Day 279: The Highest Pub in Africa

06.10.09: I actually didn't want to go all the way to Durban – I wanted to get off at a place called Pietermaritzburg. I heard you could get minibus from there to Underberg, just a few miles from the Sani Pass – the fabled border with Lesotho. By some unholy magic, I woke up at 4.19am – quite amazing luck considering how drunk I was yesterday. I looked about – we were approaching Pietermaritzburg – ha! Timing or what? Within half an hour, I was at the train station as dawn began to break. Across the road at the all-night convenience stall is where the minibuses left from and I was only waiting for about 30 minutes before the first one arrived and trundled me off to Underberg. Well, I should say towards Underberg as about fifty kilometres away from my goal, he chucked me and…

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Day 278: Sunrise

05.10.09: Crikey, I could have done without this early start, but it's all power for the cause. Today in a move guaranteed to get me another 500 clicks on this website, I had been invited to appear on Breakfast Television; always an ambition of mine. David graciously hauled his ass out of bed to take me down to the 'Sunrise' studios. With his gleaming, smart banker's suit and tie and me in my scruffy jeans and T-Shirt, he couldn't have more like my agent if he tried. Soon enough I was on the couch in front of the cameras nattering about my adventures thus far with the presenter, whose name was also Graham (I think it was spelt Graeme, but you can't have everything, even if you quite like diphthongs). It was one of those days when I thought, heck…I love my job! Who else gets…

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Day 277: The Nuns of Gaborone

04.10.09: Best blog entry title of The Odyssey? Up at 6am and down to the nearby service station where one goes to cadge a lift to the border. Was waiting until 9am before (finally) a minibus came and picked me up. The border with Botswana was a surprisingly long way away, but after some mucking about in a local village, the bus got to the frontier, I got my entry stamps and crossed the border. Botswana is Sub-Saharan Africa’s one and only success story. I say this because (unlike every other country in SSA), it has had both free and fair elections and a stable economy since independence. While every other country in SSA has been steeped in bloodshed, corruption, greed and stupidity, Botswana shines out like a beacon of hope across the Kalahari and beyond. I recently read The Bottom Billion, a book that I…

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Day 276: A Break for the Border

03.10.09: A little water to help slacken my brains outer membrane and I shook off my hangover. Andy and I compared notes from the previous evening, but both our notebooks draw a resolute blank. I guess it’s like Woodstock – if you can remember, you weren’t really there. I threw my clothes into the Laundry to pick up on Monday (along with my passport) and headed over to the bus station. The bus would be getting in to Gabarone really late, and Botswana is terribly expensive, so I opted to get off at the last South African town before the border and spend the night there. This made as much sense as anything I plan to do while travelling, which is usually very little sense at all. So I found myself in the little town of Zeerust, which looked so much like Australia I did a…

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Day 275: Five Quid A Page?!

02.10.09: The British High Commission in Pretoria is a little tricky to find – I wandered about for about half-an-hour before I realised that the building with no sign and no flag was in fact our jolly old embassy. I was served by a Scottish lady, who informed me that my new passport would take 10 days to come through and cost a whopping TWO HUNDRED QUID. Now being both in a rush and on a shoestring, this was something of a body blow. I cursed myself for not demanding that the border guards were a little more careful where they plonked their stamps. You can get away with random blots of ink peppered throughout your passport as long as they all stay congregated on the one page, but thanks to Africa’s lust for page-hogging glory (I have come to the conclusion that the amount of…

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Day 274: Cool Run-Ins

01.10.09: So… into the tenth month on the road and I finally, finally reach South Africa, what had, in my original estimation, been the half-way point for this adventure. That was before the Cape Verde Fiasco, the Gaff in Gabon and the Crisis in Congo. Now I’ll just have to settle with seeing Mandy again sometime next year – you’ve no idea how much that I would like to wake up in the morning with her beside me. To say it’s been too long, is an understatement. Africa, sorry, you’ve been a bitch. A real bitch. But now I’ve made it to South Africa I’m feeling good, no injuries, no countries that I couldn’t get into (one way or another) and best of all, I still haven’t had a day off ill. My main task here is to get a new passport, as although mine has…

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Day 273: A Gold Star And A Jellybaby

30.09.09: It was a comfortable night on Tashia's couch, interrupted only by the once-an-hour shrill of my mobile phone waking me to change the video tapes that I was uploading onto my laptop. I would be going to DHL later to send the tapes to Australia and I didn't want to let them go (especially after what happened to me in Congo) without making sure I had a back up. In the morning, Tashia left me to my own devices. Soon I had all of my tapes uploaded and I was ready to go. The bus for South Africa left in the evening, so there was no rush. Tashia came back around lunchtime – her kid had fallen ill and had been admitted to hospital. Nothing too serious, but it looked like he had a bout of food poisoning and the doctors wanted to keep him…

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