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Published: April 9th 2008
Room with a view
Beautiful Diani Beach as seen from the pool deck at our hotel.
Oh the irony
6 months ago the idea of meeting up with Tracey’s parents somewhere in Africa seemed great. They picked the safest country, Kenya, and everything was booked. Skip forward to Christmas and thanks to some questionable elections Kenya’s reputation as a tourist haven is ruined. Suddenly our trip through Zimbabwe and South Africa seemed tame compared to the violent images of Nairobi in the news. We predicted it would calm down in time for Sherrie and Ian to visit and luckily it did.
No more trouble
So, with the Foreign Office giving Brits the green light to return to Kenya the trip was back on. We arrived in Nairobi and got to our hotel without spotting a single sign of unrest. We enjoyed the pool bar and restaurant for a few hours, grabbed some sleep and met Tracey’s parents plus her brother and his girlfriend back at the airport the next morning. Due to an unfortunate ‘oh god where’s my luggage moment’ for Simon we just made it to our connecting flight to the coast on time and then we were on our way to Mombassa.
Diani Beach was beautiful and
Mum only asked for an inch
Tracey and her mum at the end of a hard day's all-inclusive!
the hotel amazing. It was our first experience of ‘all inclusive’ and after 4 months of budget meals we definitely made the most of it. The beach was stunning, but it was difficult to watch the local tradesmen almost begging the few tourists who still remained to come on trips and buy their wares. To give you an idea of how badly the area was hit, our hotel should have had around 300 people, but while we were there, there were less than 80 guests. Staff were being sent on compulsory 30 day leave or simply being laid off. Luckily for Kenya the agreement to end the violence and share power was signed while we were there and locals were literally shouting for joy in the streets in the hope the tourists would come back soon.
It was wonderful to spend a few weeks with the family and catch up on all the news, swim, dive and enjoy the sun. It was also great for us to be able to unpack everything, and thanks to Sherrie and Ian even wear some new and different clothes!
At the end of the fortnight saying goodbye for another 6 months was
David and Simon jump in the pool after one too many on 'Gala Night'
awful, but as you can see from the photos we certainly made the most of our little family holiday/break in the middle of year one!
How does a calendar work?
From Nairobi we flew to Johannesburg for our final few days in Africa. Having originally vowed never to go to “Jozi” we eventually decided to visit after meeting two proud Jobergers while diving in Malawi. Micha and Matt had not only convinced us that Joberg had a lot to offer but they also invited us to stay and had taken days off work to show us around.
To repay this amazing generosity we started off really badly by flying into Joberg nine hours later than we had told them. Somehow we had got the flight time completely wrong which resulted in Micha spending hours at the airport with no way of contacting us. Unfortunately we didn’t know we had given them the wrong information so hours later we also waited ages in the arrivals lounge wondering where THEY were! #Sigh#. Anyway, after a phone call and numerous embarrassed apologies we eventually made it to their lovely house inside a guarded and gated community in Joberg.
To infinity and beyond!
Lord Couch tries his hand at walking on water
Poppin’ round to Mandela's
Living inside gated communities is quickly becoming the norm for many South Africans as the crime rate grows. We had seen numerous places like this all over the country. Living this way means people do not have to have bars on their windows, doors can be left open while someone is home and kids can play with each other in the streets. Having said that Matt still set the house alarm at night in the rooms where no one was sleeping. Thank goodness neither of us are sleepwalkers or we could have caused an armed response disaster!
The next morning we were up early to go on a guided tour of Soweto. Soweto stands for South Western Township and was made globally famous in the 1970’s when mass protests erupted over government plans to force teachers to teach in Afrikaans, rather than English. Police opened fire on 10,000 students, killing more than 500. This led to the introduction of the worldwide economic and cultural sanctions that eventually ended apartheid. Soweto was also the home of Nelson Mandela and many of the ANC leaders who planned and fought against the government.
The ultimate canvas
Using an old cooling tower to brighten up the landscape in Soweto
The tour took a whole day and was excellent. It is a real eye opener to see that so many people still live in absolute poverty but also to see that many now live in very expensive homes. Soweto is not just the run down shanty town that pops into your head when you hear its name. We have struggled to decide if South Africa is a first world nation with third world problems or a third world country with first world areas. If you’ve been there send us a message and let us know what you think.
And then it all went wrong… again
To avoid any possible error we decided to check in on-line to ensure we knew exactly when we needed to be at the airport on THURSDAY. Tracey went off to do this while David watched TV. 30 minutes later Tracey returned with a look of abject horror on her face. “You won’t believe this” she said “We don’t leave on Thursday… we leave TOMORROW”. Well we don’t have to tell you how sick we felt at having to tell our hosts (who had another day and night planned) that we needed
Alcohol can seriously damage your health
Micha, Matt and Connor lead us astray at carnivores. ('Springbok' and 'Suitcase' shooters can be seen at base of picture!)
to be at the airport 24 hours earlier than planned. Amazingly they were really cool about it and instead of dwelling on the stupidity we set off out for dinner.
Carnivores was a phenomenal meat eating experience. It works like this. On your table is a small flag. While the flag is raised waiters bring you Zebra, Crocodile, Ostrich, Kudu, Springbok, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Wildebeest and Boar straight from the BBQ. There were probably some token vegetables somewhere but in this place nobody cares. When you are so stuffed that your breathing is laboured and you are sweating fat you then drop your flag and admit defeat. In theory it is possible to raise your flag again once you have had a rest, but as Micha and Matt had decided that we should pay the penalty for the airport fiasco by also doing many multi-coloured brain destroying shots we were both more than ready to surrender.
And you think your Grandma is old
The following morning we visited a place called The Cradle Of Humankind which is a series of caves where the earliest human fossils have been found in South Africa. Although these are not the earliest ever found, the work here has discovered fossils as far back at 2.8 million years. We had already been to a site of similar importance in Tanzania but this one, about 30 minutes from Joberg has an amazingly audio visual education centre which you could spend a whole day at learning about the history of the earth and humankind.
After that it was time to leave…….. no really……. honestly….. it actually was the correct time to go to the airport. And so it was that on Wednesday March 5th we departed Africa to fly to New Zealand. We both had that strange “end of holiday” feeling about leaving Africa as it had been the focus of our thoughts for so long. But now as we arrive in Auckland we’re all fired up for a new continent full of new adventures
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