eat out every meal. Last night we went to our favorite hang out from 2009 when Reese was living with me here while working on his TOEFL certification and I was doing my Ph.D. research. It is a little Italian restaurant called Pomodoro’s and their pizza is spectacular (cooked in a proper clay oven like in Italy). We had a great pizza and some South African wine (me), while Reese had a Windhoek Draught followed by a Savannah Dry cider. In this little out of the way restaurant tucked away on a second story near Reese’s old school, we were shocked to have the table next to us filled with fellow Gringos! The world is getting smaller all the time. We returned home to watch some TV before dropping off to sleep. We have not really experienced jet-lag this trip because of a recommendation Reese made. He suggested we buy Jet Lag Pills at the travel store in Redmond Town Center which you take just before your flight starts and finished when you arrive. It is a product developed by the coaches of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team as they had long flights wherever then competed and needed some way to combat jet lag so that when they got to their destination they were ready to play. Believe it or not, this stuff really works! We were able to hit the ground running the very first morning we were here and are in tune with the local time zone from day one. Consider using this on your next trip as it really does work! Well, it is off to bed early as Reese needs to rise at 7:15 am to call Chris Hamman about where to meet for some motorcycle training. The bike is heavy and tall while Reese and I are “vertically challenged,” so it takes some special training to get prepared for riding it.