We are off to Africa! Sitting aboard our Ethiopian Airlines A350 at London’s Heathrow airport after a whirlwind three days of returning Streak and Storm to storage, repacking and saying goodbye to family and old friends we had reconnected with on this trip. Our thanks to all of them for their generous hospitality. We now have a few hours to reflect on our Spanish adventure and future plans.
We had a wonderful time, as I hope our posts conveyed, but our preparation and packing was woeful. However our easy going approach to preparing for Spain taught us a few lessons. Firstly that we had to rediscover our efficient packing and minimalist travel style from the RTW trip. Like most things without practice, we loose that edge. We also needed to replace worn and tired equipment that had given 15 months of sterling service. This included helmet linings, camera batteries and that temporary brake fluid reservoir fix of Anne’s that gave up the ghost in Normandy. We had at least replaced the helmet lining, better fit, and visors, such a clear world out there, before our departure.
Our focus now turns to Africa as the moving map scrolls southward, names familiar to us slide below. In September 1982 we set off on a journey together that took us from Cairo to Cape Town hitch-hiking over nine months. Luxor, Wadi Halfa, Khartoum, Juba and Nairobi, where we lived for a couple of months, all evoke memories of sights, sounds and scents that filled our amazing adventure, which undertaken before mass tourism and the internet. Those of you familiar with the Lonely Plant travel guides may have come across their Thorn tree travel forum where people post travel questions. In 1982 this was a real thorn tree at the Thorn Tree cafe in Nairobi where notes were pinned to the trunk! While times have changed, our love of Africa has not. As we watch the thin line of light from the east transform into a spectacular red and orange sunrise, we are drawn closer to past adventures.
In Addis Ababa our journey then takes a slight detour, our non-stop flight to Cape Town has been rerouted via Maputo in Mozambique. This is probably for operational efficiency, but notification of the change only arrived by email the morning of our departure and the email did not clearly mention the stopover or advanced departure time in an obvious way. Announcements both before and on the flight left one none the wiser as to the first stop, Maputo or Cape Town. Maputo won and there one gentleman, a travel agent no less, disembarked thinking he was in Cape Town even though I had told him there was no Table Mountain here! While he quickly returned to our aircraft, it’s a timely reminder to keep checking one’s travel details.
The onward flight to Cape Town took us across more familiar territory, the flat expanse of the Eastern Transvaal region, now called Mpumalanga covered in those small fluffy white clouds so typical of the region that I remember from my childhood when I lived here. Onward over the Free State towards Western Province and finally descending into Cape Town where we strained our eyes for recognition of the mountains, towns and roads we were so familiar with some 30 odd years ago when we lived here. The city has grown out further than we had imagined, but Table mountain stands majestically above it all, unchanged from when we lived close in the suburb of Tamboerskloof with a superb view of the mountain out of our kitchen window.
As the plane’s wheels touch down, we know we have two adventure filled months ahead of us. While we will not have Streak and Storm accompanying us, we will still be on the road providing our armchair followers a close up view of both our motorbiking: yes we have a short motorcycle adventure here as well as 4WD travels to Botswana and Namibia. Friends we have not seen in decades wait in Arrivals for us, the next chapter of 2slowspeeds.com is about to be written.