Far, Far Away in the African Bush

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Not much can be said about our adventures post-Cradock. We drove as far northeast as we could muster through rather dull countryside. We ate, we drove, we filled up the bike with petrol and used the loo intermittently until darkness swept in. Hoping to camp we followed the GPS to a bunk edge of town locale that was not to my father’s liking so we ventured further, breaking our oath to avoid driving at night until we were stopped by heavy road construction, diverting the highway’s path. We stopped by the police station to ask their advice about a place to stay and were escorted (yes, escorted!) to a small little B&B where we set up camp for the night. It had been a long day.

Travel and toil weighed on us heavily as we set out from our overnight accommodation. We set our sights on Nelspruit, some 7 hours out. We passed briefly through Johannesburg, the Los Angeles of South Africa as I’d like to call it, as it resembles the palm tree entertainment paradise of SoCal. Time was against us, however, as we hoped to hit the park by nightfall. My father drove the whole way. What started out to be a chilly drive (7*C) changed as we exited the highlands and descended in elevation. By four o’ clock we found ourselves in a warm (20*C), primeval land that resembled the African wilderness most imagine. Winding roads cuts into the land, splaying the land into bulbous mountainside and the occasional river. Through tunnels and over hills we rode, feeling the balmy air whip at our helmets as we grinned from ear to ear. It truly felt great but our adventure had yet to end.

We arrived at last into Nelspruit in search of a car rental, as motorcycles aren’t allowed into the park for safety sake. You see, in South Africa all game lands are fenced enclosures, and once inside you are at the mercy of the big beasts of the bush. A bike provides little protection when encountering a water buffalo, rhino, elephant, hippo, lion, or other intimidating animal high on adrenaline. Unfortunately the rental place was closed so we felt a bit trapped. We ventured into White River and further still to Hazyview—just outside of the park. By that point it was dark and the driving was increasingly dangerous. The “road” was little more than patches of tar road with faded lines and run down housing. Pedestrians walked boldly at the side of the road toward traffic, most wearing dark clothing. My father was exhausted from a long days ride and our options were few. We attempted to enter the park but ended up at a dead end. That gate, as well as the park closes after sundown. After a few tries we acquiesced to finer lodging for the sake of a soft bed. We enjoyed a drink and nibbled on some camp food, where sleep soon caught up with us.

Today we woke up and enjoyed a lavish breakfast, complete with chefs to make omelets to your liking. Afterward we made for the Avis in town and rented a car. We then headed into the park and spent the afternoon cruising the bush at our own leisure. It was a lovely day in terms of weather, shade, and animal life. We encountered countless impala, kudu, nyala, springbok, and gazelle. Truly I find most of them to look alike, though the kudu tower over them all. They are huge! We also saw zebra, warthogs, elephants, giraffes, a hippo, and a leopard up in a tree. The strangest thing about the experience is how random the encounters occur. One minute you’re driving with nothing but bush for miles on end and suddenly an animal appears in front of you.

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My favorite encounter today was finding two giraffes crossing the road. In my last stint into the South African bush up in the Sabi Sand reserves the giraffes were some of the most elusive creatures. This time they were right before us! One was grazing at the side while another turned toward us and stared idly before turning to the side and walking off. They were younglings, not yet full grown, and still towered over us. They are such beautiful animals.

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The strangest encounter, however, evoked very different emotions. After spying a host of zebra alongside a horde of impala we ran into a small cluster of Southern Ground Hornbill. They are an odd kind of large bird that somewhat resemble a vulture. Standing at around 2.5ft they looked like a meek, midget pterodacytl on foot. I got out my camera to take a picture and a couple of them took notice of me. They boldly approached the vehicle and before I knew it, 8 of them were too close for comfort. I quickly rolled up my window and drove onward, but I couldn’t shake how strangely terrifying they were. Velociraptors of the bush.

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The sun got the best of us again and we had to take a roundabout way back to our lodging. Construction slowed us even more, despite the fact it is Sunday. We did make it, however. Dinner was had at a quaint seafood restaurant. My father enjoyed a Greek salad and I absolutely loved my veggie sushi roll. What a crazy, accessible world we live in where I can see African animals in the afternoon and dine on top-notch sushi for dinner. As for tomorrow, my hope is for us to camp in the park where we can enjoy the African sunset I love so very much.

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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.

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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.

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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.

RSA By Bike, Day 2

After our lovely stay and a prolonged sleep at Lovell’s B&B we awoke rested. The hostel manager, Maggie, knocked on our door until we arose (an hour past our alarm), proclaiming that breakfast was ready. Happy to oblige we slumped into the dining hall chairs to find an incredibly beautiful colonial style room before us complete with long, flowing curtains, a chandelier, fireplace, and brass adornments. There were several stunning paintings of a young dancer, likely the owner herself years ago. I left the hall after finishing a breakfast spread in hopes of getting things packed up. In such a hurry I managed to leave a few things behind–a detail I learned hours later when my father received a phone call from Maggie. I was excited to finally get behind the bike, though remiss to leave the comfy confines of that B&B.

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We hit the road and I quickly realized how heavy the bike was with the two of us and all our stuff as well. Many of my complaints the night before about my dad’s speed and control, as well as the general windiness dissipated once I experienced the other side of things. What feels fast feels even faster seated in the back and being at the mercy of the driver, holding onto virtually nothing at 70mph speeds. Having my hands on the handlebars was much preferable. Our drive consisted of a rustic paradise: rolling hills complete with canola fields, more sheep than one could count, clusters of ostriches, horses, and cows.

Just over an hour in I pulled to the side of the road because our GoPro was being finicky and our GPS, too. But a moment later it was time to hit the road, except the bike wouldn’t start. We were baffled. We called about and reached out for help with little response, eventually deciding one of us should walk to the nearest petrol station. It was not 200m before a car pulled to the side of the road and asked if we needed help. Our deus ex machina was an Afrikaaner family on their way to get their son into a new school. They had left early and felt compelled to see to our aid. As we surmised we only needed a jump–easier said than done on a bike though. The whole ordeal from stall to start took well over an hour and a half but we were happy to have no serious engine problems.

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(Some views around where our bike broke down temporarily)

My father took over the horns for a couple hours then I took it on for several more, relinquishing it again for the last 40 minutes. The wind picked up and was throwing us all over the place, at our faces and sides. We escaped the countryside and eventually neared the coast, along the well-traveled Garden Route: a path consisting of 3 major cities of note. Traversing winding roads and windy pathways, we came across proper highways as well as baboons–only in South Africa, right? Somewhere around 5pm we found ourselves in a town called Plettenberg Bay. This beach-side town was a sight for sore eyes. Eying a dipping sun we looked for accommodations, much to my chagrin. I was hoping to camp tonight, but in such a place a site would be unlikely. I soon ate my words because a dark and looming windstorm rolled in. My father and I found a place called the Milkwood Manor within close proximity and made our way inside just as the wind attempted to slam the doors tight. We were welcomed inside and offered a room for an exuberant price, much too much for our budget. My dad, however, worked his magic and before you know it they were offering us the room for just over half the price. Being late in the evening and in the middle of winter certainly helped, too. The owner was an elderly Dutch man who OKed the final price and showed us to our 4-star room. Guess one more day in civilization wouldn’t hurt 🙂

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Since setting up camp we crossed the sandbar to a lovely ocean-side eatery called The Lookout Deck for some fine grub; Porapora prawns and local beer for the pops, a peri peri burger with gluhwein for me. We have since managed to roll ourselves home to enjoy the luxury of cable TV, free wifi, and soft single beds. It feels good to be human, but tomorrow we must hit the road again!

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The Odyssey, Day 1/2

Hermanus

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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.

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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!

Western Cape, Day 3

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Yesterday was a busy day. I awoke just after 7am to call Chris Haman, an offroad motorcycle specialist. My father had taken a course from him in the past and had only positive things to say. This gentleman is middle-aged and very closely resembles the South African actor Arnold Vosloo (who played the mummy Imhotep in the 1999 film). I quickly put on all my new motorcycle gear and headed out to Belville, about a 30 minute drive from Somerset West. I was nervous about the whole ordeal because I hadn’t set foot on a motorcycle in about four years. Driving a motorcycle is akin to owning a gun because it requires an enormous respect for the power at your disposal; it also has the capacity to injure or kill, and thus should be wielded cautiously.

Once I met up with Chris we had some coffee and he instantly revealed himself to be a wonderfully kind and humorous man. He definitely has the charisma of a good teacher and he put my mind at ease, despite lacking some serious riding confidence. We rode our bikes to a kind of construction lot, complete with a large dirt and gravel field with bricks and trash lining the perimeter. We chatted about the trip and eventually took to practicing some off-roading and balance techniques. A lot of motorcycling seems counterintuitive, from shifting one’s weight to how to maneuver the bikes in tight areas; one consistent piece of advice carried itself throughout the day: always look up. Looking up and ahead of you always prepares you for what is to come, despite the natural inclination to look at what lies directly in front of you. People have a tendency to crash should they do the latter, and with this advice I managed to keep the 800cc bike up (no small feat, as this bike weighs between 400 and 455lbs depending on how much fuel is in the tank). Understanding the machine certainly works to your advantage, and as Chris pointed out, a bike can be held up with two fingers if you know how to balance it right.

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After five hours or so I could make U-turns in under 4 meters and weave in and out of obstacles with relative ease. I of course had nothing on Chris who could rock, bounce, and supplant any obstacle like a professional. Toward the end of the lesson we rode on bumpy back roads straddling South African farming plots. I have to admit, riding around the Western Cape seemed unreal; the beauty is second-to-none and I felt like I was in some kind of dream. The rolling hills, stunning backdrops, and rustic splendor makes even the most beautiful places in my travels pale in comparison. Parts of our rides seemed like Boulder, but many, many times prettier and yet still there was a gorgeous ocean on one side, mountains to the other, and green majesty abound. At one point there was even a group of oversized bovines grazing right on the road’s edge. I can easily see why there are so many motorcycle riders around this area—there is just so much to look at, and no other vehicle allows you to experience it with all of your senses.

I returned to the Squirrel’s Peep to encounter much merriment. My father informed me there was a kind of get-together going on upstairs and that I must hurry to join it, as it was the tail end of the party. I quickly changed and came upstairs to find a large gathering consisting of extended family. I was pleased to find everyone very welcoming and fun. I sampled a few kinds of wine and discussed with many the nature of our upcoming trip. Most everyone had some advice and rightly so since most had at least some experience traveling through Mozambique, Tanzania (which they pronounce Tan-ZAY-nee-uh), Namibia, and the like. Almost all we have encountered see us as batty, expressing that Africa will likely see to the best laid schemes of mice and men. We must concede that our route is arduous and perhaps a bit too condensed, but we are stubborn Ishmaels and ever-loyal to our cause.

Within an hour or so the deVilliers and their kin said their goodbyes, and all that remained was a host of empty wine bottles, bread crumbs, and traces of cheese spread thin upon a cheese knife. My father saw to the dishes and we too said our preliminary adieus. We tended to further preparations for our trip, and I exerted further energy toward getting the Spot Connect to work. My apologies for those who have noticed its omission; I am having difficulty accessing our most recent tracings, but I have gotten it to work before back in the states so I am perplexed as to its dysfunctional nature. Later that evening I drove the rental car back to the airport behind my father on the BMW motorbike. We dropped it off and returned on bike, finishing up a few things and calling it a night.

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(To give you a sense of the stuff we’re bringing, this is the camera equipment, alongside the camping gear)

Today my father is out attempting to wrangle this registration issue into submission. As he said in a previous entry, this setback could delay our trip for several days—possibly indefinitely, but my father has a silver tongue and knows how to cajole others into accessing their sentimentality. I await him at the Squirrel’s Peep on this cloudy Monday afternoon, where I am writing this very entry hoping good news is to follow. Despite my love for the Western Cape, wanderlust calls me onward. I can hear the roaring engine of the 800GS arriving now. I am ready to go—I just hope the universe is ready to follow suit.

**UPDATE**
Good news! My dad has acquired all the documentation. The bike is ready to go, but it is too late in the afternoon to depart so we will leave first thing in the morning. Cheers!

Africa, Day 2

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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.

Day 1 in Africa

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After a good night’s sleep we awoke refreshed and renewed. Our excitement of being here grew ten fold with the rise of the sun over this beautiful land. We are in the dead of winter and yet it was about 72 degrees and sunny out. The Cape Dutch architecture, the view of False Bay, the vineyards, rolling hills and trees were more beautiful to our eyes than ever before. We just loved it!

Our landlords are Dan and Alli de Villiers here in Somerset West at the Squirrel’s Peep. It provides beautiful views of the Helderberg mountain and the Hottentots mountain range. Dan and Alli are a beautiful couple in their late 40s with 4 girls (Catherine, Sarah, Frances, and Lilly), two in university, one in high school and one in middle school. They are the nicest people you would ever want to meet and their hospitality is second to none. I have lived with them before while working on my Ph.D. research here and was incredibly pleased to be back again in this beautiful place with these WONDERFUL people!

I first went to Vodacom to get my phone number reactivated here to find that it was already recycled to someone else (if you don’t use it for more than 3 months you lose it), so I had to   get a new phone number and buy some talk time for my unlocked cell phone (in the US the carriers lock in your sim card so that your phone will only work on their network, so you have to buy an unlocked phone when traveling abroad and get sim cards in every country you visit to be able to access the local cell network). The sim card and number were just 1 rand (about 10¢) plus talk time, but you have to be a South African resident to buy one now. Luckily I just gave her our address here and explained I was a student at Stellenbosch University and she got it for me. Now we can be reached at any time while in country.

We went by Xtreme Fitment to check on the progress of my bike. It is looking more beautiful than ever (she is, after all, my mistress). They have a couple more things to do tonight so we’ll pick it up in the morning. Then we set off for the BMW Motorrad dealer here, Donford Motors. The employees have become good friends and my buddy Don Corleone (no kidding, that’s his name!) fed us the best lasagna and chicken pie we’ve ever eaten for lunch at his café right in the dealership. From there we were off to get all of our shots for the trip. In the US they wanted $150 each for a doctor’s consultation and then $275 each per shot (Yellow Fever and Typhoid) plus $125 for malaria pills. We got it all for $65 here at the University of Stellenbosch Travel Clinic (my student discount came in handy). After getting counseled by the doctor on what to look out for in terms of diseases and infections, I am getting a bit nervous about our undertaking. We did learn that our biggest enemy is the mosquito, or should I say mosquitos. Apparently, yellow fever mosquitos bite during the day while malaria mosquitos bite from 10 PM to 4 AM. Who knew?!

There is more to do before we leave. Tomorrow Reese starts his off-road riding lessons with Chris Hamman, a former BMW Motorrad dealer and trainer here. We will visit our long time friends, the Coxwells, tomorrow as well. We’ve known Chris and Carol since 1979 when we first lived in South Africa and they in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). We then have to get the bike registration renewed on Monday morning before we can begin our journey! All is coming together nicely, but it helps to know the ropes…