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Travel


“You guys are living the life. You’ve got it made.” Throughout our travels we hear these sentiments from many different folks. We are and we do. We live in a state of appreciation. But why do we love to travel? I don’t know…so I researched “travel,” the word.

An ancient root from the Latin word tripalium means to impale with three stakes, as in torture. Later, the French root travail, or travailen means to torment, labor strenuously, journey, toil and struggle. Hmm…50 Shades of Travel? Perhaps I don’t want to know why we love travel.

Here’s an example of a day in the life of a traveler, which is just as typical as seeing wonderful things and meeting beautiful people:

Mare and I board a 20-hour bus from Livingstone, Zambia to Windhoek, Namibia. The bus gets so full of passengers that there remains no seat for the extra driver. He ends up sleeping below the bus in the luggage compartment.

Being the only white people on board, we get another glimpse of what it feels like to be a minority. Of course, we’re in Africa. The man sitting behind Mare is too huge for the seat. Mare cannot lean her seat back at all. I argue with him a bit, but he’s too huge for that also.

As soon as the bus leaves the station, our backs soak with sweat during this hot, bumpy ride. The road is long and straight, and elephants cross on occasion. An awful movie blares. It begins with white cops chasing and beating up a black thief. Great. Then, it develops into something about cops getting way in to God, and end up practicing loving forgiveness. (Science fiction?)

Four hours later we all disembark to walk about a mile in the hot African sun, between various Immigration and Customs buildings. We swipe our feet on chemically soaked rugs to prevent spread of “hoof and mouth” disease. This practice occurs at least four times during the twenty-hour trip. I begin to look forward to it, to break the monotony.

At the Namibian border, we are screened for Ebola by standing sideways, while a woman shoots a ray gun at each of us. Then we receive a torn piece of cardboard with a number written on it. Apparently, that means we do not have Ebola and can enter Namibia.

Ten hours into the ride, the black of night cloaks the windows. Mare cannot lean her seat back, so falling asleep means that her head drops forward. She lays her head on my lap, and stretches those long legs straight up in the air against the window. Mare sleeps. Lucky devil.

My knees ache. Back still wet with sweat. Neck is tied in knots, and leg where Mare’s head lies is totally numb, but I don’t have the heart to wake her. My ass feels like someone has scrubbed it with sandpaper, and my elbows are rubbed raw from the arm rests. Then, as soon as I close my eyes, the final movie blares louder than any other – “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”

The screeching sound of singing chipmunks in the darkness for two hours is surreal. That “Hula Hoop” song stays stuck in my head for days.

Twenty hours later, we arrive in Windhoek. It’s six o’clock in the morning and we can’t check in to the hostel room until noon. We walk the streets, mainly waiting for a “decent” time to have a beer. Time of day matters little at this point. Finally, in the room and out of our clothes, a shower has never felt so good.

The strange thing about “travel” is that we love it. I’m not sure what that says about us, but we live in a state of appreciation for all of life’s experiences. Well maybe not all… sometimes it simply feels good to stop.

Why do we travel? Most often, a pay-off comes with it. In this case, the following day we rent a car for an exhilarating ride on remote gravel roads, and end up in a safari tent at Desert Camp, outside of Namib-Naukluft Park. Unworldly landscape and monstrous dunes blow us away. Perhaps we travel just because we like to see different stuff.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

We’re living the life and we got it made. Thank you, Abundant Universe!  Ron Mitchell

Tis the Season in Botswana: Chobe National Park


The onset of rainy season fires up wild animals. Mare and I board a boat with eight others for a safari cruise on the Chobe River, where Botswana be on the left, Namibia on the right.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Cruising the Chobe River in Botswana

The Chobe and Zambezi rivers meet at the tip of Impalila Island, resulting in a junction of four different counties – Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

We know they are out there….

From the safety of our boat, we glide past crocodiles and lizards who blend in with the terrain. A bay of water lilies in bloom provides food and disguise for the many water birds. It also signals the beginning of breeding season.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Can you see the bird?

None will escape the eye of the Fish Eagle, the national bird of Zambia, who scopes out the river scene from a tree.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Fish Eagle, the national bird of Zambia

Hippos roll all over each other, engaging in foreplay. Males are full of testosterone and very aggressive.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hippos feeling frisky

They are Africa’s deadliest killers, from a mammal perspective, and have been known to charge boats. Running under water at amazing speed, they can sink their tusks through the hull of a boat! Experienced guides know how to spot the bow wave, and scoot on out of there.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hello there!

Here come the elephants. Chobe National Park boasts Africa’s largest elephant herds.

Photo by Marilynnn Windust

Here they come

They put on a spectacular show, frolicking in the muddy waters. Female elephants are careful to prevent randy young males from engaging in incest.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Mama keeping an eye on the youngsters

When males reach this age, they are banned from the female herd. They get to hang out with the guys for the rest of their life, following the females in anticipation of an invite.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Trouble brewing?

Once we disembark, and jump into a safari truck, the breeding theme intensifies.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Waiting for dinner

Vultures wait for the remains of a kill, while we watch a male baboon get excited when a female strolls past. He licks his lips enthusiastically, but she keeps on walking. (That technique had never worked for me either)

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hey there baby!

Whoa, big fella! This male elephant crosses our path in an obvious, perhaps desperate search for a female. Just how many legs do elephants have?

Photo by Marilynnn Windust

The elephant in the room

After a sexually charged water and land safari, we’re moving pretty slow back at the junction. I feel like smoking a cigarette.        Ron Mitchell

Traveling to Victoria Falls: Zambia and Zimbabwe  


Stuck in luxury. The Manhattan Hotel in Pretoria, South Africa has five star accommodation. Surrounded by a prison, bus and train stations, the sketchy unsafe streets imprison us in irony.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Just a small section of the mighty Victoria Falls

We cannot get a visa for travel into Zimbabwe. The application website does not work, and the bus company will not wait for us to get one at the border. Even a trip to the Zimbabwean embassy proves fruitless. They won’t let us through the gate. Okay, travel plans change. We will fly to Livingstone, Zambia to witness Victoria Falls from the Zambian side.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Victoria Falls from the Zambian side

Stand in the center of a rainbow on a walking bridge over a gorge. Let the mist of Victoria Falls cleanse you like a cloudburst ascending from the ground. Cry in the moment as one-million liters of water per second fall down a 108 meter (about one football field) drop.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The pool at David Livingstone Lodge on the Zambezi Riverfront

Words and photos cannot describe or compare to feeling, breathing, wearing Victoria Falls. The earth simply split open in the middle of the Zambezi River and now takes us all in. From a distance, the mist looks like smoke from a major forest fire. No wonder local folks call the Falls Mosi-oa-Tunya, which literally means the “Smoke that Thunders.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Livingstone Island with the mist (smoke) rising from behind

Let’s take a two-hour tour to Livingstone Island, where Scottish explorer David Livingstone was the first European to witness this amazing sight. Depart from the ultra-luxurious David Livingstone Lodge on the Zambezi Riverfront. I thought the tour was going to be stupid. I was wrong.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Walking on the edge of Livingstone Island

After a short boat ride to the island, six of us hold hands while following one guide. We traverse over slippery rocks in the Zambezi River within feet of the edge of the Falls. The rainy season is late this year, which gives us an opportunity to “swim” in the Angel’s Armchair.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

In the Angel’s Armchair atop Victoria Falls

One by one, we go out with a guide who holds our hand while we lounge in the rapids on the lip of Victoria Falls. Zim! Bam! Wee! What a thrill! Crab crawl back to land over rocks and through the rapids. I hope that I did not ingest too many parasites by swallowing Zambezi river water during this adrenaline rush. Later, Mare reads sad stories about travelers losing friends, and guides from this activity.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Does not look like a good way to go…but then again….

Dammit. We’ll walk into Zimbabwe. Yes, after numerous customs/immigration checks on the hot road, we are in, baby!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Finally!

The view from this side is also spectacular. We can see where we swam yesterday. Outside of the park, hawkers and hustlers fill this border town, and we’re wearing thin. One guy persistently wants my tennis shoes. We have only enough US dollars for two beers and no lunch.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Victoria Falls from the Zim side of the bridge

Back at the “Jollyboys Backpackers Hostel” we meet many interesting travelers. One man from Scotland has been riding his bicycle for the past seven months. He started in London, destination Cape Town. He was hassled in Egypt more than anywhere else, being hissed at as “Ferener.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

A look at Angel’s Armchair from the Zimbabwe side

Another young man finished his 27 month Peace Corp stint in Lesotho, purchased a Triumph motorcycle (never rode before) and has been riding Southern Africa for several months. They both tent camp, in this unrelenting heat.

Then there are the 40 or so teachers in training here for a month. All but a few are women from Norway. They are young, blond and beautiful. Makes hanging out by the pool a pleasure, for me.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Mesmerizing

We made it to Zimbabwe. No big deal. The big deal, Victoria Falls, a true “Wonder of the World,” will mesmerize you from either side.   Ron Mitchell

Kruger National Park, South Africa


The freezer in the general store at Skukuza Camp contains various cuts of wild meat. Let’s go look at wild animals before devouring them.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Camping in Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park encompasses 7,523 square miles (19,485 square kilometers) of game reserve. The best way to see Kruger is to camp. We return the camping gear that we purchased back to Sportsman’s Warehouse, and book a safari tent for less cost.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Ground Hornbill

Our little Honda w/out 4WD proves adequate for game drives, and dodging the most beautiful Ground hornbills I had ever seen.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Lions resting near the side of the road

Lions sleep in the weeds during the day, yet another reason for rules that keep you inside your vehicle.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

This guy just would not move on

Stay a safe distance from elephants. This one delays us for about fifteen minutes.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Well hello there!

A family of giraffes cross the road and brings Mare to tears. Baboons do what Baboons do.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Baboons

Temperatures soar back at the safari tent, which comes equipped with a fan and refrigerator. We stay cool by rinsing in showers in the shared bath across the road, as well as frequent dips in the pool.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

After the storm – Sunrise Safari

An evening thunderstorm cools things, while lightning bolts create strobe light effects under the clouds. Sleep to the sounds of the jungle…an insectophony if you will.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

African Wild Dogs

We wake early and get in line to wait for the gates of the Camp to open. Drivers, start your engines. Colorful, energetic wild African dogs surround our early morning ride!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

We follow our safari guide “friend,” as do the wild dogs

Let’s follow the hired guide in the fancy safari truck. Maybe he knows where the lions sleep today. And he does. After “guiding us to them,” he says, “I’ll send you the bill.” Oops. He does not send a bill, but I guess we made a faux pas.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Thanks safari guide!

White Rhinos are plentiful.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

White Rhino

A lioness, (spotted by Mare) claims the river bed. For some strange reason, we’re starving.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Lioness in the river bed

Back at camp, we are the fenced-in population, while the animals watch us. Signs prohibit throwing food over the fence to hyenas and monkeys.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Living the Braii life – with the wildlife

Let’s live the braii life…Warthog, Impala, Blue Wildebeest, and Gemsbok dominate the grill tonight. Where else could this happen? That wildebeest may have tasted better had I not dropped it in the dirt, but what an exotic feast!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Adios Kruger NP

A giraffe bids us farewell on our final morning drive back to “civilization.” Wait a minute, let’s turn around and purchase one last batch of wild game meat for the road.  Ron Mitchell

Graskop, South Africa:  The Blyde River Canyon


Cliffs, valleys and canyons of the Drakensberg Mountains meet the Blyde River near the small town of Graskop, South Africa.

Photo by nice fellow tourist

Blyde River Canyon

We decide to chill out in the cool here for a few days. Take in some sweeping valley views from the Valley View Backpackers Hostel.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The view from the Valley View Backpackers

This area offers a myriad of adrenaline activities like white water rafting, canyoning (kloofing) and candlelight caving, but we’ve done it all at some point. If you’re not afraid, where’s the fun?

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Lone Creek Falls

Let’s drive the Panoramic Route. Breathe in the mist at Lone Creek Falls.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Mac Mac Falls

God’s Window proves to be foggy during our entire stay…hope that’s not a sign!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Berlin Falls

Walk a short way to a crease in the canyon and see several more surprising waterfalls.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Lisbon Falls

After viewing the Three Rondavels, Blyde River Canyon lures us into a strenuous hike to its belly.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The Three Rondavels

The Belvedere Day Hike starts at Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Much larger than ones we dodge on the road, they are formed from whirlpools at the confluence of the Blyde and Treur Rivers.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

We swim in sweat, just an hour into hiking this humid heat. The trail grows difficult weaving up and down into the canyon. Slick boulders, thorny vines, and washes help us lose the trail several times. Watch for snakes.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Descending into the Canyon

The canyon walls and river exude beauty and awe, but we’re too gassed to appreciate it. Got to hike at least two more hours to make it out of here, and our legs are gone. Hey, here comes that adrenaline when we get lost again!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Coming through…. Ouch!

Climbing rocks and searching for markers, we’ve forgotten about watching for snakes. Shoot, we have to stop just to slow down our heart rate. Finally, we reach relatively flat ground and have only an hour of hiking back to the Potholes. Perhaps we enjoy hiking because it still scares us.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

So are we on the trail now?

Tonight, we celebrate with cold beers and peri-peri chicken livers and gizzards at Caninmambo Restaurant, a Portuguese/Mozambican joint. Next adventure, a grand finale of wild animals in Kruger Park, a South African highlight.       Ron Mitchell

Welcome to the Kingdom of Swaziland


Hail to the King! Africa’s only monarchy, Swaziland  has a friendly and thriving culture which enhances any adventure. Fifty shades of green grace the valleys and grasslands that greet jungle covered mountains in the distance.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Swaziland!

We get lost looking for the town of Ezulwini, but folks give us directions with a smile. The first hostel we check in town has sanitarium style sleeping cells, so let’s move on. Great move.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Welcome to Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Blue wildebeest, zebras, warthogs and other antelope relatives hog the dirt road to Sondzela Backpackers in Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Blue Wildebeast

We’re the only guests for the next two nights. Outside of our hut, it’s so quiet that that I can hear a warthog chewing weeds.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Quiet down out there!

We stare over grazing game in the grasslands. Hundreds of lightning strikes above the mountains signal an approaching storm, which cools down the temperature. Mliwane means ‘little fire’ on account of the lightning strikes. Did we die somewhere and end up in paradise?

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Room with a view

Welcome to a real braii, cooked for us over burning logs. We devour some species of hog chops, along with mealie, pap, cabbage, beetrost, and green salad. Hands down the best meal we’ve had in Africa thus far.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Getting ready for a serious Braii

In the morning we sip coffee and watch game animals rise after bedding down from last night’s storm. Back in the states it’s Super Bowl Sunday. We could not care less.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hello there! Hiking in Mlilwane

Walking an easy trail, a water buck stares at us and grunts. Hope he’s not too stressed! This sanctuary has no predators other than crocodiles and hippos at night.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Jayne crocheting plastic bags into rugs

Before a dinner of chicken stew over rice with pumpkin, Jayne crotchets next to the fire. Imagine this…She first gathers plastic grocery bags from the trash. After washing and drying them, she cuts them into one-half-inch strips. Jayne then ties the strips together and rolls them into a ball of “yarn” before creating colorful throw rugs.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

A rug made of candy wrappers and junk food bags

In the morning, Mare purchases a special rug that Jayne shows her. It’s totally made from discarded bags and wrappers like Doritos, Snickers, and whatever else she may find. Jayne’s rugs are creative, unique works of art from an inspiring recycle of plastic! It takes her about three days to make one rug.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

A storm approaches at sunset

On our way to the casual border crossing, we stop at a grocery store. A guy in line behind us wears a New England Patriots football jersey. He’s an American working in Swazi, and told us about the Super Bowl. We had totally forgotten about it.

Thank you, Swaziland, for the gracious welcome. Ron Mitchell

St. Lucia, South Africa: Extremely Hip


The “Hippo Crossing” road sign into the small town of St. Lucia gives us an initial impression of gimmick tourist trap.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Really?

That is, until we cross the estuary where several hippos grazing underwater lift their heads up for air, several feet from the road.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Yes, really!

After getting settled into Bib’s International Backpackers Hostel, I head out for supplies.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Braving the street – before dark

At the liquor store, Burt the owner learns that I’m from the United States. “Stephen King just left here yesterday,” he says. “He comes here a lot on holiday and we’re good friends.” Burt always gets a free copy of King’s books, and asked me to send him a copy of mine. I laugh. “Don’t expect a great novel.” Bert gives me the PO Box for the bank where his wife works. “Can’t send it to my house, mail gets stolen in South Africa.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hippos enjoying just a small part of these protected wetlands – the view from our table at the Deep Sea Angling Club

Friendly folks talk to us everywhere in this town. St. Lucia had transformed from fishing to tourism. Over a dish of lamb curry at the Deep Sea Angling Club, a patron tells us that the iSimangaliso Wetland Park protects five distinct ecosystems and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He also warns us about walking around at night. “That’s when hippos come out of the water to graze on land.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Definitely don’t want to run into this guy on the street

Hank Swatter tells us a story about his father, who is a rare survivor of hippo attack…One night about two years ago, their “sausage dog” starts barking. Anthony Swatter goes into the yard without a lantern, expecting to catch a burglar. He startles a hippo, who attacks him and gouges his abdomen with his tusks. Then hippo bites down on Anthony’s leg and flings him into the bush, snapping off the leg with his teeth. Hippo tries to gouge again, when Anthony swings a desperate punch onto hippo’s sensitive lips. Hippo resumes grazing, while emergency medical staff attend to the victim. Anthony lives with a prosthesis and colostomy bag. (Google “Man loses leg in hippo attack” if interested)

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Our first Rhino sighting

Let’s drive though Hluhluwe Game Reserve and spot some animals. From the safety of our little Honda, we have a front row seat to watch a grazing rhino.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

No comment

A monkey along the way has a serious case of “blue balls!”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Buffalo

Buffalo, waterbuck, and colorful nyala are not bothered too much by our presence.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Waterbuck

There is something new and thrilling around every corner here in Southern Africa.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Nyala

I wonder if Stephen King’s next book will involve hippos.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Yikes!

Ron Mitchell

Getting High in Africa via the Sani Pass to Lesotho


In the foothills of the southern Drakensberg Mountains, I cook ostrich burgers while Mare books a four-wheel tour up the Sani Pass. Our little Honda cannot do this “road.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The southern foothills of the Drankensberg

From Sani Lodge Backpackers, in Underberg, SA we climb into a 1975 Land Cruiser with six other tourists from northern Holland. “Speak English to me!” Matthew the driver shouts. Land Cruiser takes two hours to drive thirteen miles on this exhilarating ride.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The “road” up the Sani Pass

Bang, bump scrape and twist over boulders and through streams up the Sani Pass. Hairpin turns raise the hair on those who are not bald. Our destination is the country of Lesotho, which has the highest low point of any nation on earth, as well as the second highest point in Africa, after Kilimanjaro.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hang on!

Rain, mud, and hail greet us at the Sani Top. One passport stamp and we enter into a different world.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Welcome to Lesotho

Chinese workers construct a road, while shepherds tend their flocks. Matthew explains that the Chinese want to colonize the country, where the British and Dutch have failed. He’s originally from Lesotho, and speaks the language.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Shepherd on top of the Sani Pass

Teenage boys tend sheep here in the summer for three or four years as a rite of passage into adulthood. Each shepherd has a pack of dogs, mixes of Bernard/Border Collie/Lab who protect the flock from jackals at night. One dog serves as a pet, to keep shepherd warm at night.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Shepherds passing the time playing home-made guitar

To pass the time, one shepherd makes music from a homemade guitar, which also serves as a wind instrument.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Ron loves this as much as Matthew!

Driving through deep mud, and over boulders next to sheer drops, some tourists are tense. But Matthew has a wide smile on his face. This 74 year old guide loves his job. He’s driven this pass over 3,000 times.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Making friends

Through tundra that never freezes, we stop for a box lunch at about 10,000 feet. Mare befriends Lerotholi Hamotangoaner, a typical teenage shepherd.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Heated floors. Who would’ve guessed?

Matthew takes us into a hut. The circular stone wall is crafted like a jigsaw puzzle without mortar. Flat stones under the mud floor absorb heat from the fire. “Think they’re backwards?” Matthew asks. “They have heated flooring.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Not the best day for views from the top

Dung, mud and clay line the floor and walls. Dried dung provides fuel for fires, where smoke meanders through the thatched roof and doorway. Our gracious host shares bread and home brew made from millet/sorghum. Take a small sip simply to be polite (nasty stuff). Drakensberg Adventures shares tour revenues with the locals, a positive reoccurring theme that we’re noticing.

Photo by friend from Holland

At Sani Top Chalet

Time for a real beer at the Sani Top Chalet, the highest pub in all of Africa. Locals love Maluki beer so much than none is left for export.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Descending back into the foothills of the southern Drakensberg

The descent down Sani Pass has changed, due to the constant rain forming new streams. Finally, under the fog a green valley reveals a taste of the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains. We’re still high. What an excellent adventure!

Ron Mitchell

 

Venture to Bulungula, South Africa


Bouncing over sharp rocks and ruts, dodging sheep, goats, cattle and pedestrians, our little Honda takes two hours to drive twenty-five miles. On the dusty road to Bulungula, Mare bitches every time I hit a pothole. I grip the steering wheel so tight that it just might crack.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The road to Bulungula

We get lost often. Friendly locals give us directions, but they’re unaccustomed to maps. We can’t understand their accent anyway.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The map to Bulungula

Finally, we park and then lug our backpacks about five football fields to the community owned Bulungula Lodge. It’s worth the drive.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Finally our destination is in sight!

Gotta love their vision:  “being part of a solution to environmental problems through reduced consumption, appropriate technology, and creative thinking.”

Photo by Marilynn Windust

The hike to the Lodge from the parking area

We experience rural Transkei life on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. Little things, like using clay for sunscreen.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Employees of the Lodge show off their painting skills and their painted faces

Mare and I chill outside of our hut, taking in the scene. A river winds through green hills, greeting the Indian Ocean on a forested coastline of white sand.

Photo by Ron Mitchell

Home in Bulungula

This Fair Trade accredited, eco-friendly lodge opened in August 2004. The local community owns and runs it, after purchasing the establishment for two Rand (about 22 cents). Using solar panels and recycled water, in 24 hours the entire lodge consumes the amount of electricity that a toaster uses in an hour.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Photo of photo on display at Bulungula Lodge

The Bulungula Incubator Project focuses on education, health, and sustainable livelihood. They received The McNaulty Prize last year, which recognizes the very best in high impact leadership.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Photo of a photo on display at Bulungula Lodge

Luckily, the honor bar serves cold ones. Sip a few fireside to a serenade of bongos and a guitar. We chat with Herman, a volunteer who teaches plumbing, building, and electrical to the locals, recent applications to this community of 6,000.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Hanging out sharing with fellow travelers and listening to local music

A handful of fellow travelers come from New Zealand, Germany (of course), France, Italy, and Switzerland. Jenny from the U.K. proves to be the most inspiring. She lost her husband five years ago, and is traveling alone on the BAZ Backpacker bus at the age of 78!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Pat is a local guide who takes me surf fishing. He collects bait along the coastal walk, snagging sand crabs and cutting open some sort of cockle called “red bait,” that appears on the shore at low tide.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Catching crabs and slicing open shells for “red bait”

Pat catches a black fin. I of course catch nothing…not an unfamiliar theme.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Fishing near Bulungula

Mare and I bounce back out over the road that brought us to this magical place, and she barely bitches about the potholes.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Leaving Bulungula

Touched by the people of Bulungula and the folks supporting this project (www.bulungulaincubator.org), we’re inspired, refreshed, and ready for the next adventure.     Ron Mitchell

Driving the Garden Route in South Africa


Twist around mountains and bays. This sure does not look like the Africa that most of us imagine.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Knysna, South Africa – On the Garden Route

From our cabin in the town of Knysna, when you look over top of the razor-wire fences, views of the lagoon seem like a dream.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Sometimes all of the security stuff can be a real kill-joy

Onward drive to a roadside aviary. “Birds of Eden” is the largest, single free flight aviary in the world.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Birds of Eden Sanctuary

Here, exotic birds have no fear. Previously caged birds are released into a free flying environment.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Free Bird

Driving along the garden route, we bed a few nights in a cabin at Storms River Mouth National Park.

Photo by Marilynn windust

Storms River Mouth

After another heart-pumping shoreline hike, along the first section of the Otter Trail (a premier five-day backpack), the real fun begins with our first self-catered braii.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

First leg of the Otter Trail

I sizzle some wild Kudu steaks over a wood fire, while the ocean crashes into the rocks below. Oops, one of my corn cobs rolls down to meet the waves. Kudu turns out to be tender, with a hint taste of liver.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Good thing this trail is well marked!

As soon as we turn north off of the Garden Route, temperatures soar into the hundreds. A long hot drive brings us to a bed at the Orange Elephant Backpackers, right outside of Addo Elephant National Park.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

It does not get much better than this!

We drive our own safari, like many people. Organized tours are always available as well, but we all see the same things.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Wow!

A herd of elephants cool themselves in the black mud of a water hole.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Warthogs on patrol

Warthogs scurry around with no clear direction.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Dinner – Kudu. Glad I didn’t see this guy before dinner….

Ah, I sure hope that that Kudu does not know who we grilled the other night!

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Get out of the road please

Dang Zebras, they hog the road.

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Buffalo and friends (?)

A lone Buffalo enjoys his own water hole. Who would argue?

Photo by Marilynn Windust

Addo Elephant National Park – A highlight!

Now, this is beginning to look like the Africa that most of us imagine.

Thank you, Abundant Universe.                           Ron Mitchell

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