So here we are, back home (for now)
The logistics behind shipping Brenda from South Africa to the USA have been a bit of a nightmare, with so many options in terms of destination/ shipping dates/ trans-shipments/ sailing durations/ container or Roll On Roll Off (RORO) . Fortunately, we found a brilliant shipping agent in South Africa, who went above and beyond to find us sailing options that meet our requirements.
The process of getting Brenda out of Africa was a bit on an epic. We received an email from our shipping agent informing us that he had found the perfect sailing for us, arriving in the US in early July (perfect timing), with no trans-shipment (more secure) on a RORO (cheaper), but due to late re-scheduling it meant we would need to drop Brenda off in 3 days time, which would have been easy had we not still been in Mozambique. It was all hands on deck as we packed up the car, crossed the border into SA, drove 500km to Durban, unpacked, sorted and repacked Brenda, gave her a good clean, secured her for shipping and drove to the warehouse to drop her off. It was exhausting but we got her ready, and as I type this she is off the coast of South America heading to North America.
And that was that….7 months in Africa gone in a heartbeat. It’s been bloody brilliant.
We drove through 8 countries covering 17,870 km’s in 202 days with an average of 88 km’s per day. The temperature dropped to 9.2C in the Drakensburg and hit 40.3C in the Namib desert. The high point of the trip was 3284m in The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, and the low point was eating at Nandos. We identified 38 mammals, 126 birds and 13 reptiles and saw countless more species that we were unable to identify. We changed our plans on an almost weekly basis trying to dodge covid border closures, visa issues and wet season complications. We experienced the Africa wet-season for the first time, and it left its impression on us. What it loses in game viewing opportunities compared to the dry season, Africa more than makes up for in the wet season with the most amazing skies, prolific birdlife, intense heat, torrential down pours, dirt road driving, oppressive humidity, adventure and some of the clearest star gazing skies in the world.
I set the boys a challenge of deciding their top 3 experiences from the trip. After a lot (A LOT) of discussion/ thoughts and yes, arguments (!) they came up with the following:
1. Seeing the whale shark in Mozambique
2. Driving up the Sani Pass
3. Lake Malawi (everything!)
1. Seeing the whale shark in Mozambique
2. Snorkelling with the cichlids in lake Malawi
3. Playing with Luna (the dog) at Yebo Airbnb in Eswatini
For me and Amy it was just fantastic to be back in Africa. I loved watching the boys getting into the rhythm of life there. I remember later in the trip somewhere the boys had wandered off to explore wherever we were, as they often did, and I heard one of them yell “look a water monitor” (A rather large type of lizard that grows to about a meter long) and watched with a smile on my face as they proceeded to scamper over the rocks chasing it to get a better view. It was wonderful that they recognised the species, knew it wasn’t dangerous and were so keen to see it they were pushing through thorny plants over knee grazing rocks to see it. Experience like that were why we took them to Africa and watching them play football with local children while the sun set over the mountains in Lesotho is a memory that’ll last forever.
I love Africa. Nothing ever bloody works there, it’s impossible to get anything done quickly, or often at all, and you regularly find yourself marvelling at the inefficiency. At first its frustrating, then you come to accept it, after a while you almost start to enjoy it, and only when you leave do you realise how much you love it, and I can’t wait to go back.
But for now, we have a list of jobs as long as your arm. We fly out to the US on the 11th July, but before then we have lots of items to buy, jobs to complete and people to see.