2015
03.03

Last leg to Ethiopia

Tomorrow we are on our way to Ethiopia for 6 weeks.

The time we’ll spend there is almost equivalant to the time we’ve dedicated to trying to obtain a visa to drive in overland from Kenya to Ethiopia. Weeks of unsuccessful attempts at trying to “make a plan” to avoid the normal DHLing of passports back to oz (that i once thought was time consuming), of contact after contact falling through, of hope rising and then falling hard – has left us no choice but to fly in and out of Ethiopia.

We’ve accepted that we’ll be living out of our 18kg backpacks instead of our house-of-a-car and that we’ll be squashed into mini local buses instead of sitting in our comfy Hilux chairs, feet up on the dashboard, with our own choice of music playing and a backseat full of food. We’ve realised its good to change things up and experience our last country in a very different style to the previous 11 countries. Our journey would be boring if we never got off our OWN beaten path.

So tomorrow we start our next and final chapter of our journey, our last African country of worldcupandup – Ethiopia!!!!

Its something we’ve both been waiting for and also wishing it would never come. Our last few months have been filled with moments of simultaneous exhaustion and excitement, feelings of wanting to leave and wanting to stay.

We’re fortunate enough to be in a position where the end of our journey is leading to something so momentous and anticipated that its a natural transition for our lives to be taking.

And for me it’s a relief that Nick and I both feel the same way about whats going to end and whats going to start.

I always wondered how nearing the end would feel, if I would want to keep going, and continue loving every day of this wonderful journey and how I could possibly accept the concept of settling down. But if there’s an important life lesson I’ve learnt over the last 5 years, settling for just anything is not one of them. Both Nick and Africa have taught me about the endless accessible possibilities from which i can choose and live my life freely. My freedom won’t end with this trip.

So really, I’m not moving into a life of “settling down”, I’m just moving on to our next adventure, and I feel just as excited as I did, when I first got on the plane in April, 2010.

Our last leg begins……see you after Ethiopia!

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2014
10.04

Sometimes Africa gets under your skin. Literally.

Hairy worm rash, blister beetle, jiggers.

I used to just get the flu once a year, now I’m dealing with these buggers.

Since several jigger fleas invaded our feet last year, nick and I do feet patrol every once in a while, inspecting anything that looks foreign.

I had a couple of small itchy bites near my pinky toe, that grew into one bigger itchy bite that suddenly developed into something much more suspect and gross.

Then it became even grosser: a hookworm – Cutaneous Larva Migrans.

Unlike the jiggers in my toes, I wasn’t going to let Nick use a sterilised thorn (I use the term “sterilised” lightly) to remove this parasite from my foot.

A 3 day course of Albendazole, de-worming tablets – accompanied by the blah feeling side affect and my worm appeared to stop moving – hopefully very dead.

His tracks might stay with me for a while as a reminder of his time with me, but on this 3rd day of meds, no usual 2-3cm daily  movement and no more itch.

I’m trying to find the right balance in how I react to these African invaders. This hookworm is probably the most disgusting to look at, but I can handle the itch (with the 7 different types of topical creams I own) and control the urge to look down at my foot every so often. So although I spent a good hour googling “worm in foot” – my reaction was fairly calm.

I did act responsibly by going to the Nairobi hospital consulting with a doctor (who had no idea anyhow) and depositing a stool sample to rule out hookworm in the intestine.

But, I managed to stay calm throughout the 4 day ordeal of watching the worm make tracks through my itchy foot.

I reacted far slower to an open blister on my heel, that 2 months later developed into staph. I have the scars to remember not to be so complacent.

And while medical advice states that I should be wearing enclosed footwear on sand and soil – i would never take back our incredible month on the Kenyan coast walking barefoot on the beach at sunset and feeling the soft white (hookworm infested) sand in between my toes.

———-

SO, now that I have your attention, hookworm aside. Its time for a rare update as we are blessed with rare amazingly fast internet (thanks Sab & Kai!).

We crossed the border from Tanzania into Kenya at Lunga Lunga, despite being stuck between immigration and customs for four days.

After years of research on how to get our vehicle into Kenya and being repeatedly told that it would NEVER happen. We did it.

There’s always a way in Africa and we crossed into Kenya WITHOUT a Carnet De Passage. Big victory for us.

We stayed 2 weeks in Diani in a self catering cottage right on the beach, dodging beach boys and watching Colobus monkeys and walking 3 mins down the beach to the fisherman’s market to pick out our dinner – lobster, prawns, calamari and fish. And perfected the most tender Octopus.

Nick landed his dream fish – a Giant Trevali. The catch even more extraordinary, being caught off a dugout sailboat (no motor) with Captain Juma and his deaf deckhand.

A 150km drive north, and we are at another very special spot on the coast – Che Shale. A quiet bay with a sandy bottom and 3 labradors.

We spend 2 weeks of frisbee, kite surfing, stand up paddle boarding, dune walking and thoroughly making the most of our last stint on the ocean. Its a very sad goodbye to the coast as our trip inland begins, and the ocean fades away in the backdrop.

———–

So here we sit some 1700m above sea level in a big African city called Nairobi. After spending months and months at sea level and even below, its quite dizzying being at such high heights.

This may also be the first time that our website accurately reflects the current country we are travelling in. 1 week ago we were 1 year behind on our website.

And NOW….check out our map to see where we have been (the Tanzania map looks eerily similar to the hookworm tracks in my foot), what we have been doing in Tanzania for almost a year and where we have been living.

Even better, take a look at our recent adventures along the Kenyan coast.

Impressive what a couple of 12 hr days in front of the laptop combined with super high speed internet can achieve.

From Kenya, with love oxoxo

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2013
12.22

Its been 5 months since we FINALLY crossed into East Africa. So this blog is WAY overdue (much like the theme for our worldcupandup trip).

Getting into Tanzania is a big milestone for us as far as geography goes. We’ve almost made it to the equator. In terms of time taken to “almost” get to the equator – its not impressive.

We’ve had mixed emotions about entering East Africa and mainly because we would be leaving behind the familiarity of Southern Africa, our home for the last 3 years. But saying goodbye and hello in the same breath has become the norm for us. So as quickly as we bid adieu to the bottom half of Africa we were warmly welcomed into the East – in Swahili of course: “Karibu”.

Tanzania has managed to overwhelm us so much, that after 5 months it is only now that we have managed to stop and look back on our time here.

We spent the first 2 months of Tanzania travelling through the beautiful Southern highlands and the wild west. Travelling on dirt roads for hours and escaping Tanzanias tourism.

In our third month in Tanzania we travelled with 3 young excitable cousins on a roundtrip from North to South. Showing them a mix of what Tanzania had to offer and introducing them to the worldcupandup lifestyle – camping, 2 minute noodles and squat toilets.

After a quick visa run into Malawi we were back in Tanzania tour guide mode attempting to impress Nicks parents with all the joys of Africa. Lucky for us (and for them), we spared them the worldcupandup hospitality, spending most nights in beds and eating meals in four walled restaurants.

And then, after driving 14000km through one VERY large African country and entertaining 5 visiting guests, we slept for three days.

Soooo….over the last month Nick and I have found a place to settle down and unpack the backpacks. For now.

We’ve pulled together some form of normality, leasing an apartment, grocery shopping once a week and working.

It’s a novelty for us. And we’re enjoying having a fridge that doesn’t need to be filled with frozen ice blocks and a stove that doesn’t have to be taken off the roof of our car to be cooked on.

It’s a strange life but we’re enjoying it.

And of course, we wouldn’t be doing this unless we were.

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2013
05.14

296 Days of Malawi

As it stands, at this point in our journey, one third of our worldcupandup trip has been in Malawi.  That’s 296 days of a 910 day journey. That’s 32.53% of our journey to be exact.

And in ALL that time the only blogs I wrote were to apologise for a lack of communication, to express my fear of getting fat and to celebrate the birth of Nicks first niece in Sydney (if she were born in Malawi, it would have counted for a great Malawi post).

I was having too much fun, I was living a stable life, the tall trees blocked my internet connection, I had malaria, I procrastinated.

Either way I was busy doing something in Malawi because 296 days have passed in the smallest country we have visited.

Just so you understand the scale of HOW much time we have spent in HOW little a country, here’s a map of the places we have visited from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and then into Malawi. That’s Malawi on the right side of the page…the tiny sliver you can barely make out.

Yep, 296 days there.

Sometimes it freaks me out when I look at it. But I’m not sure why. Its not like I was wasting my time in Malawi. Even though a portion of our stay was forced due to the delayed arrival of a Toyota genuine fuel pump – I never felt like I was being held against my will. Imprisoned in the warm heart of Africa.

I surrendered myself to Malawi.

There were so many things captivating about Malawi and so many simple things that I enjoyed.  Easily, the best thing about Malawi was having a home – one in Mayoka, one in Lilongwe. One on the lake, one in the city. Both filled me with so much love. Like the kind of love you only feel at home.

296 days of love-like-home.

It felt so natural to be in Malawi. Like we belonged. And when you are travelling through a foreign continent that’s a foreign feeling.

I’m not sure I realised I felt like this in all my time in Malawi. I suppose now that we have FINALLY left (and what a difficult leaving) I’ve grown a stronger sentimental attachment for my last home.

My only longing to leave Malawi was to arrive on the Indian Ocean on the east coast of Mozambique, to feel the hot sand between my toes and to swim in crystal clear turquoise waters.

And 3 weeks later……I’m in a dusty town on the WEST side of Mozambique where one litre of milk is twice as much as Malawi and the Zambezi river is inhabited by hippos and crocs, NOT whale sharks and manta rays.

Perhaps this growing frustration of being even further from my sandy beach fantasy is giving me a deeper appreciation for the home I left behind.

Perhaps though, Malawi was actually a very special place filled with very special people.

So although I owe Malawi & all the beautiful people we have met there, much more than a one page blog – I think 296 days is a big enough testament of our love.

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2012
08.13

Our niece – Beautiful baby Allegra

Everyone always says that nothing much changes at home while you’re away. The routine of life hasn’t changed, my rugby league team ‘the roosters’ are still disappointingly at the bottom of the league table, the winters are getting colder and prices are rising.

These things I know will carry on without me, and I’m definitely ok with that.

However it is hard to be ok with missing the birth of beautiful baby Allegra – Jonathan & Danielles’ first child, Nicks parents first grand child and Nicks first niece and god daughter.

When i think about the next two years of travelling to come for Nick & I, and all the countries we have yet to see and the incredible things we have yet to experience, two years hardly seems enough.

When I think about the next two years of Allegra’s life I think about all the growing she will do and all her firsts we will miss, and suddenly two years is too long to be away from this little being who already fills us with so much love.

Allegra Tsoupis’ life is going to be filled with so much warmth, laughter and joy – which comes with being a part of the Tsoupis family. I have been lucky to be included in all that happiness for the last 11-and-a-half years, but Allegra will start her life in it. I already know how brilliantly amazing this baby is going to be.

Her parents are fun, loving, caring, intelligent, grounded and remarkable human beings who will no doubt create a happy baby, child, teenager and adult.

On top of that she will also be surrounded by so many people who loved her before she was born, us included.

Baby Allegra, we both wish we were there to give you all the kisses and hugs your little rosy cheeks and tiny feet deserve. And although we might be away from you through your growing years, you must know how much we love and adore you – and always will.

Love forever, your god father Uncle Nick and your favourite Aunty Zulf oxoxo

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2012
03.31

Its been a while…

Firstly, we’re ok.

We’re probably doing better than ok which is why we have been so damn slack with our website.

Its now been over 3 months since we arrived at Mayoka Village in Nkhata Bay – in the north of Malawi.

We have been so busy enjoying Lake Malawi, snorkel fishing, meeting amazing people and eating delicious food that we almost forgot about our worldcupandup journey. We have not moved UP in a long time, in fact in the last 3 months we have not moved anywhere, and we know its been a while since the world cup even started to only be as far as Malawi. We have alot of explaining to do.

We wish we had some great story as to why we are so stuck, but we are enjoying being stuck (again) and being surrounded by our new Mayoka family AND Nkhata Bay internet doesn’t really allow me to update much without spending hours to get one post up. Malawian internet travels much slower than we do.

So our apologies to everyone that has been wondering where we are. Thank you all so much for checking in on worldcupandup – hope to have some new pix up for you all soon.

Loving you and leaving you for now, but not for long!

oxoxo

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2012
01.23

My Malawi without Nick

I’d known for 6 months that in the new year Nick would have to leave me. I was thrilled that he had the opportunity to go back home for his best friends wedding – a big milestone in their long friendship – and be a part of such a memorable occasion. But selfishly, i was also filled with anxiety. Anxiety about where I would be, what I would be doing and mostly if I could handle being on my own in Africa for the first time. I know…….selfish.

Thinking back to my time alone in South America, where after 3 months of travelling together, I was suddenly on my own for a daunting 2 months, is a thought that haunts me. I spent a whole week crying. A non-english speaking waiter watched me cry over the menu and became convinced that I was a poorly prepared foreigner who was so distraught about ordering food in Spanish. Yes, I couldn’t speak Spanish fluently but I could still order pollo con arroz, por favour.

Although I was ok to be in that sunny little city of Bolivia on my own, missing Nick stopped me from truly embracing my independence in a foreign country. I got by, but everyday I missed Nick, and that stopped me from being me and instead made me a girlfriend of a boy she missed too much. Once I stopped crying, I started eating. Everything.

So my two concerns with Nick leaving me was 1. How bad of a wreck would I be this time? 2. Would I get fat?

Without any thought to where I might end up when Nick flies off, we continued our travels and along the way very kind people offered to look after me on my weeks alone. However, we decided to wing it, and on Christmas Eve Eve 2011 we arrived at Mayoka Village beach lodge in Nkhata Bay – the north of Malawi. Within a day I felt the heart and soul of the place – from the beautiful staff, friendly owners and the clear water of Lake Malawi. As fate would have it one of the bar men would be on leave throughout all of January – coinciding perfectly with Nicks trip to Oz – and I would be working again for the first time in almost 2 years. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to start a new job!

On the first day of 2012, Nick had to begin his 4 day journey home. A boat ride to town, private taxi to Mzuzu, local bus to Lilongwe, flight from Lilongwe to Johannesburg then finally the flight from Johannesburg direct to Sydney.

His long exhausting journey somehow made me feel better that I would not have to endure the same pain.

In my first week without Nick, I became so paranoid that I would fall into a state of depression that I never allowed myself to be doing nothing. I went on runs, swam 1km across the lake, wrote in my journal, started reading a 400 page book and worked the evening shift from 4pm-1am, 5 days a week.

On my day off, when I finally stopped to catch a breath I got sick. I had clearly been doing too much and exhausted my body physically and mentally.

Once I forced myself to just do nothing – it hit me. I didn’t miss Nick painfully like I had in the past. There wasn’t this aching desire and need to have him here. I was missing him in a healthy way.

That’s when I realised how much I had grown in Africa. I always knew I would change somehow, that something innately profound would happen to me on this special continent, and because I was so aware and excited for that change i questioned and doubted myself constantly. Nick and I were with each other for every hour of every day on this trip and when you are with another human being you lose sight of yourself and your capabilities. Its hard to be an “I” when you are always an “US”.

And when your other half is a fantastic human being, its even more difficult to identify with yourself, and realise that maybe you are a fantastic human being in a totally different way.

This time alone I am appreciating myself and who I am and what I can do. So instead of focusing on my time away from Nick, I’m focusing on the time I have for myself and how happy I make me.

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2011
11.17

So a black out in Lusaka, Zambia and a sick fiancée sleeping on the couch has given me the time to work on my gift to Nick for his upcoming 30th birthday.

Birthdays have always been a big deal to me, much bigger than to Nick who doesn’t care where he is or what he does of what we eat on his special day – he’d be happy with the same old canned tuna. In the week leading up to my birthday, I ate ice cream every day and on the day itself I presented Nick with a list of 10 foods I wanted to eat for my birthday. I also insisted on a bday card and a bday cake. We’re in Africa, travelling, but nothing is impossible. We’re here aren’t we.

So because I don’t have the luxury of ordering from ebay or wandering through Westfield, for his big 3-0 I’d like to let him know how much he means to me.

We’ve spent our entire 20’s together which has been an absolute kick-ass time, and I’m sure our 30’s will only bring new and exciting adventures. To start your 30’s in Africa must be a good sign for the years to come.

I realise how lucky I am to have someone who has this African experience coarsing through their veins at an equal speed to mine. Who feels the same excitement when picking up a lion cub and shares the same dream for making it to Greece.

I am with the person I love most in the world and the person I will share the rest of my life with (although I’m sure we’ve had many other lifetimes together already). At this time in our life we both are dreaming the same dreams and living the same life. This is where we want to be, together.

A lot of people tell us that if we can make it through this African adventure together than we’re meant to spend the rest of our lives together. I always smile to myself when I hear that, because it was long before this trip that I knew I would spend my lifetime with him. This trip wasn’t going to make or break us because something long ago had already made us. I don’t know when it was that we decided we would be together, forever. But I’ve known it for a long time.

Its quite possibly the only thing in my future that I’m sure of. We don’t know our next destination, if we’ll make it to Greece or where we’ll settle. Which frankly, can be quite unsettling. But its hard to think about our future when we are presently living such an amazing life. Amazing.

Sharing this journey with Nick has completed my African experience – the terror he gives me when jumping in a croc and hippo infested river, the headaches he gives me by not letting my neck and eyes rest in our search for a Leopard, the attitude he gives me when he wakes after mosquitoes have kept him up all night. The laughs we share, the meals we make, the long drives together . The piggyback to avoid the spitting cobra, keeping watch for lions while I pee, the encouragement to drive the manual car. The annoying noises to attract an animals attention. That pesky optimism that shines through the dark moments (so annoying when you are sure you are going to get eaten by hyenas). The know-it-all roll of the eyes when I say I want to become a yogi, and he says “stop reading that book zul”. The person that lets me yell when I am tired from everything (even when I can’t reciprocate the same calmness in moments of his anger) and the person that is right here with me on this special journey.

Nick has a beautiful, creative and happy soul and a fun-loving personality which completes him. There is no other person better suited to this adventure than Nick. His charisma and sincerity make him a true gem in Africa. And most days I realise how lucky I am (the other days he simply drives me mental!).

So, my dear 30 yr old Nicholas, who has made this trip possible. Who has travelled with me for 15 months so far from the world cup and up. Who has encouraged me to bungy jump, white water raft, dive with sharks, drive a manual car and like dogs. Who has supported my quest to make the perfect curry and pee freely.

Its being with you, here in Africa that has made this trip the happiest time of my life. Its not just Africa that touches my heart, its YOU in Africa with me.

Thank you for taking this journey with me and for loving me with as much love as you do.

Happy birthday my African King.

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2011
11.06

Lusaka shopping spree

We weren’t too keen on passing through Zambias capital city – Lusaka. After spending so much time in open bush, cities really crowd me in. Waiting at a robot (traffic light) makes me impatient and the simplest African city begins to resemble the hustle and bustle of Sydney.

Eventually though, we decided it would be a good test for our newly repaired bakkie to travel the 500km along smooth tar rd lined with watermelons – the tar road a real treat for our car and the watermelon a real treat for me.

Nick and I were heading north-ish which meant worldcupandup was finally on the way up again!

The road was hardly littered with cows or goats so I elected to do some driving, feeling safe from unpredictable animals on the road. I drove a good 100km, but after stalling (twice) upon arrival into a petrol station at Choma – under halfway to Lusaka, suddenly Nick decided he wasn’t too tired after all to drive the remaining 300km.

I did well mostly, I never went from 2nd to 5th gear, I only stalled twice, I overtook 2 trucks and I drove smoothly over countless speed bumps.

My sadness at leaving our Jollyboys home was gradually replaced with the excitement of new adventures in Zambia.

Thanks to some friends from Livingstone we had a contact in Lusaka to stay with. Matt had a ping pong table which meant our ping pong games could continue from Livingstone to Lusaka. We arrived in the capital city at 5pm – peak hour.  When I gave Nick directions to our meeting point, he asked me why I had directed him straight into traffic. Unlike knowing Sydneys M5 peak traffic (6am – 10am and 2pm – 8pm) and knowing the very little hours that you could drive through without being stuck for hours, I could not direct Nick to the nearest detour. Sorry Nick for being so inconsiderate.

In reality, the traffic was mild but now we preferred driving without rules, no cars and traffic lights on the road just the occasional elephant to stop (and maybe reverse) for.

We reunited with a friend from Jollyboys and proceeded directly to the Thai restaurant – our two main priorities for Lusaka were: Thai food and a cinema – two things greatly missed.

I was partly expecting a small thai restaurant lined with tiled floors and an oily counter, with tissue boxes on each table and one menu to be shared amongst customers. Instead we’d step into a fancy restaurant from Surry Hills with napkins and padded menus.

Since we’d met up with a group of friends it seemed too late to back out – plus the fragrance of curry and tom yum soup wafted through the air making us dizzy with sudden hunger.

We sucked it up and ordered a tom yum soup and green curry chicken (nick and I had to flip a spoon to choose between panang and green curry – I won).

Nick greeted our waiter with Kopankap, the waiter looked confused and we both giggled when they brought out chopsticks for everyone. Thai is Asian, and Asians use chopsticks I guess. Its also common to find sushi in a Chinese restaurant. When people go out for chinese, sometimes they just mean sushi.

Just perusing the menu give us tingles of joy – dreaming of all the different dishes we could order (we wanted ALL of them!). I ate till I almost passed out from Thai delirium, I dragged myself back to the car in an unconscious food coma.

It was a real treat – and to punish ourselves for the careless spending, the next day we stayed in, which cost us nothing.

However, the day after that was stock up day – at the Spar we found our favourite chips: Nik Naks (we bought 5 packets) and Nicks favourite spread Chilli Bovril, at Shoprite we found Brahims sauces (BKK eat your heart out), at Game they had propene gas (temporarily stalling our 9 month-long search) but the best of all – an Asian supermarket. Boy, would we need to punish ourselves with weeks of nothing.

We came into Lusaka prepared, our friend Rasa had written up a list for us including where to find giant Kikkoman soy sauce…GIANT KIKKOMAN SOY SAUCE!

We found more than a 1.5L bottle of soy sauce in the tiny 4x6m “Oriental and Thai supermarket”.  Along its compact 3 aisles I found strawberry pocky sticks, grass jelly and curry pastes, exactly like the ones mum and dad have permanently in their fridges. The lady had to give us a box to carry out our oriental goods and it took her about 10 mins to write up a receipt for us detailing our every buy. I kept reassuring Nick that I would soon find work to cover the cost of my oriental shopping spree.

On top of that asian frenzy, at Melissas supermarket we found tuna priced at 30c cheaper then in Livingstone – I keep having this reoccurring dream that one day we won’t find John West Shredded tuna in light sunflower oil and I’ll be forced to turn to unbranded fishy tuna. God help me.

We added 10 more cans of tuna to our existing pile of 20 cans.

And we replenished our 2 mins noodle stash with 30 new packets.

I’m not sure how many people are crossing Africa with coconut milk and pocky sticks in their back seats but I must be the most prepared Asian in Africa.

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2011
11.01

STUCK ON THE STONE

13 and a half months on the African road and we have slowly but surely crossed over from the ever-so-amazing Zimbabwe into the unknown of Zambia. Country number 5. People are still confused when we tell them its been 13.5 months here and we’ve only progressed as far as Zambia. Some people think we must have travelled from north to south to only be in southern Africa after such a long time. But everyone we have met here at Jollyboys backpackers, Livingstone understands the beauty of travelling slow through Africa.

Its been a big comfort for us roamers to have a home for over 6 weeks. To meet up to 100 people from all different places with different stories on different adventures. To celebrate farewells every 2nd day and have reunions with those who have left us and returned days or weeks later. To have locals (who are convinced we can’t leave here) look for plots of land for a house to build on. To learn the names of the 30 staff that work here. This is Jollyboys in Livingstone – and we are stuck on the stone.

There are many reasons we have been reluctant to leave this place that sucks you in so quickly. For me, initially it was the amazingly well-stocked shop-rite. When I first walked in – I was blinded by lights and heard the heavens open up in a chorus of “ahhhhhhh”. After 3 months of average smooth, salty peanut butter – I found a full shelf of Yum Yum crunchy peanut butter (which definitely lives up to its name). Nick tried to shuffle me along quickly as I slowly walked up every aisle, lovingly picking up products like the sweet thick soya sauce I so miss with my fried eggs and toast.

When I first started writing this entry,  I signed off with “After 9 nights, we know its time to leave since all our friends have left us. Plus I’m exhausted from the farewells”.

44 days later and we actually did leave – after many failed attempts.

After 9 days our water pump went, leaving us stranded 35 km out of Livinsgtone and waiting to be rescued by Des our new local mechanic.

After 20 days we had adopted a pet flapneck chameleon and couldn’t bear to leave him behind. Sidmade it easier for us when he disappeared one day while sunning in a tree. We did not have the sad goodbye, but we did have a few sad days of desperately scouting trees and enlisting the staff to help find him and make sure he was safe. This in itself was incredible since many locals are afraid of Sid due to his magical powers, creepy walk, his ability to look forward and backward at the same time and the poison you would ingest if you so happen to eat Sid.

Sid really deserves an entire entry just for him – for his sociability, sweet nature and his ability to snap up 30 flies in a single day with his quick moving tongue. Sid wasn’t always a sweetheart though – after a couple of days, and a couple of grasshoppers that Nick had hunted down for him he went on a hunger strike choosing only to eat grasshoppers. Sid also has us worried sometimes – If he didn’t poo everyday between 10am-12pm – we massaged his belly to aid his digestion.

But Sids’ sudden departure still makes me sad so I won’t say much more.

After Sid left us, we wanted to leave Jollyboys. But that didn’t happen.

We decided to stay an extra week to celebrate Johns Bday Party on Bovu Island.

To pass the time, I got the best haircut of my life (thank you Melissa!), we did filming at the 5 star Royal Livingstone Hotel – where we were forced to drink cocktails and gorge on a buffet breakfast. Torture. We felt like movie stars arriving with a camera crew and waiting around for them to bring in the zebras and giraffes for filming. Life in Africa was getting tougher.

After 25 days of being stuck on the stone, we spent an amazing weekend on Bovu Island – sand between the toes, mokoro rides to the rapids and lots of hats and booze. On the drive back from the island, our car backfired numerous times and when we reached Livingstone after sunset we stalled in the middle of the busiest intersection. We had to wait 5 more days for our distributor to be fixed, which meant we were only a couple of days away from the start of the Kayak Festival along the Zambezi. In addition, the day we had planned to leave (after a serious meeting we held to determine our departure date) I got food poisioning and spent a whole day laying in the cushion lounge, the most comfortable and closest place to the toilet. Surely that’s a sign.

In addition, the Rugby World Cup played an important role in the delay of our departure. When we first arrived at Jollyboys wewere there in time for the last few pool games of the Rugby World Cup. Whilst we had planned to be in several different towns throughout Zambia for the quarters, semis and finals, we never made it. Nicks argument was that it would be 4 yrs again for this moment to come around, and here we had the good fortune to have a TV playing the Rugby World Cup 24/7. Ok, we could stay till the end. Its not like I was suffering at Jollyboys. The Final fell on day 35 of our Jollyboys stay.

To pass the time waiting for the festival to start and the Rugby World cup to end, we became friends with Zig Zag and Trinity from Yes Rasta – local entertainment at Jollyboys and Wasa Wange.

They invited us over for lunch – chapatis made of wholemeal flour, beans and lettuce. We later crossed the railway tracks to the ghetto for a true Rasta jam session. We learnt much about true Rastas and their peaceful nature. And we thank them for their music and creativity. Rastafarite, more fire!

When the Kayak festival started on day 36 of our Jollyboys time, Nick did some photography for them. He would be rafted down the river to wait at a rapid or took some shots from above Rapid no. 5. In this time, we had decided we would leave mid festival, time was now getting tight and the rains would be coming soon.

However, after another serious meeting, we again decided to stay for the end of kakak festival celebrations (because we knew how hard the kayakers would party), and since Halloween was 2 days after that – we stayed for our first ever Halloween party. And since Jennys 2nd Trivia night for a good cause was the day after Halloween we stayed for that too.

But it was there we drew the line. That’s when we finally left. 44 days of being stuck on the stone and we had to kick the habit.

When we look back on our last 44 days I could never say it was a waste of time, of lying by the pool and serious ping pong games (although we did do those things). We did so much more, and met so many fun people.

We walked across the top of Vic Falls to Devils Pool, a pool right on the edge of Victoria Falls 108m high. You get to jump into this pool, and lie across the ledge which pours down to the gorge below. Out of the hundreds of activities available to tourists, this was our only activity we did in Livingstone. Every person we met at Jollyboys was sold the Devils Pool experience.

We celebrated in the main street when the Zambian election results were announced. From afar we could hear gun shots and people chanting. We were in Africa, typically election results left people unhappy and rioting. In Livingstone, at 2am we walked a nervous friend to the bus stop, along the main street.

We were met by thousands of Zambians parading up and down the street chanting “Don’t Kubeba” (the new presidents slogan, representing a peaceful campaign), cars and trucks piled in with people hanging off doors and out windows. The locals were celebrating with excitement and happiness. Change was coming to Zambia and they were thrilled and inviting us to celebrate with them. Peaceful elections in Africa – it would be nice to hear of more of those.

We spent 2 days at Magalela Village in the sticks for a local village wedding filled with colour, dancing and 2 giant drums ofNshima. I even got to wear my matching head scarf and top made from Zimbabwean material.

We went out to the top of the gorge twice for sunset, the 2nd time we got to watch the full moon rising whilst snacking on mopani worms.

We jet boated past rapid no. 25, spinning so much and going so fast that I puked.

And we said over 100 new hellos and goodbyes.

Although we spent much time talking about leaving Jollyboys, we spent much more time having fun there.

To everyone I have met, I think you are all incredible for the short or long time you are in Africa, for the 1 country or 10 countries you have seen, for the friendships and good time.  You have all made my Jollyboys time Jolly and I hope to see you on the African roads again.

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