Published: August 16th 2006July 20th 2006
Cool, Crazy, Like a Banana in the Fridge
So I have a theory... And it's that you can tell a lot about a nation of people by how they greet each other. For example: Australian
: Q: "How you going?" A: Good, thanks! (Even though in the literal sense it could be claimed that our answer should be "By Car" or "Fast") British
: Q: "You Allright?" A. Yes, thank you. (Even though every time I get asked this my initial reaction is to say - "Yes, I'm fine - does it not look like I'm allright!?" - eg Is my head falling off or something?) East African
Q: "Mambo!?" A. Poa Poa. Poa Kichizi, Kaman Dizi, Dan Ya Frigi
So arguably, Aussie's passion for sport has gone so far that our greeting uses a verb relating to speed and action, whilst the Brits keep it real by asking not if someone is bad, well, happy or sad but instead prefer to go for the middle-ground of "allright", whilst in East Africa, when asked "How Are You?" the most common answer is "Cool, Crazy, Like a Banana In the Fridge."
I think they're onto
Because quite frankly, our last 2 weeks in Africa were possibly one of the best 2 weeks of the year. In 14 days, we managed to be awestruck by the Serengetti & Ngorogo Crater, mesmerised by the tropical paraidse of Zanzibar and delighted by the cool, crisp city streets of Cape Town. And if what it takes to enjoy this part of the world, is to be "Cool, Crazy, Like a Banana In the Fridge", then damn it, then that's what we'll be!! Safari in Tanzania
The last leg of our organised Overland Trip, was (thankfully) not on the same truck as our first 2 weeks heading East. With a new group, new leader and ironically - a mini-van, we briskly headed south from Nairobi into Tanzania to kick off our Safari adventures in the Serengeti National Park.
Lawerence was our jeep driver for the 3 days we were to spend in the park - a total Raster, with dreds, jamaican accessories and a smile as wide as the crater itself - he was a very cool, happy-go-lucky guy, with amazing knowledge of the land & the wildlife and a passion for ensuring we
got the most out of our time. A very intelligent guy, he could speak not only Swahili and English, but also Spanish and some Japanese. He informed us that his next linguistic ambition was to be able to speak (insert West-Indian accent) "Jamaican English-man!", which he described as "Not a language of words-man, but a way of expressing your attitude and style!"
Our first day was a long drive from Arusha (possibly one of the dodgiest African towns we were to go to), a picnic lunch overlooking the crater and a few hours drive towards our camp site. Billed as an afternoon 'getting to where we needed to be going' we weren't expecting too much action - however we still managed to see a lot of great animals, including a breath taking family of elephants. We paused by the roadside to watch them walking gracefully only about 15 metres away. Seeing a baby playfully throwing grass in the air - I couldn't help but gasp and skip a beat - it truely was a beautiful sight.
We settled in to the fun of 'game spotting' on the approach to camp, familiarising ourselves with the plethora of 'common' animals
we were passing along the way - gazelles, giraffs, wilderbeast, buffalo... Scrub fires were to our left, and surprisingly, Lawrence decided a detour that way would be a good idea... As you'll get a good chance of seeing fleeing
animals! Memories of 1994, 1999 and 2004 bushfires at home flashed through my mind and I hoped tomorrow's headline wouldn't be "Tourists die as jeep veers towards flames!." And despite the fact we DID indeed drive through flames and smoke, we lived to tell the tale.. which is more than I can say for a poor old Tortoise we saw by the side of the road the next day. :(
Our first day ended with what was possibly one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen. It started hours before the sun set, as not only the sky, but the landscape proceeded to change tones gradually, and then significantly. The blue sky became more vivid, the gold grass richer and even trees looked as if they had been illuminated before eventually we were treated to a firey red sun set. Witnessing all of this as we were zoomed down the dirt tracks with wind in our hair - I
really didn't want this spectacle of nature to end.
Day 2 was a 5:30am departure from camp in order to try and catch Lions in their morning glory! Lawrence wasn't promising anything, as it is apparently possible to go all this way and NOT see any Lions, but he was determined and throughout the morning, we'd drive down one way, he'd get a message on his walky-talky before we'd do a massive U-Turn, and head in a different direction! Woo Hoo!! We were rockin' on Safari!
Before the next 2 days were out, we'd seen soo many amazing and beautiful animals, I could go through each experience one by one and this blog would never end. But lets just say we saw over 30 Lions, Cheetahs, Leopards and more.... It was one adrenalin rush after another and it just kept getting better and better. The Masai People
Heading out of the Serengeti after a briliant 3 days, we were invited to drop into a community of Masai people which was also really really fantastic. Of course a small contribution was required, but we thoroughly enjoyed seeing some of their traditional dress, culture and dance -
even if it was obviously staged for the tourists. Dom got right into things and joined the Masai men in their "jumping style-y dance" - African Pole in hand, he leaped into the air, legs straight as they whislted and worbled a traditional song. We were also able to sit in on their primary class for a few minutes and it was amazing to see these little dark, dusty faces run through the English alphabet and then sing their national anthem! Soo cute! Zanzibar
So continuing east, we passed Mt Kiliminjairo on our way to the coast and Dar Es Salam, where we caught a ferry to Zanzibar - a wonderful historic island, with Arabian, Persian and European influence (Marco Polo apparrently zoomed past on his way back to Italy), a dark history from the slave trade, spice plantations, and best of all, some of THE most beautiful beaches you are ever likely to see.
We spent our first day and night in Stone Town - the main town of Zanzibar - a cobbled series of steets with just so much character and charm. Dom and I spent our afternoon there kicked back on the roof
of 'Africa House', formerly the British Club at the turn of the last century, watching the water sparkle with a pizza and lemon, lime & bitters to boot. Nice.
But the beach was on our minds.... And after saying farwell to our tour group, we were fancy free to kick back for an entire week, and do absolutely NOTHING! You know you're having a good beach holiday when every day seems like the one before and you don't have to put on a pair of shoes 'cos you're going no further than your bungalow, beach side restaurant for breakfast, sitting on the beach reading and swimming during the day and then heading to another beach side restaurant for dinner!
And without overly-gushing, I have to say that Zanzibar's beaches were just really something else. We have found paradise! (refer attached pictures - I think they'll speak louder than words).
So anyways, my 30th birthday also happened to coincide with our time in Zanzibar. And I know a lot of people find turning 30 a bit painful, but for reasons pretty obvious, I felt so incredibly lucky to be spending my 30th in Zanzibar. Dom treated me to
a beautiful night in a restored colonial house in Stone Town - girls you'll like this - the room had 4 poster bed, an open-air bath and we had a 4 course, roof-top dinner on traditional african cushions and low-set tables. It was MAGIC!!! Cape Town
But eventually our week had to come to a close, and it was time to head to our next destination - Cape Town. After a journey which I won't labour over, but basically involved getting up at 5am the day after my birthday, to take a 2 hour boat ride, followed by a 4 hour airport wait, to finally catch our flight that ended up stopping back where we had started - Zanzibar - before finally heading north, then south, through J'burg for the night to eventually then reach Cape Town at lunch time the next day. Oh dear! Well, there's always a nightmare transport story from time to time.
Cape Town has a lot to offer and in our 4 days there, we had a great time climbing Table Mountain one day, visiting the V&A Waterfront the next and hiring a car to drive down to Cape Point &
Cape of Good Hope on the other. However what made our time there really
great was our hostel... Lovely "Sunflower Stop", where the staff personally came to pick us up & drop us off from the airport and where we felt so at home in the kitchen & lounge room (Dom enjoyed the Golf, I took back to my old habits of Chanel V). Hitting a local supermarket on our first day had also quite an impact - I thought we were in consumer heaven as we got all our own fresh produce for healthy, affordable and best of all self-cooked
breakfasts, lunches & dinners! Avadacos! Fresh Salads! Rice Crackers! Cheese! Strawberries and Muesli! Soo much Fruit! It's a strange feeling returning to a developed country after spending a significant amount of time in a more under-developed ones.. Exciting, but a little disturbing, at the same time.
And all in all, we found Cape Town a really beautiful city. It was chilly, there were some cracking storms and the ocean was belting out some massive crashing waves. Very dramatic indeed! It had a kind of coastal-hip-medium-sized city, blended with an under-current of slightly dodgy, watch-where you walk at night
feel. From what we hear, it's actually pretty safe compared to J'Burg, and we found the people really friendly and easy-going and very easy to get around (ref: "Riki's" - bright yellow rickshaws that take you pretty much anywhere for $4, and all the drivers are all ex-hippys from the '60s with crazy stories to tell!) Farewell Africa
So after our several days in Cape Town it was time to board our BA flight to London and Manchester for our next 4 weeks in the UK.
I won't continue with waxing-lyrical about how amazing Africa was - but will leave it here by saying that everyone
should get to Africa if they can one day. It truely was a blessing to experience.
There are more photos below