Ireland Here I Come!
I am finally on the road. Thanks to everyone who came to see me off from Steampunk on Saturday morning. From old school friends to neighbours to new friends and even the Alfa Club, it was great to see you all there. And a special thank you to the Steampunk himself, Michael.
It was pretty tough to say goodbye to everyone and everything I knew, to throw myself into a world of uncertainty, and hit the road. There have been points over the last week that thoughts of Steampunk, Il Postino, my fireplace, my parents, my dogs and my bed could almost make me cry, and think, what the hell have I done? who’s idea was this? (It was mine) I think if I’ve learned anything in the last week, it’s that perhaps I have lived too softly, and not drank deep enough of life’s simple pleasures…
My first day took me to Johannesburg, the economic heart of Africa. At first it was terrifying to be in the chaotic traffic (1 hour for 3km) but I came to appreciate the shady avenues and the fact that anything I could possibly want, was right there. I stayed with old family friends who had a roaring fire place and a friendly dog. That helped. I also got to see an old and favourite teacher of mine, who I hadn’t seen since I was in the 10th grade (history class for the win).
On my way out of Johannesburg I stopped for fuel at an old Sasol garage, and there was, of all things, an Avro Shackleton on the roof. It’s Pelican 23 from the SAAF, from 1959. I have always been fond of these planes, when I was a child Pelican 17 lived at Midmar Dam, and I was fond of it, so I like to seek out these planes when I can. There are only 12 left in the world.
From Johannesburg I went to Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana. I arrived at dusk after a long drive. After crossing the border I lost all cell connectivity and my GPS then turned on me, and led me into the middle of nowhere. In the dark I found my way back to Gaborone, and to a cafe with WiFi, where I looked up the true location of the backpackers. I arrived exhausted and in the dark to a welcoming owner who put me up in a tent for two days. There I met an american teacher, and a Chinese backpacker, who had been traveling in Africa for two years. She was a wealth of knowledge. The owner also had a Humvee and a Rolls Royce, which was interesting. After two nights being out of touch I headed back to Johannesburg to take care of my cell phone situation. After a few days with friends in JHB, I had sorted my cell situation, and was feeling a little more confident. So I hit the road again, this time heading straight for Zimbabwe.
I decided not to drive the same road for a third time, and to head to Beitbridge, which I believe, was a form of temporary madness.
Next time: Beitbridge and the road to Bulawayo.