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Africa, 2003

a travel blog by Jason Kester

No itinerary. Nowhere in particular that I need to be. Just a one-way ticket to South Africa, a change of clothes, and enough savings to keep me going for maybe a year. Sounds about right...
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Cape Town, South Africa

So I made it to South Africa in one piece. Too bad my bag didn't. No worries, the airline says they'll let me know as soon as it turns up somewhere.

So yeah, I've already written it off, but I'll humor them for a couple days before I replace all my stuff. And by all my stuff, I mean ALL my stuff. I've got the clothes I'm wearing, the book that I finished reading on the flight, and an ATM card that expires sometime in the next few weeks. And a Mars bar.

It's all good!

permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 5, 2003 from Cape Town, South Africa
from the travel blog: Africa, 2003
tagged LostBags

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No worries

Cape Town, South Africa

The luggage made it. Everything is back to being too easy.

Made it out bouldering today up at Table mountain. It was cool. I'm starting
to run out of Cape Town things to do though. I think I may rent a car and head
up to the rocklands for a while.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 7, 2003 from Cape Town, South Africa
from the travel blog: Africa, 2003
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Straight off the streets of CPT

Cape Town, South Africa

I headed up to the rocklands for a couple days to check out some world-class bouldering, and possibly get eaten by a leopard. The place is pretty cool, loads of rock for miles in any direction, with Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom living in between. I got on some fun problems, but I kept getting more and more tentative to slap blindly for holds after seeing all the spiders, snakes, and assorded angry critters living in them.

Next stop was Montagu, the western cape's premier sport climbing destination area, and home to absolutely no climbers at the moment. Nobody to climb with, hence no real reason for me to be at the western cape's premier sport climbing destination area. In fact, in the short time I've been down here, I have become convinced that I am the only travelling rock climber in all of South Africa. Looks like I'll stick to bouldering.

Anyway, I'll probably tourist up the joint in Cape Town for a couple days more before heading east. If I'm feeling lucky, next stop will be Outdoorshoorn and the awesome limestone with likely zero partners to be had. Otherwise, it's off to J-Bay to find some waves.

It remains All Good.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 11, 2003 from Cape Town, South Africa
from the travel blog: Africa, 2003
tagged Climbing and Bouldering

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Stuck at the beach

Cintsa Mouth, South Africa

J-Bay lived up to all expectations. Really cool looking waves that I have no business getting in the way of, and plenty of less deadly but equally perfect spots as well.

I finally got on my first bus today. Everybody has rental cars here, so I've been pretty lucky at finding people who were going in the right direction. Now I'm in Cintsa, at the backpacker's equivilant of a black hole. Everywhere you look, there's a nice hammock in the shade overlooking the beach or the pool, and a friendly barmaid to hand you another 75 cent beer. Laziness beckons at every turn. I don't see how I can possibly escape.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 21, 2003 from Cintsa Mouth, South Africa
from the travel blog: Africa, 2003
tagged Drinking and Laziness

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Pretoria, South Africa

Things go well. I spent yesterday on foot, tracking a pack of babboons across Zulu country. In fact, I've been on foot quite a bit in the last week, hiking around in the Drakensberg. The place is truly spectacular, with 1000 meter cliffs to stumble off if you miss a step, deep sandstone gorges to explore, and views that are just a bit too scenic for my tastes.

Before that was Durban, and a few days of surfing in the warm water and sunshine.

Now I'm in Pretoria, sequestered in a compound surrounded by razor-wire and an electric fence. They take their security seriously down here. This is a good neighborhood, which means that I get to walk around in the daylight. In Jo'burg, you are strongly discouraged from leaving the hostel for any reason.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on April 2, 2003 from Pretoria, South Africa
from the travel blog: Africa, 2003
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Watched the sun rise over the Kalahari today...

Livingstone, Zambia

I finally made it out of South Africa, one week after my visa expired. I spent those extra couple days out at Kruger park, checking out the wildlife. The place is cool. Animals everywhere. It got so that you wouldn't bother stopping the car because there were only 50 impala on one side and a dozen zebra, some wildebeeste and a few giraffes on the other side.

Yesterday was a travel day, so 8 hours in packed minibus-taxis, and a 14 hour night bus saw me across Botswana and up into Zambia this morning. Went and checked out Victoria Falls today, and was suitably impressed. The thing is so wide that you can never really see it all, and it drops along this series of gorges so you can walk out the side of one and have this giant waterfall spanning from as wide as you can see, but only 50 yards in front of you, with the spray dropping on you like a torrential rainstorm. Cool.

I've only got a couple weeks before I need to be in Nairobi, so I'll probably pull out of here tomorrow and start making my way towards Malawi.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on April 10, 2003 from Livingstone, Zambia
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Monkey Bay, Baby!

Monkey Bay, Malawi

That's right, I'm in Freakin' Monkey Bay, and there's not a thing any of you lot can do about it. I hereby claim the place as part of the greater Kester empire!

There's too much happiness to relate from my perch here at the bar, so I'll give you the disaster story instead.

So after 12 hours crammed in the back of VW minibusses with 25 locals and their stuff, I pulled into this town for the first time. But I wasn't staying, so I jumped in the back of the last pickup headed out to Cape Mclear. Only maybe 15 of us, but no cage so it was plenty tight. And it was 4wd territory the whole way out.

Anyway, about 10k in, we're halfway up a long hill and the radiator finally gives out. No worries, right. We start rolling back to see what can be done, and that's when the brakes go. We pick up speed. People start hollering. People start jumping out. One guy goes over the hood is riding on it. I'm up on the rail, jettisoning my bag, when the driver cuts the wheel to the side. We slam into the hillside doing about 20, and I do my best flying leap over the side.

I land in a forward roll, and am up and scurrying downhill, expecting to see the truck cartwheeling towards me, but it has dug itself into the side of the hill and dispensed about half of its passengers off the back. Amazingly, nobody was seriously hurt.

But yeah, Cape Mclear made up for it all. Best place I've found yet in Africa. $1.50 for a room, $0.30 for a beer. Great beach and flat, clear, warm fresh water.

No worries.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on April 18, 2003 from Monkey Bay, Malawi
from the travel blog: Africa, 2003
tagged Pickup, Crash and CertainDeath

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Lake Malawi

Lilongwe, Malawi

Over the years, I have learned that if you throw enough money at any problem, it will go away. Last week was no exception.

With only 3 weeks to make it from Jo'burg to Nairobi, I knew that I would have to move fast at some point, and probably blow right past some of the things I had wanted to see. I made it into Malawi with just over a week to spare, and a quick look at the map verified that I'd be spending most of that week in busses unless I took some drastic measures. In the end, it was an easy decision: Malawi is cool. I wanted to see it. I booked a flight.

Good idea. First stop was Cape Mclear, and a few days in Paradise, with hardly any other travellers. The few of us there were would throw a couple bucks at the local boys, who would organize a bunch of fish and a duck to roast on the beach after the sun went down. After a couple hours, half the village would be around the fire, passing around cartons of the Chibuku (the local, pulpy, shake & serve brew.)

Next up was a long haul up the coast, with a night stranded in a $0.75 hotel room, finally arriving in Nkata Bay. Yet another beautiful place, but with more of a tourist feel. There were bungalows right on the lake, good meals, good times, and I actually managed to spend more than ten dollars a day. Quite a feat for Malawi.

Anyway, I'm stuck in Lilongwe today, trying to verify that I do indeed still have this flight tomorrow. Next stop is Kenya and Tanzania.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on April 22, 2003 from Lilongwe, Malawi
from the travel blog: Africa, 2003
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RE: Sad news from the 7th floor

Nairobi, Kenya

I'm in Nairobi now, trying to hook up with my Father, who is flying in tomorrow. I made the mistake of letting him pick the hotel, and he found one dead center in the sketchiest area of town. They were beating a guy in the street when we rolled up, and while we were waiting for that to clear, a couple prostitutes came over and tried to get into the cab. Needless to say, I slipped the driver another couple hundred shillings & we dusted off in search of better digs.

Now, I have to intercept the Pop at the airport, before he hails a cab towards certain death.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on April 24, 2003 from Nairobi, Kenya
from the travel blog: Africa, 2003
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Masai Mara

Arusha, Tanzania

Got charged by a Rhino a couple days ago. Yeah, I'm in full safari mode now. I spent the last week at a few parks in Kenya, and now I'm in Tanzania for the Serengetti and a few others.

The only problem, if you can call it that, is that you're pretty much forced to stay at all the luxury safari lodges at all the parks. There's camping outside the gate but it's not really any cheaper since it's the low season, the lodge rates are way down. So everywhere I go, there's somebody handing me another mango juice and watching to see if I set my fork down so they can polish it for me. It manages to nicely combine the two things I hate most in this world: Being waited on, and feeling like a tourist.

Anyway, it's only for another week so I think I can survive.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on May 2, 2003 from Arusha, Tanzania
from the travel blog: Africa, 2003
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Hey! I wrote Blogabond so I guess that makes me your host. Welcome!

I spend about 9 months a year on the road, chasing the sun around the world in search of good climbing and surfing. I carry a laptop along with me, and take on small programming contracts to take care of expenses.

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