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Traveling stats Durban, South Africa to Malawi Border via Mozambique and Swaziland.

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Durban to Richards Bay $95R Greyhound
Richards Bay to Kwambonambi Free Pickup by hostel
Cuckoo’s Nest Backpackers $50R camping

Kwambonambi to Mtubatuba $15R Truck
Mtubatuba to St. Lucia $10R Mini-bus
Bib’s Backpackers $45R camping

St. Lucia to Mtubatuba $10R Mini-bus
Mtubatuba to Mkuze $50R Mini-bus
Mkuze to Golela, Swaziland $50R Mini-bus
Golela to Mtata $11R Mini-bus Long ass day!!!!
Mtata to Manzini $15R Mini-bus
Manzini to Matsapha $5R Mini-bus
Swaziland Backpackers $45R Camping

Matsapha to Manzini $4R Mini-bus
Manzini to Mbabane $8R Mini-bus

Mbabane to Manzini $8R Mini-bus
Manzini to Maputo, Mozambique $50R Mini-bus
Fatima’s Backpackers $45R camping

Maputo to Inhambane $240M+50M (luggage) Oliveiras Bus
Inhambane to Tofu Beach Free pick up by hostel
Bamboozi Backpackers $180M camping

Tofo Beach to Vilanculos $330M Shared ride with Bonnie and Matt in Toyota Hi-lux extended cab 4X4. Gas split four ways.
Baobob Beach Backpackers $150M camping

Vilanculos to Chimoio $570M Shared Ride with Bonnie and Matt. Gas split three ways.
Pink Papaya Backpackers $250M Dorm room no camping

Chimoio to Tete $250M bus
Zambezi Hotel $550M Hotel room with bathroom and airconditioning. Hottest city in Mozambique.

Tete to Zobue (border post) $85M Mini-bus
Zobue to Malawi (border post) $100K shared taxi car
Malawi(border post) to Blantyre $350K Mini-bus.
Doogals Backpackers (haven’t checked out yet)

Update: Swaziland, Africa

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

This is coming from the little kingdom of Swaziland, Africa. It is located at the north east corner of South Africa and the far south of Mozambique. A very tiny country so I will just spend a few days touring the country side before heading off.

The new format is kind of jacked up so I need to post some stuff to get the older pictures off the main page so that they don’t cause the big gap at the beginning. It would seem that you would set the margins on the new format to fit what was the requirement before so that people wouldn’t have to re-size all their photos. Anyways, I need to write some stuff so I guess I can give some break down of what I learned about Africa. It’s actually stuff out of the Coast to Coast which is the guide book that I have been using for South Africa. It’s actually a really good book (handout). It is primarily for listing hostels along the eastern coast of SA. It makes hopping from city to city very easy. Along with the hostel info they give a lot of travel hints and basic info about traveling SA.

Since I laid off doing the daily entries, my stuff has primarily been for tracking my stops as after a while things get blury. When I got started I was able to name cities and hostels/hotels, without a problem. In fact, I used to use it as a kind of game to help me fall asleep. I would backtrack my trip remembering every day where I had been. Eventually, I would get tired and fall asleep. Kind of like counting sheep. By the time I hit about Ecuador, my brain power was overwhelmed and I could no longer do it. With the daily blog it was always there. Now, when I got to Africa, I kind of stopped and all of a sudden I couldn’t remember where I had been even a few weeks before. It gets to a point when there is too much. So, I went to the quick format of just listing my transportation and places where I stayed. It comes in handy as well because a lot of people want the info especially for pricing and logistics. So, instead of having to repeat myself all the time, I can just e-mail them or print out a page. Easy.

Okay, shall we start.

Traveling here versus South America. Tougher in South America as the language barrier makes it tough. South Africa is also very established with backpacker hostels. South America is okay in high tourist destinations, but that leaves a lot that has nothing.

Safety/ How dangerous is it? Big cities are dangerous just like anywhere. Poverty is poverty and stuff happens. I think here is safer as the prior decades Apartheid set a precedence where the poor (Blacks) were effectively moved out, white people separated themselves even farther by building high walls with barbed wire, dogs, and security guards. If you walk around looking like a rich tourist in a area you shouldn’t be, your going to have problems. A problem solely in Africa, no. I walk around pretty much everywhere and haven’t had a problem, so to me, safe. I have met a couple of people who have been robbed, but they were never violent robberies and I am almost sure that if they just told the guy “no”, they wouldn’t have been robbed. A lot of guys just throw it out there to tourists to see if they might get a scared tourist who will hand over everything without a struggle. In the guidebooks they stress just handing over anything and everything without question. My guideline is that I don’t listen to tourists or people who deal with tourists. I make my own judgements. If I go someplace I take a look around. If there are people and they are just doing their every day stuff I don’t sweat it. If I take a look around and all of a sudden there is no one there or just a bunch of freaks, I take off. Easy. It’s just like people who think that traveling by mini-bus is dangerous. If you do take them and look around, you realize that it is mainly older women, and the people are pretty much middle class in the black community. They are working people, students, retirees, etc. It isn’t a free service, so really poor people can’t afford it. Anyway’s, I’m closer to being black than white. With my tan now, I am at a 53% blackness rate.

Is it expensive? It is more expensive than most of South America, but still reasonable if you travel with public transport and camp. The difference with South Africa is that there is a large market for the 4-5 star places. It is no problem to spend $500-$1000 a day in Africa. I am averaging about $15 a day which includes transportation. In South America I was at about $12.

Food? Spar and Pic and Pay are the major grocery store chains and they carry pretty much everything. For restaurants it’s the same thing as anywhere else. There are McDonald’s, pizza places, expensive restaurants, and everything else in between. They don’t have as much market food as South America, but you can still find a cheap meal at the taxi rank stations. My diet is eggs and toast in the morning. Apples through out the day. Spaghetti for two days. I throw in a steak every couple of days to keep my beef intake up. About once a week I will eat out if it is an option. Plenty of fruits and vegetables to keep the vegetarians happy. Very small areas are desolate desert lands which are often portrayed about Africa.

Animals? Local people laugh when the animal thing comes up. They get asked a million times if Lions and Elephants roam the streets. In South Africa, there are virtually no big animals wandering around. Pretty much everything was hunted to extinction. By careful management and the large amount of animal reserves both private and public, the animals were brought back or saved. There are monkeys around so thats something, but no lions and elephants are going to be seen walking down the street. Most medium and large cities are so modernized that you would be hard pressed to distinguish them from the cities in the states.

Languages? They do actually have a few dialects that use the clicking noise. There is even one language that is totally clicks. I heard it up in Botswana. It’s crazy. I guess it’s no different than morse code, but totally different. In total there are a dozen dialects in South Africa. Afrikaans was a major language for a while as it was created by the White Africans. It is a offshoot of Dutch. English is fairly common everywhere and I would say is a second language to the local dialects. Language is actually a large barrier for South Africa as how do you move things along when there are twelve different languages that you need to communicate about the changes.

Money? The Rand is the money used in South Africa and is probable the strongest currency in Southern Africa. The rate has bounced from the high six’s to mid sevens. There are primarily four major banks that make up all of the banking of South Africa. My bank cards work in all of them and after I got things squared with my banks, it has been pretty painless. Visa, Mastercard, American Express can be used at most higher end tourist places and shopping malls.

Clothing? Pretty much normal clothes. They do dress a bit more formal than jeans and t-shirts and definitely don’t walk around with shorts and flip flops. Grooming is very important here and people are a lot better groomed than I am. I don’t stink as I haven’t found a place that didn’t have hot showers, but a shave and a haircut is definitely in order.

Water? Yea, you can drink the tap water without a lot of worry. Since I gave up sodas I am drinking strictly tap water (with juice concentrate of course.) I have not had the runs since I got here. Pretty amazing.

What else?
Local (white) guys wear those short, tight, Crocodile hunter type shorts. Pretty funny.
They drive on the left side of the road here.
Stop lights are called robots.
Rugby, Cricket, and Soccer are the major sports.
The languages sound asian when you just listen to the tones.
There hasn’t been a lot of mosquitoes yet. Since we are just wrapping up Winter and heading into Spring.
My most popular phrase from Africa is “Sorry for you.” It means “That’s too bad,” in the states. For example, the bus is running late and your late so you tell them at the counter that you are late, and they will look at you and say “Sorry for you.”

I just got back from the Post Office. Oh yea, I am in St. Lucia. St. Lucia is home to the Crocs and Hippo’s. Other animals of course, but their claim to fame is that at night time the Hippos roam the streets. I think maybe in the old days but not so much any more, although you can just walk down to the water and see them and the water is like a 100 ft away from the main road. Anyway’s I got the price quote for shipping my laptop off. I was going to send it to India to a friend of Jerry’s, but they don’t offer insurance for India, so it is the States. I think I will ship it to my parents house. They should get a kick out of it because it has all my pictures that I have taken. Plus, they probably won’t charge me to ship it back to me whenever I get to more civilized lands. Travis didn’t charge me for the Credit Card mass mailings and that was over a $100, but he already has one of my laptops so I have to spread them around.

So with this, I hope it makes it long enough to fix the website because my postings I think will drop off radically as the cost for internet cafes are getting higher and higher. We’ll just have to see how that goes. I plan on picking up the laptop somewhere in Northern Africa or possible in the Middle East, so it shouldn’t be much longer than 4-5 months.

Happy days.