For our loyal followers, it must seem an eon since Anne made our last post in December 2015 on the 2slowspeeds blog. We know some of you must have gone through terrible withdrawal symptoms based on your comments. Six months have passed and I fear by now my assumed blogging skills have atrophied, so bear with me.
The wonderful warmth of summer has come and gone, now winters’ icy fingers have sought to ensnare us, OK Ok… I know it’s only dipped below 20 degrees celsius (68 fahrenheit), but us two Queenslanders are susceptible to cold weather after 14 months of following summer from one hemisphere to another. The last six months has seen us continue to de-clutter, but at a reduced pace. The objective remains the same, but the journey will take a little longer mostly due to my seeming reluctance to part with anything.
Some of you may recall my ‘tank-slapper’ accident in Argentina on Ruta 40 where ‘Storm’ and my ankle met the road together. This injury required arthroscopic surgery to clean up my ankle which was finally done two months ago in April. Recovery is progressing in line with the surgeon’s expectations with a fair amount of ‘feet up’ time for me and no housework or vacuuming for a couple of years according to many experts.
Since our return in November 2015, we have asked ourselves on numerous occasions “what next?”. Each time a motorbike goes by, a travel program appears on television or we read a travel article, our minds wander back to the open road. We are definitely not settled back into being at home, much as we love the location and friends. “What next” morphed into “where next?”. We have always wanted to visit Ethiopia, which was closed to us when we travelled down through Africa in 1982 and Namibia which we never got to visit when we lived in Cape Town. We started to look at how we could link visits to those two countries, starting in the United Kingdom (UK) with ‘Streak’ and ‘Storm’. We know we do not have the appropriate skills, or desire, to ride across the Sahara or through West Africa and other options in our preferred travel timeframe, of about six or seven months, meant a compromise somewhere with weather, route, countries visited etc would be required. We also needed to consider the ankle surgery recovery process and what sort of riding we may be exposed to in Africa. Nothing really jelled or felt the right option as we looked both North-South and South-North scenarios.
Anne realised that we could hire a fully equipped 4WD camping vehicle in South Africa for five to six weeks for a similar cost to shipping ‘Streak’ and ‘Storm’ by air to East Africa from Morocco. Therefore we decided to create two separate segments to our next trip. Europe to see family, visit Spain on Streak and Storm for a short, one month, motorcycle holiday which tests our desire for more longer motorcycle trips. We then fly to South Africa and visit Namibia and Botswana. Here we will hire a 4WD for six weeks which will allow much greater access to remote areas that, with our motorcycling skills, would have been difficult, if not impossible – motorcycles are not allowed in most African national parks, apart from Uganda.
This planning exercise was a timely reminder that we can become so focused on one approach that we exclude other options from our thought processes.
The current plan is leaving in a few days’ time for a month in Europe seeing family and friends in July/August, then ride from UK to southern Spain and back in August/September. On to Southern Africa, firstly to Cape Town to catch up with friends and stay with our old motorcycle buddy, Bob, with whom we used to ride our first motorcycles, a pair of green Kawasaki KE175’s, way back in the early 1980’s. We will re-cover routes we rode for a few days on something a little larger and bigger while we are there. Next, we head to Johannesburg to pick up our 4WD. Then off to mountains, deserts, rivers, game parks and the sorts of places we love to travel to. While not a full motorcycle trip, it will still be an adventure and we will keep those interested updated through this blog on both the motorcycle and 4WD legs.