Leo Passaportis


Leo Passaportis

Hello. Thanks for being here! English is my native tongue but not by virtue of being raised in the UK but in Zimbabwe, which is in Africa (in case you didn't know). Zim was home for the better part of 30 years notwithstanding studies in neighbouring South Africa. I lived in the UK for most of the last 5 years but have been a restless resident! I have revisited Africa on several occasions subsequently and still have such high hopes for the continent. Right now I'm on an extended visit to Turkey a country I have a deep affinity for. Is it any surprise I am half Cypriot and can count at least one Turk in my family tree?

Africa » Zambia June 28th 2015

In short, maybe. I don’t know. Probably not. I think I need to explain my indecision. One month in Zambia, on the move every couple of days, I reckon I got a pretty good overview of the country. It was by no means comprehensive, but a decent broad-stroke observation. I think I can say with some confidence that Lusaka is far and away the largest urban area in southern, central and northern Zambia but I would be curious to visit the Copperbelt towns of Kitwe and Ndola which have allegedly benefitted from the economic prosperity of that province’s mineral wealth. On the other hand I have seen only a fraction of the country’s natural heritage. I still have much to see: the National Parks – North and South Luangwa; Kafue; Kasanga etc; dozens of waterfalls (catalogued ... read more
The boat to the other side
Mpulungu Harbour
Mishembe (Luke's) Beach

Africa » Zambia » North-Western May 29th 2015

I arrived in Mkushi on a Thursday evening an hour or so after dark. Fortunately for me the driver was acquainted with the Forest Inn en route to Mkushi town. I was deposited at the roadside and compelled to cross the road in the direction of a dim light emanating from behind a metal gate. For a second I wondered if it was the same place that Tim had in mind but upon entering I found a guard who confirmed that it was the very place. Furthermore a restaurant and bar were on hand with a number of white and black customers. Not busy but it looked tidy enough. I made my way to the bar and promptly gulped down the ice cold Mosi Lager placed before me by the compliant waiter. I was soon joined ... read more
Gladiolus species
Aloe species in flower
Daisy species growing on newly cleared land

Africa » Zambia » Lusaka May 22nd 2015

Lusaka is not a beautiful city by any definition I would venture to say, but it would be an injustice to say it is also lacking in character. I soon discovered that Zambians are, by and large, quite friendly and helpful by nature. I spent the first 3 nights in a hostel called Kalulu. It was a busy place in the evenings since it had a bar, a pool table and DSTV (digital network channels broadcast from South Africa). I didn't mind this particularly because the patrons seemed to behave themselves and those of us in the dormitories were left to our own devices. The first night I shared my dorm with a German student, Ursula, who had come out to research indigenous foodstuffs, something which I've always been curious about. I mean, what did Africans ... read more

Africa » Zimbabwe » Victoria Falls May 21st 2015

I once again chose the Intercape coach for my onward journey. It seemed well run and punctual. Next to me was a young black man who introduced himself as Andrew. He was a Shona from Masvingo who had gone to school in Harare and later the University there, around the same time as me. I recall him saying he'd studied tourist and/or environmental management. Later he had completed an MBA. He was well qualified anyway. He was en route to Ganda Lodge at Hwange Game Park, run by the Forestry Commission, and which he managed. We had an interesting conversation for the next hour or two. From him I learnt exactly how corrupt the system had become in Zim when he told me about his business operations in Bulawayo. He ran three commuter minibus taxis. From ... read more

Africa » Zimbabwe » Bulawayo May 15th 2015

From Beit Bridge my coach proceeded without further hindrance to Bulawayo, a city I do not know particularly well but a convenient way point en route to the Vic Falls. We arrived at about 1330 hours, 5.5 hrs behind schedule. Remarkably, Mrs Rajah was waiting for me at the Intercape city office where we were deposited. Being the only European on the bus would not have made it difficult to pick me out. She introduced herself as Lily and immediately apologised that she would’t be able to give me a lift to her house where I would be staying because her car was off the road. ‘A little Morris Minor’ she said with a smile, purchased from an elderly doctor. Not a problem I replied, but was there somewhere I could grab a bite? I was ... read more
Lily tending to her tidy little garden
Mass in the church of Christ the King
Statue of Joshua Nkomo, Ndebele Statesman

Africa » Zimbabwe » Beitbridge May 14th 2015

The question still begs asking: why would anyone in their right mind actually want to take a coach or bus through Beit Bridge? I asked myself that question several times during the interminable wait. We'd made reasonable time, departing Park Station, Jo'burg at 1800 hrs, arriving at BB border post around 0200. My coach ticket reassuringly stated that we would arrive in Bulawayo at 0800 later that morning, only 6 hours away...plenty of time I imagined. In fact what would I do if we arrived early I worried? Would there be somewhere inconspicuous to sit and wait whilst I waited for my lift? We negotiated the South African side without too much trouble, although we had to pass through an immigration counter housed in a temporary structure outside of the main offices. This had been the ... read more
Disemabrk one and all
Lots of movement, little progress.
Bored passengers

Africa » South Africa May 12th 2015

Quite a lot's been said about South Africa and the state of crime, poverty and inequality over the years. I don't intend to make a critique of this issue in this blog post since there are many wonderful things to celebrate and highlight in South Africa but it would be unfair of me not to at touch on the current state of affairs before I go on with my little tour. Certainly the Rand has weakened considerably over the last decade against the dollar and sterling. When I arrived a month ago the mid-market rate was about 17.5 to the pound. Today it's 18.5. That obviously works in my favour as a sterling account holder. So when a beer at a local bar costs me R25 I score; when a meal costs R40, I score; when ... read more
Sculpture, Cape Town CBD
Metro Rail Commuter
Scarface gets fed

Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Cape Town April 23rd 2015

So the curtain comes down on my extended vacation in Cape Town. Initially there for my brother’s wedding I stayed on for a further two weeks to enjoy some more of the city itself. What a surprise and a priviledge it has been to be able to see the city as if for the first time despite it being perhaps my fourth visit to the ‘mother city’. What a surprise and a priviledge it has been to be able to see the city as if for the first time despite it being perhaps my fourth visit to the ‘mother city’. My brother’s wedding was a chance to meet his new family and for my extended one to come together. Sadly none of my mother’s side was represented for one reason or another but I sensed that ... read more
V and A portrait
The view from Robben Island
The colourful neighbourhood of Bo Kaap

Middle East » Turkey » Mediterranean » Antakya February 6th 2015

It's not my first visit to the Hatay region of Turkey. I visited Antakya (formerly Antioch of old) and some notable nearby sights back in 2013 when I last travelled the country. On that trip I clocked up a number or towns and cities along the Black Sea coast and in the East, but Antakya stuck firmly in my mind as being the most unusal. I hadn't even considered visiting until by chance I met a fellow traveller, an Englishman called Ben, who professed an interest in going that way. We parted company shortly afterward but during our brief stay we occupied two of the guestrooms at the Catholic Church off Kurtulus Rd, a stone's throw away from the Orontjes River which flows through the heart of the city, and in the proximity of a variety ... read more

Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Izmit January 21st 2015

I'm back in Istanbul! I'm back in Istanbul! That was me announcing my arrival (to myself of course) of a Sunday evening on the 18th of January, 2015. Although I hadn't thought it at the time it was a rather auspicious date: my late mum was born that day back in 1952 and, coincidentally, my passport had been issued that day 4 years earlier (definitely not of great significance). I had a good view of my previous place of employment as I flew out of London-Luton Airport - the manor estate called Luton Hoo (hotel, golf couse and spa) which borders on the one side of the airport - but not before I had to go through some unprecented formalities prior to check-out. You see, anyone traveling to Turkey today from mainland UK, especially men of ... read more
Bosphorus Night
Hagia Sofia
Omar and I

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