We’re home! Several people have warned us that re-entry into “normal” life in Australia can be hard. I know my sister Morag has always found it difficult to come back to the affluence and materialism of Australia after visiting Africa. How can you reconcile everything seen over there with the relative comfort of the West? Worse, how can you explain everything you’ve seen without starting to sound like an over-wrought evangelist? And how do you practically help the great need over there, from over here?
Re-entry started on the plane as we settled onto a QANTAS flight, shocked at just how broad and nasally the Australian accent sounds when you haven’t heard it much for five weeks.
Here’s a few shots from our road trip from Cape Town to Jo’burg.
Okay, so everyone knows we have three rumbustious boys and quite a few folk might have thought we were quite barking mad to traipse around the world with them, taking them into some of the poorest and apparently dangerous countries on earth. But we have to say that, except for a few notable exceptions, they’ve done very well and hopefully the trip has opened their eyes to the broader world beyond Australian shores.
Joseph tells us he has thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the international travel bug seems to have bitten him. He doesn’t like being pressed on his favourite parts of the trip as he seems to have enjoyed it all and especially the people he has met. Tim occasionally grumbles that he dislikes travel, though this generally coincides with when he wants to shock us or get a reaction out of us. He has had the chance to run himself ragged in some pretty wild places and I think he’ll end up with good memories. Elijah is the best traveller – he can sleep anywhere, takes each day as it comes, doesn’t need a schedule and has made good friends everywhere he has gone.
When we left Zimbabwe ten days ago, we thought coming to South Africa for our road trip would be a good ‘buffer’ between cosy Australia and all that we had seen in Zimbabwe. Sorry for calling Australia ‘cosy’, but……!!
Well, our eyes have been opened again in South Africa! Once we left upbeat Capetown with its stark contrast between the affluent and the shanty towns we headed North stopping at different places, as mentioned in previous blogs. A couple of days ago we made the long trek up through the Transkei, which was a political hotbed not so many years ago. We heeded the warnings of our friends and family and stuck to main roads and only travelled in the daytime. Often our eyes were almost glued to the windows as we took in the tin-shack villages and grinding poverty that was so evident. There were desperate hitch-hikers on every stretch of road and every time we stopped someone was trying to sell something.
We woke this morning to some enormous African thunder cracking above the enormous farmhouse we were staying in. The rain was drumming down steadily so we decided to give Addo elephant park a miss and press on to our next destination. We’ve seen a lot of game this holiday already! First we had to negotiate 7km of sticky dirt road. Would have been fine in a 4WD but our Mercedes Vito slipped and slid around. We made it.
The rain continued all day and the N2, which has been splendidly wide since Cape Town, pinched out, and at times descended into some fairly perilous road works. The countryside is still gorgeous though – a mixture of karoo, Transkei and sweeping coastal views. We arrived at Kei River Mouth where we’re staying in the mid-afternoon.
When we were in Cape Town me and my cousin Lance went Great White Shark Diving. We had to get up at like 5:00 in the morning and wake Dad up so he could drive us to a petrol station where we got picked up by a Shark Diving Unlimited van. We were the only people in the van apart from a awesome Swedish guy who worked all over the World and was in Cape Town at the moment. We drove like 2 hours and while we were waiting we watched a documentary about a guy who swam with Great Whites for 30 hours straight to prove that Great Whites can tell the difference between seals and humans. When we got there they gave us some breakfast and took us to the boats. We had the Barracuda the best boat there and they didn’t waste any time telling boring safety rules.
Here’s a few more random photos from recent days. Joseph and Lance went diving with Great White sharks. We don’t have much in the way of photos but Lance took some underwater video and also bought the tour DVD so we have some great footage. The sharks came VERY close.
Also in this set are some shots of the Atlantic waves of Cape Town and the boys having a go-cart ride near Cango Caves.
Just a quick update (this morning South Africa time). We’ve been on the road the last few days, staying with long-time family friends of the Grants as we start to make our way east, and north of Cape Town. The main highways here are excellent – the N2 puts the Bruce or Newell Highways to absolute shame. So it’s easy and enjoyable driving.
Tuesday morning the tablecloth lifted and we were able to get up the stunning slopes of Table Mountain – recently named one of the new wonders of the natural world. The tablecloth had lifted but Cape Town remained swathed in a fog so it was a stunning view – you really felt on top of the world. Joseph and Lance missed Table Mountain because they were near Cape Aghulus, diving with Great White sharks. As soon as we get some cheap internet we will post photos and footage of both. On this holiday Joseph has ridden an elephant, fed lions and dived with sharks. He loves the adventure.
We went from twelve people crowded into a seven-seater minibus with no seat belts (and more potholes than road) to a Mercedes minibus and a spare seat! Oh, but we LOVED Zimbabwe and wouldn’t have changed a thing!!! How could we thank Debbie Brennocks and her beautiful girls enough for helping us experience such an amazing ten days?
We are now staying in a lovely place called Noordhoek in two cute little cottages, with Morag and Lance next door. It’s been fantastic having Morag and Lance to share the boys with. For the past two days we have done a lot of sight-seeing in beautiful Capetown. Yesterday we drove around to different places that Andrew, Morag and Lance remembered from their childhoods.
We we’re hoping to get up Table Mountain today but the tablecloth hung around all day so we will have to wait. Instead we went to the Scratch Patch to fulfill my Mum’s birthday wish for us. Then we went to Hout Bay and I got to catch up with a school mate from Henry Low Primary, Kerry Macdonald. We hadn’t seen each other since we left the school at the end of 1981. Fish and hips at Hout Bay were brilliant.
We spent some time at Sea Point and went on the ferris wheel (far helper than the one in Brisbane). Then we spent the rest of the day taking Lance to his childhood homes and schools. He is loving seeing the city of his birth as an adult!
Okay, we will update our last few days in Switzerland eventually, but first to this morning’s calamity. We knew our transfer in Jo’burg would be tightish. We had 1 hour and 45 minutes but we didn’t need to clear customs and it was well within acceptable limits. But then …..
Our plane into Jo’burg was 10 minutes late.
Our gang bridge wasn’t working so we were redirected to another part of the airport miles way from anywhere.