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Cape to Cardiff

a travel blog by MarcusInAfrica

This is the story of one boy's overland journey back to Wales from Cape Town, using only public transport and no areoplanes!
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A dream becomes reality

Cape Town, South Africa

Greetings everyone,

Firstly a warm welcome to my travel blog. This will, on the whole, be my main means of communication with the outside world for the coming two years - a scary thought but given the nature of Africa it will have to suffice. Whilst I cannot promise regular updates, due to the lack of internet the deeper into Africa one ventures, I will post as often as I can throughout my trip.

Now to the trip itself. The plan is to travel from my current address, in Cape Town, to my parent's house in Wales on one continuous trip, working my way through Africa and Europe using only public transport. I realise some readers may be scratching their head's with bewilderment as to why someone would want to do that. Don't worry, you are in good company, as there have been, and will be again, times when I have thought 'what the hell am I getting myself into?'

So let me explain. For a while I have been thinking of leaving Cape Town (not permanently) and heading off on an adventure, and then I thought to myself if you are going to do it, at least do it properly, thus 'Cape to Cardiff' was born. The initial idea came whilst in Malawi last year, but since then has been developed to it's current state - one which I am happy with in terms of safety and well-being.

The route, which will need to be flexible if I am to complete the trip in the guidelines set out, provisionally looks a little like this: South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Spain, France, England, Wales.

Whilst such a trip will be an almighty challenge, it will be one that I must embrace head on if I am to complete it. There will be dangers along the way, as one would expect, but they will, along with everything else, develop me as a person and enrich this trip.

It is my hope to experience as many different cultures as possible on my journey, as to really travel in a country I firmly believe one must submerge themselves in that countries culture. In doing so I hope to discover myself on this trip, as well as discover the true beauty of Africa, a continent that has truly got under my skin.

For now that's all. But below you will find a map of Africa that charts the route I plan to take through 'The Dark Continent'. There is still a few months to go, so if anyone has any tips or advice for this epic trip please don't hesitate to contact me.

And finally, a reminder that this will be used by my friends and family alike, so if you are commenting please keep it clean. And if you can't keep it clean, mail me at marcus_leach@hotmail.com

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on December 15, 2008 from Cape Town, South Africa
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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The Countdown Continues...

Cape Town, South Africa

The countdown to March 2nd continues, at quite an alarming rate, and in keeping with the theme of my journey, no aeroplanes; I have been reading a book entitled ‘Flightless – Incredible Journeys without Leaving the Ground’. The book is a collection of diary extracts, short stories and personal accounts of a variety of trips, all land or water based, offering different insights into people’s experiences.

One excerpt that caught my attention was by Scott Kennedy, a travel writer for Lonely Planet, who was reminiscing about the stage in his life when his eyes were opened to the endless opportunities for adventure. The crux of what he was saying being this: it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are or what you have, the only obstacles preventing us from a world of endless adventure are those created in our minds.

If I am being honest I have, in the past, created obstacles for myself – as I am sure most of us have – that have stopped me from discovering my limits, stopped me from going out to the edge and seeing how far I can push myself. I would be lying, so close to the trip, if I said some of those old demons hadn’t returned to test me. The difference being, this time I am ready to overcome them, there is a burning desire deep inside of me to take this challenge on and triumph.

With every day that goes by my emotions intensify, my excitement ratchets up a level, the seeds of doubt grow ever so slightly, and the cloud of fear hidden deep inside of me grows heavier. Not that I was ever expecting to just slip out of Cape Town, and off into Africa, unaffected by my ever-changing feelings, but I had not quite expected them to affect me like this.

Waking up, naturally, at 05:30 is not so bad, as long as it is a once off. However, five days in a row, including the weekend, and you start to wonder if this is the early stages of insomnia developing. But then, as sleep gives way to the realisation that life is about to change, maybe forever, you forget about the tiredness and being awake at unsociable hours and instead try and focus on what needs to be done to ensure the adventure takes place as planned.

One thing I am becoming increasingly aware of is the fact I am going to miss Cape Town. It truly is a remarkable city, and if ever given the chance I would recommend living here, and the chances are it will be my home again one day. When you know something is about to be taken away you learn to appreciate it so much more, rather than almost taking it for granted – as is the case with me at present.

Suddenly there is so much I want to do, and juggling doing all those things with preparing for such a major trip can be a balancing act at times. Although with the early rising comes the chance to see Cape Town in all its beauty, sunrise on a peaceful Sunday morning – not everyone’s idea of fun but a chance to create a few more memories here, before the next chapter begins...

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on February 18, 2009 from Cape Town, South Africa
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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So long Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa

It's Monday 2nd March and I am officially a traveller, albeit a very emotional one, and my epic journey from Cape Town to Cardiff is under way. No amount of preparation, both physically and mentally, could have prepared me for the last two days.

Sunday was the day I closed my rucksack, my entire existence reduced into an 85 litre bag that will serve as my everything for the coming months. Zipping the bag was my declaration that I was ready, or at least that is what I thought - what followed was a day full of emotions and tears. Saying so long to those closest to you is not easy, even if you know you will see them all again after the trip, and left me feeling exhausted and ready to just be on the road.

However, once on the road I wanted to be anywhere but there. The opening leg of my journey was a 12-hour Baz Bus journey from Cape Town to Storms River, which was spent going through the emotional mill once again, only this time knowing I was truly on my own. It seems weird, but for so long I have wanted to do this trip alone, yet all I craved today was the company of a familiar face, the touch of a familiar hand and the reassurance of a warm smile. Instead I armed myself with Hunter S Thompson's Hell's Angels and tried to loose myself in a world a million Miles from mine.

Suffice to say when I got to Dijemba Backpackers in Storms River I was ready for a cold beer by the open fire, the place I feel most at home. There is something about a camp fire that is magical, watching the flames flickering in the gentle breeze as my worries slowly eased away. I was prepared for a few rough days, so whilst feeling relaxed I expected a few more emotional swings until I finally settle into my new life.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on March 2, 2009 from Cape Town, South Africa
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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Why live on the edge when you can jump off it...twice!

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

I'm alive! I'm alive! I'm alive! The adrenalin junkie in me has been woken and is hungry for more. More of what I am not sure at this stage, but I have a year in God's playground to discover the essence of my new drug. The thrill of flinging myself head first off Bloukrans Bridge, the world's largest bungee jump at 216 metres, was akin to nothing I have felt before.

With the bridge 216 metres high the bungee itself is between 165 and 185 metres, depending on your weight, and sees you fall that distance in four seconds at a speed of 120 KMPH. After that it is a 110 metre recoil, followed by another drop, and finally a second recoil of 65 metres - after which you bounce around awaiting the winch man to haul you back up. At this stage you may be wandering what that feels like, allow me to enlighten you.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1....Bungeeeeeeee. Oh my god, where did my stomach just go? No time to worry about that. Air rushing past, my stomach trying to find its anatomical place, failing as I continue falling. Suddenly panic, surely it's been more than four seconds. The ground is getting closer, and I am getting faster. Why am I still falling? And then the bungee kicks in. With a feeling of security, as much as one can feel secure tied by your feet, upside down to a giant piece of elastic, I was rushing upwards. And then...the most perfect moment of my life. Eyes closed, arms stretched wide, falling in silence. The initial shock gone, replaced by a supreme sense of freedom. No worries, nothing matters, just this exact moment in time.

Back on the bridge the dance music is pumping, blood is coursing through my body, and I have never felt so energised in my life. It sounds strange but you lose partial control of your limbs as the adrenalin sends you into a state of frenzied movement. My brain was moving faster than my mouth as I tried to recant what had just happened, all the time tapping out the beat of the music with my feet. I try sitting down, but within seconds I'm up and positively bouncing around. There is only one thing for it, I have to jump again - only this time backwards!

If shuffling towards the edge of a 216 metre bridge when you can see the drop is bad enough, try doing it backwards, with just the voice of the jump master to guide you. Not only that but you have to have the back of your feet off the edge slightly. With each tentative step back my heart pounded harder, my sense heightened and my nerves took over. The exact words I used, with millimetres to the edge, starring back at everyone on the brdige, were, 'This is farking shit scary guys!' And it was genuine fear, pure fear, the sort that doesn't come along often in life.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1....Bungeeeeeeee. Silence. My mouth catches my stomach this time, eyes fixed on the faces above. Smaller and smaller they get until that rare sense of freedom washes over me again and I zone out. Eyes closed as I relax into it, a thoughtless perfection I will chase for the rest of my life. To live in that state, even for just one hour a day, is my idea of heaven. This is pure escapism, this is life. All I need to do now is bottle it and I am set!

Until today my motto in life had been, 'Why live on the edge when you can jump off it'. However, it's now, 'Why live on the edge you can jump off it...twice'. It has taken me twenty-five years to begin living, and I don't intend on stopping anytime soon.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on March 4, 2009 from Port Elizabeth, South Africa
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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A World Cup and Some Aussie Hospitality

Durban, South Africa

Having stocked up on enough adrenaline to spark a herd of stoned elephants into life I set off for Durban, via the Transkei (now known as the Wild Coast), in order to catch the last few days of the second cricket Test between South Africa and Australia. It would have been the last three days, but I got side tracked at an amazing backpackers called Buccaneers - the venue where I watched Wales win the Rugby Sevens World Cup!

My time at Buccaneers was spent relaxing and taking long strolls along the beach and just reconnecting with myself in general, and all at my old companies expense - their leaving present was two days and nights all paid for at Buccs. Had it not been for the lure of some live sport, and a spot of Aussie baiting, I would have happily bypassed Durban, but as it was it was a worthwhile stop - not least because I got to see Tristan, who was working at the cricket.

In my eyes Australians are, on an individual basis, more or less like marmite - you either love them or hate them. Now I can't speak for every Australian, but the ones I met at the cricket were a great bunch and certainly knew how to celebrate winning the cricket. Luke, the leader of Australia's version of the Barmy Army, rallied his troops to put on a braai that equalled any I have had in South Africa.

At this point it may be prudent to point out he did win 240 cans of beer, and enough money to buy three cows, in a 'hit the wicket' competition at the cricket. We all know the Aussies enjoy their beer, but even Luke admitted the prospect of drinking all 240 cans in the space of 19 hours before his flight to Cape Town was lacking in appeal - and he calls himself an Aussie. Still the rest of us were not complaining as he furnished us with as much beer and steak as we could put away.

Having done what I wanted to do in Durban I began to get a little restless, not to mention depressed, about being in another South African city that wasn't Cape Town. I felt like I was in limbo, here I was away from all that I knew, yet so much of it was not new and thus left me feeling neither here nor there. With that in mind I opted to push on for Maputo the following day in a hope that once out of South Africa I would really feel like I was travelling, instead of craving being back in Cape Town.

The details of Maputo will follow, but needless to say the change of environment - for one where everything is new and exciting - has helped lift my spirits and let me focus on the road ahead rather that what has been left behind. There are still moments where I miss Cape Town and people there, but this is the path I have chosen and it is one, with a little bit of luck, that will change my life forever. I can, however, safely say, wherever my chosen path leads me it will not change the fact my heart lies in Cape Town, and one day I will be back there - maybe even for good.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on March 12, 2009 from Durban, South Africa
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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The Magic of Maputo

Maputo, Mozambique

What a difference a border crossing makes, or rather two as was the case in getting from Durban to Maputo. Leaving Durban was not a hardship, in fact I was happy to be back on the road and heading north towards the real Africa. Having lived in Cape Town since October 2006 I didn't exactly view South Africa in the same light as the rest of the continent - and thus was eager to see my visa stamped out for the time being.

The crossing into Swaziland will be, I should imagine, the easiest of all my border crossings over the coming year, and was certainly so compared to the crossing into Mozambique. Having been warned that border officials are unlike the rest of the human race - they seem to have had the section of their brain removed that allows us to smile and laugh - I knew I would have to be all smiles and the example of politeness.

Even that didn't work, although once I flashed the dollars for my visa they soon sparked into action and began helping me fill out a form that, in all honesty, merits an A-Level just for completing it. Still I had my visa and was, in my eyes, officially travelling - that state of limbo was fading rapidly, to be replaced by the first real pangs of genuine excitement since I left Cape Town.

Not being a huge fan of cities, an obvious few such as Cape Town, San Francisco and Sydney aside, I have been pleasantly surprised by Maputo - so much so I have opted to have an extra day here before making the journey to Tofo. What I think appeals to me the most is that the locals let you get on with your life, allowing ones self to blend into the everyday scenery. There is a tendency in African countries for the traveller to be seen as a cash buffalo, leading to all sorts of predators flanking you until you eventually give in and buy something from them.

This is one aspect of African life I don't like, and there is only one place in Maputo where you need to be more forceful than a polite 'no' for people to leave you be - the fish market. Here, slightly away from the bustling streets of the city centre, anyone who steps foot into the market is an open target to be hunted down. Before the hawkers, with their sculptures, art, pirate DVDs and all manner of other curios, get a chance to sink their claws into you the chefs are in with the initial blow.

In a nutshell the market works like this; as you enter there are the rickety wooden stalls with all manner of fresh fish and seafood for sale, after which comes a series of small restaurants built around a small sandy 'market square' so to speak, which backs onto the stalls. The concept is simple, you buy whatever fish, prawns, crab, squid (I could go on) you want and then either take it home or have one of the restaurants cook it for you - and therein lies the problem.

Every chef descends on you as if you were the last diner on earth, telling you how he will cook your food before you have even chosen it. It took me one trip around all the stalls just to shake the persistent chefs off, but once that was achieved the real business of haggling could begin. In the end I settled for a kilo of king prawns, no more than six hours out of the sea, for the princely sum of five pounds - and for another pound I had them cooked perfectly on an open fire.

Luckily I had a good book with me, so could hide behind it and ignore any would be hawker who thought it necessary to offer me his wares even though I had turned them all away at least twice. So, the market aside, Maputo has an easy-going, laid-back atmosphere that lends itself to my personality and it will be with fond memories and more than favourable impressions that I leave here for Tofo on Sunday.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on March 13, 2009 from Maputo, Mozambique
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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The Other Side of Maputo

Maputo, Mozambique

My last day In Maputo was spent in the sleepy suburb of Catembe - reached by taking a short ferry ride from the port in the heart of the city across to Catembe itself. It is literally a stones throw from the city, and yet is a tale of contrasts in every sense, and provides the perfect foil to the city.

Catembe is unique in that it is nothing like the rest of Maputo, or any city for that matter, yet it fits the vibe perfectly. Bars line the dusty streets, frequented by the local 'fly girls and boys' who love to party at the weekends, and life is lived at the slowest of paces - which suited my mood perfectly at the time.

With it being a Saturday the mood was relaxed as the locals enjoyed glasses of cold beer out on the dusty streets, in preparation for the party that would evolve later - and I was assured there would be a party, as there was every Saturday. I sat with my own beer, and book, watching the world go by, soaking up the atmosphere as the dulcet tones of music, from various bars, filled the cool air.

It is worth pointing out that these are not bars as you and I know them, but rather small shacks with no seating inside, that serve a seemingly endless supply of cold beers from the hatches at the front. Seats and tables deck the streets as patrons chat and play backgammon, periodically shouting, because of the music, for a fresh beer. Most share their beers, in order to make sure their amber nectar is always cold, and most seemed to accompany it with freshly roasted nuts, either cashews or peanuts.

Having sunk a few cold ones I ventured along the main, and only, street with bars on, mixing with the locals. Through the bits of Portuguese I had picked up, and their broken English I was able to hold half decent conversations with them, but it was a game of pool that proved the perfect ice-breaker. In keeping with the nature of the place the pool tables were out on the street and were run by a winner stays on system - meaning if you were good you could play for free all day.

I put my five metical coin down, in a row of nine, and stood by waiting for my turn. Many locals would just stop by for one game, often on their way back to the ferry or to take a break from drinking beer, but there was a hard core of about seven or eight who never left the tables. My turn soon came along, and it pitted me against a wily old man who had held the table for a number of games - hence it gave me great pleasure to bring his run to an end. Sadly that was as good as it got, with my next game coming to a premature end as I sunk the black a little too early!

With that it was time to catch the ferry back across to the city, knowing the next day would see me heading north to the costal village of Tofo - where life was even more laid back than in Catembe.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on March 19, 2009 from Maputo, Mozambique
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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An Angry Fisherman and Mr Sura

Inhambane, Mozambique

It took me less than two days to become well known with the locals in Tofo. Mainly because I was more than happy to eat with them in the little shacks that acted as kitchens, serving basic, yet tasty, African food - but also because of two separate incidents.

The first revolved around Sura, the local palm wine (which is not sold over the counter), and the second involved an angry and drunk fisherman. Sura is made on a daily basis in Tofo, and relies on Lobster John, so called because his eyes are as red as a lobster from too much Sura, climbing various coconut trees to collect the sap of the leaves. This liquid, mixed with a drop of water, is then boiled up over an open fire before being left to cool, after which it's poured through a wire mesh to catch any unwanted dregs.

As I said it's not sold over the counter, as I found out when I asked about it, but rather from an illegal drinking den behind the market. Without a local to show you the way it would be impossible to find this den, but once inside there are never less than ten people there drinking as two ladies make a constant supply of the hooch. At this stage I must stress this drink tastes disgusting, but at ten meticals (25p) a litre, is the cheapest and most effective way for the locals to get drunk.

I spent the best part of an hour in the den talking to slurring men, and learning the tricks of making the drink from the two 'Sura Queens', whilst supping on a few glasses to get an idea of how potent, and disgusting, it was. I was informed that too much will lead to a temporary loss of sight, which, for reasons still unknown to me, seemed like a challenge and thus I purchased a litre for the evenings festivities. Whilst I didn't go blind it was with the greatest of difficulty that I staggered back to my room at the end of the night, not to mention feeling like a bus had reversed over my head the following morning. I am now known in the local market as 'Mr Sura', and can't walk anywhere near the den without being offered in for a free drink - needless to say I politely decline.

One man who doesn't decline is the fisherman who got a little hot under the collar when he saw me snapping a picture of his fish stand, which for him is conveniently located just over the square from the Sura den. Apparently by taking a picture of his stall I was putting his business at jeopardy, and this is what followed:

Fisherman (speaking with a slight slur and fish blood on his hands): No picture unless you pay.
Me: Why must I pay?
Fisherman (trying to grab my camera): You ruin my business, take photo out now.
Me (putting a hand on his chest to keep him back): No, and get your filthy hands away from me.
Fisherman: Twenty meticals for pictures.
Me: I already said no you drunken fool.

By this stage a small group of other fisherman had gathered and were watching the situation with amusement all over their faces.

Fisherman: Ok we go to the police station.
Me: It's not against the law to take a photo.
Fisherman (making another lunge for my camera): Get the photo out of there now.
Me: (pushing him away from me again): I said no.
Fisherman (noticing the other fisherman laughing, and accompanied with an unsavoury hand gesture): You lot go f@@k yourselves.

In the end I defused the situation, which involved a fair bit of pushing on my behalf, and wild lunging on his, by showing him one of the pictures I had taken before turning the camera off and telling him it had gone. Despite being drunk he wasn't falling for that one, so I had to delete the worst of the pictures before he calmed down enough to let me walk off. On seeing him the next day, in a sober state I might add, he was full of apologies for the way he acted, although I had a feeling that was due to the fact he wanted to sell me some fish.

My time in Tofo will continue, although I will not be here for as long as I first planned - but rather I will venture further north for a few weeks before coming south to meet Mum and Dad in Vilankulos.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on March 20, 2009 from Inhambane, Mozambique
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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The End Is Nigh...

Inhambane, Mozambique

Surely this isn't how it would end. Yet in my head that's what seemed like was happening, the curse of the witch doctor coming to haunt me, or worse yet malaria. With every step I took I was becoming weaker, and yet I pushed on knowing if I could get to me room everything would be ok, or at least I hoped it would be. Vision going blurred, narrow and short, temperature rising, but only another five metres to go, and then the sanctity of my bed and sleep.

Suddenly everything is black, and I have no memory of getting into bed. Who turned the lights out? Did I tuck my mosquito net in? Then it dawned on me, I wasn't in bed. So where was I? A voice in my head was telling me to open my eyes, yet my eyes simply didn't want to open. Eventually I forced one eye open, and just as I had thought I was not in bed, rather I was sprawled, lifeless, on the sand outside of my hut.

Panic set in as the fever engulfed my body, sweat running off me like water, energy continuing to sap away. If only I could get into my hut I would somehow survive this. With the last delusional ounces of energy that remained in my body I dragged myself into my room and onto my bed, where I let my body fall into a stupor, my mind going back over those two days with the witch doctor trying to work out when he had cursed my health....

Hans, Lineah (two friends from San Francisco I had made in Tofo) and myself, after quite a walk through the hills, arrived at the village where the local witch doctor, who had agreed to see us and answer out questions about his trade, resided. Whilst Hans, a fellow writer, and I were there for research purposes, Lineah came along purely for the experience - which was also a contributing factor for myself.

Despite Hans being close to fluent in Portuguese he knew not a word of Shangana or Matso (the only languages Samwuel the witch doctor spoke), and thus we had employed the services of a local craftsman to act as a translator, whilst Hans put everything into English for Lineah and myself. After exchanging pleasantires we were given an open floor to ask whatever we wanted, although it only took two questions before Samwuel offered to do a spiritual reading for each of us, which was an offer we could not refuse.

I came into this trip knowing the best tool I could take was an open mind, and therefore thought I would give Samwuel a chance and see if he was as genuine as he proclaimed. Needless to say I was not disappointed. With the help of his Tikholo, a bizarre collection of shells, a dice, an old coin and various bones, some of which had silver or gold entwined in them, he entered into a deep conversation with my spirits. Before I continue I must stress I don't expect everyone to believe in what I am recanting, rather this is my own personal experience, and everyone has the right to draw their own conclusions.

Over the next fifteen minutes, which saw Samwuel continuoisly gather his Tikholo in both hands, before tapping them on the floor and scattering them - all the while muttering away to my spirits in an almost trance like state - he made four bizarre, yet wholly accurate revelations about me. They were as follows:

1. In the past I have had a tendancy to start many things, but failed to see all of them through.
2. When I dream my dreams only come right at the end of my sleep, if they come at all.
3. Despite having been in my percieved dream job for the last two years it only ever paid me just enough to get by each monnth.
4. I have knee problems and have had, in the past, two operations on my left knee.

There will be those will say that some of his revelations were a touch vague, and could have been lucky guesses - yet like I said before, each was unnervingly accurate to me. Despite having an open mind, I must admit that the second phase of the visit, which took part the following day, was, whilst a unique experience, not something I could believe in.

...Nothing there to sugest I had been cursed, or had he done it just by talking to my spirits? I tried to focus on what was real, the present and not the past, yet as the fever grew my thoughts could only focus on the idea I had been cursed, or had somehow contracted malaria...

All I knew was that a bath had been prepared for me, and for it to be complete I had to proccure two eggs from the next village across, which was an easy enough task. Stripped down to my boxers and feeling a little uneasy, given that I was in the middle of the village, I was instructed to go to the shower area, and remember that at no stage could I look behind me. The bath turned into a cold wash, given by Samwuel's wife, with the herbal water, complete with two raw eggs stirred in, that was rubbed enthusiastically all over my body as I hung my head over the tub holding the liquid.

On completition of the bath I was sent to the edge of the village, where I had to wait for Hans to complete his bath - for he had gone through a similar process to me. The final act, which was by far the weirdest, was the making of the oil that I was to take away and rub over my body everytime I had a shower. Here Samwuel went into some deep trance, alternating between putting powder into the oil and his mouth!

...Still my temperature rises, my eyes rolling in my head and thoughts of a nasty and lonely end enter my mind. Still nothing of a curse, but then I haven't remembered the money and how he spat all over it...

With the oil made a price was agreed upon, which was too high for me, and too low for him - as is often the way in Africa - but both parties finally settled on it and the money was exchanged. Samwuel then informed us that the ritual he would perform with the money was to cast any evil spirits from my body into the money, and thus began a bizarre series of chants as he poured what appeared to be water over the floor, before taking a mouthful himself. That is when he looked to the heavens and spewed the liquid all over the money and various powders on the floor.

...Back in my room it dawned on me what was wrong. Through all of the time with Samwuel, which was close to two days, I had not drunk any water. So rather than dying of malaria or an evil curse I diagnosed myself with a simple case of dehydration - which still wasn't the nicest experience. Back to full fitness my travels are set to continue, right after I have caught up on some beach time.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on March 30, 2009 from Inhambane, Mozambique
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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Surf's Up Dude

Inhambane, Mozambique

Having secured the extension on my Mozambican visa that I required in order to see Mum and Dad in Vilankulo I was faced with a decision, move on from Tofo or wait out the time there. It was whilst sat on the beach, weighing up the pros and cons of both options, that the decision was, to a large extent, made for me.

When someone offers to teach you to surf, which for the record is a damn sight harder than people make it look, you tend not to turn the offer down. When you add into the equation that the someone is a beautiful German girl the answer is pretty simple - and so it was another week in Tofo for me. A week of surfing, or at least attempting to surf, eating prawns and fish, watching sunrises, enjoying Alena's company and generally living the dream - what more could I ask for?

Before last week my surfing experiences had been limited to watching people surf from the safety of the beach, in various locations, and the classic animated film 'Surf's Up'. I wasn't expecting it to be easy, but given my love for all sports, and a very competitive nature, I at least thought I would have a fighting chance of making a half decent fist of things. Wrong.

During the first two hour lesson, which admittedly involved a lot of lying on the board and just talking behind the break, I managed to catch just one wave, and then spent the next fifteen minutes fighting my way back through breaking waves to get to where I wanted to be. It didn't help that the board was shorter than me (not that I am making excuses for my efforts), so every time I paddled it felt like I was on a capsizing boat.

The second session, for which I had a longer board, was not quite as successful (if you can call the first one a success from a surfing point of view) but confirmed that once back in Cape Town next year surfing is something I want to pursue. There is something quite special about floating on the water, the sound of the water the only thing you can hear, apart from Alena's shouts of 'paddle, paddle, paddle' every time a wave came. But apparently no matter how hard I paddled I was not destined to catch another wave, not this time anyway.

Various people had told me that sunrise at Tofo was a magical spectacle, which wasn't hard to believe given the natural beauty of the area, but the idea of getting up at 05:30 to witness it was not such an appealing prospect. So rather than get up for it, why not just stay up all night to witness it - which is exactly what myself and Alena did, and we were not disappointed. They say a picture says a thousand words, so rather than try and do it justice myself, I will rather let you see the pictures and make your own mind up.

With my time in Tofo slowly coming to an end a day of adventure was needed, which consisted in a traditional dhow ride at Inhambane, followed by some play time on one of my dream bikes, the KTM Adventure. If my scooter in Cape Town was the amateur sportsman who plays for fun, the KTM is the seasoned professional at the top of his game. It was a beast, and had the power to prove it - which being the sort who acts first and thinks later I discovered when I gave it horns, hanging on for dear life as I saw the speedometer race past 150kmph.

For now I am in Vilankulo, after saying farewell to Tofo and my surf coach, awaiting the arrival of Mum and Dad and a week away from the rigours of backpacking. Don't change the channel as I will be right back after this short intermission.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on April 8, 2009 from Inhambane, Mozambique
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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