Category: ireland

The Final Hit

So, here I am and it’s Molly’s birthday. Nearly March – good Buddah, Jahova and his five sisters.!!!!

I’d love to put some kind of rosey twist on life at home. How it was wonderful to see those familiar faces and places. But, I cant. By now, being home has just re-affirmed why I left. (The difference now is that I don’t have the means to leave. ) And the predictability of life being home and my feeling of this place and people have been amplified by Africa.

I’m home and it’s crap. So, head down and be a good little rat, muni.

My Rat Friend...

For now, I’ll sign off…..BUT…..are more Safari schemes in the pipeline ?

Hmmmmm……where’s that map……


A Fiddler’s Wink

The train and ferry journey back to Dublin was easy, albeit a bit long. The lights of Dublin ferry port welcoming us back with open arms. Soon we were in front of Molly’s folks, in the car and driving down the Strand Road. The view of the smoldering ESB cooling towers, across Seapoint, with a full moon in between just beautiful. It felt so familiar here but yet very strange. Almost as if I’ve not been away. We made it back to Cabinteely for some stories and some home cooked food.
The next few days we lay low so that we could catch up with family. Saturday night was a different story.
We had heard that our friends were all going out for a few drinks in Johnnie Foxes up in the Dublin hills. We decided to sneak up and surprise them all. Nervously off we went and before I could say “I miss Africa” we were there hugging, shaking hands and laughing. I was good to see them but this still felt alien to me. So many questions fired at us in quick succession I didn’t know where to begin. Purposely, I redirected the conversations to how they were and the goings on in Ireland over the last eighteen months.
For those who don’t know Johnnie Foxes is the highest pub in Ireland and a very traditional Irish pub. A warren of rooms, wooden stools, old heavy oak tables, roaring open fires, saw dust on the floor and lots of atmosphere. And as usual for a Saturday night there was traditional (a Fiddle, Guitar and Banjo with singing) music, or as we call it “Diddely I”. About as Irish as you can get really.
I had wandered off to the bar to get some drinks. On thee way back I faced the band, and in the tinyest moment, as I passed the fiddler, he winked. It was at that very moment when I knew I was home. Travel was now over and the business of re-establishing old friendships and seeing family had begun.
So, now I’m back in Planet Newbridge arguing with me Dad just like as before. It’s as cold as I remember, wet as I remember and as depressing as I remember.
Now I know why I left!

The Wicklow Way

On the road south we met an astounding chappie called Julian Bloomer. He had cycled all the way from Wicklow through Africa to the Cederberg Mountains. And not only that but he plans on being on the road for another 4 years! He finishes in Africa this week, then flies to South America, cycles up to Central America and then continues to China and then home.

Please support him as he is trying to raise money for homeless people in Dublin.

I have posted a link to his site on the “Blogroll” section on the right.

Good man Julian, keep going fella!!!


And the Bunny is Running…

Almost there…nearly done…the packs are ready…and at 15KG each they seem alot heavier!

It’s scary to think that you can fit your whole life in a 45 litre pack. The amount of planning required has been incredible. We’ve battled a constant sense that something has been overlooked. Awaking with a start early each morning to tick the day’s list off. Clothes, tablets, insurance, bookings, ferries, flights, friends, drinks, phone calls, bills check check check…
But thankfully, it’s mostly done. Only pints and friends left…the best bit.

So its off down the pub to get a few pints in to say “see ye after!”. Repack tomorrow and make sure everything that’s not essential is removed. Have dinner with me Dad and have an argument for posterity’s sake. Put the rest of the stuff away into the attic and intrepidly drive to …..Cabinteely! Say SYA to Jeanne’s family and hit the airport early Tuesday morn.

So, with a sense of trepidation and uncertainty off we go. I suppose the next post you see here will be, I expect, from sunny Tetouan in Morocco.


p.s. nice one Fido for yer text….saying things only you know how to say FELLA !

Almost There

In the desert in Morocco

In the desert in Morocco

For those of you who don’t know our nicknames, yes this is Jeanne and Jon’s blog!!!!

We have both finished work at last!! Work surpised me proper with a leaving surprise on Thursday which completly got me. Pints and goodbyes were had in The Bernard Shaw in town on Friday. Feeling excited, sad, nervous all at once but kinda just want to go now.

So off Tuesday week, the 15th and in the meantime I have to sell my car, sort out travel insurance, get waxed!, have many coffees, lunches and pints, a million and one other things and then we’ll be off.


Good Omens

Just a quick post after some good news today.

On Monday I registered with 98FM for their “Smile” competition. How it works is they pay for something that will make you smile. I texted in mentioning our African trip and that I’d like them to pay for the “Spot” tracker. (links will be here)

I then got a call from a colleague in work that my name was mentioned on 98FM and to call them. I had won !!
They liked my story, I gave a quick interview on what we were doing and they awarded me €160 to pay for the setup of the Spot tracker.

Whooo Hoooo !!!

It’s the first time I’ve won anything and am delighted…. It couldn’t of come at a better time.

I hope this bodes well for the trip; good omens all around…!


The Camara Link Up

Since November of last year I’ve been volunteering at Camara.

I felt that if I was going to go to Africa long term it would make sense to have some volunteering experience before going. Plus, if we are to attempt to get a placement with VSI having volunteering experience would be invaluable. It’s also very hard to get out there and get hands on experience using Linux in a enterprise environment. So, this alone was enough to get me down to Camara.

Camara have been in business for 2/3 years (I think). They basically refurbish computers, install Ubuntu (Linux), Educational, Multimedia and Office software; they also include a full suite of start up guides for the novice computer user and AIDS/HIV software to help educate in Africa and ship them to Camara “hubs” in East Africa. The computers are then sold at a nominal price to the schools and distributed.
Teams of teachers are then trained in Camara Dublin and then sent out to Africa in the summer for a few weeks to show the recipients how to use and maintain the computers.

Eoghan and Cormac at Camara made me a kind offer to drop into the hubs on our travels down East Africa. I’ll gladly be taking up their offer. The opportunity to actually get involved at the point where all of the hard work pays off is exciting. Maybe I can train the trainers, give a hardware course, teach some school kids or generally just help out.

What I want to avoid for this monster trip is feeling like we have to keep moving on [south]. Jeanne and I do want to stop off and absorb the local culture and enjoy the people and their traditions. I think it would be a shame to go to Africa and take all of the way. So volunteering makes sense.

Eoghan at Camara is also linking to this blog so updates will HAVE to be regular. At least, when an interbox connection is available!



Well the flights are now booked….so no going back!!!

RyanAir – My FAVOURITE !!!! I hate flying with them…..Obnoxious, discourteous, esthetically painful plane interior, ugly “hostesses”, “priority” boarding ( that everyone has : so ipso facto, no priority !), no assigned seats and just a bloody nightmare to fly with. I’m extremely glad I will not be flying for a while.

…I suppose a RyanAir caliber flight might be welcome after a few months traveling in Africa!

Malaga and onwards is proving a little difficult to nail down where the bus station is, bus timetables, a decent (cheap) hotel for Algeciras ( ferry port ) and carrier and timetable for the fast ferry, but slowly the information is coming.

It seems to be likely that we’ll get the bus from Malaga to Algeciras, stay in Algeciras and get the ferry the next morn. Then onwards to Tangier and North Morocco. Tetouan possibly being the destination for that day and in the general direction of the Rif mountains and middle Atlas.


The Route

The all important and most useful of information. The rough guide we are using is one month per country.We head off on the 12th or so of July and our planned route is:

Leg 1

Ireland, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo & Benin.

Leg 2

Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Moçambique, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia & South Africa.

And back to Mali in December / January for the Festival in the Desert in Timbuktu.

And some where along the line my very good mate Fido is getting married and it may be in Bali or Dubrovnik. So a nice little break from traveling will be welcome come May next year….

We do have some contacts along the road so we wont be roughing it all of the way. Plus I think that from time to time a stay in a decent hotel with clean sheets and a hot bath will be called for.
( After all I did not save for two years to rough it ALL the way !!! )

We also hope to volunteer in East or Southern Africa preferably in Botswana…Hopefully Jeanne’s contact in VSI can help us out here with a placement.

The excitement is really starting to build now…!!!