The tranquility of the Bushveld

We were supposed to go camping with the children the previous weekend.  The weather changed dramatically and we all decided that it will be better to stay at home.  The nice thing about that was that we had very good family time with Eretha and Vin while it was pouring outside nonstop for 24 hours. So this Friday we, Naas & Heleen, went camping near Naboomspruit (or Mookgopong) at Constantia Holiday Resort. The weather was superb! When the children arrived, the tents were pitched, the fire burning and the elders VERY relaxed. We had such a good time.  Saterday Naas studied for an exam that he is writing next week, Arno kept himself busy at the camp,  while the girls went to to visit family that stays on a farm just outside Pietersburg (or Polokwane). It was very nice to get up to date with the family and especially nice for Heleen and her nephews Theuns and Maarten to meet again. Sunday we had lots of fun feeding the birds. Arno always brings crumbs and seeds with when we are camping so we spoiled the Bush Loeries, Neushorings and even a huge Bloukop Koggelmander. All in all a very special weekend!

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Sias, Alida, Heleen, Maarten and Theuns

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Final Visa applications and then back to Johannesburg again

We went shopping for a Compressor. Arno made a huge study of about each and every Compressor in the whole Universe. We finally bought the ARB Compressor at Voetspore’s 4×4 Megaworld. Thank you Francois!!

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The happy man with his compressor

The paperwork for the Ethiopian Visa is really impressive.  Each time there is another letter to write! Because we do not have access to a printer, it meant that we had to drive to an internet shop to print the letter to attach it to our application. Twice we had to do this!! It felt as if we already drove halfway through Africa although it is only up and down through Pretoria!! Finally the applications were accepted and now it is just to wait until we can pick it up…….Monday.

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While we had to wait for the Visas, after the applications went into the mysterious corridors of the Embassies, we moved back to Naas & Heleen in  Johannesburg on Wednesday, to get hold of our sanity. Thursday evening Lina, the childrens landlord, invited us for a much needed 100% healthy dinner at her beautiful cottage behind the children’s house.

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Heleen, Lina, Arno & Naas

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An absolute FEAST!

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Good company, good food and a glass of red wine……Winking smile

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and Dad in the background not escaping yet into darkest Africa!

The painful Visa route!

We started our Visa route with the Austrian Embassy who chased us away to get everything on internet and to make an appointment. All we wanted to ask was information but so….. we made via internet an appointment for Thursday morning 9.25 which was accepted. Next was the Ethiopian Embassy where the “Keeper of the Gate” very friendly told me to “Go away”….Go away, come back 1.30. Now Go away”.  So 5 minutes past 1 we arrived and stayed in the Hilux until we saw that other people were gathering in front of the gate.  When I stood in front of the gate the friendly gatekeeper said “No-no not coming in….nobody here….not arrived yet”.  So after another 10 minutes standing in the Pretoria sun, we decided to try another day. Next was the Sudan Embassy where a very friendly gatekeeper invited me into a small office where a very friendly Sudanese  man gave me the necessary application form (one) and gave me the info on how to do the application for the visa.

We also had a very painfull experience with our bank that changed, stopped and blocked certain cards after they insisted that we inform them about all the countries we are going to visit after we asked for Bank Statements for the Visa Application. Another day gone:-(

Heleen came over from Johannesburg with the Gautrain to join us for a visit to my twin sisters that stays in Pretoria. Her dad had to take some goodies out of the bakkie for her to sit in the back:-) She sqeezed in between the fridge and the door in the tiniest space! We had a lovely morning with Cora at her beautiful house in a Golf Estate in Centurion. Arno initially was going to service the Hilux at Wernher’s place but decided to join the girls for the day. We had lunch with Willie & Annette at there beautiful house in Waterkloofrif. Willie is our unofficial DJ downloading some of his favourite music onto our flash drive
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Cora, Arno, me and Heleen

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Willie & Annette

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We made an appointment with the Austrian Embassy for 9.25 on Thursday (to get info!) We were finally helped at 11:00. To make a long story short, after another hour of trying to find out how we can apply using our second passports, we decided to try again in Nairobi for the Schengen Visa. We then tried the Ethiopian Embassy again. This time I had a very welcoming greeting from my friendly Gatekeeper who told everyone that would listen that they must give the “white lady that came back” a huge welcome:-):-) At a window I received the application forms for the visa. So now we are finally on our way to get the applications in for the 2 Visas!

Pretoria my Home town.

Eretha, our daughter stays in Centurion.  We moved to her house on Friday to enjoy a leisurely and lazy weekend with her and her friend Vin.  Saterday morning we went to the opening of the new 4×4 Megaworld shop of Johan Badenhorst. Johan is well known for his program called “Voetspore” about travelling through and exploring Africa. We talked a while with Johan and Francois about our route.Voetspore

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Sunday Vin played cricket at the Oval and we went with him and Eretha as his support team.The team’s mascot is little Misha.  Vin’s team won so after the game, the happy support team went to Vin and Eretha’s friends, Manasi and Adi’s house, for a delicious  Indian dinner. It was a real feast!

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Krieket by die Oval

Arno with Vin, Eretha ,Adi, Manasi and Misha at the Oval

Last days in Johannesburg

We enjoyed our last few days with Naas & Leentjie before moving on to Pretoria to Eretha.   Heleen took me to a High Tea.  What a morning it was!! We had a real mom and daughter morning while her dad held himself busy with the Hilux. (It seems that there is always something to do around that ToyotaWinking smile

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Mom and daughter having special time together

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Beautiful scenery, lovely food and the best company made it a “memory” day!

Thursday evening we dined out at Dukes who is famous for their superb and special burgers.

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We had such a good time!!

Overland friends

When we started researching about routes, places, campsites, trip advise and information about  other crazy explorers busy overlanding Africa exactly 2 years ago, we found 2 fantastic websites. These are Africa-overland.net and Overland-sphere.com. From the links on these websites, we started to follow  many people starting from Europe going south on the West-African route,others  going through east Europe and Turkey shipping their vehicles to Egypt going south on the East-African route and yet others zigzagging through Africa from East to West, North to South. We read about their joys and tribulations, good and bad experiences, budgets going haywire, getting malaria, meeting interesting people and see interesting and beautiful places. What started as a dream long ago when we were young, suddenly became a reality through their experiences. We knew that time is running out for us to do the trip. We decided that if we cannot do it by hook or by crook this year, we won’t do it at all.  Suddenly everything pointed to the possibility of doing it and as if by magic things started falling into place to make it possible.

We made contact with some of the Overlanders that we followed and when it seemed that their route will take them past Mossel Bay, we invited them to stay over with us. We learnt  much from them and had a wonderful time with them all.  I would like to introduce these travelling friends to you. Most of them we followed from the time that they were busy organizing and kitting themselves out for the Africa Overland trip. Domi and Zainab from Austria, doing the insane around the world trip, we started following from the Congo.

The first couple that overnight at Mossel Bay on route from Cape Town to the East-Coast, were Mike & Emma Rutter from the UK who came south on the West-Africa route. They can be followed on their blog named http://www.mikerutter.co.uk/africa/    They are back in Malawi now where they are helping out at the Nyika Trust that is busy with the setting up of a Trans frontier Conservation Zone with neighbouring Zambia. Hopefully we will see them again in Malawi.

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Mike & Emma

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Mike, Emma and us with their big Landrover

The next couple staying with us were Domi and Zainab from Austria who are on the road since September 20, 2009, traveling through 67 countries on six continents (including all 48 lower states of the USA) and crossing 98 international borders. They’ve driven more than 180 000 kilometers in their beloved Volkswagen called Herbie and a caravan!! Their blog is a must read because it is totally unreal what these 2 young people are doing.  We can’t begin to tell the stories about their adventure!!! We got very attached to them.  They are such very special children. We were sad when they left because we wanted them to stay with us longer. They came from Austria down the West-African route with Herbie and the caravan, getting Herbie and the caravan afloat  in a huge pothole full of water in the Congo, got stuck in Cabinda in Angola, using the Angolan Air force to fly Herbie and caravan out over the Congo river to Luanda, camping overnight on the Luanda Airport between two runways and as they say in TV ads…..but still there’s morel!! Read about them on their blog http://herbiesworldtour.com  Domi helped me enormously with getting the blog up and running. Zainab sings beautiful and played for us on her Lute. A very talented and exotic (very pretty) lady with her handsome aristocratic Austrian  prince. They are now in Khartoum on their way back through East-Africa to Egypt, shipping Herbie from Alexandria to go home in Vienna. The BBC contacted them while they were with us. We are sure that some time in the future we will see this couple and Herbie on National Geographic’s!

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Our Austrian kidsSmile

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Arno & Domi giving Herbie & Caravan  a good wash in Mossel Bay

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Herbie being polished at Victoria Bay Campsite

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Zainab preparing lunch at Victoria Bay

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Zainab playing her Lute reading the music in Arabic

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The 2 fellows with their pride and joyWinking smile

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This was the sad moment when Herbie was leaving us to go back home to AustriaSad smile

Lastly but not the least, the other couple that we started following from about their very first appearance on a blog, were Oyvind (Viking Explorer) and Sheela (African Girlchild). They were still busy getting rid of their worldly possessions, packing up, sorting out etc.etc when we started reading about them.  What we learned from their experiences while on the road, is that one must not get too stuck on what one initially thought your route will be.  Enjoy the ride….it is not the destination that counts, it is the journey itself. We are privileged to be at the same time as them in Johannesburg and had a nice braai together last night at Naas and Heleen’s beautiful house.  We looked at each other’s vehicles, chatted, had a glass of wine and promised to meet again before both of us depart in 2 and 3 weeks time.  It was really such a nice evening.  It is fantastic how one make new friends on a journey like this even before ours really started! Hopefully we will meet somewhere in East-Africa again. Follow Kapp to Cape on their blog www.kapp2cape.net

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Oyvind, Sheela, Elize & Arno having such a nice timeSmile

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Brodie the Cruiser

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The Hilux peeping out of the garageWinking smile

Johannesburg

From the moment of waking up Friday morning, we helped Heleen with the finishing touches for her launch of her business “Little Honeypot” that would take place Saturday evening. We were busy, busy……very busy.  Saturday evening was a beautiful evening.  Not too cold. The event was held at Naas & Heleen’s house in Parkview. It was a house gig with the group called Kaleidoskoop as artists, who sang like angels.  The cheese and wine were superb and the event was a huge success.  Afterwards we had a huge cleanup operation and furniture moving back to normal place workout until 12:00.

Sunday morning we were all exhausted. Saturday afternoon Eretha, our other daughter (yes finally you can count the children…..we have 7 children, 6 in laws, 1 boyfriend and 8 grandchildren!) treated us to the final cricket match between the Lions and the Titons at Wanderers. The Lions had a very good game and won. By 20:00 we were all in bed for the first REALLY good nights sleep in over a week! Today we had a lazy relaxed day at home, having a stroll around  Zoo Lake, eating frozen yogurt  at Wakaberry, chatting, laughing, giving Bella a bath and having in general good family time. We will do the Embassy round to do the visa applications later.  For now we are just coming up for breath and enjoy Johburg!!

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Little Honeypot Exhibition

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The beer drinker at Wanderers

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Naughty frozen yogurt at Wakaberry

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Bella NOT want to bath!

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Dad, Heleen and Bella chatting (and a bathing)

Our Adventure starts!!

We woke at 3:00 Thursday morning.   The day we dreamed about, talked about, planned for about 10 years and finally equipped ourselves for the last 2 years has finally arrived!! We had a quick cup of coffee, packed the last personal items into the Hilux, closed the security gate, threw the front door keys through the security gate and closed our apartments door with a soft final click. This is final…. what’s been left behind, not thought about cannot be changed now. We are committed.  Ready or not,  Africa here we come!!! We had a long drive in front of us because we were driving to Johannesburg without sleeping somewhere on route. Heleen, our youngest daughter needed our assistance in Johannesburg for the launch of her new business The Little Honeypot.  She also needed the last quilt that I made for her shop.  We had a fantastic drive through South Africa enjoying the beautiful Karoo landscape, arriving at 20:00 at Naas and Heleen’s beautiful house in Parkview, Johannesburg.  Naas made us. a nice chicken salad and after having that and a glass of red wine to unwind, we went to bed for a full nights sleep the first time in a week, happy and grateful for being alive and enjoying so much of what life has to offer.  We really are blessed!

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Escaping to Witsand and surviving the last 3 chaotic days in Mossel Bay

We always enjoy it to visit our eldest daughter Hanli, her husband Leon and our grandson Troi Boy. They stay on the Pretorius family’s smallholding in the centre of Witsand. Leon manages the Breede River Resort & Fishing Lodge and he and Hanli are also the Franchise holders of Rawson Properties, Witsand. We were booked into a very luxurious room in the lodge and were being spoiled from the moment we arrived. We came back to Mossel Bay early Monday morning for a last rush to finish off every and any thing that we still had to do.  What a chaotic week it was!!!   Hennie & Juanita took us out for dinner at Delfino’s at the Point Monday evening  where we had a little celebration that had all of us except Juanita a bit tired on Tuesday morning.  Hennie & Juanita took us out for dinner at Delfino’s at the Point Monday evening  where we had a little celebration that had all of us except Juanita a bit tired on Tuesday morning.  Tuesday we had a dentist appointment and Arno washed the vehicle and then started  packing the Hilux. I, believe it or not……, was showing properties to clients!! This took a 4 hour chunk out of my day. The long and the short of the story is that we did not sleep more than 3 – 5 hours the last 3 nights before we left Mossel Bay, working about non-stop to get every thing in order, do all the admin, contact everyone that has to be contacted etc.etc. Luckily for us, Hennie were very helpful and he suggested that he will sort out the Benz that still had to be washed and whatever we could not finish.   Wednesday evening we had a braai at my brother Lucas that stays next door to us. He also opted to do things for us while we are away from home.  Lucas had a bottle of bubblies on ice for this special evening before our adventure starts.  We had a lovely evening in the good company of Lucas, Hennie and Juanita and then went home to pack our personal things.IMG_5590_1

The children’s historical house that was part of the original hotel in the late 1800’s

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Leon, Hanli and Troi

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The view from our room

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The end of one dream……is the beginning of the next

We started moving the office furniture Saturday morning at 6.00 in pouring rain!  What must be done must be done:-! It took us 3 hours of becoming wetter and wetter but then everything was where we are going to store it.  We also took specific office equipment home and just ditched it in the one bedroom that is already looking as if something exploded there! Our bags are already ready to be packed, my machines are not yet packed away, office files are stacked on the floor and it is general total chaos.    Some other stuff were offloaded in the garage between the Benz and the Hilux for later sorting out and to be moved to the storeroom adjacent to the garage. (All this must be done from Monday to Wednesday!)    We quickly vacuumed the house that was still full of threads because of my quilt making and were just finished when our housesitting friends Hennie and Juanita arrived.  We had a quick exchange of ideas and then we were off to our children in Witsand.

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