Goodbye Greece Hello to Pizza & Pasta; Italy

1st of May 2016:
We were leaving Santorini today and heading back to Athens. Today was also Greek Easter Sunday, so firecrackers were going off all day. They would literally throw the crackers at the wall next to someone sitting there. They would also have the stereotypical feast. We had a quick breakfast at the Spanish restaurant overlooking the black sand beach. The sun was beautiful as it warmed our backs up whilst we ate. So we used our last hour wisely and sun baked at the beach, the water was freezing especially when Nick attempted to push me in and fell down the quick drop off in the ocean. 

Santorini, Greek Islands

When our ferry finally came I was pretty happy to just sit and relax for 5 hours. Nick slept whilst I tried to catch up on my journal, when he finally woke up we played 13 games of Romy resulting in 7-6 my way. When our ferry stopped in at Naxos I told him that we should just jump off and stay there again. We both absolutely loved it, but we had already booked our ticket to Italy tomorrow night. By the time we arrived in Athens it was night time and to our surprise all the public transport was shut down. It looked like a ghost town, so we had to grab a taxi. We headed back to the same hostel we stayed in last time we were in Athens. I was surprisingly exhausted, we were still on the fast paced mindset and forgot we had our own time to slow down. 

When we arrived in the hostel we wanted to check the plane details for tomorrow. To our dismay our booking hadn’t gone through. Which meant we could of stayed in Naxos for as long as we wanted. We were both so frustrated that we couldn’t have checked earlier. Now we were frantically booking again to Rome for tomorrow night. Accommodation is so expensive in Rome, so to find something within a reasonable price took 2 hours and I still just gave up and went to sleep. If only we had known we actually didn’t have a set plan.

2nd of May 2016:

Today is our final day in Greece. We’ve only spent just over a week here. I would have loved to have had a proper sleep in but sleeping in a dorm room usually prevails. At 6am a Asian girl thought it would be a good idea to take her little figurines out of the plastic container. It was as if it was a joke. There is no way that you can do this activity quietly. It’s the same as opening a chip packet in the movies, it’s cringeworthy. So we were both up nice and early. I wanted to send some of my clothes and sleeping bag back home as my bag is becoming ridiculously heavy and large. I sorted everything I wanted to take out and then had the realisation that it is Easter Monday. Meaning every shop is closed. I was so devastated, in my mind the clothes were already gone. We checked out at 2pm and took a quick taxi down to the square. We had heard you could leave your luggage at the train station, however as it was Easter Monday of course it was closed. We could have gone to the next station and dropped it off there but we only had 2 hours to kill, by the time we did that and worked out where to actually drop it we would only have an hour till we wanted to leave. We found what looked like a little yiros shop, as we walked upstairs it opened up into a huge room. So we placed our bags down and killed an hour and a half eating and chatting.

This was the first time we were catching the metro, so we were still newbies as to what to do. Especially going to the airport we didn’t want to get lost, or take the wrong train. Eventually our train came and after 30 minutes of standing and sitting we were in the airport. The airport of course is huge and we couldn’t seem to find where to check in. After walking to the other side and asking the information desk we of course were told it was opposite from where we first walked in. So we walked all the way back. We had booked our bags at 15kg each and I was panicking as last time I had weighed it, it was 16kg. So as I put it on to check in I did the cute innocent face as if nothing is wrong, I’m not overweight, I don’t have to pay extra. Thankfully we both got through, however bizarrely Nick had to take his bag over to the overweight carousel whilst mine just went straight through. We still had three hours to kill and simply got some food and chatted some more. Honestly am so over waiting for planes. As we went through boarding an hour early she escorted us to the vip area. When we looked around it simply looked like all the foreigners versus the locals. It also made absolutely no difference, but we were sitting in the emergency exit seats. We booked through an airline called Ryan Air they are basically the same as Tiger in Australia, cheap and a little sketchy. When I looked at the plane I could simply unscrew the door if I wanted to, the chairs were made out of hard plastic. Thank god it was only a 2 hour flight. 

The plane ride consisted of designing an app, just because we can. Now all we need to do is workout how to actually make it. Towards the end of the plane ride I became very nauseous and dizzy. At one point I looked up and everything span and I felt as if I was about to pass out. This feeling didn’t pass for another week. When we arrived we asked when the next bus was arriving and it was about to leave. So with me feeling as if I’m going to pass out we run to the bus as if we’re on the amazing race show. We made it just in time with a local abusing the bus driver for letting us on because the time had passed, even though it hadn’t. What I learnt about Italians was they do not have any patience and become very aggressive instantly. They always seemed to be yelling at each other on the street. Thankfully our hostel was only around the corner from where the bus drops us off. 

We walked up the stairs and into the reception area where everyone was on their computers and phones like zombies using wifi, seeming to forget they were in Rome. When we went up to the counter the guy behind the reception became angry towards us, and told us to “sit down and wait, use the wifi”. I simply just giggled all I wanted was to go to sleep so I could let this dizziness pass and yet this guy just became angry because we turned up. Even on the bus Nick was holding my hand as I was trying my hardest not to throw up all over the public bus. I still don’t know how I didn’t. Finally he checked us in and we went to our rooms. The room reminded me of Madeleine, normally dorm rooms are bunk beds however this room consisted of 6 single beds and the best bathroom we’ve seen the entire trip.

3rd of May 2016:

Today our aim was to explore all of what Rome has to offer. We went down to the reception area to grab a map and find the key touristy areas to discover. The receptionist offered us a tour through the colosseum and more. This was going to also allow us to skip the cues which can take from one to two hours. It was 9:00am and the tour was to start at 10:30am. We still needed to have breakfast and walk there. We wanted a nice easy quick breakfast but what came was stress and hassle. We went downstairs to the cafe and ordered two Italian breakfasts. I received my chocolate croissant and coffee, however Nick just received a coffee. The man then asks us if we want orange juice we say yes not knowing it was extra. When we look at the time we realise we must leave immediately. So Nick asks for his croissant to go, well they started saying he doesn’t get one, we were so confused. We tried to explain he never got one and then finally the Italian man realises, so we hurray out. We didn’t want to go back there again. We power walked all the way past the colosseum resulting in 25 minutes. Unfortunately I was still feeling very ill and nauseous and power walking was only making the situation worse. When we finally found our tour office was we walked in with one minute to spare. The lady behind the desk said we had to pay extra for the tour, even though our hostel said it was all included. She asked if we wanted to do it still, even though we had already paid. We paid the extra and were a bit sour over the whole tour ordeal. 

The guide was good but sometimes a bit hard to understand because of his strong Italian accent, but non the less we learnt endless information about the history of the colosseum. The tour however was a little fast paced for my likings. I felt as if we were continuously running everywhere and stopping for 2 seconds then running again. It was an exhausting tour but saw all the main sites to see in 3 hours. 

Colosseum, Rome

Once we had finished we walked off to find some reasonable priced food, down a little lane was a pub that had pizza, so when in Rome. 

The entire day we explored and walked around the entire city. We ended up at the Vatican City at 4pm but as it was so late and we still had all day tomorrow we only walked the streets. The Vatican however is a very impressive building with 100’s of tourists flooding the gates and the museum every second. 

We watched the sunset behind the Vatican as we saw less and less tourists gazing at the impressive church. It was beautiful as the sky started to change colour, and the clouds became pink. 

Vatican City, Rome

We walked the city whilst eating gelato until 11pm. Dear god we were exhausted, my feet were in pain continuously walking since 9:30am with only stopping for 45 minutes for lunch. It wasn’t as if we choose to walk until this late, time seemed to have escaped us and as we walked into the hostel and looked at the time we were both astonished.

4th of May 2016:

Another day in Rome, this time we had a bit of a sleep in after our epic adventures yesterday. I had heard the line for the Vatican museum takes anywhere from 1 to 3 hours so I quickly booked us tickets online just before we left so we could walk straight through and save us time, boredom and frustration. We caught the metro this time straight to the Vatican. The Vatican City was on the opposite side of Rome’s city and seeing as we walked it last night we couldn’t be bothered to walk another 45 minutes back. The metro is only 1.50 Euros and takes all of 10 minutes. The station stops 5 minutes away from the Vatican. After we finally deciphered which direction we were suppose to go with using the city map and some guy selling tickets telling us, we were on our way. Note, don’t get off the metro where it says Vatican because the next stop is closer, don’t know why they would do that to tourists.

We showed our tickets and walked straight in, would definitely recommend doing this than waiting in line for no benefit. The museum is huge, we definitely underestimated it. We had heard from a couple the night before that it took them 2 and a half hours without looking at everything. It took us 3 and a half hours without stopping and staring at every art piece hanging on the wall. It is a gorgeous museum with exquisite history and art work at every turn, however there were far too many tourists to truly enjoy all that it has. At one point we were surrounded by 5 tourists groups trying to squeeze through a little door, we became separated by the mosh pit. I literally pushed myself to the window where Nick was just to feel like I could breath. I couldn’t even see what we were suppose to look at because there were too many people, at one point I had to look at someone taking a photo above everyone’s head. 

Vatican Museum, Rome

However after the 3 hours of getting to the Sistine chapel we finally walked into the room, and I wish I could say it was just as unreal as anyone would believe, but it was disappointing. Of course the art is beyond this world but one I still felt dizzy so looking up made me feel like I would black out and two all the security guards kept telling everyone to be quiet and no photos even though they were yelling. We only lasted less than 5 minutes by the time we ran out. I truly wish there were not so many people.

By the time we finally found the exit it had been 3 and a half hours, at this point I was hungry and I just needed to sit down. So we went to the pizzeria at the museum, they had huge pieces of pizza and a drink. Naturally you would think that you can just buy a piece of pizza without a drink but apparently not so we were made to grab a drink. I took a coke life because if I didn’t like it I never really paid for it. It is disgusting it tastes like flat Vanilla Coke. 

We continued walking to the Vatican around the corner, where we found the longest line to get into the chapel. The chapel is free to enter but the line would of been an hour. As by this stage it was 4pm we decided to come back in the morning when it opens to go straight in. 

We headed back to the hostel to organise our buses to Naples tomorrow and to watch the Gladiator because I had never seen it, and there had been a few references from the tour which I had no idea what he was talking about.

For dinner we went to a little restaurant around the corner, where I had a gorgeous gnocchi. I would have been happier to have another serving. It was a much earlier night for us tonight but the last couple of days has been full on.

5th of May 2016:

We awoke at 7am to head straight to the Vatican church before the crowds started flooding in. By the time we got there it was 8:45am we walked straight through. This was a much smarter option than waiting an hour in the non moving line in the sun. The priests tombs were closed this morning but the church was definitely open. It is gorgeous and massive. There were a church choir singing as we walked in. I noticed there were quite a few different church groups from around the world walking in to the Vatican with a huge cross. Nick didn’t seem to be that interested in the church and was done by the time I got to the end of the church. It took us all of 15 minutes and we were walking out. We headed back to the hostel to grab our bags to catch a bus to Naples. Unfortunately the bus was not leaving from the train station we were at, so we had to catch a metro train to the main train station and then walk across the road to the bus station. This sounds fairly easy but when you have no idea where you are or where to go it takes a bit of time. It was lucky we left with plenty of time. When we got to the bus station the lady couldn’t tell us which platform it was leaving from and told us to speak to the security guard. I would have never guessed to speak to the security guard but non the less she told us it would either be platform 3,4 or 5. So we waited an hour until our bus came sitting on the wall. It was already 25 minutes late and we waited another 15 minutes till we left. The journey was only a 2 hour drive, however we stopped for 30 minutes after driving for 20 minutes. The drive was easy with a gorgeous little dog sitting on the seat in front of me. Their relationships and rules with dogs is amazing. You can take your dog anywhere as if it’s another human being, on buses, trains, national parks, ferries. I wish we could do that in Australia. By the time we arrived in Naples we had to find the metro to get to our hostel. Thankfully the metro was once again across the road from the bus station. I may have stuffed us up though, after reading the metro line I thought the stop was the following one, so I said that we shouldn’t get off at this stop, even though that was apparently the correct stop. Oh well we got on another metro back one stop and finally had to walk 15 minutes to our hostel. Its moments like these where you wish your backpack wasn’t so heavy.

We stayed in a hostel called Art Hostel. Our dorm room was ok, nothing really to complain about. We dumped our bags down and headed down the road to explore the port and what ever else Naples had. I always hear bad things about Naples and I only agree with the creepy seediness feel when it’s night time. During the day it was completely fine. We walked 40 minutes to the port where we discovered a huge cruise ship fitted out with a waterslide and all. Other than this Naples didn’t have much else to show for it’s self. We continued walking around aimlessly until it was dinner time. We went into a little pizza store just off the Main Street. It was gorgeous after 15 minutes of deciding which pizza to try we went for the salami and seafood. Although we were at the pizza restaurant that invented the margarita due to presenting the Italian queen at the time, named margarita and it being her favourite of them all. 

6th of May 2016:

Today we had a full day of walking around Naples. You really do not need to spend this long in Naples but non the less we set off at 10am. Our first mission was to buy myself a camera. In Africa when we were in the delta playing volleyball in the water with the locals it got water damaged, and yes it was apparently water resistant. So ever since I have had to take photos on my phone. This was frustrating especially on African safaris. I always said the next camera I buy will be a good Nikon one (introductory camera) in their range. I was just terrified of spending this amount of money at once for a camera. Nick is very good at saving (until it comes to cameras) and I’ve never spent that much on a camera, couple hundred at most. We walked into the store and I was still sceptical and nervous. Was I going to actually use it, is this crazy to spend this much on a camera whilst traveling. At the end of the day I took the plunge and swiped my card. The camera has an accessory that you can connect your iPad, phone etc. through wifi to download the images. I really wanted this as I have no connection for my camera and iPad, unfortunately they did not have it. After taking the first photo I had no regrets.

Naples, Italy

 I couldn’t believe how much better the image quality was (maybe because I had become accustomed to my iPhone). Nick loved teaching me all the buttons and what everything meant. It made the day so much fun trying to out do each other. Even though I still have a long way to go. We explored a castle on the side of the ocean. It was exactly what you would imagine the medieval times to be as you walked through the lane ways and past the windows overlooking the ocean. 

I was a bit slow today and needed a few breaks and rests, if only guys could understand. We spent all of $7 euros for lunch, pasta, bread, pizza and two drinks and sat in the park opposite the ocean. It was gorgeous just lying in the sun letting the day go past as I ate my pasta and tried to understand my camera. 

Naples, Italy

This was one of the best moments in Europe so far and it was so simple. As we walked back we were craving ice-cream or gelato when our eyes widened and I literally ran to the magnum store. Yes there is an entire store for magnums where you can make your own and put what ever toppings you want. Oh My God it was heaven. It was only $8 euros, a few more euros than one in a store and wow it was worth it. Nick and I were speechless, literally the guy kept asking what we wanted and there were just to many choices to deal with. I did not care how sick I felt from all the sugar because I would do it all again. If only Adelaide had this. Although it might be a good reason for me to not have one, I would eat it everyday!

We continued our walk through the stores. We went into H&M they seem to be everywhere in Europe. I literally lost Nick in the H&M store for an hour. It was 4 stories and I went to every level then went outside because I thought surely Nick would have given up by now. Waited outside for 15 minutes then thought maybe he went to take photos of the flags after walking there I went back inside and found him. To my dismay he was actually going to buy something! Who knew! He bought some new jeans and then the store next to it I bought some jeans. I definitely spent a lot more than I’m use to today.

When we got back to the hostel I had to charge my camera as it had gone flat. As I plugged it in I started speaking to a guy from Tasmania. He was drunk and was asking if we were going to go out drinking tonight. We hadn’t been out yet so I was pretty keen. At 7pm we were out the door getting pizza for dinner. Honestly I think I’m going to turn into a pizza or pasta after Italy. If only I had known how weird it would be tonight I definitely would not have gone out. Apparently the “cool” place to go is by a statue on the street with creepy orange lighting. People just stand in the shadows drinking, smoking and buying weed. I hated it. The two Canadians and I wanted to go back to the hostel and drink and chat there but everyone else seemed to be fitting in to the creepy atmosphere. I think us three were a bit more sober than the rest and could actually see how horrible the situation was. We met these two polish girls they looked as if they were 25 but apparently were there for one girls 30th. They said they wanted to go to the port to drink, even though Nick, the Canadians and I had told them it’s a 45 minute walk. I still cannot tell you why we all went. However we walked all the way there to find absolutely nothing at all. As we were close to the port the girls said they are very far away from their hostel. Honestly what were they thinking would happen. By the time we arrived they said they were going to go back to their hostel. I was so angry the whole reason we came was because of them. I bought a drink, it turned out to be $8 euros, that’s $12 Aus for a vodka and lemonade. That was the last time I bought a drink. After 40 minutes we headed back to the hostel. I was helping one of the guys walk back whilst Nick was lagging behind. As I dropped the guy off I ran back outside because I thought Nick was still out there. Note to self do not walk through Naples alone at 2am it was horrible I walked back to the hostel without knowing where he was. Then as I was waiting by the door inside the hostel with no key he came from upstairs.

Europe Begins with Greece and the Greek Islands

23rd of April 2016:

I had all of 20 minutes of disturbed sleep before we arrived in Dubai. We had a 4 hour stopover before catching the plane to Athens. Coincidently we were in the exact same terminal and only 3 numbers different, so I felt like I knew where everything was. We fell asleep on the lounge chairs for 2 hours. It was just what I needed to survive till the next plane. We bought Mc Donald’s again with our food vouchers from the aeroplane. I was so skeptical when they gave us the vouchers with our boarding passes because I was concerned that meant we would be delayed even longer but apparently they were being nice. However once again not much was open apart from McDonalds so here we were again eating double cheeseburger meals for breakfast. It just makes me feel so ill, but when you gotta eat, you gotta eat. At 10am we were boarding our plane again off to Athens. Nick hasn’t been to Europe so I was so excited for him. We bounded on the plane to find we were the second to last seats. The last two rows on the side are only 2 people which is good that it means your not sitting next to some stranger but bad in the way that we can’t spread out.

Greece

When we arrived in Athens we waited in line for only 5 minutes to get through customs. It’s not like it’s exactly hard for Australians to get in anyways. We just have to stay less than 99 days before paying for a visa. We grabbed our bags from the carousel and a map and were on our way to the bus to the city. I honestly don’t even know how to catch a bus back at home so for me to catch a bus in a foreign country I am fathomed on how I actually successfully arrived at the hostel. The bus ride however was a good hour. Once we were in the city square we took a trolleybus for 2km to the street our hostel was on and arrived safe and sound. It has been a very long day and I was beyond exhausted but we still walked around the block to explore. 

Our aim was to get some dinner as we explore what the city has to offer. We found a little yiros place opposite a church. No one spoke a word of English apart from one waiter who only knew the basics. However only 5 minutes after working out what the chicken yiros was, it was served in front of us. Their yiros’ are by far the best yiros I’ve ever eaten. I know that you would hope Greece has good yiros but it tasted fresher than back home. They filled it with lettuce, tomato, chicken and chips. The chips are quite foreign but good. Half way through our yiros I heard Nick say “omg” as I turn around I saw 8 men and women running down the street towards us all in black with black balaclavas. With what’s been happening in the last 6 months in Europe this is terrifying. My heart sunk and I stopped breathing. All of a sudden they threw pamphlets in the air and started giving away free frozen chicken to the people in the line to go to church and on the street. Within 5 seconds the whole ordeal was over. Everyone was confused as to what was going on, especially the old lady with a free chicken. It looked as if they had just robbed the supermarket (they still had the supermarket basket) and just did a runner to give back to the people. I would rather free chicken then what originally crossed both our minds. After this ordeal instead of drifting off to sleep we walked around the night markets for an hour before heading back to the hostel.

24th of April 2016:

Our first full day in Europe, and my god we did not take it easy. Our plan was to go see the Acropolis and that we definitely did. We were up and ready for the day. The Acropolis is huge one that makes me exhausted just thinking about it. We started our walk to the main Acropolis through a botanical garden where we saw little turtles in a water fountain. As we walked past the Parliament House I had read about the changing of the guards at 10am and as it was 9:45am and the cues were building I suggested to Nick for us to stay and watch it. He simply said “why would that even be exciting”. Clearly he did not do any reading about Athens or know of how cool they can be. The police pushed us to the other side of the road when 30 seconds later we heard drums. There was a band playing and the soldiers marching behind. When I say marching the first imagine that comes to mind is the normal marches, however their march is far more unique and bizarre to say the least. They lift one leg up straight then put it down whilst then take a normal march step. 

Changing Of The Guard, Athens, Greece

Even changing of the guard their balancing on one foot before taking another step. Their balance skills are incredible. Once they had arrived into the parliament it was a stampede to get to the front, on the other side of the road. Literally people were running in front of children, no one cared about anyone else apart from themselves. Even Nick left me behind to get to the front whilst I was stuck behind some big Italian woman. 

Changing Of The Guard, Athens, Greece

We then walked down to the main square where we jumped on a double decker tour bus to jump on and off around the Acropolis. Nick didn’t want to do this at all and it wasn’t until half way through the day that I realised this. I like to learn about what I see but the tour bus wasn’t very good anyways. The bus dropped us off at the top of the hill where the Acropolis was. By the time we arrived it was past lunch time and the line was unfortunately long. The sun was beaming down on us while we waited 15 minutes to buy our tickets. As we walked through and up the hill we saw a huge amphitheatre where they perform concerts. 

Acropolis, Athens

Further up the large Acropolis sat on top of the hill overlooking the modern Athens. To imagine how they built these with no technology or machinery is unfathomable. The structures are huge, it makes me look like an ant walking next to the white pillars. We walked all the way around taking in the modern Athens with the contrast of the Ancient Greek ruins. 

Acropolis, Athens

We walked back down the hill to go to the museum on the other side. After 15 minutes of walking we reached a little area with statues as I went to go show my ticket I realised I had completely lost it. It was no where to be found in my bag and we had already been walking around for 2 hours it could be anywhere. I didn’t want to line up again and pay another $30 euros. So Nick who was more in the right mindset than me said “we should trace our steps.” Well at this stage I was just angry at myself, basically feeling as though I want to throw a little tantrum. We started to walk back up the steps when I remembered I put food in the bin that was in a plastic bag. Thankfully the plastic bag was still sitting on top of the bin and inside was the ticket. A huge relief rushed over me. We walked down to the new museum. On the way a lady gave us a rose, “apparently” free. Over the trip what I have learnt is no one gives away things for free no matter what it is. As she put it in our hands we walked off. Then she started saying how we must give her money for the apparent baby she has. We refused and gave her back the rose. It’s not our fault she wouldn’t take it back. It became so frustrating that I gave her one euro to shut her up so we could leave. We haven’t been fooled like that so congratulations to her for getting one euro. 

By the time we eventually made it to the museum it was 3pm. The museum is impressive, the best museum I’ve ever been in, and surprisingly only $5 euro. The museum has four levels comprising of historic ruins, statues, pots etc. The bottom floor is mostly glass as you walk over the protected ruins. It’s amazing how you can be so close and yet still be able to preserve them without the damage of 1000’s of visitors each and everyday. The consecutive levels consist of a security guard every 5 metres telling people “no photo”. I can understand why Greece is in such a financial debt they have at least 50 security guards whilst only charging $5 euros for one of the best museums in the world. As well as no one pays for public transport as they never have anyone to check if they do, even other Europeans know this. The museum took us only an hour and a half to get through but it was definitely worth it.

We continued walking down to where we found another ruin with a huge corridor and pillars lining down it. We continued our walk through the botanical gardens before the sun was setting. 

After 15 minutes of trying to find where to eat dinner we stopped at a restaurant overlooking the ruins as the sun finally said goodbye for the day. 

What a magical first day in Europe, let’s see where the next two months takes us.

25th of April 2016:

Today’s ANZAC day, normally on this day I wake up early to go the local community dawn service down the street and then walk a further 200m to the Cherry Gardens hall to have sausage sizzle. However, today was not the normal routine, we awoke fairly late for our standards. Today was definitely a waste of a day as we tried to organise our ferry to the Greek islands. After a few hours of trying to decipher which islands and for how long, the booking cancelled. We had no idea why, the money had been taken out of Nicks account but then put back in only 10 minutes later. So at 3pm we raced down to the square to discuss it with a travel agent. She became so frustrated with us when we explained the situation saying that she doesn’t know if it went through or not, even though that is not what we were asking. Nick can be confusing when he speaks to other people who do not speak English. He doesn’t speak simply but asks numerous confusing questions. After I calmed her down and simply said can you book us tickets we were fine. Apparently we had to pay in cash though even though there was a eftpos machine behind her and the window says visa and MasterCard accepted. We walked down the street to get money out, if only today had been as simple as I had wished. As Nick tried to get money out of the ATM it kept rejecting him. He started to panic, as would anyone, after 3 ATM’s rejecting his card I took extra money out to pay for both of our ferry tickets. After paying the woman we went to find another ATM but once again it would not accept. There was not much more we could do until we got back to the hostel so the next best idea was to go shopping. I wanted to buy new clothes because the European standards is a bit different to camping in Africa and travelling around South East Asia. I bought bathers and a new top. Although it’s not much it’s nice to wear something different after 4 months. 

26th of April 2016:
Today’s the day we go explore the Greek islands. We arranged a taxi to pick us up at 6:30am. From what I had become accustomed to in Asia and Africa buying the cheapest ferry ticket means you are either on a boat travelling like Refugees or sitting on your backpack. However the European standards means 3 stories with cars, escalators, restaurants and lounges with tables. When we found two seats spare I sat down feeling like we were treated like royalty. To have a comfortable chair that’s stuck in place is amazing. 

Ferry To Naxos, Greece

We were off to Naxos, only a 4 hour journey which consisted of writing and playing solitaire by myself whilst Nick slept across two chairs. 

When we began to arrive in Naxos, it looked like a postcard. We were both so excited seeing the white buildings and sailing boats. As we stepped off the ferry I could see how clear and turquoise the water was. As we walked down the dock between beautiful sailing boats we saw our free hotel pickup waiting for us. It was so nice to know that I didn’t have to try and navigate how to get to our hostel or have to walk a mile. 

Naxos, Greek Islands

Our hostel is so nice, it’s more a hotel with a private room, bathroom and balcony. It would have cost us the same to stay in a dorm room so we opted for the private. Especially after being with 24 or 11 people 24-7 in Africa it’s always nice to have some of your own time and space. Where you don’t feel obliged to talk and you don’t have to lock up all your belongings when you leave.

As usual we decided to go for a walk around the island. However we began with lunch as we were both starving and it was 2pm by this stage. I ordered a classic Greek salad and it was gorgeous the best Greek salad I’ve ever had. All the vegetables tasted so fresh and the huge block of feta sitting on top just made it even more scrumptious. Then we walked like we usually do all around the island, inland and along the coast. We found a gorgeous little rock pool which would be gorgeous if it wasn’t 10 degrees in the water. By the time we finished our walk it was sunset. We were in bed fairly early just relaxing when as usual I became hungry. We went and got a quick yiros before actually going to sleep.

27th of April 2016:

Waking up on the Greek islands is just as magical as you may imagine. It’s like knowing you have complete freedom. Our plan was to adventure down the island to another beach where we would spend the day. After waking up late and slowly getting ready we were out the door. Breakfast consisted of omelette, bread and jam, orange juice, water and coffee. As we arrived at the bus station to buy our ticket to go to the beach we found out it didn’t leave until 2pm. As it was currently 12pm I didn’t know what to do. So we wandered around, got some more drinks and then eventually sun baked on the stone next to the water.

By the time we arrived at the beach the sun was well and truly in the middle of the air. As we walked around the coast to the beach we walked past something that I truly will never get out of my head. I nudist beach. Oh god did I get the pleasure to see everything, it’s absolutely horrifying. 80 year olds walking around with nothing on. I didn’t know where to look. They were just everywhere. Eventually after 10 minutes walking down the beach we found a area that was a bit more private in the schemes of people’s “private” areas.

We only spent 2 hours sun baking by the water but it was so relaxing. It was all we needed though as I was too fidgety to lie down for so long doing nothing. 

We headed back to catch the last bus to town at 6pm. The rest of the night consisted of walking and having dinner by the sailing boats. I love Naxos it has a true community feel about it. I definitely prefer the less touristy places.

28th of April 2016:
Today we decided to go to the beach across from our hotel. The first day we arrived there was one person, now today families galore were everywhere. As once again we woke up late we had lunch on the beach. I had another gorgeous Greek salad whilst Nick had an amazing stuffed eggplant. If the Greeks know anything it is definitely how to cook the most fresh and gorgeous dishes. 

Naxos, Greek Islands

We found a little private beach secluded from people and the wind. It was one of those days where you think to yourself how privileged you are to live like your retired before actually beginning the working life. We stayed here for 3 hours before deciding to get gelato of course. We then walked to the other side of the island where the ports come in and sun baked on the rocks there. I’m not sure if your suppose to but no one ever notices you that far out and the rock warms your body up.

The sun started to set so we decided to head back. We watched the sunset over the ocean while a sail boat passed. 

Naxos, Greek Islands

It was undescribable how beautiful the entire situation was. Whilst the sun shed the last of its light reflecting on the buildings and water behind us.

29th of April 2016:

Today we say goodbye to beautiful Naxos and travel to Santorini. Today also marks 100 days of travelling. Can’t believe how fast time has gone! Our ferry wasn’t until 12pm so our lovely hotel drove us to the port. Our ferry arrived with 100’s of people pouring out waiting for their Greek island adventure to begin as we were sadly leaving what is my favourite island. We got on the ferry for 2 more hours to arrive in Santorini. Santorini has always had this amazing appeal to it. As if it’s the most gorgeous island known to date. The rich and wealthy fly from 1000’s of kms to sip champagne and watch the sunset. However when we arrived it looked rather boring. The port arrives into a huge cliff face. With no buildings in sight apart from on the top. As we arrived the hotel didn’t pick us up. I don’t know if there was a communication confusion or if they just forgot but we had no idea what to do. By the time we got wifi and tried calling them we had missed the local bus. A guy kept trying to get us to rent a car even though we didn’t want to. We jumped into the last taxi available. I was all happy thinking at least we would get there with no hassle, especially how it was on the other side of the island. The taxi had however dropped us off at the wrong hotel leaving us 3km away from the hotel we had originally said. I was fuming. I felt like a child I was just so angry, my bag was heavy and the last thing I wanted to do was walk 3km. Finally we had made it and the feeling of putting my bag down was amazing. I didn’t even want to talk I was just so angry about the whole ordeal. Thankfully we were in another private room. We went out for a walk. Normally this puts me back into a good mood, especially walking along the beach but the sand was black. It was to confusing for my mind to process. It felt as if I was walking on gravel not soft white sand. The sand is black due to the volcano right next to Santorini. I honestly wasn’t feeling to well by this stage I felt drained and as if a cold was coming on, my entire body just ached. By the time we did a lap of the beach I asked if we could have dinner because all I wanted was to go to sleep. The place I choose was different to say the least, I only chose it because we were walking past it. I went to go sit inside, when our waiter came over, it was clear he was smashed. He was telling us we have to go outside its beautiful. Even though it was clear it was about to rain in 2 minutes. Non the less we moved just so he would stop telling us too. 30 seconds later it started raining. Well this just added to my day. He gave us a free shot, and then was satisfied to leave us in peace. By the time I got into bed it was only 7pm. It felt so much later but my body still ached all over and I started feeling as though my body was on fire. So maybe it was a good idea I went to bed early.

30th of April 2016:

I woke up feeling horrible. Honestly if I was home I would have spent the entire day in bed but we only had one day in Santorini so I didn’t have much choice. It was either see Santorini or see the wall in my room of Santorini. I felt like I had a cold, my whole body still ached, head to toe. We walked over to hire a quad bike. However as Nick forgot his licence I was the one who had to drive. I love my quad bike at home on the farm but not when I have to drive on the wrong side of the road and actually on the road. The only part I liked of driving it was when we were going straight. As soon as I had to turn the corner I screamed and wanted to get off. My brain just couldn’t comprehend driving on the right hand side. I had to keep watching cars in front of me so I could know where they were going. Although once I had to turn the corner with no car in front of me and I just screamed driving in the middle because there was a bus coming out and no lane lines. I should not be allowed to drive. Once I finally stopped the bike and got off I was more relieved, but my body still ached. 

Santorini, Greek Islands

We walked around Ori in Santorini where all the beautiful white buildings and resorts are. Honestly I don’t know what the big hype is about this place. Of course it’s beautiful, but unless I was living it up in one of the five star resorts and having my butler at a click of a finger it really wasn’t that enticing. All I was doing was watching other people click their fingers for their butler to run after them. Finally after an hour and a half we stopped to have some food. 

Santorini, Greek Islands

The flu sucks, it just drains all your energy out of you. I ordered a chocolate pancake with strawberries. Honestly this was the best chocolate pancake and strawberries I’ve ever had. At first it just looked like it had a sprinkle of chocolate syrup, and I was like oh god there is not enough chocolate but then once you cut into it Nutella oozes out. 

We walked around for another 2 hours till we called it a day to head back to our accommodation. I was so happy for this all I wanted to do was rest. Nicks friend from the hills, Mel was in Santorini so we planned to catch up with her for dinner. There is nothing worse than knowing your going to have to make conversation when you feel horrible. However after a nice warm shower and putting make up on I tricked myself into looking the part. We walked over to the restaurant where we said we would meet. We were 10 minutes late so I thought she would have already been waiting for us, but we did not see her. We sat in the restaurant till 7:30pm when Nick got up to go back to the hotel 200m behind us to get wifi to ask her where she was. Still I was sitting here without seeing anyone. As Nick walks up to the restaurant he asks if that is Mel, she had completely walked past without even looking in. Nick runs after her as she turns down the road to go back to her hostel. I don’t know if she was trying to do a runner or what but he caught up to her. We went out to dinner at the only place that was really open. I ordered a pizza, which ended up being huge whilst they just had dips. Nick did eat a burger at 5pm though.

Our Final Adventure in Africa Serengeti Style

18th of April 2016:
Normally on a Monday you may feel a sense of monday-itis but it doesn’t exist when you wake up knowing your off to the Serengeti today. To those who do not know what the Serengeti is, it’s one of the most world known Safaris, where National Geographic etc. film and do research. We packed a smaller bag again and we’re off to see some more of the Big 5. At this time of the year you may be lucky to see the end of the migration of the Wildebeast and Zebras. Apparently it was our lucky day. After driving for 2 hours to the Serengeti we started to see 1000s of black dots. Then all of a sudden we realised they were all Wildebeast. 1000’s and 1000’s walked in a line, or scattered to the eye can see.

Serengeti, Tanzania

 It was honestly beyond words and I can’t believe we were so fortunate to witness it. After 45 minutes of staring into amazement we were off buzzing excited to see what else was in store for us. We saw the car ahead stop when literally a meter away a huge male lion sat next to the road. I couldn’t even believe it. He was possibly the most laziest lion I’ve ever seen. He definitely looked like he was hit by monday-itis hard. He kept falling asleep, covering his ears just not wanting a bar of it. 

Serengeti, Tanzania

Whilst only 400m away 100s of Zebras grazed in the grass. We stayed with him for 30 minutes, I didn’t even realise my mouth was open the entire time. The drive to our campsite took three hours but those three hours were amazing seeing wild animals everywhere you looked. We saw 11 lions today, two were lazing by the water, and the others were sun baking on the rocks. The two by the water were gorgeous as one got up and walked over to the other and started playing and licking each other until life got to exhausting and snuggled up whilst enjoying the sunshine. They weren’t even phased that two trucks with 11 people were staring in amazement.

Serengeti, Tanzania

 By the time we arrived to our campsite the sun was setting over the African horizon. The sunset was beyond words, bright purple and pink covered the sky whilst a Giraffe ate in the trees and pumbas (warthogs) roamed around with their families. 

Serengeti, Tanzania

The campsite however was not as picturesque. It was something you see in a horror film even the guys didn’t want to go to the bathroom alone. There were no fences around so our tents which were set up by the Serengeti guides/ cooks during the day were in the wilderness where we just saw 11 lions. The bathroom was an old building with creepy vines growing up and was 80 metres away in the darkness. To add to the bathrooms horrible appeal there were no lights so if someone left the door open who knows what kind of animals could have been lurking in there. 

After our dinner cooked by the chefs, the girls had a wonderful chat while Nick and Andrew had a little boys session looking at photos in our tent. 

As I was all snuggled up in my sleeping bag ready to fall into a peaceful sleep, Nick hears a lion roar. From then on in the middle of the night he would yell lion and give me a heart ache imagining a lions head looking into our tent. If this wasn’t enough adrenaline for you Hyenas walked along the tents for a few hours. Thankfully I didn’t need to go to the bathroom but a few did and simply had to hold on. 

19th of April 2016:
We were up nice and early for breakfast before doing a safari all day. From what we had seen yesterday we were both pretty excited to see what else was out there. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite as impressive. It was hard to live up to though. As much as I say this for 4 hours we were surrounded by 1000’s and 1000’s of Zebras and wildebeests so it wasn’t all horrible when you think about it. 

Serengeti, Tanzania

I do love zebras though they remind me of my pony smurf, fat and just keep eating no matter what. I just need to paint him with black strips and I could have my own zebra. However, I finally saw my first hyena of this trip. I remember seeing them when I was a kid when I went to Africa with my parents and that’s all I wanted to see. They are funny animals, their bodies and necks look as if it’s missing something. There are no words to describe them in as much detail as when you see their faces. Their good little scavengers as well as killers they are intelligent in their own right but their appearance betrays them. 

Over the radio the other tour guide told us he has seen a cheetah. This was the only animal out of the big 5 we hadn’t seen yet. He quickly turned the car around and drove a couple of 100m. In the horizon there was one rock with a figure sitting up tall on it. There is absolutely no way I would have ever worked out that was a cheetah or an animal. It was so far away. Then all of a sudden the other truck took off, off-roading for a km to the cheetah and blocked our view. We were so envious that our driver didn’t risk the $200,000 fine and 6 month suspension but can completely understand why. 

At 12pm we picked up Kelly, Kat and Andrew from the hot air balloon place and continued our safari. This was possibly one of the most boring times. All you could see was a horizon of grass and a few trees with no animals in sight. When all of a sudden Nick screams “turtle”, amazingly in the middle of the Serengeti a little tortoise was walking just on the edge of the road. To say that this was the exciting part explains how bad it was.

After lunch we were on our way to the Ngoragora crater.

Ngoragora Crater, Tanzania

 Before this trip I hadn’t heard about the crater but it is truly one of the most breathtaking places I’ve seen. The crater used to be a mountain bigger than Kilimanjaro however it collapsed in on itself and created a crater full of greenlands and lakes. The only animals that are not there are giraffes due to it being impossible to get back up the hill with their long necks. 

The campsite was on top of the crater with frost covering the grass before the big drop off. Once again there were no fences and this time buffalos were roaming around 100m next to our tents. Buffalos are the most dangerous animals in Africa, they give off no warning signs they are going to charge and will not stop until you are well and truly dead. Thankfully we are all alive and well. Another gorgeous dinner cooked by our chefs with the girls talking around the campfire drinking wine. You probably couldn’t imagine a more perfect night and I will never forget this place.

Ngoragora Crater, Tanzania

20th of April 2016:
Today’s our last day in the Serengeti. Time went by so quickly. So we were up at 6am ready to watch as much action as possible before leaving by 12pm. Nick and I were up on our seats with the wind freezing my face following an elephant down the windy road to the crater. As the elephant finally walked off the road and into the bush, Nick saw a lion herding Wildebeast. We all thought he was joking and after a few minutes and a look at his photo using his huge lens he was right. It was so exciting but we were still so far away. So our leader quickly drove us down the road towards where we saw the lion. I wish I could say we saw the lion continue to creep up on the Wildebeast and kill it. However we never found it again. We were all so disappointed but still had the rest of the day to hope for the best. After 15 minutes we came to a lake where 25 or so hippos were sitting by the water or swimming. The ones swimming and eating were adorable, yawning away as they munched and play with each other. All of a sudden the 10 hippos sitting outside of the lake all got up at the exact same time and marched into the water. It looked as if it was 10 o’clock that means swimming time. It was pretty funny to watch their faces they are just so happy eating, I can definitely relate. We continued driving up a big mountain to where 50 elephants were munching on the grass, it was so unexpected. The mud was becoming slippery under the truck and a few times especially going down the little mountain we did a few drags. All of a sudden Kelly yelled out “hyena”, I heard her and just screamed “HYENA!” Although I saw one yesterday it was far away and I saw this one quickly and it was only a metre away from the road. We quickly slammed on the breaks and reversed 100m where the hyena was still lying amongst the tall grass and flowers. It was adorable, I wanted it to get up and walk closer but unfortunately it seemed to walk away. I never imagined the hyena, quite literally bounding through the flowers. With its happy face as if today was the best day of its life. Probably the same face I made when I left my last exam in university. 

We continued driving through mud and puddles. As we were standing up we would have to duck down every time mud came flying to our face. We started to not see as many animals, when all of a sudden more hyenas only a metre away again eating a bone. The three of them were sitting in the dirt chewing away when we turned around and saw 5 male lions sitting only 100m away lounging in the sun. 

Ngoragora Crater, Tanzania

We went to see the lions and just watched in amazement for an hour with 2 different packs of hyenas chewing away and lions in the middle lazing around or drinking water. They were all content and not bothered about 100s of flamingos in the background or the other animals walking around including pumbas. The smell however was horrifying. It was 360 degree action, everywhere you turned a different animal would be lurking. 

Ngoragora Crater, Tanzania

At one point however the biggest wasp I have ever seen started attacking me. I literally was more terrified of this wasp then the lions and hyenas around me. I kept hitting it with the binoculars. Kate decided to change seats from the back to the front. This is completely fine as she said all she could see were bums, as we were all standing up. However she took Nicks seat when he went to the bathroom (in the wilderness in the middle of our drive). I told her I was happy to swap as did Kelly but she wanted his seat, not even the other seat in the front that only had powerboards. She said he’s not even sitting down anyways. Nick was fuming when he got on. The safari to him was like Christmas. He was beyond the most excited than anyone else and now she took the seat that he was standing on the entire time. I understand it’s anyone’s seat don’t get me wrong it was just the fact that she just sat down the entire time and slept, when she could of slept in the back with the four seats and not been in the way. 

After lunch we headed back to snake park. I felt as if I was still buzzing, Nick and I didn’t want to leave we wanted to just keep driving but as soon as we started to go up the crater I fell asleep. It was as if all this excitement and adrenaline over the past 3 days just knocked me out like a child.

I still felt a bit sluggish when we arrived at snake park and was so grateful we did the Masai village walk before than after. Unfortunately Kat and Rhett were feeling ill so they missed it all together. I however had a wonderful long hot shower. I can’t wait till I can soak in a bath though but for now I haven’t felt this clean in awhile. We had a wonderful last dinner together, home cooked cheeseburgers and chips, even pineapple made an appearance. I can’t believe this is our last night together. Where has the 42 days gone? 

We all went to the bar and had a chat and drank some horrible “goon” wine until midnight. 

21st of April 2016:

Today is officially our last day on the tour. It’s crazy I can’t even comprehend how time has possibly gone this fast! We were up nice and early once again setting down the tent for the final time. I wish I could say that we did it in a peaceful manner but unfortunately we thought it was going to pour down so we quickly put down the tent. I wish it had rained then it would have made the rush and pressure all worth it, but the thunder tricked us. We were all on the truck for the final time. I didn’t even want to sleep or write my journal, I just wanted to talk to everyone for the final time. It was only a 6 hour bus ride to Nariobi, but of course we had to go through customs. The Kenya customs was very unique, they have now just implemented a rule that you have to go and pay for the printing of your visa document to fill it out and hand it to them. Although of course it’s not much, it’s inconvenient and bizarre. Kenya are trying to keep up to date with the world and make it electronic, which is fine, but provide paper as well. Just as we went through and had to wait for the officials to stamp it two full buses arrived, making the line out the door. Thank god we got there 15 minutes earlier.

We dropped everyone off at a petrol station in Nairobi, Kenya where we all went our separate ways. It was unfathomable that after 42 days being with each other 24-7 across 7 countries and traveling a distance of over 10,000km we were saying goodbye.

Now there was only three, Kate, Nick and I. We were the three Aussies in the dorm room and now we’re the last. I was pretty happy to get to our hostel and just relax but we had to go to a huge shopping centre for 45 minutes while George and Bella got stuff done. As you walk into the shopping centre you and your bag are searched. Not only this but even in certain stores you go through the same procedure. 

We went to get money out and have a milkshake, and dear god it was amazing. What I would do to be drinking that right now. It was also nice to get updated on what’s happened in the world. Wifi in Africa is basically non existent so whatever has happened in the past 42 days we could finally hear about it. 

As we arrived at the hostel we grabbed our beds and just sat in the cafe enjoying our own time. I was happy to finally be posting blogs and Nick was happy to do his photography. 

It was an early night and I wouldn’t of had it any other way.

22nd of April 2016:
I woke up with so much excitement as I whispered to Nick, “we’re going to Greece today!” I can’t believe it. I feel as if I’ve just become so accustomed to African lifestyle that were now changing again. I’ve also never been to Greece. Unfortunately as much as waking up at 7am with excitement our plane didn’t leave till 10:55pm, so a long day of waiting. We jumped out of bed to have breakfast and wifi again. Nick was able to FaceTime his parents and his dogs whilst my parents were in Alice Springs with apparently poor connection, how ironic. 

I organised to go to the elephant orphanage only 20 minutes away. As Nick had already seen them in Livingstone I went by myself. Nairobi is one of the most unsafe areas, and I was pretty nervous to be in a taxi by myself. Thankfully my tour leader and her friend were wanting to go to the shopping centre to catch up so they jumped in to. She had also arranged the taxi who is her friend who was also previously a tour leader for 10 years. Once I found this out I felt a lot more comfortable. 

The elephant orphanage was adorable, I met Kelly there and luckily she was already at the front of the line. We ran straight to the front of the ropes. The sun was beaming down on us and it has been awhile where I’ve thought that I might actually get burnt, and I was correct. Just on my shoulders. 

Nairobi, Kenya

The baby elephants ranging from 2 weeks old to 2 years all ran down in a line to get their milk and food. It was beyond words how adorable it was. There was one that Kelly and I thought was so cute, it drank all its milk and then went into a milk coma. It was just so happy but just standing there with a smug look on its face. The keepers tried to get it to keep moving so the other elephants could drink but it just didn’t care. Then the baby elephant ran up to me. It would of been up to my shoulders and very heavy. It was adorable though patting a baby orphaned elephant can’t say I do that often. Then these baby elephants left and more came. The next group were from 3 to 5 years they were bigger but compared to a fully grown one very tiny. The guy told us that the more noise we make the more excited it made the elephants. He literally meant this in the way to be silent or they will trample you. Apparently Americans just don’t understand the concept of shhhh. They kept screaming and screeching so the elephant literally put its head under the rope and walked through to them. The keepers ran over and guided it back but once they screamed again it ran over. I felt sorry for the baby elephant it wouldn’t mean to trample people it just wanted to play. After an hour of this excitement we were all done. Unfortunately that meant I had nothing else to do for the day.

I went back to the hostel and organised the same driver to take us to the airport. Apparently Kenyas traffic is really bad so we had to leave 2 hours earlier than you may originally think. This meant leaving 5 hours before our flight left. It was bizarre but I was happy to be there rather than missing it all together. However it seemed to only take an hour to get through. At the entrance of the airport we had to get out of the taxi leaving all our belongs in the car and walk through a metal/ bomb detector, and then wait for the car to go through the same screening and then jump back in to drive to the terminal. If I hadn’t felt safe with him or been to see the elephants I would have been terrified to get out of the car. You never leave your belongings unattended especially with strangers and this is what they make you do before jumping on a plane.

Now we were at the airport 4 hours before our plane was due to leave. Our first plane is only a 5 hour flight. We were told the airport had food but unfortunately it was one restaurant outside. So I was starving to death by the time we got on the plane. I don’t even know how we killed the time but somehow we were 30 minutes before boarding. We had bumped into Kelly in the airport as she was taking the same plane to Dubai and then heading home to Tasmania. I wanted to change my Kenyan money to euro because I knew there was probably no where in the world that would want my Kenyan money. I got 40 euros as a result which is always nice to have the money of the country your going to when you arrive even if it’s just a little bit. 

As we boarded our plane we went into another little section before reaching the plane. For some reason he said I could go to the first class/ business class seating. It was literally no different apart from 20 people compared to 100 but I wanted to talk to Nick and Kelly. 

Emirates planes are very good for the money you pay in economy. Thankfully they had put a few more movies on since the beginning of March including sisters which is hilarious. I ordered white wine with my meal literally just to knock me out but it didn’t seem to work.

A Wander Through Zanzibar & The Northern Beaches

11th of April 2016:
Today’s the day that I have been waiting for since I started this whole journey (apparently 82 days!) Where has the time gone! When I awoke it was raining. No one wants to pack down the tent in the rain, but we had no choice, unfortunately. I was having a very sloth morning no matter how much I knew I had to move quicker my body just couldn’t seem to do it, I wasn’t the only one thankfully. We caught the ferry at 9:30am and this was an experience to say the least. Our tour leader told us to stay together and she was not kidding. We became cattle in a way, 100’s of people commuting to work squished into a little railing. People were pushing every direction it was like a mosh pit when you have no control where your going the mass people around you pull and push you in ever direction. Our group were separated but thankfully we got on the ferry in between the cars. It was still raining at this point so shelter was wanted by all these people trying to not look like drowned rats at work. Although Africans have this power to somehow repel dirt, they all seem to look glamorous no matter what, whilst I have a shower and step out and get dirt on myself again. We then walked a few metres to a tuk tuk to take us to the Zanzibar port. Kate, Andrea and myself jumped in. Our tour guide and us had told him where we were going. He smiled and took off, clearly this would make you think he knows where his going. After driving around (apparently aimlessly) and stopping to chat to people on the side of the road he asks us again where we would like to go. After once again saying Zanzibar ferry he all of sudden says “boat” so now he takes us to the ferry. By the time we arrived our tour leader was starting to panic and everyone who walked were already waiting. Our ferry ride only took 2 hours with non stop Israel the Voice kids show on. We had no idea what they were singing but we had already picked our favourites. 

By the time we arrived at Stonetown, Zanzibar it was 12pm. We checked into our own private room which was gorgeous. After sleeping in a tent for so long a private hot shower and king size bed was paradise. We quickly left the hotel to begin our spice tour. After our lunch we took a mini bus to a little “forest” where our guide would take us through the trees, bushes and plants to show us the natural forms of spices. It was incredible and made me realise how useless I am determining spices through smell and taste. Something I should experiment with back home. Although I personally don’t enjoy eating raw ginger and pepper. As we ended the walking part of the tour with a starfish on our heads and “natural red lipstick” on our foreheads.

Stonetown Spice Tour, Zanzibar

We witnessed a man singing and climbing a coconut tree, very unique talent. All of a sudden Kate turned to me and said she was about to pass out, her face was green and her eyes were dazed. After 20 minutes of Kate sitting down we got her into the mini van to head back to the hotel. 

We continued on through Stonetown, weaving in and out of concrete buildings with impressive huge wooden doors. 

Stonetown, Zanzibar

Stonetown was a maze with every building looking the same no matter which direction you look. We stopped off at an amazing coffee shop, typical me as I don’t enjoy coffee or tea I ordered a hot chocolate and it was delicious. We continued through, ending in a gorgeous rooftop bar overlooking the sun setting over the ocean. After a cocktail we were on our way to the night market. After continuously being hassled to come to their stall we choose chicken yiros (their equivalent) and for dessert Nutella, banana crepe. So delicious. Once we got back to our room it was so nice to have wifi again so we caught up with everyone back home and updated the blog and photos. 

12th of April 2016:

We had the morning to ourselves in Stonetown which sounds exceptional after being on a tour for so long to have freedom but it was just a free ticket to getingt lost. We had a late breakfast where we went for a walk with Bella. She took us to an amazing coin shop that made necklaces and rings out of coins from all over the world. Then we went to a little Spanish restaurant where we drank hot chocolates till we had to head back to go to the northern beaches of Zanzibar.

We took an hour drive to the Northern beaches where we stayed in a gorgeous hotel on the beach. Once again we got a private room with a balcony, after all this glamour it’s going to be hard to be happy in a tent again. 

The service however at the restaurant was true African time, to receive food it took an hour once we had ordered, even for drinks it took 30 minutes. At least we were prepared for this for dinner. The rest of the evening consisted of naps and eating, hard life I’d say.

13th of April 2016:

This morning we had a well deserved sleep in (8:30am) and went down to the beach front for breakfast. The locals speak very little English as I speak very little Swahili, so ordering breakfast was an adventure. Ellie and Rhet were told there were no more eggs left, then 15 minutes later they were ordered to stay because their eggs were coming (even though they weren’t exactly the order they had originally made). We then went for a little walk down the beach, the weather wasn’t exactly what I dreamt of. Being on a beach you generally dream of the hot Ray’s soaking into your skin. Unfortunately for me it was merely rain that was soaking into my skin. Our new adopted dog Rusty followed us all the way down the beach. 

Northern Beaches, Zanzibar

For some odd reason, Africans don’t like dogs, Rusty ran up to the hotel owner when men were chasing her. As we were walking with her she was so upbeat and playful even knew how to play catch with the stick, however as soon as we walked past locals she ran in between us. She was so frightened it made me feel so sorry for her, knowing when we leave she may be left stranded again. I wish we could have adopted Rusty. The rain began to end by early afternoon so we laid by the sun beds overlooking the sail boats in the flat water whilst hearing sellers trying anything to grab your attention. At 4pm we were on a old sail boat sailing and drinking alcohol till darkness fell. It was surprisingly fun, considering I thought it would be the same as the other sunset cruise we did in Livingstone. As the sun was setting we stopped to jump off the boat (again and again). First time in my life I’ve done a backflip into water, let alone with alcohol in my system. Although possibly why I actually did it. It’s not like backflips are hard, to me after gymnastics and trampolining I can easily do it, it’s just I normally hate diving. When we arrived back to land and got changed out of our bathers we went out for dinner. Nick was quite drunk, and the next day didn’t even remember what he ate (a whole chicken pizza). At the bar there was a swing and he fell off thankfully without spilling his beer. I however just loved being on a swing, swinging till my heart was content. Overall tonight was pretty incredible and fun, we don’t drink often but the nights that we have they seem to have held wonderful memories and laughter.

14th of April 2016:
The morning after last night was a different story. I wasn’t as hungover as I have been on this entire trip but upbeat and awake I was not. We laid on the sun beds again, as the sun was out and shining. After an hour or so the massage lady came and I jumped on the idea. I haven’t had a massage the entire time we’ve been travelling and my back, neck and shoulders were so tight. I had knots in my back I didn’t even realise existed because I had become so used to living with it. Before travelling I was exercising every day and stretching a few days a week, now I’m hardly exercising and haven’t really stretched since the last yoga session with Kat, and that was not long enough. After an hour massage I felt taller and better than I’ve felt in awhile since travelling, it was exactly what I needed. Then the rains came, no more sunshine and maybe getting a tan. A huge storm rolled in, torrential rain and thunder opened up the skies for a few hours. Thankfully it was perfectly timed for lunch time. When I had finished my huge portion of chicken and avocado sushi the rains stopped and the sun came out again. Tonight was our last night in the northern beaches of Zanzibar. After last nights ordeal we had an early night with a special feast for the group. Entree, mains and dessert on a table on the beach with candles lit around. Honestly if it wasn’t for 8 people you would call it romantic. It was one of those settings you see people getting proposed in, and unless Andrew was going to propose again to Kat there was just going to be no romance.

15th of April 2016:

We left at 8:30am to head back to Stonetown where we would catch the ferry back to Dar Es Salam. As we jumped into the mini-van to head back to Stonetown, Bella thought she had lost her passport. After frantically looking around her bag and her room she thankfully found it in a little bag she never puts it in. Thankfully, she found it cause she wouldn’t have even been able to board the ferry to Dar Es Salam. We only had an hour and a half in Stonetown to head back to the coin shop and the coffee cafe. 

We quickly caught the ferry back to Dar Es Salam. It was a bit choppy, and even though we were watching some Chinese karate movie (not in English) I started feeling ill. When I was a kid I would never get sea sick, now I’m older I seem to be getting motion sickness on what ever boat I get on. Whilst we were walking to the other port to get to Dar Es Salam I still felt nauseous, I wish this feeling subsided quickly but after two days I felt more normal. We arrived in Dar Es Salam at 4pm to see George who was underway cooking dinner for us all. I tried to help out just so I could distract myself from the motion sickness. It started to pour down so everyone upgraded to a room, as we were also leaving at 4:30am the next day. The rain was coming in so hard sideways whilst we were in bed that it was like a light spray.

16th of April 2016:

Today was another long driving day with 14 hours sitting in the bus bored to our brains. Thankfully today was the last 14 hour drive we will ever have to do in Africa so it always seems to make life that little bit easier. I still had a bit of motion sickness feeling when I awoke but surprisingly when I read, it seemed to be the only thing that would cause it to disappear. I read an entire book today. I don’t think I’ve done that in a good few years. Even Nick started a book, I was so proud of him he reached nearly the 100 page mark which is a miracle! Normally he won’t even pick it up to read the title. We arrived in Snake Park in the afternoon, where we went about our normal routine of setting up a tent and having dinner cooked for us by the campsite staff. 

17th of April 2016:

I was so thankful to wake up when I wanted to and not to an alarm, even if it was still 7am. We had a very relaxing chilled day where we went to see the local shops. Tanzania are famous for their Tanzanite, which are gorgeous diamonds. All the girls swarmed over to the display cabinets knowing in their hearts that there was no way any of us could afford it or reason ourselves to spend that much. Andrea bought the most gorgeous wedding band I have ever seen. Her wedding is in November and she has seen the exact same design in Mexico for double the price and apparently with worse quality (“glistening effect”) diamonds. It was a simple thin, silver band with tiny diamonds glistening around her entire finger.

We came back to the campsite to watch the snake feeding. We had heard a lot about it and it only ever happens on a Sunday. I was actually pretty keen. At 1pm on the dot we were at our campsites snake park zoo all buzzing with excitement when the zookeeper told us today they feed them an hour early because of the sunshine. I was fairly disappointed but non the less we walked around to see all the snakes, when all of a sudden I see a quick slither to the corner. In as quick as a blink the snake was at the birds neck with its tongue. This gave me goosebumps and still is just writing it, I will never get the image out of my head. The bird did nothing, as if freezing made it invisible, unfortunately it opened its mouth up and started eating it… Slowly. When I say slow I literally mean 30 to 45 minutes of this bird pecking it’s eyes because it ate from the feet first. It was horrifying to see the terror in the tiny little chicken knowing that it can’t escape and being eaten alive. As I moved on to the next window a python as big as what you imagine Anacondas in the exaggerated movie to be. It was freaky, I couldn’t even comprehend how big it was with its skin wrapped around its cage and its self. 

Nick, Andrea, Kelly and myself decided to do the Masai walk this afternoon (4pm) because it wasn’t raining and we knew we wouldn’t feel like doing it after the Serengeti. We started our walk through a little local museum, showing us the different huts and cultural norms of the Masai men and women. Their culture is so unique to the western society. Numerous practices which are norms for them would consider you a sinner if you were a westerner. The biggest fact that I still can’t get my head around is that men are allowed however many wives and children as long as they can provide for all. Therefore some may have 1 or 2 wives whilst others may have 20 wives with 50 children. To be considered a Masai Warrior you must pass the test of manhood at 14 years of age. Boys are held down by other warriors whilst an elder completes the practice of circumcision. Unfortunately just going through the procedure means nothing, to be a warrior the boy must not make any noise, cry or show any sense of pain. Please tell me how this is possible it sounds dreadful. It’s not like in the western world where we have pain killers. If you thought this would be enough to be considered a warrior you were wrong. Originally boys then had to hunt and kill a lion by themselves and take the head back to the village. This may have taken days or weeks. Now due to protection of lions they do not continue this practice.

After the museum we walked to the local Masai village. 50 children aged between new borns to teenagers were outside playing. The young children were adorable as they hung on to you wanting to spin them around. Exactly like Laos and I remembered how dizzy it made me. 

Masai Village, Tanzania

They thought Nicks beard was so funny and kept wanting to touch it. He would play with the children allowing them to get close to his beard then growl as they ran screaming and laughing falling over each other. Then Kelly brought a tennis ball out of her bag, when the little children were playing it was fine they would be sharing it between each other trying to chase it. As soon as the teenagers saw it, things became aggressive very quickly. One girl literally flung a guy on the ground as he tried to steal it off her, this resulted in the ball being taken away from them. 

It was time to say goodbye and my god I loved the walk through and playing with the children, even the baby goats were saying goodbye. 

Masai Village, Tanzania

We went into the snake park clinic which is dedicated to solely people being bitten by snakes. Two young boys were in their. One was doing his homework as he had already been sitting there for a month. Apparently it was lucky he didn’t lose any limbs which is beyond words.

Today was a pretty full on day with so many different experiences to say the least!

Malawi Lake & The Creepy Crawlies That Come With It

4th of April 2016:

Welcome to Malawi. Border crossing always leaves you with a surprise and my god another traveller left that for us. Our tour leader tried to get the transit visa, as we are spending less than 5 days in Malawi. The border patrol refused so we had to pay the holiday visa. As we were talking about this in the line a lady all of a sudden snaps and starts yelling at us, accusing us of complaining about not spending the extra money when there’s dying African children. This lady honestly came out of no where and her husband looked straight ahead ignoring his angry wife. Our tour leader explained that, that was not the case the law changed recently but we are all paying it. Then the lady stated that she was living in Tanzania… Unfortunately the flaw in her argument was quite simply the government system is corrupt and if she was aware she would realise the poor starving African children are not getting a cent no matter what visa we get she may have said nothing. 

After an hour we were back on the truck driving into a storm. Today was another long driving day filled with card games (4 hours of Romy) and chatting. When we arrived at the gate to our campsite we were in the middle of the storm! A quote from Nick, “Are we driving through a creek?” Unfortunately no we weren’t that was just the road. Imagine Jurassic Park when the rain is hitting the windows so hard you can’t see out of, and the trees are swooping so low that you fear your window may smash! I honest to god don’t know how our driver George got us there in one piece but we were thankful he did! Our tour leader told us that we should 100% upgrade otherwise our tents would get flooded. Kate, Nick and myself went into a dorm room, and I wish to god that we didn’t make that decision! As we arrived so late and due to the torrential rain and thunder above us we had a local dish cooked for us by two local women. Of course pap was on the menu with a whole fish. It was delicious and reminded me of our last night in Laos when we ordered a whole fish on a stick in a buffet lane. 

It was now time to drift off to sleep and I honest to god wish that, that was all that had happened. However for everyone that knows me knows I cannot tolerate ants. No matter what size or type I hate them all. Well what happened to me was beyond any nightmare I could ever have dreamt of. After falling asleep for an hour, Nick jumps into my single bed saying that there’s heaps of ants on his. So as we squash in a tiny bed they start to come. These black ants may have been small and unnoticeable if there was only one on my bed but when there’s hundreds crawling around they can make any man squirm. I’m not exaggerating when I turned my head torch on and saw my mattress had gone from white to black and moving! They were everywhere, all over us, all in our hair just everywhere. Even writing this I’m getting itchy. At one point Nick decided to put the mosquito net off the ground and tuck it into the bed. Well this just made it worse! They would start crawling up the mosquito net and drop down onto you. Yes they were now catapulting ants! At 4am we had had enough and walked outside sitting on a seat waiting for the sun to rise! At 6am we were at the point of exhaustion that we slept on the cement by the truck waiting to set up our tent to go to sleep! 

5th of April 2016:

Last night was absolutely horrifying. I felt ill with the lack of sleep and stress I had endured throughout the night. We had a slow morning with breakfast and chatting until brunch. I wanted to organise a room to sleep in so at least I could sleep during the day. After waiting 30 minutes for the manager he said that the ants were not his problem and if we didn’t like it we shouldn’t stay in it. So after that remark Nick didn’t want to give him anything so we slept in the tent. Kat and Andrew were so kind and let me sleep in their room for a couple of hours during the day. After this I felt like myself again I think I just needed more rest and my own time for a bit. After lunch Nick and I watched a movie outside then played some beach volleyball. It was an enjoyable afternoon and I’m glad the day turned around for the better because I cannot predict it going any worse!

6th of April 2016:

Today I feel like I can actually enjoy laying by the lake relaxing and just wasting the day away reading my book. In the morning though Nick, Kate, Kat, Andrew and I went to a children’s school. Unfortunately it was school holidays so the only 3 children there were orphans. In which we had to wait till they came back from the hospital as the little boy only about 5 had Malaria. Two men were running the school with one being the caregiver and the other working as apart of the government (but with no benefit). He takes care of all the children in the villages to make sure they are going to school and are not being abused both physically or emotionally. I thought what he was doing was beyond incredible for a volunteer. When he found out I studied psychology he was so excited and was saying I have to come back to help him and to possibly bring a computer, as all the documents of all the children are written out by hand, and at one point the rains destroyed all the documents so he had to start again. The school was basic with a roof missing as the community were currently building it. The school were run by the community with no support from the government. 

Another Acacia truck arrived when we were out. They were a more active group with everyone playing cricket together. 
In the afternoon Nick and I played soccer with some of the local children. It is exhausting running around for an hour and half in the sand, and they really knew how to play and equally to the child’s age. The young ones (5 to 8) would go up against the other kid their own age and the teenagers would share and pass to the young ones. 

It was such an enjoyable and exhausting hour and im so glad that Nick wandered down the beach to the local fisherman. Even I kicked a few goals, surprisingly. When we were walking back Kat and Andrew were playing volleyball by themselves so we tried to play with four but as were all not pros it didn’t end terribly greatly as well as it had become dark so couldn’t see the ball properly. 

After a delicious dinner (home made burgers and chips) we went to “party/ talk” to the other truck. They were hilarious and definitely loved to drink. 

7th of April 2016:

I was awoken suddenly by Bella calling our names through the tent! Somehow we had slept in! This never happens and no one ever wakes up happy trying to stuff the sleeping bag in the bag in 1 minute plus pack down the tent! I felt all flustered but thankfully after a quick breakfast we just sat on the truck getting ready for another long driving day. We drove until 5pm where it was our night to cook dinner as a group. It was fun but when you have so many people from different countries you realise how differently people cook one dish. We were making Mexican and wow if only we had our Mexican friend come a few days earlier and teach us the true way (but maybe without the real Mexican spice). Nick made bruschetta which was delicious and an amazing entree to begin with. The main course Kat and Andrew seemed to have been more in charge as I had no idea what they were making but we ended up with chicken marinated in a lot of soy sauce and beef, Mexican rice (rice with tomato paste & spices), guacamole, salad, random grated cheese (which I did, and still had no idea what it was for) and the best corn ever. I also think we used every single pan and pot in the truck because our washing was huge! When we were just about to pack everything away a huge storm rolled in causing sideways torrential rain. I was soaked even after ducking under the table. I ran into the tent where I enjoyed an early night listening to the rain pelt down on the side of the tent. 

8th of April 2016:

We could of woken up early to start a hike to a waterfall but Nick and I were enjoying sleeping a lot more! When 7am came around we jumped out of our tents to find Kat, Andrew and Kate were still sitting by the truck having breakfast not yet had started walking. Bella thought I was interested but after 2 months in South East Asia seeing waterfalls every second day I was pretty content to have a chilled day, and I was more interested in doing the wood carving. At 10am Ellie, Rhett, Nick and myself followed Patrick out of the gate to do wood carving. If I didn’t have to carry my bag everywhere I would have made a bowl but space is limited so a key ring it was. Nick didn’t participate in the wood carving. My key ring has my name on one side with an elephant on the other. We used boot polish to varnish it, and as a result my hands and legs were covered (somehow). I looked like a child was given paint and just went crazy! 

The rest of the day was very chilled comprising of literally nothing, it feels as though we have had quite a few days like that!

9th of April 2016:

Today was definitely another nothing day! We drove from 4:30am to 8pm, that’s 15.5 hours. We were suppose to stay at another campsite 2 hours earlier but they were having a wedding and we were leaving again at 4am the next morning so our driver needed proper rest. At 7am we stopped off to have breakfast where we were all still asleep. Andrew ordered Goat soup, no matter what time it is it is never time for goat soup. As it sounds Andrew said it was horrible and “tasted like what goats smell” .. Yum! Our driver however loves it and took Andrews in his lunch box to have lunch (cold goat soup.. Even better) but I guess to an African man it’s exciting. I have no idea what our campsite actually looked like as we arrived in the night as well as leaving in the early morning but it looked kinda creepy. For dinner we had spaghetti Bolognese my favourite.

10th of April 2016:

Today is our last day with the seven of us as tonight two extra girls (an Aussie and Mexican) will be joining us. We left once again at 4am and arrived at our campsite at 3pm. I am becoming very use to sitting on a truck for long periods of time doing absolutely nothing and yet watching the day roll past. Today we did however cross into Tanzania which meant changing time zones. Thankfully we only had to put our watches to an hour forward. I am beyond excited to go to Zanzibar and finally tomorrow we will be crossing the ferry to relax on a beach by the ocean. We had dinner at the restaurant in our campsite which was delicious, beef and chicken skewers with rice and salad. We met Kelly and Andrea who were really nice.

Victoria Falls & Eye to Eye With A Leopard & Lion

27th of March 2016:
Today’s Easter Sunday! It’s sad that I’m not spending today in the usual way with a roast lamb with family and millions of Easter eggs flooding the kitchen. It makes you realise how special these days are and how you take it for granted. Instead of devouring my self in chocolate I jumped on the truck for a day’s drive to Elephant Sands. As the name suggests there’s plenty of elephants and sand, unfortunately for us there were only lots of sand. We did see a few when we first arrived but apparently nothing like it normally is. We spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool chatting and listening to a rich obnoxious English guy talk about God knows what. Then the storm came. At first it was only a few heavy rain drops for 5 minutes but when we thought we were safe it poured down. Thankfully I had a good view on top of the truck for 5 minutes prior to this. People were running in circles like ants trying to escape the rain. You would believe the truck would be a safe haven but the truck leaks from the windows and roof. Nick and I ran to our tent where we watched half the movie of, The Fault in our Stars before dinner was ready. Dinner was a gorgeous huge steak and for desert a chocolate cake. Whilst eating our tour guide was telling us the history of Namibia and Botswana. The political side of both countries was surprisingly fascinating given how recent Namibia became independent. I was in heaven but surprisingly exhausted after a day of nothing. This was definitely a different Easter than I am use to and I don’t think I’ll ever experience again, sadly. 

28th of March 2016:

We only had one night in Elephant sands so we were back on the road to Chobie. At the campsite we quickly set up our tents and made lunch in an hour before our first game drive in Chobie. Our hearts were not full of excitement rather we were expecting the worst or of what our previous game drive gave us… Nothing. I think it’s always better to go in with no expectation, because Chobie was breath taking. I couldn’t even tell you how many elephants we saw it would be at least 500 ranging from huge bulls ready to mate to baby elephants only a week old.

Chobie, Botswana

29th of March 2016:

Today’s the day we cross over into Zambia and go to Victoria Falls. I came here when I was a child with my parents and unfortunately our cameras went flat so I was determined to finally take photos and tick it off my bucket list. Unfortunately the truck was still not fixed so we had a very slow morning getting ready, having breakfast and chatting. We left for the border at 11:30am, luckily the border was 10 minutes down the road. After we got our passports stamped we drove another 5 minutes to the ferry port where we had to jump out and walk across the ferry. It took all of 5 minutes and we were in Zambia. Our tour leader grabbed our money and passports to get our visas stamped. This process of 26 passports took an hour. The 7 of us continuing on the tour past Livingstone received our passports first as we got Zambia and Zimbabwe in and out visa. As we waited for the others locals were hassling us to buy their wooden animals and what ever else. It was a long hour. We had another one hour drive from the border to our campsite. Thankfully we stopped off at a supermarket 10 minutes before our campsite to get money out and buy lunch. The first ATM didn’t accept MasterCard, lucky for me as the person in front of me was using it when the power went out for a few seconds. We went straight to Victoria falls. As it’s wet season the falls would be roaring, which means a lot of spray. The first moment I saw the falls it took me back to when I was a child staring at it in amazement. This time I saw it from the Zambia side instead of Zimbabwe. 

Victoria Falls, Zambia

We had 2 hours to walk around and see the falls from all angles. By the end I was completely soaked as if I stood in the shower with my clothes on. This was the worst day to wear a white top. I loved crossing the little bridge where you couldn’t even see because the spray was so dense. Luckily my phone didn’t get damaged otherwise I would have lost my phone and my camera would have been damaged. We only had 30 minutes to go to the bridge that joins Zambia and Zimbabwe, unfortunately to get to the bridge you have to “leave” Zambia even though technically were not actually leaving the country. Non of us brought our passports so she stamped a piece of paper and wrote four on it, how very professional. It was dry on the bridge but you could see the boiling pot and the falls behind it. We only spent 3 minutes on the bridge before we had to cross back over to jump on the truck. We saw Jamie and Cara on the bridge, Jamie unfortunately didn’t jump and Cara was harnessed up ready for her bungee.

We didn’t have much time before dinner at the restaurant. Tonight we had to pay our own meals and I kinda went all out. I ordered a steak, chips and vegetables and banana split for desert. Sometimes it’s nice to spoil yourself, especially when the steak was only $10 Aus. 

Everyone went to bed straight after dinner but myself, Kate and Bridget stayed up using the wifi. I face timed my dad on the way to work. It was nice to have a chat and the wifi was surprisingly good so there was no interruptions. I knew for the next half of the trip (20 days) it would be rare to have wifi, especially good enough to call. 

30th of March 2016:

Today was a very relaxing chilled day. I woke up at 6:15am to go on a microlight fight leaving the campsite at 6:45am. The microlight flight was expensive for 15 minutes but the experience was priceless. A microlight flight is a single passenger and pilot “plane”. Imagine one of the first planes to have aired, it was completely out in the open. Only a seat protected you and the outside world. The propeller was behind me as I spoke to and heard the history of Victoria falls through the headpiece. We flew around the falls, seeing the entire beauty for what it truly is. I remember when I was a kid I said that I would come back and do a helicopter ride over the Victoria falls and I definitely came back and ticked that box. I never thought I would have done it at 22 though. At one point the pilot tells you to stretch out your arms like your a bird, then he does it too, as your falling down into the falls, feeling free. The spray caused some turbulence but non that would concern you. It was the quickest 15 minutes and I could have quite happily have gone again. This was my only optional activity I chose and I was so thankful I did. We got back at 8am where I saw Thomas, Livie and Ella looking green in the face before their bungee jump. Nick, Kate and a few others spent the day with elephants and rafting. The bizarre moment was this was the longest we spent apart in the 3 months, and it was less than a normal working day. I decided to take the rest of the day off and have some “me time”. It’s hard to find when your travelling with 23 other people 24-7. I did all my washing which actually took me longer than I would have ever expected and had lunch by the pool. I got to use the wifi and speak to my mum. Then Nick came up to me with only an hour and a half before our cruise and asked if I wanted to go to town. I was a tad confused why the urgency but the lens he bought yesterday was already broken. We went straight back to the shop and explained the situation. After an hour of utter bullshit policies and them not wanting to give back the money it looked as if Nick was going to get his money back when the manager went to the bank. Unfortunately we just didn’t have time for “African time” and had to leave otherwise we would miss the cruise.

I ran and got changed and put make up on in 10 minutes, I was utterly surprised I got ready that quickly. It was still hot, and as we jumped on the cruise I was sweating, the sun had a bite to it. The night didn’t stay classy like you would imagine on a sunset cruise. We played a drinking game where you cant say the persons name, point, say the word “drink”, or have your glass closer to the edge of the table where someone could fit a finger in between. It got everyone drunk, without fail. The night continued in the bar where we were having shots on the ground. 

Livingstone, Zambia

Apparently you lie down on the ground with your shot glass in front of you when you go, you pick up the shot glass in your mouth and roll over. It sounds hazardous and I honestly don’t know how no one chocked. The night ended in the pool where once again some people went “skinny dipping”. 

31st of March 2016:

As I woke I knew I was going to have to pay for it for last nights adventures. The tent was stifling, but I didn’t feel well enough to get out. I pushed myself to walk to the truck where I sat on a chair and had breakfast. Normally this makes me feel better but not this time. I have never had the feeling of turning my head too quick that I was going to vomit. I tried sorting out my washing but felt nauseous. I knew in the back of my head that today was the day we were crossing to Zimbabwe by foot and spending the day there. I was struggling to walk the 30 metres from my tent to the truck. Nick wanted to sort out his lens so we took the free shuttle to town. Unfortunately they continued with bullshit and he didn’t get his money back, hopefully he can get it off warranty. We took a taxi from the town to the border where we got stamped out “officially” out of Zambia. Rhet and Ellie arrived at the same time. I would say we walked excitedly but I think the better phrase would be staggered to the border. The Zimbabwe border is a 20 minute walk and when your hungover it is possibly the worst thing to do. After a total of 30 minutes walking and 10 minutes waiting in the line to Victoria Falls we were in. We started our 2 hour walk along the falls. This breathtaking beauty makes you forget all your sorrows and allows you to become soaked in all its beauty, quite literally. Its amazing when you come back to a place that you visited when you were a child, it’s like a sense of déjà vu. 

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

After a litre of water and this enormous walk I was well and truly ready to sit down and have lunch. We had lunch at the lookout cafe. It was beyond breathtaking right on the edge of the river over looking the bridge that brings Zambia and Zimbabwe together. We all ordered a burger and chips, as there would of been nothing better. After an hour and half of not wanting to move we left to get U.S. Money out of the ATM as this would be the last place in Africa. We walked even slower if that was possible back home to our camp site. The rest of the night was spent on wifi buying flight tickets to Europe. After an hour of research and pure exhaustion running through my body we booked flights to Greece. 

1st of April 2016:

Today we finally left Livingstone with only 7 compared to 24 at the beginning of our tour. It was so bizarre to have so much room. We had another full day of driving ahead of us. We arrived at our campsite at 4pm where Zebras roomed the grounds only a metre away from us. Content with us staring in amazement. They remind me of my horse, Smurf as no matter what you do they continue to eat. I helped cook dinner and played with puppies as the sun began to set. After dinner we did a 30 minute yoga session. My body longed for this stretch, days on days of being cramped in a truck for hours caused my body to ache. As soon as yoga finished I was in bed ready to sleep.

2nd of April 2016:

Another full day of driving, we jumped off to eat some doughnuts for only 1 Zambian kwacha. Only 5 minutes later we were allowed to cross a bridge by foot as we gave them a five litre empty water bottle. This bridge had previously been blown up twice and had security to make sure it wouldn’t. It was the only bridge that joined the south and north parts of Zambia, and therefore important for transporting goods. We didn’t get to our campsite until 5:30pm, only leaving 30 minutes of scattered light free. After dinner we crashed in bed. Even though the past two days all we’ve done is drive for 12 hours, it surprisingly exhausting.

3rd of April 2016:

Finally we were doing something today other than just travelling on the truck. We had a nice sleep in and a long breakfast. I spent the rest of the morning lying by the pool reading a book and trying not to burn. The sun was playing hide and seek behind the clouds and turned into intermittent burning and cooling. Lunch was at 1pm and right on time like our lunch the rains came. Torrential rain created streams and creeks along the campsite fortunately not through our tents. We were so concerned that the game drive would be cancelled because of the rain. Luckily we still had 3 hours to pray. The rain only lasted an hour. Nick met a guy in the campsite who was travelling with his family. His camera collection was out of this world. I don’t remember the specific numbers and what not but one of his lenses was half my height, before it was unraveled. 

We were pumped this time for our game drive, Nick was the first one in the truck ready to go. His beaming face excited for what’s to come, and did we get a show. We had seen four of the big 5 we were just missing the leopard. We told the guy to take us straight to the leopard and don’t stop for any springbok. He laughed and said we will see what’s out there tonight. A four hour game drive we were sure to see something, you would hope. In the first 15 minutes of entering the national park we saw two leopards. 

South Luanga, Zambia

They were so incredibly close, if you stuck your arm out it would grab it. We followed the female to begin, apparently she was lactating which meant her cubs were around, if only we saw them. We watched her so intently for 20 minutes, dead silence only the sound of the camera shutter echoed the park. She was leaving her scent for the male. After she walked off into the distance we followed the male leopard. He wasn’t as close but you could still see the fine details of his spots. After an hour went past he wondered off, leaving us shell shocked in his past. I thought the night would have hit the climax there. Even our tour guide said in the 5 years she’s been doing this job that was the closest she’s ever experienced seeing wild leopards. We drove another 5 minutes where what we saw left our tour guide saying, “are you fucking kidding me” in utter surprise wild spotted dogs ran past our truck.

South Luanga, Zambia

 These animals are incredibly hard to find as they continuously move. We followed them for 10 minutes. They are the best hunters in the kingdom as they move in packs. The night flowed on from here seeing animals every direction you turned. We saw an elephant, two lions, hippos, crocodiles, camillion, Elephant mouse and zebras. I couldn’t have asked for a better game drive and we were sad that the other half of the group missed out on the leopard. One of the best moments (apart from the leopards) was when night fell and the lion walked straight past our truck staring eye to eye with only half a metre between us. My heart stopped and I forgot to breath, because it was as if it knew if it wanted to it could kill us all with its snickering eyes following our every move. What a perfect way to say goodbye to Zambia.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Searching For The Big 5 & A Person

19th of March 2016:

I was so happy to leave Swakopmund we had only been here for two days but those two days felt like a week with all the drama that occurred. I finally had a nice peaceful morning off, with no activities or police officers to deal with. We weren’t bound to leave Swakopmund until 2pm so the morning was filled with Facebook, chatting about Eurovision and eating chocolate cake with a vanilla milkshake at the village cafe. We were heading off to Spitzkope, I had seen photos and it looked breathtaking one of those places that you couldn’t imagine was actually real but rather a series of photoshops. Our drive to Spitzkope was only four hours with the sun beaming down on my bare skin with no escape. As we arrived it was as breathtaking as the picture led on. Beautiful rock mountains surrounded us. Nick and I walked up the rock facing our campsite to get a better view in the 15 minutes we had before our guided tour. 

spitzkope, Namibia

It was amazing, the landscape showed numerous huge rock mountains with bare flat, sandy ground surrounding the rocks and the horizon. We were suppose to have a guided tour with locals about the ancient rock paintings but as it was their long weekend due to Independence Day they were at the soccer. Luckily our tour guide, Bella has been working here for 5 years so she explained all the pictures in detail as if she had heard it a hundred times.

As we walked back from the walk I was exhausted, my calves were tightening up every step of the way. I was happy to sit down and have a bit of down time. Unfortunately I wished it was that simple and the night ended there. An American girl named Kat (Katherine) said she was going to “find her husband and walk with him up that rock.” This particular rock was enormous, I would rather call it a mountain and the terrain didn’t look simple, all natural with no path. As the sun was setting I headed back up the same rock from earlier (this time only taking 5 minutes) and enjoyed the beautiful sunset, setting in between two rocks in the horizon. As I was just about to head back down with everyone, Andrew (Kat’s husband) turns up. With a quizzical concern I ask if he saw Kat. This is the point of the night where the night changed to more drama. He said that Nick had said the same thing to him at the campsite but he thought he was joking. As soon as he realised we weren’t lying his face dropped. Sudden concern spread across his face. We headed back down thinking that she might be at the campsite, but no one had seen her. Ten minutes passed and I saw, Andrew, Jamie and Cara getting torches to find her. The sun had set and they only had 20 minutes before true blackness would occur. I joined them knowing I was the last person she talked to before hand and hating the feeling of helplessness if I just sat waiting at the campsite. I told them which rock she headed up (as there is 3 around us) but Andrew said he told her he was climbing the other one so we headed his direction. Our torches aren’t ideal for finding someone on a rock 100m away. We yelled her name for an hour, whilst continuing to shine our light hoping to see some sort of object looking like Kat, but nothing. Once the sun had gone to bed and the moon and the stars were our only source of light we had to retreat back. I’ve never looked for a person before, not like this in the dark screaming their name, but it was terrifying. As every 10 minutes passed it was like hope was diminishing as well. My fear was she had hurt herself, one image was she was unconscious on the rock face. I told everyone that we should head back to the campsite to make sure she hadn’t turned up and if she wasn’t there at least we could get more people involved. It wasn’t safe for us to be roaming the wilderness with wild animals (apparently a panther) in the night let alone her. The nerve-racking thing was I knew she had no torch or water, she was an intelligent women but is devoted to her husband enough to not turn around when it gets dark, this I knew. I studied psychology and for some reason she has been one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. As we were only a couple 100m away we heard a scream. We stopped abruptly and looked at each other knowing that, that was not just wishful thinking that it was real. As we heard it again “Cara” we ran. Adrenaline kicked in and after only 100m we found her safe on the ground with Nick and the others. To see her safe sent a rush of emotions, relief that she was ok and unharmed, but anger at how scared she had made us after an hour searching in the dark. Apparently what had happened was she was on the rock (that I had said) and flashed her camera at the campsite. Nick saw it and ran to the rock. He climbed all the way up to her where he says could have easily broken bones or killed yourself as there were crevices and a gorge you had to jump over. As he reached her he had to bring her back down and it’s lucky their both unharmed. It wasn’t until the next day I saw his leg was covered in bruises and scratches. She was in shock when I saw her, she was just crying in embarrassment. Saying she didn’t even think anyone would be looking for her, and she just thought the sunset was so pretty she didn’t think about it getting dark. At least she was alive. When we got back to the campsite, our leader told us Acacia has only ever had one incidence and that was when someone decided to climb the same rock in the middle of the night and died. 
The night ended in one of those moments where you think to yourself, my life is amazing. We slept on top of one of the rocks outside where the stars glistened and the moon burned bright like a lantern.

20th of March 2016:
We awoke whilst the stars were still in the black sky. We left to go to Etosha whilst the sun was rising above the horizon. Etosha campsite was amazing with a waterhole where wild animals can come and go whilst people observe them only a few metres away. We arrived at 3pm with only an hour before our first safari drive. Excitement was looming as we were so close to seeing wild animals for the first time. At 4pm we were on the truck with cameras charged and eager eyes looking out hoping to see a glimpse of one of the big 5. In our 3 hours we saw a dead giraffe, rhino and springbok. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite as good as we may have hoped for. We had a big day full of driving and from all our drama from Swakopmund Bella treated us to dinner at the restaurant where we had Kudo, soup and salad definitely filled my stomach up. 

Etosha, Namibia

We then set up camp by the waterhole and watched in dead silence with 100’s of people a rhino drinking. It was amazing to see a big animal all by itself drinking water. Every now and again it would raise it’s head listening out to the surroundings before relaxing and drinking the water again. I wish I could of stayed awake longer but once the rhino had left for 10 minutes I had to fall asleep. Nick stayed up till 12pm where he saw one hyena.

21st of March 2016:

Today was a full day of game driving in Etosha. This morning we set off at 7:30am it was a 4 hour game drive and I wish I could say we saw so many amazing animals but it just wasn’t true. Unless your a bird watcher then maybe you would have enjoyed it. We did however see a herd of zebras which was amazing. Four hours seemed to have dragged on as our weary eyes grew wearer as time passed and no animals in sight. We were back in time for lunch where we had a gorgeous beef burger. This afternoon was amazing as we all spent three hours in the pool as the sun was shining. It was one of those moments where I just loved my life, the absolute freedom, and pure joy of it all. As 4:30pm came around we were back on the truck ready for a another 2 hour game drive. My hopes were low and I truly wasn’t expecting anything after this mornings adventures. It’s at the point where you have no expectation that life surprises you, because you let it. Straight away we saw a Cape buffalo from there numerous giraffes including a little baby one. It was not until this one particular animal that made it a day we would never forget. Thomas started yelling “luver, luver!” Unfortunately I had no idea what that meant as he was so excited he was speaking Dutch instead of English after a few seconds he realises and yells “LION! LION!”

Etosha, Namibia

 I quickly hit the buzzer to inform the driver to stop, as we started reversing back we saw one male lion sitting next to a waterhole behind a tree. We stood there taking pictures and staring for 20 minutes as our excitement propelled to a whole new level. We were so excited we saw a lion. Livy was taking photos on her phone when suddenly she dropped it out the window in front of the lion. We were 20 metres away so in two seconds the lion could jump up and get us. Our driver, George says “are you fucking kidding me.” As he jumps out quickly to retrieve it. He risked his life for her phone. 

As we came back to our campsite we were all still buzzing in disbelief that we actually saw a lion. Nick and I ran to the waterhole to see if we could see any more animals. As the sun began to set a beautiful rhino was wondering over slowly as springbok and zebras lined the horizon. It was a breathtaking moment, a gorgeous pink sunset as a backdrop to a big rhino peacefully drinking water in the reflective water. We sat in silence as we watched this gorgeous animal so peaceful in its movements. As a result of living in the moment we missed having dinner with everyone. Thankfull Bella left us a big steak and mash potatoes to have when we arrived. Majority of the group paid for an additional night game drive. I knew we would still have heaps of game drives left and one night drive included but I didn’t want to miss out on anything. The night game drive finished at 11pm and I was well and truly asleep an hour before. Fortunately for me they didn’t see anything but a hyena for a few moments, I felt bad they had spent a lot more money then they should of but I was happy I didn’t miss out on anything as bad as that sounds.

22nd of March 2016:

We were up early in the morning again off to Windhoek. It was a full day of driving again. I’m becoming use to waking up, getting on the truck and sitting for hours, then getting off and setting up a tent, and today was no different. When we arrived at Windhoek we were in the middle of a fairly big town. Nick and I didn’t set up our tent we chose to sleep outside in the cool air where it would be one of our last times. Thankfully a few people upgraded so we stole their mattresses and it felt like a gorgeous bed instead of a thin mattress on gravel. We went to the pool where we chatted and sun baked the last few hours of sunlight away. This seems to be a routine, arrive, go to the pool then dinner. Such a hard life! Dinner tonight wasn’t included so we all went to Joes bar for dinner. It was a huge restaurant with random decor everywhere you looked. It was more of a mixture of old western meets Africa, if you can visualise that. I had a chicken pasta it was amazing, since Africa I hadn’t had chicken and only pasta once so I was in heaven. The night ended fairly early considering and soon we were all snuggled up in our sleeping bags being blinded by the moonlight. 

23rd of March 2016:

Today we were off to Botswana saying goodbye to Namibia. Another long day led to arriving at our campsite in the late afternoon. We set up our mats on the sand half a metre from ants holes. If you know me you know how much I hate ants there horrible and to sleep with them that’s a different story. Our campsite was rustic but pretty with old huts surrounding us. We went on a bush walk with natives showing us plants they use to help with pregnancy and back ache. A specific plant is used and crushed up for back ache the proceeding is far worse than I could imagine. They would cut their back and put the herb inside the cut and then would have to lie still for 3 days and would magically be healed. The lady showed us her back and she had at least 8 lines all the way up her back. They then sat around a fire and cooked the beetles they had found. It was an amazing feeling and I loved every moment of it. This was why I came to Africa to learn about their culture and there way of life. The children were adorable as well showing us her beetle she caught all by herself. One girl was 6 whilst the other was only 6 months old. 

24th of March 2016:

We were up and on the truck again ready to go to Maun. I was starving by the time we arrived to the town. This was the first time we could get out Botswana money but typical I went to get lunch first (using my card). We went to Nandos where I got a chicken burger and chips. It was pretty satisfying even though normally when I’m away I don’t like to eat at fast food places. Whilst eating the chips we waited in the line for the ATM. The issue with Africa is everyone uses the ATM no one uses card so the line takes 10 to 15 minutes at least. I felt safe that we weren’t going to get robbed because people take out their life savings compared to us who took out only 20 in case we wanted snacks. The sun was so hot it instantly made you sweat. As we sat on the ground next to the trucks shade Bella arrived. She told us that she was going to buy us food instead of making it back at the campsite. I instantly regretted Nandos I could of gotten free lunch, this moment of envy did not last long. The local restaurants food looked horrendous and I was happy I was full. 

Our campsite had a pool and a bar with wifi, what more could you want? Nick jumped in the pool instantly and I came over just to test the water and because I was too lazy to put my bathers on. If only I hadn’t been lazy. Nick pulled me in clothes and all, so I quickly got changed into my bathers and hung my clothes out to dry. After an hour I went to go have a nice shower. Sometimes you truly just need some tender, love and care to your body and hair. If only I had done it after beach volleyball. I was covered in sand head to toe. It was so much fun and I would love to tell my p:e teacher that I only missed one serve out of the 20 or so I did! Why did I not have this much strength back in year 11. I had always hated volleyball since p:e and this was the first time that I actually enjoyed it. You can really see people’s true personalities come out when you play sport, especially the competitive and sore losers. 

After a bit of wifi I went to sleep outside on the pool benches, if only I had known. At 1am I awoke to a million mosquito bites. I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I told Nick I was going to set up our tent and sleep in there. He surprisingly agreed and thought it was a great idea, I clearly wasn’t the only one getting attacked. In 20 or so minutes we were in the tent snuggled up falling into a deep peaceful sleep. 

25th of March 2016:

I was exhausted but it was the day we were off to the delta. I had my little backpack full of clothes and toiletries made and was ready for the adventures that awaited. We jumped on a truck that had two lines of seats facing outwards with only a tin roof for shelter. The sun was already quite strong at 7:30am. We had 2 hours of being on the truck where 1.5 hours was on dirt, sand and mud making it incredibly uncomfortable and bumpy. As we arrived locals in little boats were by the waters edge awaiting to greet us. The boat was a two person little canoe. They use to make them out of trees but as the government has banned this they have to use acrylic ones. The lady who used a stick to steer the boat in between the reeds and canals where crocodiles and hippos leaked was called a poller. They get taught at a very young age. From the night before I was beyond exhausted that I fell asleep on our 2 hour boat ride. The canoe was my hip width and we were sitting on plastic chairs with no legs. I awoke when my head fell back and I felt the plastic bend, it was lucky we didn’t fall out. I tried to stay awake because it was an amazing experience but I just couldn’t, at one point I congratulated myself on not falling asleep but then I realised I had been asleep the entire time I just dreamt of the scenery. 

Delta, Botswana

By the time we arrived at the campsite I was burning, tired and hungry, not ideal mood to be in. It was already 12:30pm. They told us lunch would be ready in an hour. Our tent was amazing, we could stand up in it as well as two beds. We had a mini backyard that consisted of a bucket shower and a drop toilet. Lunch was amazing it was mince with bread on top in a metal tin cup. I was by far satisfied now. We asked the tour leaders to take us swimming and to teach us how to do polling. It was so much fun we were playing volleyball in the water (in a big circle passing it to each other). The nerve racking thing was there was a man who stayed in the boat on guard in case there were hippos. Luckily we were fine. We got back with only 15 minutes before our walk. The walk was amazing we were out in the wilderness just walking trying to find lions and rhinos. Terrifying but exciting. I was more at the back of the line as I saw our guide freeze turn to us to shuffle us back. I didn’t know what was happening but at the top of the little termite hill our guide and a few people saw two huge Buffaloes only a few metres. These animals are incredibly dangerous. They don’t show any warning signs of threat or if they will charge. They will literally just start charging you especially how close we were. Luckily we backed up and saw them running off a few minutes later. 

The night was sensational we had a campfire roaring with a hippo only 10 metres in the water also roaring. We had popcorn around the fire before dinner. I haven’t had popcorn since being home and I may have eaten three bowls worth. Dinner we had soup and bread for entree, chicken and rice for mains and a apple crumble for desert. If I wasn’t satisfied at the popcorn I defiantly was by the end of the three course meal. Then the locals came and sang two songs to us and danced around the fire. One dance is where they go on the ground and pretend their a frog and stick their arse in the air very different. It was by far a sensational night but after the night before I was well and truly ready for a good nights sleep in a bed.

26th of March 2016:

Delta, Botswana

We awoke nice and early to do a morning walk around the Delta. We saw the hippo again only 30 metres away in the river. The hippo can stay under water for 6 to 7 minutes and therefore can be hard to find in the dark behind reeds. We were back in the canoes with the poler. Thankfully we were only crossing the river, except over where we had spotted the Hippo. The walk was another 2 hours where it took an hour to see more than just a dead Buffalo’s head. As we approached the lake we saw two hippos playing in the water and one crocodile. This was amazing and terrifying both animals could easily kill us if they felt threatened or hungry in the case of the stealthy fresh water crocodile. We stood in awe for at least 30 minutes watching these amazing beasts happily playing in the water. As we turned back to walk back to our campsite, zebras and giraffes were eating the morning grass and trees. It was picturesque animals eating and frolicking all around us. The walk makes you realise how small humans are to the animal kingdom. We were the last group to get back, but I would have happily stayed at the lake an hour longer. Unfortunately this meant we were behind schedule so breakfast was quick and we were back in the canoe heading to the truck. I don’t know what way we went to get to the campsite but the way back only took us 30 minutes. Another group were waiting by the truck for their adventure to the delta, but ours had unfortunately ended. I wish the truck ride wasn’t so long another 2 hours of driving on dirt, mud, sand you name it. Thankfully we got back at 1pm on the dot where lunch was ready.

When some of the group came back from their Delta flight we were lucky enough to have dinner at the bar. This is where a nice dinner some how escalated into drunk people jumping in the sand and making sand angels whilst others were swimming or “skinny dipping” in the pool. It was a night I won’t ever forget.  

A Weekend Filled With Skydiving, Robbery & An African Courthouse

17th of March 2016:

Today is one of those days that turned into cascading horrible events. If only it had ended as well as it began. The morning began very unnecessarily early. For some reason everyone seemed to be up and active at 6am. Bridgette set her alarm for 6am and she didn’t seem to wake up until the music was half way through the song. By this time I was awake I just didn’t want to accept the fact I was awake.  

Solitare Campsite: Namibia
 

Nick and I then went for a walk as the sun was rising where Springbok were grazing in the grass next to us. We couldn’t make the whole distance of the walk as we had to help pack up the truck to leave by 7:15am however as everyone were early risers we seem to have left by 7am. We only had a 4 hour drive ahead of us to Swakopmund. 

 

Tropic of Capricorn: Namibia
 
After an hour we stopped at the Tropic of Capricorn where we had photos taken by the sign. Swakopmund is a small city in the middle of the desert. As we were about to get off the truck to go to the booking office our tour leader asks who’s doing skydiving. At this stage I wasn’t too keen on it, as I had wanted to do it in New Zealand. Bella (Tour Leader) said that we should go this afternoon if were wanting to do it. Now my nerves kicked in. It’s already 11am and we would get picked up at 2pm. That wasn’t much time for my mind to know what’s going on, all my brain seemed to be doing was spinning confused in what direction it wanted to go in (adrenalin junkie or right-minded). After a lot persuasion and peer pressure thanks to Bridgette and her young mind I booked it. I just fell silent and angry. I hadn’t felt this way since Queens cup rowing race in 2011. I needed to go into my concentration mindset where I knew I had to do this but was nervous about the actual process. With an hour to go we arrived at our hostel, I felt as if I was a scattered mouse trying to find the exit with knowing in the back of its brain it had no hope. The time had come, and our van had arrived. As we were driving the man questioned why we were so nervous and quiet… I feel as if it might be the fact that we’re about to jump out of a plane. As we arrived in the middle of the dry desert a little tin shed with a front lawn appears. As I walked out of the van I look up to see a tiny plane with cheetah spots on it. Now my stomach turned in knots. I felt like I wanted to be sick and closed myself in even more. I wanted to run but there was no where to go. As the guy is showing us the actions quickly of what we are going to do in the sky all I could think of was the plane. It had no door. Everything else just became a blur. I couldn’t imagine myself actually doing it. 

 

Skydiving, Swakopmund: Namibia
 
We went to go sit down and only a few minutes later Nicks name was called out first. Now my nerves were really kicking in. A few minutes later he was out of the office with his jumpsuit and harness. Now after walking around for 5 minutes with his face full of excitement and joy with only a little bit of panic his skydiver was walking him to the tiny plane. I couldn’t believe now the next time I’ll see him is when he’s in a parachute landing safely to the ground. It took 20 minutes for the plane to reach to where the skydivers would jump. We saw the plane 10,000 feet up. Then we see this tiny white dot falling in the sky. This tiny dot was Nick. He was free-falling, plummeting to the ground. I then see his parachute lift up to the sky. I could see him turning and twisting in the air sporadically with no control. This moment did not make me feel any better. My name had been called and I was all dressed in my jumpsuit and harness waiting to use Nick’s plane. I wanted him to land, obviously but if he landed that would mean that I would be next, and I don’t think I was ever ready for this. Nicks face as his feet touched the ground was pure joy and adrenalin. He was so pumped smiling from ear to ear. Now it was my turn, the skydiver grabbed my wrist and walked/ dragged me to the plane. I waved goodbye knowing that the next time I see everyone I would have jumped out of a plane. My foot was wedged against the wall and the fresh open air whipping past my feet as we reached higher and higher above the ground. Then the engine cut out, I knew this was it, I had no choice in the matter he was going to push me out no matter what. Crystal was out first, as I said “good luck” she was gone. The suction from her jumping made the plane shake, this was not what I wanted. As we start shuffling towards the door, I consciously don’t look down. I stare straight to the horizon with the wings in my foresight. There was no counting or any warning, at least I didn’t hear anything. I was out of the plane. My first thought was “omg I actually did it” then only a second later I realised what I had actually done as I was plummeting to the ground not being able to grab anything to protect myself. The only natural reaction I could seem to summon was an absolute loud, panicking scream. After the initial horrible first 3 seconds it was amazing. Until once again he opened the parachute and your body changes motion from straight to the ground to lifting up in the air drifting in the sky. He then let me use the handles to turn the parachute. Apparently I wasn’t very good as I didn’t yank them hard because one I’ve never operated a parachute and two we were still so high above the ground that I could kill us. The moment I lifted my legs and we landed safely onto the ground I had this beaming glow and smile.  
Skydiving,Swakopmund: Namibia
 

I was in absolute shock that I made it and I was so proud of myself for sticking through with it. It took another hour to get through everyone, with each persons face representing exactly how I felt. As we got back to our hostel we were all buzzing and wanting to watch our videos. One thing is for sure, skydiving is one of the most un-attractive activities you could do. We all got dressed up quickly and headed off to Napolitana, where we had wine and game meat. The “club” was next door so after figuring out payment we went through and spent an hour dancing to random music in every genre possible. It was an amazing night I wish it had simply ended there. As I went outside to the beer garden, Nick was approached by an African man and was chatting to him and George (our driver) for five minutes. Then as they approached us we heard the shell-shocking news that I will never get out of my head, “our dorm had been broken into.” The 5 minute walk back to the hostel was full of panic and desperation, praying that everything was fine and nothing had been stolen. I was more concerned about my passport, camera and ipad than anything else. My camera and IPod were sitting on the bed under a jumper. It hadn’t been put in the safe and I didn’t want to lose all my photos from my entire trip, you can never replace that. As we walked in I saw my locker on the far side of the room wide open. My heart dropped. As I came closer I noticed my passport purse had been unzipped. As I open it my passport was missing. Sheer panic swept across my face. I wanted to cry but shock left me feeling nothing. As I opened the currency section all my money was gone. All my U.S. , Australian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laos and Thai money were gone. My heart sank. $450 U.S. Missing and $100 Aus were gone this equated to losing $700 Australian dollars. I then found my passport scattered across the room. So as much as having money stolen is horrible I was so happy that non of my possessions were taken. My passport purse was sitting directly on top of my iPad. Nicks locker was also open and he was fortunate his camera hadn’t been stolen because that would have broken his heart. Peoples cards had been flung in his locker. A total of $2,200 U.S. money had been stolen from three of us, as well as a camera with lenses and a phone. I knew I was the fortunate one in the sense that I had the least amount of money taken. As it was 1am by the time I walked out of the room I face timed my dad to tell him the news. It was 9:30am back home and the sun was shining. As I told dad the news he seemed to be more concerned about the fact that I had jumped out of plane. This was the distraction I needed though. However the four of us had to go to the police station to file a report. In Africa I knew there was about a 1% chance that anything would happen. On a positive note it was my first time riding in a police car so at least we could find something happy to compensate what had just occurred. As we arrived at the police station and I was writing out my statement the police officer starts telling me the process of what will happen now. My 1% pot of luck had now turned to 0% thanks to the police officer. He tells me the detectives will come tomorrow morning and from there a specific tourist police squad will deal from there… “If they do their job”. So now I just wrote out the statement in a lot of detail of what I had seen when I walked in the door even though really there was no point because it’s not like they were going to do anything anyway. As it’s now 1:45am and panic and adrenalin have worn off from skydiving and having my dorm broken into I was exhausted. Kate and I left first. Kat awoke immediately clearly not sleeping waiting for her husband to come back but when I see Nick he’s fast asleep not even knowing that I’ve returned. 


18th of March 2016:

Last night I had a horrible sleep and only had a total of 4 hours. I felt like I was operating in robot mode. Going through the actions but my mind was still startled by last nights events. I went on my iPad and wasted some hours before sand boarding at 9:30am. At 9am whilst sitting outside our tour leader stands up and runs over to the counter. Not phased I keep wasting time. Then as she comes back she has this glistened smile across her face, one I have not seen since before last nights incident. Here she recounts the action that had just occurred. Last night the police had a suspicion the thief was the person staying next door who had done a runner last night and not paid for his room. This morning the maintenance man was walking the street and recognised the man and literally took him out pushing him to the ground. He made a civilians arrest and dragged him to the hostel to the skydiving office above the reception. Then 20 Nigerian police officers walk through the door with smiles on their faces and disappear up the stairs. Our tour leader exclaimed that the 20 police officers were standing behind the counter whilst this man sat on a seat on the other side. A detective comes in and starts asking questions. As our tour leader says check his pockets he was found with $1706 U.S. dollars, all my foreign currencies ,  the phone and the locks. He was caught red handed and yet was still protesting that it’s all his. Thankfully he did take my foreign money because it’s impossible to get here so there was no other way of explaining it. As the detective asks “did you steal these” and he responds with no he got slapped across the face and told “do not lie to me.” As she was telling me this I was in utter shock this man was an idiot and I was fortunate that he was. I was so happy he had been found but I still didn’t believe we would get our money back, that 1% hope had come back but African crime system isn’t quite the same. We went sand boarding with at least now a smile on our faces that something was being done, and that there was hope. 

 

Sandboarding, Namibia
 
Sand boarding was exhausting, if you want a good workout this would be the best activity for it. Sand boarding is the same as snow boarding but when you usually take the ski lifts up to the top in the snow you have to walk. The first time I went down it felt horrible I felt so un-natural however by the third time I was turning more naturally again. It definitely made me want to go back to the snow. Then it was time for the lying down sand boarding. We laid down on a piece of cardboard and went down the slope, the first run I reached 61km an hour. I honestly felt as if I had no control. The second time I reached 66km an hour and yet it felt slower. The top speed of the day was 68km an hour.
As we arrived back to our hostel buzzing from sand boarding covered in sand head to toe, we heard news that if you were religious or not you could only describe it in one simple word, “miracle.” We needed to go to the police station immediately as they had the man in a cell in the police station and had recovered money and a phone. Our initial thought was we would be recovering our stolen items and that was it. However simplicity turned to drama and the afternoon spent in the station. The detective and a random African lady (who has no relevant role to anything) calls us over to discuss (or yell at us women) that we have to go to court now. We were confused and puzzled as to what is occurring but we follow the lady across the road to the courthouse. As we arrive we hear yoddle noises from inside, a wedding party comes out with what looked like a very young girl in a white dress marrying a man in what looked like his 20’s. As we walk in we look down a corridor and the man who stole our possessions was standing there staring at us with a police officer. We walk to the end where our prosecutor starts speaking to us. He is a young man, maybe 25 in a very well groomed suit. The suit was a very good initial distraction of the words coming out of his mouth because at least he looked professional and knew what he was doing. He sits us over at the bench and starts saying the court house is closed because it’s their Independence Day. Even though we had been dragged from the police station three minutes ago saying were going to court now. As he’s asking us if we could stay till Tuesday (it’s currently Friday) another wedding comes out of the court house with a marriage celebrant yelling “who wants to get married, I’m in the mood to marry people.” Then all of a sudden a big African woman comes out of literally no where and starts dragging our prosecutor to the court room saying “I want to marry this one.” Then the marriage celebrant starts asking us if we want to get married. In the confused state we were in the only reaction that we could summon was laughter. As the marriage celebrant skips off down the corridor the “random lady who has no role in the matter” starts yelling, “I need to go, I need to go, I need to take my electrical injection.” Well… Kate and I just looked at each other and just cried in laughter we couldn’t take much more. Our tour leader and Andrew walks off laughing while she’s still yelling, “my throat is swelling.” Then she stops, stands up and walks 10 metres to talk to her friends. As our prosecutor is still standing talking to us agirl jumps out and says “I can speak German.” Well unfortunately for her one job of the day we were three Aussies (one being the tour leader), Irish man and a Canadian woman. The detective comes back with all the evidence under his arm and starts whispering to Andrew. Naturally our tour leader says can you speak up. Well he immediately stands up stares at her and yells that the thief is in the room next door and he doesn’t want him to hear, if only he thought to close the door. He then turns around back to Andrew and asks “Where is the box?” We were confused as to what he was saying or at least trying to say. After him repeating the same sentence five times, Andrew thought he meant the locker so he starts explaining that but no. Then finally after 5 minutes of the same question he asks, “where did you buy the phone.” “America,” Andrew exclaimed. Well if I’ve seen disappointment before it was nothing compared to the detectives face, thinking that the case was unsolvable and it was impossible to win now. Andrew then explains what the background was and said that he could unlock it. Still the detective was burrowing his sorrows. Andrew takes the phone from his hand and starts talking him through, explaining his unlocking the phone, showing him that the photo is him and his wife on his wedding day. At this point you would expect some sort of realisation but no he was still upset and disappointed. Eventually after three photos Andrew says, “this is me, and this is the scarf I’m wearing right now.” Well it’s like the light bulb finally switched back on and he jumped with excitement, realising that there is hope. I’m so glad that he’s the detective of the town. As our detective runs off to the prosecutor they spend 10 minutes speaking to one another walking up and down the 100m corridor. They would have a “secretive, professional” meeting in one end and then walk past us with stressed expressions then have another meeting in the other end. They both came back to us and explain that “the case is not impossible it will just be difficult.” I’m sorry you caught him red handed yes you didn’t bother doing any finger prints because you thought nothing would occur by it but you have some sort of evidence. He then explains that he wishes that we could stay till Tuesday because then at least we could explain in court, “what the items mean to us”… I’m sorry how on earth can you make a sob story about money, I mean I’m so sad because now I can’t go bungee jumping… We would have to be some pretty good actors and gullible judges to win with that. Also the prosecutor looks at Andrews phone and asks “do you need this?” ….really. He then freaks out yelling, “OMG why am I touching this it has my fingerprints.” I personally have seen 8 people touch that phone in the past 3 hours that I’ve seen it, I think it’s a bit too late for that. 
As were allowed to leave the courthouse and go back to the police station we turn around and notice the thief is also walking across the road with us only a few metres behind. If you’ve caught a criminal and are taking them back to the cell you would think you would at least hand cuff them or have more than one police officer walking closer than 2 metres behind. However this man was obedient and walked himself to the police station, staring at us as he walked behind the officers desks and into his cell. The detective then says “just a few minutes.” Well we all know that means 30 minutes. Eventually he yells out “who’s the one who has the foreign money.” I say it’s me and he yells at me to “come now.” I help explain to him which ones are Cambodian and Laos as he seems to be having trouble reading. He had never heard of Laos and explain that it’s next to Vietnam. Luckily I was wearing my singlet I got from Laos and showed him and the lady how to spell it pointing to each letter, as well as helping him pronounce it. This didn’t make me feel reassured about our case and him solving the problem but at least he became educated on something that day. He then explains that he is going to sign out all the money and phone to Andrew and we can deal with it from here. I have never felt so hopeless from being a women until this detective. As Kate comes over so does the thief who sits down on the other side of the desk and stares straight at us. I didn’t know what to do, should we be there or should we leave. We took the running option. As Andrew was called over we realise we are having a mini court case right here right now. As we walk over he explains that he’s going to count the money. Well $1706 U.S. is a lot of money when you can only count to ten and you make it dramatic with 2 second pauses in between slamming down the money on the desk. I gave up watching him count the money and turned to the thief for a psychology student being this close to a criminal was absolutely amazing. My psychology mind switched on and I watched his mind turn from denial and finding the situation amusing to slight realisation that all the fun and invincibility he has had over the past few months were gone once they signed everything off. Once the detective got to my foreign money he wasn’t so sure anymore and as he couldn’t read once he got to $10,000 dong he held it up and said “who can count this anyway” and slammed it on the desk. He turned to thief and said “all this is there’s not yours” whilst continuing to say “see I’m doing this professionally I’m counting all the money in front of you.” Well I was just happy to get some sort of money back, more than I had ever imagined. We split the money only losing $250 U.S. each. By the time we went back to our hostel it was 5:30pm and if I wasn’t exhausted before I was now.
We watched our sand boarding movie at 6pm at the booking office where we could purchase photos for only $20 Rahn per photo. After walking 30 minutes in the streets we went to a gorgeous restaurant on the beach. At this stage (8:30pm) I hadn’t had a shower so I was still covered head to toe in sand from the morning. As we arrived back at 10pm I face timed my parents (6am) equivalent to tell them my adventurous day and to say I got my money back. Finally at 10:30pm I was in bed ready to put the day behind.

Overland Truck Journey Begins

12th of March 2016

Acacia Overland Truck
 

Today is day one of 41 days of travelling on an overland truck across Africa, camping under the stars. I had no idea what to come of the tour, but all I knew was I was going to have to keep an open mind. After last nights talk it left me with a sour taste in my mouth and I was now concerned. I awoke nice and early as we had been told that the chances of getting wifi on the trip were small and the connection would be slow and cut out if it did exist. So I woke up at 6:30am to try and FaceTime my parents for the last time in over a month. However unfortunately the wifi at the hostel was cutting in and out and it connected once for a mere 5 seconds and all I saw was my parents waving with excited expressions. At least the messenger part worked and we could talk for 10 minutes before I had to get ready. Bella our tour leader wanted everyone to start putting our bags in the truck by 7am. As I didn’t want to be that person who everyone’s waiting on I did what she asked. However this now lead to waiting outside till 8:30am when we were actually going to leave. Instead of beginning our journey on the truck where we will be spending a lot of time travelling across Africa we jumped on a luxurious coach which took us to a township. However, our guide stopped us in the coach in a random street. We spoke for 15 minutes about the history of the street. It sounded very interesting but I wish I wasn’t trying to fight the battle of falling asleep. I felt so rude, but when your eyes close uncontrollably your battle begins. Africa as many people are aware was divided between black and white people. What I didn’t know was the white and black people had districts they had to live in. Obviously each district held either black Africans or white people. The black Africans living conditions were horrible. They had to wear their I.D. Information as it was the white people stating they were dumb. If they did not have their I.D. When they were asked they would go to jail. The men were sent off to a different district to their wives and children and were only allowed to see them a few days a year, or if a permit was confirmed for the wife and children to see their father for a few days.

We then drove to a current township where 100’s of children, wives and husbands live in shacks with other families. The government is currently building homes for these people however as there are millions of families living in shacks across Africa this will take time, at least this is one of the governments excuses as it is currently a corrupt system who have become greedy over the civilians of Africa. They are overcrowded, have poor income and live in tin shacks with temperatures reaching in the 40’s. And yet, the children run around with smiles on their faces, playing the trumpet with the end of a broomstick and the families have come together to support one another financially and morally. 

Our coach then took us to the waterfront where we were allowed to buy snacks and alcohol for the roads ahead.

Now our adventures begin! Our first leg of the journey was to a stunning winery only 4 hours away from Cape Town. We set our tent up on the gorgeous lush grass with vineyards and the sun setting as our background. For only $120 Rhan we had a wine tasting. This is the tour I signed up for, tasting 5 different types of wine. Due to our wine tasting, us arriving late and it being the first night we were spoilt and the winery cooked us steaks with potato and a gorgeous broccoli salad. I felt like we were in a 5 star resort it was just bliss. This was a much better way to get to know everyone. However only four people chose not to do the wine tasting and I felt sorry for them because they weren’t allowed to sit with us whilst we were drinking the wine. I continued on till midnight chatting away getting to know everyone. 

13th of March 2016:

Day two, and once again we awoke nice and early. 6:30am we were up and ready to pack down the tent and get going. At 8am we were on the road again. To reach our next destination we were going to have to cross into Namibia. I hate border crossing it always seems a hassle. Today however was an absolute breeze, if only there was a a breeze in the wind. The sun was beaming down on us, as you can feel your skin instantly start to sizzle as you run from one building to another. Today’s temperature was only 35 degrees however, the u.v. rating was 9. We were officially in Namibia after an hour getting everyone’s passports stamped. We stopped 2 minutes down the road to fill up and get ice-cream. They surprisingly had wifi however, Kiki seemed to not want to give us the password because she wanted to speak to her boyfriend. Eventually we found out and only had 5 minutes to send a message to my parents saying, “I’m in Namibia.” 

Orange river was gorgeous. Our campsite had lush grass overlooking the river. As it was so hot and such a long day on the road we were all pretty quick to get into our bathers and have a swim in the pool with some beer (or in my case cider). We had been given groups much like you would expect on school camp and I was in the Zebra team. Unfortunately that meant cooking tonight and to say the least my cooking skills aren’t Jamie Oliver style. I would more relate to a monkey trying to cook, just throwing anything and chopping anything but with no skill and no understanding of what I am doing. Tonight we were cooking lasagna, garlic bread and salad. I was in charge of the salad so you would expect this to be simple, but it’s harder when Bella doesn’t tell you what to put in the salad, as you don’t want to use vegetables for the following nights. We started cooking at 5:40pm and can you believe we finished at 8:00pm. We are probably the slowest cooking team to cook lasagna for 26 people in the world. By this time we were all longing to feel that satisfaction of food. Tonight I was very tired. By 9:30pm I excused myself and went to sleep. Tonight though was magical, Nick and I put our mattresses outside on the grass and slept under the stars. The stars glowed and twinkled around the Milky Way that was directly above us. We watched the stars for an hour before we finally drifted off into a longing peaceful sleep.

14th of March 2016:

The days seemed to be flashing before my eyes, by the time I blink we will be in Kenya… Maybe. This morning as I awoke my eyes were filled with satisfaction and wonder. It’s a beautiful moment when you wake up outside in a sleeping bag looking at the sky. We had organised a 3 hour canoe trip down the orange river starting at 8am. We jumped on a tram like bus for 10 minutes down the road. The mountains blocking the glass like river from the wind was something you see out of a gallery. The river reflected all its surroundings leaving a beautiful reflection on the still water. The canoes however were not as graceful. They were huge tubs with two buckets to keep your valuables dry and to keep the canoe afloat. As soon as the guide pushes you in he splashes water on you, this was not the last time I got wet. For 45 minutes we were having a water fight in the middle of hills down a gorgeous river in Africa. Eventually we were allowed to jump in and go for a swim. I still have no idea what was in the water but I think it was best I didn’t know. For some reason everyone struggled to get back into the kayak. Using techniques that would only make their lives harder and work their muscles a lot more. One person had to swim next to the canoe to the bank where they then could get back in. From coaching rowing and teaching people to get back into the single by them self I’ve discovered that people somehow do similar techniques such as straddling it from underneath and yet to this day I haven’t ever seen it work. The river was very placid with hardly any current apart from the couple of “Rapids” or small little bumps in the river. This meant we were going to actually paddle and not just sail down the river. With 30 minutes to go I was done. I was hungry and over the whole experience. Nick and I picked up our pace and reached a couple of metres before the campsite. We could see it, it was in arms reach but Bridgette and Thomas were lagging behind so we had to wait 10 minutes staring at the campsite before we were allowed to go in. It was fun and I don’t regret it, but it did not need to be 3 hours. As soon as we got back I took all my wet gear and put it on the clothes line and ran to the bathroom to get changed. The only time I’m quick at getting ready is when food is awaiting me. By the time I was heading for my lunch, Nick was still putting his clothes on the line. We didn’t have long till we left again to head to another campsite. Our campsite was near the fish canyon, the second largest canyon in the world. We arrived at 3pm and dear god it was hot. The bus ride had turned into a sweating fest and we all ran out to get fresh air, but unfortunately it was worse now the sun was back frying my skin. We decided to not set up the tent as it was unlikely it was going to rain and it was so magical last night… If only we could have predicted the future. We all walked the 500m in the blistering sun to swim in the pool, all but Nick who decided to climb the hill to get a good photo. The pool was freezing so putting my feet in was enough. After an hour we all had to climb back onto the truck to drive 30 minutes to the canyons for sunset.

 

Fish Canyon: Namibia
 
 It was absolutely magical walking along the edge of cliff face as the sun glistened the rock face as it faded behind the mountains. On the other side the sky was angry, with dark clouds, thunder and lighting across the sky. So much for it not going to rain. As we arrived at the main lookout our tour leader had wine (goon) and cheese and biscuits. It was one of those moments where you look around and realise how amazing your life is right now. 

Fish Canyon: Namibia
 
The night didn’t end there though it only took some people one or a couple of glasses to get the night going. Our truck turned into a party, music was blaring through the speakers, people were dancing in the isle whilst the other people were drinking the last bit of goon from the bag. The funny part of it was everyone went crazy when Scottish bagpipe rock band song came on. When we arrived at the campsite we made a dance floor with the music still blaring from the truck in the middle of the desert. As it neared 11pm we all headed to the pool, some more reasonable than others. After an hour there was only four of us, the Scottish couple and myself and Nick. Tonight was absolutely amazing and I wish it could of ended at this point and I could have gone to bed and had a peaceful sleep. Remember when I said we didn’t set up the tent… This was one of the worst decision we have ever made! It was an absolutely boiling night with no wind. Therefore this means mosquitos heaven. It would rain every now and again so we slept under the shelter where the kitchen was. There were so many bugs, a beetle as big as my hand crawled past as we were going to sleep. Sorry to that beetle but I killed it so I knew I wasn’t going to sleep with it. As I sat up to close my sleeping bag a cricket hit me in the face and I thought it went in my sleeping bag, after feeling around a bit in the dark I couldn’t feel it so went to sleep. An hour later I felt this thing jumping and hitting the top of the sleeping bag between my feet. So thankfully I quickly undid the bottom part and let out the cricket. Now I was awake, this was horrible. I could hear mosquitos everywhere, my insect repellant was in the truck that was locked and it was so hot that if you were in your sleeping bag covering your body you would actually drip in sweat. By 3am and hardly any sleep I decided to give up. I tried to look for a tent that I could set up by myself in the dark. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Nick and I however moved out from the shelter and an hour later a light breeze came across my head. It was until 4am that I feel asleep.

15th of March 2016:

I only had 2.5 hours of sleep last night. I felt sluggish as if my body was completing all the necessary steps in the morning but my mind was still asleep. I was not the only person who felt this way. I only heard one person have a good sleep as apparently sleeping in the tent was just as unbearable. Lucky we had an 8 hour drive today. By 7:45am we were all back on the truck ready for a long day ahead on the road. I fell into a deep(ish) sleep, as deep as you can get sitting up. As Nick put a mattress at the back in front of the lockers and slept properly. At our first stop, the tour leader opens up the door and non of us moved, some slept through whilst others just blankly stared at her trying to comprehend if they want to just keep sleeping or get food. It wasn’t until lunch time that we all started becoming more alive. Today didn’t feel as hot, thank god! I love the heat, but not on an non air conditioned truck. We stopped in the middle of absolutely no where, where there were a few bushes with 10cm thorns coming off. This was our toilet stop. Myself and four other girls ran off but unfortunately there was literally no where to hide. The thorn bushes came up to my knees. As I was running a thorn went straight through my thongs (flip flops) luckily my quick reactions and yelling skills stopped it from piercing my toe. As we were walking back big rain drops started. I started running for the truck as I took one step onto the truck it poured. I couldn’t have been closer to getting soaked if I tried. One day we were burning to death and now today we were getting wet as our truck leaked through the windows. Well today I think we should put the tent up. My team and myself swiftly unpacked the truck as soon as we arrived. It had stopped raining by now and our team doesn’t enjoy losing hours doing “chores”. By the time I had finished Nick had just finished setting up the tent. 

Namibia

Now we had 2 hours till dinner and dear god I was already hungry. This is never a good sign. I literally did a lap of the truck because I was bored and trying to waste time. This was where our tour leader tells us for only $100 Rhan ($8 Aus) we could see the cheetahs and a leopard. I’ve never been more excited, one it’s cheap and two it will waste 45 minutes so dinner will be sooner. I was there with my $100 Rhan and camera waiting. The leopard was gorgeous and came straight up to the fence and started posing. Sadly, the leopard use to be a house cat so they can’t put it out in the wild as it wouldn’t have any skills to survive. As I followed everyone through a gate I noticed the guide lock it. We were now in the enclosure of two cheetahs. This was frightening. They were fairly big, lounging in the sun. Some people got photos with it but when I walked to it, it got a bit aggravated so I was happier to not risk my life for a photo. As we walked back to the campsite we were all buzzing having been only metres from cheetahs. Unfortunately it was still an hour till dinner. So I went to have a shower to waste more time. By the time I got back Cara and myself were sitting waiting getting very hangry. I feel if we had to wait another 30 minutes we would of eaten the chairs. Dinner was pork and as its not my favourite I had vegetarian. It was the best vegetarian meal I’ve ever had. The tofu tasted like KFC chicken nuggets, but sorry to the vegetarians meat is still better. 3 people from our group was also bored so they made us desert. It was vanilla custard with random fruit and biscuits. It was interesting to say the least but tasted a lot better than you may ever imagine. As we have to leave our campsite by 5:15am everyone had a fairly early night.

16th of March 2016:

I woke up bright and early at 4:45am ready for a packed day of sand dunes. We woke up, stuffed my sleeping bag back in its bag and packed down the tent in 15 minutes. I honestly thought this was amazing. By 5:10am we were in the truck driving again. It took us an hour to arrive at the national park. The sun had just began rising as we were waiting in line for the gates to open. All of a sudden we heard a gate open, so our tour leader yelled out to all get back in the truck. Then two cars drive out whilst a African man is yelling out; “stop the people… Stop the people.” I had no idea what was going on but the man jumps out in front of the car yelling at the people. Saying that he’s going to call the police and where’s their permit. Apparently he is the “gate keeper” and he did not give authority for them to open the gate. The only weird part of this scenario was they were leaving the national park, they had already stayed a night in a campsite there with a permit and were trying to leave. He clearly just wanted to be domineering with no reasoning behind what he was saying. After another 10 minutes we were ready to go through. The sand dune was beautiful and Nick and I quickly walked up it to spend more time and before it became too hot. 

 

Dune 45: Namibia
 
We were fortunate in the way that it was a cooler day than normal. The sand glowed under the sun whilst the other side stayed in the shade until the beaming sun would turn it into a glistening red. As crazy people we are, we ran down the side of the sand dune. It was so dense that it was impossible to go fast as your feet would instantly sink into the sand. I also didn’t realise how high 75 metres is when your running down, at about half way I felt like having a rest for a picnic. As we reached the bottom we walked the 100m to our truck where bacon, scrambled eggs and toast were waiting for us. This was where I felt like I was back at rowing camp, waking up at 4:45am off doing an activity and then coming back with hot breakfast all ready for you. It was crazy how my body seemed to love waking up early, it was if i went instantly went into rowing mode. I felt more active and awake on the sand dune than I had during the other days. We jumped back on the truck to only drive 10 minutes down the road where we waited for 4×4 trucks to take us to …. . It honestly felt as if we were in the middle of the desert, stranded, walking for hours. The only truth was we were literally in the middle of the desert surrounded by sand to the eye could see. By 11am it was starting to get hot, but another walk for 20 minutes up and down smaller dunes to reach what looks like a dried lake with dead trees, protected by huge sand dunes.

 

Deadvlei: Namibia
 
 It was mind blowing how it was clay a size of a football field with a few black dead trees and then the sand starts again. After only 15 minutes and feeling like I had been left in the desert for days I was ready to turn around and go back to the truck. There were absolutely no shade that could cover your entire body. As we arrived back to where the truck dropped us off 50 people were waiting under the one tree hiding from the blistering sun. 55 minutes goes by and Nick takes my water and starts walking back with Rhett. Only 5 minutes later finally a truck comes to pick us up. We bolted for the truck to beat the old people from Germany, there was no way we were being considerate about them now. We had also been waiting a lot longer than they had. Nick and Rhett had only walked a few hundred metres down the road so thankfully we picked them up on the way. I was so excited to get back to the truck. We drove 40 minutes to exit the National park and where we were told ice-cream would be. The shop had 6 ice-creams left that had clearly melted and then semi froze again, with yellow puss looking ice-cream escaping the top and sides. At this point I figured as much as I am dying for something to cool me down I don’t need it quite this bad. By this point it was 2pm and we still had an hour to drive to our new campsite before we could make our lunch. Luckily we went to the next petrol station to get ice where everyone ran out like little children wanting all the ice-cream. As it was so late our tour leader bought us all sandwiches and my mood had been lifted and I didn’t feel so exhausted and hot. As we arrived at the campsite we went straight to the “dam”. I don’t know if one would call it a dam but if that’s what makes them feel better we will stick to it. The so called dam was a tank with no lid and algae. I sun baked (in the shade) on the side for two hours while we listened to music and chatted just wasting time before dinner. We were on truck clean duty, and was possibly one of the worst days to clean the truck. I don’t think people know you have to walk on your toes in the sand or at least walk lightly because we had an entire sand dune in the truck. Sand is absolutely the worst to sweep out, it seems to just keep coming. I was fairly tired and wasn’t in the mood to drink so I had a nice long shower, brushed my hair and rearranged my locker. Sometimes it’s nice to have some of your own time every now and again. We had a big chain of us sleeping under the stars, as they twinkled and glistened in the black sky.

Welcome To South Africa

5th of March 2016:
As we awoke I couldn’t believe we were in Africa. The realisation finally hit me. Nick had gotten up earlier to watch the sunrise but I was still satisfied having an extra hours sleep. Our first day in Cape Town and our plan was to hike Table Mountain. However this did not go to plan when I had a bad reaction to my malaria tablets. The day before I had felt like there was something in my throat. The feeling you get when you eat a chip and it goes down the wrong hole. However this all changed for the worse once I ate. I had two pieces of toast with peanut butter and all of a sudden through the first piece of toast I had a pain in my chest. I didn’t think much of it until it became unbearable. The pain would stretch across my chest and it felt as though my throat would seize up, making it difficult to breath. I wish I could have said this happened once but after a week I still have pains (mild now) but still there when I eat dense foods. This pain sometimes brought tears to my eyes. For this reason we didn’t climb table mountain and would give me a day to get over it. We did however walk to the waterfront where there was a massive shopping mall and beautiful restaurants along the water overlooking the million dollar catamarans and speed boats. As 3pm came Nick wanted to do something but I just couldn’t do anything more even lying down was painful. So Nick went to climb Lions Head by himself whilst I rested for 2 hours rather than pushing myself and feeling ill for the rest of the week. I was so envious of Nick’s climb, the view looked amazing and I hated feeling debilitated and not able to do it. I knew I really couldn’t eat but if you know me you know that no matter how I’m feeling I always want to eat. We walked 20 metres down the street to a little Mexican place. I ordered nachos and Nick ordered a beef taco. What came out literally made me laugh. I have no idea what kind of taco that was but it was non I’ve ever seen. It was a tiny circle bread (more like a burrito) with the toppings in the middle. He was struggling to say the least, everything was falling out and going everywhere. What he paid for that ($30 Rahn) was definitely a waste of money. I would probably feed an infant this and even they would cry at me for wanting more. So he ordered 2 more. I however was once again envious that he could eat and I couldn’t so I ordered a chicken taco. The pain was most definitely present but I got through it anyway. 

6th of March 2016:
Today was the day of the biggest amateur bike race in the world. 35,000 people cycle 100km around Cape Town. We walked down to the waterfront where we thought we would get a good view but unfortunately it was near the end and we had no idea where to stand. After wasting 2 hours and it becoming 11:30am we jumped in a taxi to drive us to the base of table mountain. Taxis in Cape Town are way too overpriced. He said the standard was $150 to go to table mountain. We were literally only 4km away. He was astonished we were walking it. I don’t know what we looked like but apparently not fit. Clearly 2 months in Asia hasn’t served us well then! There were no clouds in the sky and the reflection off the bitumen was brutally hot. It took us 20 minutes to walk to the beginning of the trail. At this point I was absolutely exhausted and hot. I was still having issue with my chest and breathing but I was determined non the less. As we were just about to take our first step two people came down praising the lord that they had made it. They then exclaimed that they were so happy they weren’t doing it now as it was so hot. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t make someone determined to hike a mountain when all they hear is 5 bad things and no good things about it. Non the less we headed off. After 30 minutes I wanted to be done. I was bright red from exhaustion and my breathing had become increasingly worse. I felt so unfit, having to stop every 5 minutes just to try and open up my chest. At this point Nick said that I could turn around and go up the cable car. I was astonished, there was no way I was turning around and going back down now. As much as I had really wanted to I knew how amazing I would feel once I made it to the top. After 50 minutes we had finally reached the shady area where the mountain blocked the sun. It was as if you had finally walked to heaven. We still had 20 minutes to go but the fact that you weren’t walking on rocks that were reflecting a blistering heat that you couldn’t escape is amazing. Once we had reached the top the feeling of success and determination was a overwhelming feeling. 

 

Table Mountain: Cape Town
   
The view was absolutely breathtaking, and the fact that you knew you just climbed it became even more rewarding. I honestly hands down don’t think I would have appreciated the view half as much if it wasn’t for that horrifying walk. The walk is 10km up (apparently) and normally takes any where between just less of an hour to two and half. We arrived at the top in 1 hour and 20 minutes. However we both hands down still believe it was 3 hours. Just as we reached the top the clouds started to come through. It looked like fog was chasing you every step you took it would engulf your space even more. If you’ve seen game of thrones you would be able to picture white walkers walking through the fog. As stereotypical tourists we took so many photos on different rocks. After a good 30 to 45 minutes the clouds were becoming thicker and the visibility was becoming worse so we lined up and bought a ticket to ride down the cable car. The cable car was massive and fit 50 people. Not only this but the cable cars bottom rotates so everyone gets to see 360 views of the mountain, beaches and the city. It was amazing but unfortunately it only took 30 seconds to get down. At this point my feet were aching, and I was ready to get into a taxi. The taxi driver tried to charge us $80 Rahn for a 2km drive on one street. He didn’t have to make any turns and only had 2 traffic lights. This would have taken us 5 minutes max to get back to our hostel. He wasn’t allowing us to use the meter as he knew he would be losing money. So we jumped out and walked. I don’t think I’ve ever walked so much in one day! 3km to waterfront (plus walking around), 10km walking up table mountain and then 2km walking back to our hostel. We however had to change hostels that morning so we hadn’t even checked in. All I wanted to do was crash on the bed. However we had to pick up our bags from luggage storage and then organise payment. Once this was all done I was happy to take my shoes off and collapse on the bed. Nick fell asleep for 40 minutes whilst I was just relaxing on my iPad. I became very hungry though as we had walked through lunch time and even though there was a restaurant at the top once we had finally reached it I wasn’t hungry. However, the thought of having to sit up sounded exhausting enough let alone walking to a shop. However we finally pushed our selves out of bed and walked down to the first restaurant we saw (only 100m away). It was a burger bar and what we ordered looked like we hadn’t eaten in a week. We ordered two burgers, onion rings and chicken wings. Dear god what we had lost in calories on that walk we regained it in 20 minutes. The food was absolutely delicious though. Even just writing this I want to teleport back to eating the burger and chips and everything else. As soon as we were done we headed back to bed. 

7th of March 2016:

Yesterday was so exhausting that we needed a rest day. Surprisingly my muscles weren’t aching, but I was happy to have a lazy morning. We went down to Woolworths to buy some supplies for breakfast. I was so excited with yoghurt and fruit as we haven’t eaten the best foods on this trip. However, Nick bought coco pops and I haven’t had them since I was a kid so 5 bowls later I stopped myself. We decided to rent a car for two days. However at this point it was 12pm. We found one within walking distance (20 minutes) as we finally worked out all the paper work etc. it was already 2pm. I was so hungry, so we quickly went back to our hostel to make a ham and cheese toastie. We set off down the road to the botanical gardens. It was only a 30 minute drive. The gardens were absolutely beautiful, the blooming flowers and table mountain in the background was picturesque. The garden is huge, and a perfect place to have a picnic next to the lake as it reflects table mountain. We spent a good hour or two here, and you could quite easily spend the entire day. As we went back the sun was starting to set, so Nick drove us to Lions head, where we went to a look out that overlooked the beach and houses. For dinner we went to the same beach to a seafood restaurant. This seafood restaurant had obviously seafood and not so obvious sushi. I have never heard of the combination before, especially not in a restaurant but it made the decision making that much harder. I couldn’t decide on the seafood basket or the sushi basket and after 15 minutes of back in forth we finally picked the seafood for 2. As the platter came out it was huge filled with prawns, fish, chips, calamari and so much more. It was so satisfying and worth the money. 

8th of March 2016:
Today we definitely had a fully packed out day. We started nice and early at 6am where I climbed out of bed still in a daze. After another bowl of coco pops we jumped in the car to head to Lions head. It would have been beautiful to see the sunrise from the top but we weren’t that dedicated to climb in the dark. The walk is very beautiful and a lot easier to say the least than table mountain. The walk begins with a gravel/ dirt road around the mountain, as you reach the other side natural steps form. The path becomes narrower and narrower as you get closer to the top. At one point you reach a t-intersection where you can go left and keep walking all the way around the mountain till you reach the top or straight where you literally climb up on chains and metal bars in the cliff side. Obviously we chose the second option. It got your heart pumping when you knew if you slip you will fall down the entire mountain. If you are scared of heights I wouldn’t recommend it! As we reached the top the 360 views of the entire city it was amazing. Everywhere you looked was breathtaking. There is no better feeling than knowing that you’ve just climbed to the top. Once again we became stereotypical tourists taking. numerous photos on rocks over looking the city. By the time we came down it was only 9am. We quickly checked out and found a nearby hostel on loop street. Our next journey was to the aquarium at the waterfront. I don’t know why but we always seem to go to aquariums when we visit somewhere. They had an entire tank of Nemos! Then after seeing all the fish we went to the penguin area where they were feeding them. The girl in our dorm has been doing a internship there for 2 months already. Next was the big sharks. They have this eerie feeling when they swim. They were just moving so slow but seemed to know what everyone was doing. They gave me the shivers. This was the moment that we knew we had to do shark cage diving. After an hour we were done and ready to head to south point. It was 12pm by the time we left, the gps predicted 45 minutes. Unfortunately it didn’t tell us about the heavy construction going on so we were delayed an hour, moving as slow as a turtle. At one point I contemplated walking to the shop, ordering then jumping back in the car. By 2pm we were starving so stopped at St. James at a tiny little cafe. We ordered two burgers and honestly had no idea what to expect, but our expectations weren’t promising. To our surprise they were actually delicious, they tasted like dads bbq burgers back at home. We still had another 15 minute drive ahead of us and by the time we reached the national park it was 3pm. We drove to the lighthouse, and as we were driving it looked identical to Marion bays national park. The lighthouse is where the Atlantic and Pacific oceans meet. Even though you can’t see anything you can imagine. Then with only 30 minutes to spare before the national park closed we stopped at the most south point of Africa. As we headed home we went a completely different way to avoid the construction and I’m so glad we did because it was beautiful. It was a narrow windy road on the cliffs edge over looking the ocean. This took us only 30 minutes and we were back at the beach we had dinner at the night before. 

 

Cape Town
 
The sun set was one of the best sunsets I have ever laid my eyes on. The sky turned into a gorgeous pink and yellow colour as the clouds scattered the sky in a bright pink. The wind however was a different story. The sand on the beach was not always sand but a combination of shells, as the wind was blowing a gale the shells would pick up and spike you in the back of the legs. This pain felt like a 1000 needles stabbing you. Everyone on the beach was running for shelter and screaming as they were being attacked. I think this was one of the fastest I’ve ever ran on sand as I looked like I was in the war running away from someone shooting me, rather than sand. Sadly we had to return our little polo. 

9th of March 2016:
Yesterday was a packed out day to say the least. It’s amazing how being a tourist visiting sites is exhausting. We had no plans for today and had a very lazy morning. As it neared 11am and we had no achieved anything apart from walking downstairs for free breakfast, we decided to go for a walk. No plans of where to go just headed down one direction. We found a market with clothes, bags and beaded animals. I bought a cheap throw over bag as the one I bought in Laos broke in a week. After aimlessly walking around for an hour we came across a indoor alley way that sold cheap Indian foods. It was as if it was a food market but in one big lane. I bought butter chicken and naan bread for $59 Rahn, which equates to $5 dollars Aus. We then had to try and find apparently the biggest camera store in Cape Town. This walk took us 30 minutes walking through random streets of Cape Town. When we arrived and walked through the doors it was equivalent to Nicks heaven. Endless Tri pods, cameras, you name it, it was there. However, miraculously we only walked out with a memory card. We walked back to our hostel where we spent another few hours writing and putting photos onto the computer. Today I can quite easily say was a bludge day, but I feel like everyone needs that every now and again. There was no waste to the day though. 

10th of March 2016:
Today we were in for a thrill of our lives. We had booked to go out in a little steel cage in the middle of the ocean to swim with great white sharks. This thought process hadn’t actually completely crossed my mind until we were on the boat and I saw the eerie murky water. We were in the third group of the day so we departed at 11am. It took 2 hour drive in a very squashed mini bus. Even my legs hit the seats in front of us. As we arrived at the office we had a lovely sand which whilst watching a slideshow of horrifying photos of other cage divers. I started telling myself that, that wouldn’t happen the shark would not come up to my face with its mouth open. As we all jumped on the boat the sky’s on the left had turned dark as if a storm was brewing. Looking down at the green murky seas I thought to myself, “what the f*ck am I doing?” I wish I was more upbeat and excited for this adventure but the nervous had gotten the better of me. As I looked over at Nick I know he was thinking the same thing but we both wanted show a poker face. It’s the only way to settle nerves. Until the boat stopped and the man yelled out, “there’s a shark, quick first 5 people get in.” My wetsuit was on but my legs weren’t moving forward towards the shark. I’m pretty sure I just span around in circles trying to look like I wasn’t ready, but mentally I wasn’t. In truth when are you ever ready to jump in the cage with sharks swimming around you? Nick of course was in the first group ready for the action. He was pushed up on the right hand side, right next to where the man throws the tuna head. If you want action definitely go on that side. At one point I thought his hair was going to get chopped off as the shark went straight for him. 

 

Shark Cage Diving: Cape Town
 
Now after seeing Nick nearly get eaten it was my turn. I was exhilarated but the nerves were still bubbling across my body. As I put my feet in the man yells, “shark, down… Down” as I screamed out “I don’t want to go in the cage when there’s a shark there!” Might I just explain my valid point, if I shark is next to it and you jump in the cage your not prepared you can’t see it, you don’t know where to put your hands yet and once again you can’t see it! Non the less he pushed me down. The water was a mere 15 degree celcius and I could not feel a thing. Yes I was wearing a wet suit but my feet and hands made it seem I was swimming in a bath. As the man yells, “down” you hold your breath and look through your googles to stare at the Sharks eyes as he swims past you looking back at you. The water visibility was only a metre which made it scarier because you never knew where they were until they were a metre away. After 5 minutes of screaming, laughing and winning the world record for holding my breath we were out. Now I got to watch them for upstairs on the boat. This was actually more terrifying cause you realised how big they were, and to add to it the rails were falling out as the boat leaned to the side of the Sharks. Luckily we got another chance to go in the cage. I was actually more nervous the second time somehow. Nick went in the first group that went twice and this was where the action happened. Nick was once again in the action seat. I ran off and said, “oh I need my phone I wanna watch my boyfriend get eaten.” 

 

Shark Cage Diving: Cape Town
 
The next minute a shark came straight for them as the man pulled the tuna head up above the water and over the cage the shark jumped for it. Nick said all he could see under the water was his belly but what I saw was much more terrifying. I saw the jaws of a great white on top of the cage above Nick. As the shark came back down it swiftly swam away flicking its tail to the boat sending a huge splash of water over everyone. However, now it was my turn again. As I jumped in the cage I was the second person from the right. We saw nothing exciting for 5 minutes. The water was so cold that I was shaking uncontrollably. Then Nick says from above, “Hey sharkies come get her.” Well… From this day onwards I’m calling him the shark whisperer. A shark appeared out of no where, and literally went straight for my face with it’s mouth open. It swiftly turned before its jaws hit the cage cm from my face. I would have only had to put a finger nail out of the cage for me to touch it. It was a interesting experience though it wasn’t as if I screamed or my heart pounded in that moment. It was like everything went still, in slow motion. I was surprisingly calm and wasn’t afraid at all…under the water. Once I came up out of the water we all screamed! By now the storm had set and it was raining. So we quickly went back to shore. It was one of those days where you can’t even comprehend why you did that but it was one of the most adrenalin rushing experiences and one I will never forget long after this journey.

11th of March 2016:

Tomorrow we begin our tour trip through Africa. However we still needed to buy certain items before it began. So we went back down to the waterfront. After spending an hour in the massive camping store I only came out with a sleeping bag and a warm liner. The only other things on my list were running shorts, because somehow they went missing somewhere along the way and a casual dress. To my surprise Nike and Lorna Jane did not sell any bike shorts. At this point Nick had given up and just sat down with our sleeping bags in the middle of the shopping centre. I ran off to H & M and somehow found shorts. We then went outside and got a taxi back to our hostel. Even we had walked it numerous times our bag they gave us for camping would drag along the ground if you held it properly so we opted for the easier option. By 3pm we grabbed a taxi to go to our final hostel in Cape Town, Ashanti Lodge. This was where we were going to meet all the people on our tour for the next 41 days. I was actually nervous about meeting everyone though. Just because I wanted a good group of people as 41 days is a long time. As we opened our dorm room a Australian girl named Kate was half sleeping. She had just arrived an hour ago from South America. Two Danish people walked in, Michelle and Meds. They seemed shy and was more interested in speaking in Danish than English. Then a third Danish guy walked it, Thomas. It made it difficult to get to know everyone when half of the room was speaking Danish. As our meeting began at 6pm we walked out to the front and it felt like everyone was instantly judging you. All the eyes would turn swiftly as a new person would walk in the room. Instead of the introduction to our tour making you feel excited and ready for the adventure, it did quite the opposite. We started thinking what have we done, this was a mistake. Can I back out now. She somehow made it sound horrible and there were no nerves before but now I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare for 41 days. At the end of the meeting we broke off, some people just went straight back to their rooms whilst others were more friendly and wanted to actually get to know you.