5 Rules for travelling in Africa

2014-07-23 17:43
You'll never know how rewarding it is to hit the open roads across the African continent, until you decide to just do it.  

And best you do it in a bakkie, according to travel writer Toast Coetzer.

If you do decide it's time to rack up a few dusty adventures along the paths that lead to our neighbouring countries, it doesn't hurt to heed his seasoned traveller words.

Here are 5 rules to note in your mental moleskine - get another bonus 5 rules on Go-SouthernAfrica.com - it's a worthwhile read.


1. If anyone in the bar looks like they would be able to catch you if you ran away, don’t stay for longer than 30 minutes

This rule does not need to be explained. In most bars, if you’re an outsider and you don’t watch your mouth, you’ll be in trouble. If there is an 800cc motorbike or bigger parked outside, with its rear tyre ripped to shreds, and if there’s a pair of panties draped over the stuffed warthog head behind the bar counter, you’re already skating on thin ice.



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2. Getting lost is the ultimate level of existence

There are still some places that you can get lost even with the best map and GPS. Getting lost comes in three stages. The first stage is when you aim for somewhere thinking you are right, but you are actually very wrong. The second stage is the realisation that you’re lost. That’s when you start to panic a bit.

But if you can keep it together, you’ll reach the final stage: revelling in it. Take your time.

Enjoy the heady freedom of having no idea where you are.


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3. When given the option of the money or the box, always choose the box

I once struck up a conversation with Estie Badenhorst in the parking area of Charter’s Creek on the shore of Lake St Lucia. Next thing, I was invited to visit their nearby farm – Estie’s husband Casper happened to be National Farmer of the Year at the time.

At the farm, Estie’s son Jacques went to fetch his two pet snakes and I watched a boa constrictor make short work of a mouse.

When I left, my car boot was filled with pineapples and a couple of litres of juice. (Sadly, the juice exploded on the back seat in the sun a few days later.)

If you don’t stop and talk to people, it’s like taking the money – the safe option.

You’ll get where you’re going on time but you won’t have that awesome smell of fermenting pineapple juice soaked into your back seat for another 500km.
 

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4. Say please and thank you like your mom taught you

Being polite and keeping your cool will make you more friends than enemies. Consider this e-mail I received the other day: “well l’m abou your freind on goree l would like to give you my new email. Tha’s all thank you very mach.” Abou and I had chatted for about five minutes. He was selling curios on Gorée Island in Senegal.

He was okay with the fact that I didn’t want to buy anything.

In his broken English and my seven words of French, we discussed our respective situations. If he lived in Cape Town, we would totally be going for a drink right now.


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5. Good tunes = good times

I hardly ever travel without music, but sometimes I forget my CD pouch or I discover that the rental car only has a tape deck. This is a good thing because it forces you to buy local music. In Shakawe in northern Botswana I bought a tape by a band called Vomit.

One chorus of theirs became my anthem: “When your mommy’s not around, when your daddy’s not around, it’s freedom time!” Also, listen for music in the static emanating from the landscape: the faint, hushed sounds of fairy terns above Jamestown on St Helena; Timbuktu’s night-time donkeys and dusty dogs and muted voices; squabbling vervet monkeys in the forest at daybreak outside Graskop.

Even in the desert’s apparent silence, the white noise of your own blood thumping through your head suddenly becomes apparent.

Listen.



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Now check out these bonus 5 rules on Go-SouthernAfrica.com -  it's a worthwhile read.
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