Once you leave the roads…

Getting to those truly untouched parts of wilderness that I prefer, means eventually running out of any form of road or track. Then starts the undertaking of moving through bush. Moving through virgin African bush is not for the faint-hearted. It is an undertaking that pushes human and machine close to their limits. Sometimes, for stretches where the terrain is not steep and the growth not too dense, one is able to meander along quite pleasantly in roughly the desired direction, even if it means setting the Old Man to run over a few shrubs or young trees. Sometimes...

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Stuck. Damn!

I am careful to either avoid places where I might get stuck, or work on crossings beforehand to ease the passage. But sometimes it just takes fate, or a slight error in judgement, and then… This little ditch seemed minor. The front wheels actually mounted the step-up quite gamely, but then the rear end of the body caught on the slab of rock with the rear wheel spinning in fresh air. The jack point was too low off the rock to get the hi-lift in, and there was simply no space to crawl under the vehicle to get a...

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The Breakfast Stop

My old Land Cruiser has, over the years of bush travelling, accumulated all the bumps and dents and scratches the bush needed to inflict on it. It wears the bush comfortably now, like an everyday warmer. But, it knows to inflict lots of discomfort on its driver. The suspension is about as soft as an empty freight train’s; over uneven surfaces it raises a cacophony of rattles and squeaks that drown out any conversation and numbs the mind; it drives like an oxcart and the cab is a custom-built furnace during the day, and a fridge at night. So,...

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Stopping over at the Lion and Elephant

Parked in front of the Lion and Elephant Hotel, Zimbabwe It is part of bush tradition, no, it is bush religion to stop over at The Lion and Elephant on the banks of the Bubi if the route north leads through Zimbabwe. It is unassuming, inexpensive and just worn enough at the seams so that it feels comfortable, like an old shirt. It has become a sort of a tradition for me to overnight there if the route north leads through Zimbabwe. Here is an extract from my book, The Wanderers: “It was around two in the afternoon. The...

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Peculiarities along the way to the hinterlands

  The happy chaos of an African “shopping mall” deep in rural Mozambique. Note the bustling atmosphere, the flimsy shop cubicles, the the wares spilling out onto the road surface in places. Expeditions into remote Africa inevitably have to traverse vast distances through various shades of civilisation (in the Western frame of reference), along roads that severely tax the vehicle, the patience and resistance to reckless abuse of alcohol. Nevertheless, it is often richly spiced with charm, surprises and, of course, challenges that combine to make for a fascinating experience in itself. To illustrate, I quote a few paragraphs...

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Closer…

Now that The Time has drawn close there is, wedged between the not-so-routine-routine of farm life, those special-flavoured stretches, when I pull the old bush truck over the pit in the workshop to check for play on bushes and bearings, or something that had come lose, or tell-tale signs of oil or fuel or water seeps, or troubling sounds, and to carefully repair or replace, and to service. I allow myself a some indulgence, to fiddle unhurriedly; to make that special bush tool, just for the sake of its elegance, or to tinker with something that is  already working,...

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The progeny of greed

Johnathan slapped his paper closed and got up to join them at the dinner table. “Yep . The economy is looking strong. Unemployment is down, again, and we haven’t even seen the full effects of the tax cuts yet,” he half-grunted from a luxurious stretch that said “of course, that’s what I have been saying all along will happen.” Neither of them responded. Antoinette felt uncomfortable with the self-satisfied finality with which he had said it. Justine just seemed too exhausted to bother. Johnathan took his seat and gave Justine a “come on, admit it”-look. Antoinette saw the lines...

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Thoughts on a visit to China

The company was paying, so I could simply have flown into Guangzhou, stayed in a nice hotel, attended the flower show they were sending me to and flown back. But I decided I wanted to get a feel for the country – at least that part of it. So I flew into Hong Kong and took the bus from the airport to Guangzhou. I thought I’d see some countryside, farmers working their (even small) fields, perhaps farm animals grazing. What I got was a taste of lower middle class travelling in China, and five hours of industrial scenery –...

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