Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More

Four Corners

There is only one point where four nations come together in one place. We crossed this X today. We drove across the beautiful new, one-year-old Kazungula bridge across the Zambezi River between Zambia and Botswana. From the bridge we could see Zimbabwe on our left and Namibia on our right. The point where all four meet is in the middle of the river, slightly to the east of the bridge. 

More

Up the River

African rivers are lifelines for the plants and animals that rely on water in this arid climate. The rivers are full of fish, the trees lining the rivers host fish-eating birds, the mammals come warily down to the bank for a drink. Hippos lounge around in the water. Crocodiles sun themselves on the bank. It was a quiet, smooth, cool, dust and insect free way to watch the wildlife.

More

To Zambia

We exited Zimbabwe, then walked across the Zambezi bridge, an engineering marvel for its time (1905). This is was pretty spectacular, 420 feet below us was the Zambezi, one of the great rivers of Africa, flowing through its vertical gorge. From the center of the bridge, we could almost see Victoria Falls around a sharp bend in the river.

More

Zimbabwe Village and an Elephant

They showed us around their village. The livestock pen where they keep young sheep and goats. The adults can be let loose to browse on their own, but the baboons will eat the young guys, so they have to stay behind and eat acacia pods. Then to the kitchen, outdoors, surrounded by a 3 foot high, 15 foot diameter round wall which serves as a wind break. They cook over mopani wood fires as this wood is not too smoky when it burns. Next, the indoor kitchen, used when it rains. It was hot outside, but the kitchen was cool even with 14 of us. 

More

On to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is an economic disaster. The Chinese loaned them money to develop the exploitation of their coal. When they couldn’t repay, no problem, we’ll just take over the coal industry. We passed numerous trucks hauling coal, much of which gets shipped to China to increase their carbon load. We passed a brand new power plant that was belching a huge column of brown smoke into the air. After we turned off the main road to the park access road, there was the open strip mine. Black coal dust everywhere. A multi-acre dump littered with the carcasses of hundreds of defunct vehicles and heavy equipment, abandoned there because it didn’t cost the Chinese anything to dump it there. Worst of all, this was former National Park land that corrupt government officials had leased to the Chinese coal interests.

More

Namibian Tribes

While Namibia as a whole is surprisingly modern, there are tribes in the remote northwest of the country that maintain their ancient traditions and way of life. We were fortunate to visit two of these tribes with our guide Abel Man who was able to explain a lot about their lifestyle. We also visited the Damaraland Living Museum, where modern, educated Damara people preserve their tribal culture.

More

Desert Elephants

Up early this morning to chase desert adapted elephants. We teamed up with another vehicle, a German family of four with their guide. Their safari vehicle is open, fresh air and good visibility. Ours is a four door Ford pickup truck with air conditioning. Trailing our little two vehicle caravan was a young hot shot South African who passed us several times, each time raising big clouds of dust. Open vehicle versus A/C. https://youtu.be/1YZ7vYU3XLw?cc_load_policy=1 After about half an hour, we left the road and drove along a riverbed. The ephemeral river is dry most of the year. The elephants hang around near the river as there are places they can…
More

Mandela on Robben Island

Today, we made the morose pilgrimage to Robben Island. Ever since Europeans first started coming here, they have used this island, 6 miles or so from Cape Town, as a place of exile or a prison for their enemies, of which there have been many. The original inhabitants, each other, lepers, and most recently political prisoners have been held here by the Dutch, then English, then Afrikaners. For the duration of the 30 minute ferry ride out to the island, we were bludgeoned with a video recording the endless chain of horrible events on Robben Island during the sorry history of colonization and general European assholeness. Upon arrival, we were…
More

To the Bottom of Africa

We have been to the northernmost tip of Africa in Tunisia, the westernmost in Senegal, and now the southernmost (well, almost; a point 200km east is slightly farther south, but the European history of this place grants the Cape of Good Hope much greater significance). South Africa has extreme income inequality. After Khayelitsha yesterday, we got a bit queasy going through Camp's Bay this morning. Filthy rich, flashy cars, chichi coffee shops crowded with ugly white people drinking soy lattes along the beachfront promenade, blithely ignorant or worse, intentionally ignorant of the world most people live in. Pathetic. Only white people here. Oh, plus some service people... https://youtube.com/shorts/mjSpyvtDfHM How to…
More

South Africa’s Wine

This morning at 8:45, we were waiting in the early morning sunshine on the street in front of the house. While we were waiting, a dog came trotting toward us for about half a block, very purposeful, like he was walking to work. He headed straight for Maria, who said, "don't you pee on me!" And sure enough, he started to lift his hind leg. She kneed him, and he resumed his businesslike walk past us and on down the street.  A few minutes later, a van picked us up, drove around town collecting the other five people, and off we went to the Stellenbosch wine region. One woman was…
More

Arrival in Cape Town

We are staying in Bo Kaap, the Malay section of Cape Town. In the 1600s, the Dutch brought slaves from the Malay peninsula and Indonesia to Cape Town. Over the years the various racist regimes eventually classified the Malays as coloured. They did remain Muslim and after slavery was abolished in the 1830s, many ended up in this neighborhood. The little houses are all painted in bright colors, there are many mosques (one right across the street from us - first call to prayer is around 5am), and a unique culture. The woman who manages our Airbnb wears the hijab. After a good night's sleep, we got up, had breakfast…
More

Fire and Water

Early start this morning. Ali had the top popped up on the Jeep so we could stand and look out. We spent the morning driving around Murchison National Park looking for animals. We saw elephants, warthogs, lots of birds lots of different kinds of antelopes, a few monkeys, several of the highly endangered Rothschild giraffe and a lion. We also saw miles of grassland, the grass was tall, so we couldn't see many animals. The park has a burning program, where they intentionally set the dry grasslands on fire. There were many stretches where the land had been burnt on one side of the road, with tall dry grass on…
More

Walking with the Rhinos

On our trip to the Serengeti, the only one of the so-called big five that we didn't see was the rhino. Today, we fixed that. Our flight yesterday from Addis Ababa was smooth. We saw the outlet of the White Nile from Lake Victoria, so check, both sources of the two branches of the world's greatest river sighted. Ali, our driver/guide for the Uganda leg of the trip, meet us at the airport and took us to the lodge where we spent the night, 5km north of the equator. 6am start this morning, to beat Kampala traffic. I suppose we mostly beat it, but we did hit some jams. Eventually,…
More

Flying and Flies – Lalibela

We are on the Historical Route, through the ancient capitals of Ethiopia. This is a popular tourist path to visit the country. We're not surprised to see lots of tourists at the sites, hotels and restaurants we're visiting. But what IS surprising is to see the same groups everywhere. There are the two Spaniards whose guide wears a Cuba cap. We've seen them multiple times at different restaurants in different cities. There is the group of Italians which we've been seeing a lot lately. There is the solo guy from Hong Kong who we saw on our second day, then again 5 days and hundreds of miles later. Four women…
More

Simien Mountains

This morning, a new driver picked us up for the next leg of our tour. This guy, appropriately enough, is named Malas ("bad" in Spanish). He smokes cigarettes, which has evidently damaged his olfactory system because he could use a shower. He's a scary driver, though I got more comfortable as I observed him for a while. Unlike Maria. We had a few close calls, but the only time he slammed on the brakes was when a kid threw a rock at the car. Other than that, our only complaint is that he looks at you to talk. Not a big issue because he doesn't speak English. And he got…
More