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Posts Tagged ‘Backpacking’

Before this entry, I would like to pay my respects to my favourite English teacher in high school, Mr. Gorman, who passed away from cancer on November 29th. He was the teacher who encouraged my development in creative writing, and I wouldn’t have had the courage to pursue writing without him. He taught me Writer’s Craft, Grade 11 and Grade 12 English and played a huge role in my high school career. If I were in Ottawa, I would be sitting in the front row of his memorial service, but since I cannot, I am sending my goodwill out to his family and to his extended Immaculata family who will be so sad during this time.

Today I am leaving South Africa and starting on the next portion of my journey. My flight leaves at 19:55 tonight, on its long long way to Perth. The next part of my adventure will see me and Sarah by ourselves, travelling Australia and New Zealand and South East Asia without the security of a truck and a tour leader — and can we say, we cannot wait. This has been such a great learning experience, and the best way to start our gap years. I plan on writing a recap on the plane ride over, so expect a longer entry over the next couple of days.

Lesotho was beautiful, and I’m glad I got the chance to visit while I was here. I’m sure if I had done SA myself, I would have missed out Lesotho in favour of the Wild Coast, but it would have been a mistake. We pony-trekked in the pouring rain and hail stones the size of golf balls, we hiked in the glorious sunshine amidst the “Kingdom in the Sky”. And the Drakensberg Mountains were stunning, with waterfalls and streams around every bend. It was idyllic, really. And now we are in Joburg, and unfortunately we haven’t had the chance to explore at all. We arrived late last night and leave in the afternoon today. I even have to give Soweto a miss, and I regret it… but it’s just another excuse to come back to this country some time in the future.

To all the Oasis people I am leaving… I will miss you so much! There have been moments on this truck I will never be able to share with anyone except you guys, and that will bind us forever. Even though we all live in such disparate locations, you are all welcome in Canada whenever you choose to visit. You have all my love.

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Nairobi

Dust. Dust is my second impression of Kenya. My first is of wonderful, helpful people who lead us to the front of the line at security and pass us through in under 5 minutes, and pick us up at the airport as promised. But it is night, and I can’t see anything of Nairobi. So my next impression of Africa is one of dust: a reminder that I am no longer at home.

Our driver throttles down empty streets to the 7USD/night hostel – which, as you can expect, is nothing like what we expected. A little side road leads to a rusted gate. We unload and follow our driver down a narrow alleyway behind a house. Isn’t this exactly what the guidebooks tell us not to do? It’s late, almost 11pm, and the driver bangs on the door. There is no answer for a nervous few seconds. Then we are allowed in, and we enter a wide courtyard, washing lines weighted down by clothes crisscrossing over our heads. The hostess of the inn splits us up. Sarah and I share a double bed. Jason is alone in another room in a bunk. There are no other westerners, or even any other guests as far as we can tell. All together, we sit on the big double bed and laugh. There are showers. Sit-down flushing toilets. Warm covers. Is there really any more we can ask for?

The morning brings a different tale. We are woken before 6am by clanging and scraping of knifes and forks. Just outside our room, a group of school kids from Ghana are eating breakfast. I throw my sleeping bag liner over my head and try to catch a few more winks of sleep. It doesn’t happen. By 8am, I decide to venture out to have a shower. Turning on the water heater, nothing happens. I experience my first freezing cold African shower. It is not pleasant, and turning off the taps shocks my hands. I run back to the room in my sarong, and Sarah braves the shower in my place.

Breakfast is served outside our room, Weetabix and eggs and oranges. Tea is made with warmed milk, no hot water. We flick through the Lonely Planet guidebook to East Africa that I brought along with me (and thank goodness!) and decide where to head for today. Then the driver takes us down to the train station and we book our tickets to Mombasa.

Nairobi is a crazed city. If I could taste the dust in the air upon our arrival last night, it is visible everywhere during the day. The weather is overcast; not hot, but quite humid. Every bus and car and matatu is covered in a thin smear of red dust. We are the only Caucasian people in the city, so it would seem. We wander, no real direction in mind, head to a bank and internet cafes but of course it is Sunday – forgot that minor detail. Luckily we find a bank that is open 10-11 on Sundays. And, obviously, an internet cafe that is featured in Lonely Planet and so draws the attention of several other travellers. Suddenly we don’t feel so alone.

Today will take us to the Bomas of Kenya and Carnivore Restaurant. Adventure awaits, and I cannot tell you how glad I am that we are following the path less traveled.

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