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Published: July 16th 2008
From Matt - Just sent nana, karl and assany to the airport. They should be back in the motherland in 24 hours. Vance Rush and I will fly to Joburg in the morn and will have a 22 hour layover before leaving for Kruger Nat. Park. We will be staying at a very plush photo safari resort called Manwana. Look it up on the internet. I feel certain they will have satellite internet but they may not. If we drop of the net for 4 days you'll know why. I'm on a french keyboard again tonite and it is really hard to compose what i want to say and hunt and peck at the same time!!
Vance and Rush are passed out upstairs and so I had hoped to upload a bunch of pics but these public computers have a tendency to get unreliabla and that is the case with this one. So no pics once again. When we finaaly do get caught up with pics there will be a lot!
To get ALL the details of my x country trip we will have to visit in person! As it would take hours for me to blog it all. So here
are the highlites.
We left Tana sat nite about 10:30 and there was a half moon so the sky was very bright. We were hours out of Tana when the moon finally set and we stopped for a potty break. The moon had set, there was not a cloud in the sky and we were on a high plateu. There was no light pollution and nothing on the horizen for 360°. I stepped out of the van and casually looked up at the sky. Man, was I blown away. The Milky Way was glowing like i had never seen before and all the southern constellations that i did not recognize were ablaze. I quickly found the southern cross and just gulped it down. The most incredible sky view I had ever seen and to be so unfamiliar. I felt like i could have been on another planet. I almost forgot that I had to P !
The toyota van we were in was probably 15 years old with a bad clutch, bad carbeurator and a temp gage that did not work. The back shocks were out. The padding in the seats was completely flat. But i knew it would be
ok because there were only 5 of us and i had an entire row of the 4 back rows to my self. My window would open but it rattled incessantly. I could stretch out when i wanted so i made little nest with my sleeping bag and towel. Nazir had given me a couple of old pillows so i figured i had it made. I slept fairly well the first night and we stopped for breakfast in what in what i started calling the "Mud villages". The very simple dwellings were about 12' X 12' framed with rough timbers then filled with "Mud"; Probably a mixture of grasses, dirt and manure. They had grass roofs and every now and then one would be upgraded with tin or 55 gal. drums that had been flattened out. All the villages were around a water source of somekind. The bigger the water source the bigger the village. The land looked a lot like west Texas. Pampas grasses small shrubs and the occasional tree. Lots and lots of red, red soil. After breakfast my world changed. Nazir took on a passenger. They haggled over the price and then climbed in. I still had the
front row and thought it was cool to be riding with a true native. Well, at the next village we picked up another several locals and my nest got a little smaller. You can see where this is going!!! Yes, my nest disappeard and my knees were in my chest and at one point I was sitting next to 300 lbs of rice and there were 3 ducks in the back as ride alongs. Probably headed out for "dinner".
I have to back up a little here. In my last posting I mentioned Nazir and the fun I had trying to pick up some french. Nazir is Assanys oldest brother and his job was to get the van to the north so Papa could show us around Diego suarez and the national parks. Nazir's wife Swalia has a clothing store in Diego Suarez and needed to get some merchandise to the north. So we were to drive straight thru and meet up for the beach party sunday nite. (pics soon ... 200 + attendees)
Nazir, being the creative entrepeneur, decided to make a little money on the way. I was not aware of this and assumed I was riding
1st class to the north!! You know what they say about assumptions!
So we stopped at every Mud village between Tana and Diego Suarez picking up and dropping of the locals. Sometimes there were just 2 or 3 passengers and at Other times all 4 rows had 3 to 4 people along with assorted bags, baskets, kids and critters. I'm sure I must have smelled very interesting to them! In the morning it wasnt too bad and as I said earlier my window opened. However none of the other windows did! In the middle of the day the smells got a little more interesting. ( just to clarify - at no point in this blog am I being critical or complaining! This was an opportunity of a life time and I would do it again tomorrow... well, maybe not tomorrow) Back to the smells! At the end of the day the smells were VERY interesting!!
Now to the road - When we left Tana it was well paved and again I assumed. This is going to be a breeze. The road started getting a few pot holes and then a few more. The pot holes began to out
number the clear patches and finally the red dust replaced the tarmac and the pot holes. For 25 feet on either side of the road the few plants lost all there natural color and were brick red. The red dust road started getting big holes that we either maneuvered around or CRAWLED through. Now add the last three paragraphs together and take the temperature up to near 100° and you will just start to get an idea of this ride!!!
The sun started sinking and there was a low thin cloud cover. The kind that the sun will get between the horizon and the clouds. Holy jumpin up and down Martha!!! I have never ever ever seen such a sunset. I gazed out the window in almost an halluceneginic state. I know this is going to sound silly but i had to hide my face in the window because tears were streaming down my face. There has never been a sunset like this before and if I ever see another one like it it would be almost unbearable. All 41 hours of that ride were worth that 5 minutes of sunset. I would ride 80 hours just to get
another short glimpse of the earth burning up like that.
I need to go to bed now.
People are eyeballing the computer! and I need to share. Besides that the screen is starting to blur from the sunset taers that are starting again and these French guys at the bar are going to start wondering what Im up to.
Love all of you and I hope that you live to see a sunset like that!
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