My African Adventure by Molly Moo !!!

Well what a journey that is almost over.  It is difficult to put pen to paper on my thoughts. It’s easier to deal with the facts rather than emotions so that is where I will start.  Over 37,000kms traveling from North Africa to South Africa (via West and East Africa) visiting 21 countries. And that’s not even half of Africa! It only took 15 months, a lot of money and more patience than I knew I ever had.

Near The Beginning, Beyin

Why Africa in the first place? A question that I was asked many times. It is a continent I am fascinated with for many reasons;

Music – Mali, Congo, North African as well as the Kora and djembe drum
Authors and LiteratureChinua Achebe, Alan Paton, Doris Lessing and Mia Couto
People and Culture – Tuareg, Maasai and Bushmen
Exploration – Ibn Battuta, Mungo Park, David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley
Travel Writers – Dervla Murphy, Paul Theroux, Ryszard Kapuściński and Bruce Chatwin

I wanted to know more and live it all first hand. All those books I had read with stories full of adventure and exploration and excitement. So Africa, plainly why not?

Leaving Ireland for Spain I was nervous of many things.  How were we going to organise transport and accommodation on a daily basis?  Would I be able for the heat in West Africa?  Would food or lack of it be a major concern for me?  Was I crazy doing this on public transport?  How would Jon and I get on living in each other’s pockets 24 hours a day? With time however all these worries just eased themselves out and mostly didn’t become an issue.

It seems so long ago that we crossed the ocean from Algeciras to Tangiers in July 2008. Nervous, sad, excited and happy.  All the same emotions as now really.  Soon I got into the groove of traveling most days, resting some and taking sights in on others.  It did take some time however to ‘learn’ how to do nothing but things changed quickly and I was happy.  Taking time for oursevles and not always rushing. Each day rolled into the next and weekends were not what they used to be.  Beer and going out could now be done any day of the week!  Months flew by and before I knew it was November and time to fly off to Ethiopia. Almost the start of a new adventure.

In Ethiopia and East Africa we hooked up with lots of friends and made many more including those of the Camara crew where we volunteered.  Lots of beers drank with many Irish. Felt like home from home at times and even better when care packages from home were received which were cherished.  New languages were learnt or at least at a conversational level. We had a great laugh speaking Swahili. Traveling by now was first hand and seemed so easy and natural.  The greatest worry each day was what to have for dinner, if you can call that a worry.

Onwards to Southern Africa, where we covered thousands of miles in a hired 4×4 and car. More friends and relatives to catch up with, put us up, look after us and feed us. It was a new phase of the trip being self – reliant rather than public transport.  But I missed walking and carrying my pack and I think it me. My trousers also noted the lack of exercise as they got tighter and tighter!  Jon and I were still talking, that in itself a miracle. Many safaris were done and now I can truly say that I too am a ‘safari knob’.  Something I used to slag Jon about!

I watched a brilliant and moving film recently, called Askari on Safari, filmed in Pilanesberg Game Reserve.  It was about a group of males elephants, an askari herd and their daily lives.  The elephants came down the water to drink two by two, two by two and lastly two by two.  They quenched their thirst, sprayed mud on themselves, had a snooze and then frolicked and played in the water.   It lasted over two hours and was watched solely by Jon and I.  The best bit of it all was that it was real, magical and only 20 feet away from us. Better than a film although it felt like a film. What a fantastic way to finish our African safari, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

So what’s changed I ask myself, what have I learnt?  It’s a hard one to figure out but I feel I have a greater awareness of other’s people’s values, cultures and space. I am now more patient, a lot more! I eat a wider range of food (after 15 years of more of being vegetarian Africa changed that quickly). Africa has instilled in me a bigger love of nature (safaris, bird watching, flowers). Most importantly of all the value of talking and spending time with people.

What next?  With time pressing on, money running out and decisions to be made on when to go back to Ireland, we decided on a whim to take a jaunt through Europe (Vienna, Pordenone, Bologna, Nice, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, London and finally Dublin) to adapt ourselves easily back to reality. Home, work, life and all that comes with that is looming.  I don’t doubt that it will be hard. From all I have seen and done I think Dublin will seem a small place.  But five weddings and the arrival of four babies missed along with friends and family it is time for this adventure to finish.  15 months of incredible memories will stay strong in my mind along with all the laughs that Jon and I had along the way together.

The End, Cape Agulhas

Already thinking of the next place we can visit!


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