Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last few weeks in South Africa before the trip

27 December 2010 to 2 January 2011

New years week and also this week was the first time where I had my “oh shit” moment, “what the hell am I doing”. I started reading some blogs from fellow riders and also from previous riders, and then you get an idea of the distances we will be doing. Not for the faint hearted. The first week in Egypt is something to the extent of D1 – 128km, D2 – 168km, D3 – 140km, D5 – “only” 98km and then D5 – 140 km. D6 will be a rest day (finally). These are serious distances and for someone that has not even cycled the 94.7 race (famous race hosted by radio station in South Africa where the race is 94.7 km long), this is a serious challenge! Especially for my butt. So aim for this week is that I need to do as much cycling now as possible over the last few days until next week Tuesday (4th Jan), because I am sending my bike to Cairo as unaccompanied luggage with Ubag. Stupid Egypt Air has no sporting goods allowance so I do not have much of a choice, unless I want to pay for overweight luggage, but then it will basically work out the same as another plain ticket. But the problem is that Ubag needs 5-7 working days to deliver it, so plan is to send my bike over a week in advance and hopefully when I arrive in Cairo, it will be there so that I can pick it up (keeping my fingers crossed).

I bought my final few things, so now I have all of my gear (finally and after many a Rand’s later I have to add!). Still wondering about getting that GPS, although it will cost me what half of my bike cost me. I think I am pretty covered in the medicine department and would give Doctor Quinn (the medicine woman on TV) a run for her money with all of my stuff. But I just think I did not have much of a choice. Stranded in the middle of Africa and getting sick is not funny, so rather safe than sound.

I also had a “dummy packing session”. TDA are very strict with the luggage and weight restrictions that we can take. All of the riders are allocated lockers, which they have given the specs to us in an email (50cm wide, 65 cm tall and 85 cm deep). We also have a 46 kg weight limit, which includes everything that you are bringing along like clothes, bike spares, medicine etc, except you bike, spare rims and spare tires (which they will put on the top of the support vehicles). But we also need to take into consideration that whenever you are cycling, all of the rest of your gear also has to fit into this locker. Nothing is allowed to lie around and if it does, or everything cannot fit into the locker, it has to be left behind. No excuses. So 46 kg may seem a lot, but when you start adding tents, sleeping bag, sleeping bag mantras, bike spare parts, loads of medicine to cover 4 months etc, it starts getting filled very quickly. And the other tricky part was also to determine which items, after everything was packed into the two duffel bags and it fitted, would need to be sent with my bike through Ubag, as Egypt Air has the 20kg weight allowance. So this pack was really important for me. I initially bought a 100l and 65; duffel bag at Cape Union Mart, but once I had laid out all of the parts and clothes etc on the bed, I realized that the 65l bag would be to small, so I had to go buy another 100l bag. But after this, the items fitted in quite nicely, with a little bit of space to spare in the bags – which is great, because TDA recommend to use smaller bags to sort the various items and making the use of the locker system easier. For example have a shelter bag, daily clothes bag, repair bag, office bag, electronics bag etc. It just makes using the lockers easier, as 50 riders need to access it each morning and night, so things have to be neatly packed and easy to get in and out.

It was also so nice to meet up with Henno, Liezl and Maya on Tuesday. It was the first time (and only time) that I will see them before the trip, as well as the first time that I had seen Maya – must say, she is SO cute and well behaved. I ended up baby sitting her for a few minutes when Liezl went for a routine scan for their second little baby (congrats on the boy by the why!), and I must admit, very nice (although I was a little scared at first).

Towards the end of the week I had 3 big cycling days! Did 83km on 31 Dec, then 96 km on 1 Jan and then 86 km again on 2 Jan. Man, that was tough going!!! Although physically and mentally a big step in the right direction for me. Due to the constant having to spend time on the bicycle (and the fact that none of my friends are in Pretoria), I did absolutely nothing on new years eve! I think I had about 3 beers with dinner and that was it. But after my cycling session in the morning, it was well worth it. Spending 4 hours cycling with too much booze from the night before does not work. The thing I enjoyed the most about new year was Stephanie sms’ing me as it was heading towards new year in Cayman and then later on I was getting a “live update” over the phone ever hour or so! So nice from her! And very sad that we could not spend new years together. But soon come…… I also received the news on Sunday that Marelie (SA girl riding the tour) was not going to use Ubag anymore (we were both going to send our things over together), so after making some sums and looking at the pros and cons of taking my bike with me on the plane and paying the overweight luggage, I also decided that it was probably better to take ti with me on the plane. A lot less stress and at least I know )of hopefully) the bike will arrive with me in Cairo and I do not have to go and pick it up later, pay agents fees, deal with customs etc…..

Also got my Egypt visa this week, so now all 3 of the visas that I needed to get up front has been sorted! Nice! And I have been in contact with a SA travel magazine, “die Weg”, who might be covering my story or I might do a like a web diary or something. So watch this space…..

3 January 2011 to 9 January 2011
First week of the new year, and no, it still feels the same as 2010 J Definitely feel that the trip is coming closer now, only 2 weeks to go. At least I bought myself some time with the decision to take my bike with me on the plane. I few extra days of exercising will come in very handy.

Had another bike class (ie Bike 102 class), which will be the last one before I head off. The lessons are definitely working, as I am feeling more and more confident about the bike. Not that I will classify myself as a bike expert, but at least I am feeling like I am coming to grips with the basics, which is all I wanted to achieve before I leave. The rest will probably be learn as we go along or just plainly “I don’t know, can anyone help please….”.

It was also our 8 month dating anniversary! Yay! Breaking grounds here J Sorry that I could not spent it with Stephanie, but hopefully many more to come!

Spend Thursday night with Adriaan and Andrea before they headed off to Cayman, and Friday was with Christo and Elmien for a farewell dinner. Also busy stuffing myself full of food that I think I will not be able to get for the next few months nor things that I have not had for a while, including Deboinnar’s pizza, peppermint crisp tart, braaivleis, Windhoek beer. Sunday evening was wonderful; Emile and Erin came over for dinner and mom made a fantastic dinner (Oxtailtail).

By the end of the week, I probably did not do as much exercising as I wanted to do, but I think hopefully all of the hills, training at altitude etc will help a little bit. But ultimately it is probably 70% a mind game and the 30% body (how your body deals with the sitting in a seat for 6 or 7 hours a day). Talking to some people and their consensus is that it is difficult to train for a journey like this, you basically train yourself while you are doing the race (or that is what I hope!).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Back in South Africa, first few weeks

26 November – 28 November
Part II of the holiday. I decided to take the first few days easy. Not worth jumping into everything straight away. I had lots to do, but with all of the traveling and just in general wanting to catch up with family and friends, I decided to leave all of the admin work till this coming Monday (which I knew there was quite a bit to do). Friday evening I just saw Hendri (very good mate) for a few beers before he headed out, I phoned a few people to let them know I was back, watched the Boks beat the Pomps on Satrudy in the rugby and then we had a barbecue at Hendri’s new girlfriend’s house. Very relaxed, but must say, so nice watching SA rugby in SA! Nothing better than the real thing! Sunday afternoon my boet and his wife to be, Erin, invited mom and dad and myself to have….. braai again! Not that I was complaining, the meat is just so much better on charcoal or wood. And already the meat I have had here was better than in Argentina.

29 November – 5 December
It is nuts! The amount of admin work I have to do is crazy! I knew it would be a lot, but I actually realized how I under estimated it. With the South American trip, I litterally had to stop with everything and just leave it until I got back. Now I was back, and there was loads to do! The fact that I still have to get a bike, spare parts, clothes etc is a little worrying. And then add to that I don’t know anything really about bikes, and add to that that I need a new passport and multiple visas, I need to get a cell phone (which is very tricky if you do not have a work), medical insurance etc. The list was just going on and on. I have just been drawing up “to do” list the whole week. I also do not have car, so dad and myself are doing this car pooling thing, which sometimes is fine, but can be annoying of you have lots of places to go to (but I know that is the only way around it). Mom and dad left for Cape Town for 2 weeks, so I have to look after the “kids” (dog and cat). Also met up with Adriaan and I had to go to his bachelors on Saturday night, which ended up being a little less worse than I thought it would be, but still tough and enough where I was man down on Sunday.

6 December – 12 December
At least making progess on this to do list. Medical stuff all sorted, I also decided on my bike and with whom I will buy it (finally). I had my doctor check up and very glad to rapport that there was nothing funny and everything was looking good thus far…... He also gave me a list of prescribed medicine to buy for various things that can occur on the trip (from stomach to cold to flu to skin sores to everything). Hoping that most if it I will not need J Adriaan’s wedding week, so still a few things I am helping him out with, and also still had to write his speech for the wedding. I was doing the best man speech but from a Cayman perspective. As part of the wedding, Ruaan and Christel flew down and they stayed over at my parent’s house for 2 nights. Good fun to see the “Cayman folks” again! Really missing Stephanie a lot now! And still a looong way to go, but at least we managed to sort out the SMS – yay! I was actually quite annoyed last week, as the main reason I got a cellphone was to sms her, but then it did not work for some funny reason (I could receive her sms, but she did not get mine), so I was not impressed with the whole thing. But alas, sorted and it is good being in regular contact with my “liefie”. I also received a gift from her that Francois brought over for me from Cayman. It was a diary of the whole trip for me to update this blog (dankie liefie!), but it had various pictures in of all my friends, all my favorite quotes, little messages, trip broken down into the various stages with pictures etc. When I opened it up at home, and I was alone, I actually started crying. I was just so blown away by her kind and thoughtful gesture, as I could see there was a LOT of love and effort put into this diary. Something I will forever cherish with me!! It was really a special moment for me and I knew someone was rooting for me!  Adriaan and Andrea’s wedding was very nice, and really fun to see the Cayman people (most of them ex) and then also some of the guys I met the previous week at the bachelors. Shame, Adrian was so nervous before and during the wedding. I think he only relaxed once the speech was over. I actually relaxed and enjoyed it as well when I finished with my speech. And I was very glad that I got some really good feedback on it! In all, a great wedding with great friends. I also saw Melanie, Thomas, Lize, Christo and Elmien for pizza on Thursday, so start to catch up with the old school friends a bit more. Ethipia visa also got sorted this week and passport now with Sudan. Put in my first First Ascent order, so things are moving along……. Still need that bike though, the bum needs to get hard (literally!).

13 December to 19 December
YAY, very ironic, on 15 December 2010, exactly one month to go before the journey (not race for me) starts, and I got my bike!!! Finally, must admit, I was getting a bit nervous there. Also ironic is that I got my First Ascent order with my cycling clothes on the same day, so things are going along nicely now. Only thing now is time and the amount that I have to spend on that damn saddle to literally get my bum as hard as nails! Choice of bike, and I think it is very nice, Giant XTC SE 2 2010 18’ White model with some nifty Conti Travel Contact 26 x 1.75 tires (2 sets) and one off road set – from the information I gathered, 75% of the journey will be on a paved road and the other 25% off rode. I also got my first “Bike 101” class from Hilgard at the bike shop (thanks!).

First training session was tricky (on the 16th, the Wednesday), as I am not used to the cleats, so I actually fell twice with my bike when I went out the first time! One just before I even got out of the gate (felt very stupid) and once 2 km’s later – so not a good start to my cycling adventure. But at least managed to have a cycling session everyday from Wednesday until Sunday (although still not sure how I managed that Saturday – met up with an old school friend, Rynou at lunch time on Friday and a few brandy and cokes with some shots later and I was felling like I was tap dancing in George Town! Very early in bed – forced - on Friday night). Butt feeling good under the circumstance. I was a little afraid on second day of training, as I could really feel it, and that was just after one day’s training! But after that it has been doing relatively good (keeping my fingers crossed…..), and I am using that shammy cream everytime!

We had a nice (and relaxed) barbecue at Christo’s house on Monday night (where I also saw Callie for the first time). Also a good lunch with Hendri on the Monday just talking about the typical nonsense. On the 16th, I did my next big shopping spree. Cape Union Mart for tents, cover sheets, sandals etc and bought most of my medicine. The trip is still in line with my budget, but not cheap! I was hoping that I could come under my budget, but for now, I think if I am on it, I will be happy! Also went to Rupesh and Asha’s wedding on Saturday, an Indian wedding, which was first for me. Both of them looked really good in their traditional Indian clothes. I am also really enjoying the great chatting to Stephanie on the phone, so nice to hear her voice and I am really enjoying the time that we can chat now (not sure how much we will be able to do this when I am starting to travel). It is also nice now, because I have more free time and I am a little more relaxed with the knowledge that things are moving along nicely now. I am really enjoying our Skype sessions on Sunday (which involves talking) or during the week (which is typing, because then she is at work, so difficult to talk). So nice when I get a sms from her on a Frday night, “it is not so much fun going out without you…..”.  Then I just read the sms and smiled, I am very lucky indeed!

20 December to 26 December
Christmas week! Yes!!!!!!! (Although that as exciting when I was little, still lots of excitement for me, as this will be my first Xmas back in South Africa in 7 years – I missed 5 being in Cayman and 1 in Detroit).

There was not much going on this week other than cycling and more cycling and more cycling!!! Starting to get into the cycling thing, although I am under no illusion that there are still lots more miles to be ridden! And time spent on that damn saddle. But I am getting there. I can also feel that I am getting slowly but surely bike fit, and that I am managing up hills a lot better – cycling in Waterkloof is not so easy, as most of the terrain is just hills – up and down the whole time – would prefer to do a nice long stretch of juts a flat road. Most (actually all of them) are away for holiday, so it is just me and the bicycle. Must admit, very spoilt at this stage living at home with mom and dad. They are doing most of the chores as well as cooking dinner, so I really appreciate that they are giving me this “off time”. Feels similar to when I was studying, they will provide an easy going environment and be supportive (to try and make it as easy for me),  I just need to put in the hard work with the cycling and sorting out all of the admin. I also received my Sudan visa this week, so just Egypt to go (already have Ethiopia as well). And I also received my second First Ascent order just the day before Xmas – man, there is some really cool gear that I now. Oh, and I also had my Hip B shot, so I have all of my injections now (feel like a junkie when I saw that list again of injections I have had since Cayman for this trip).

Xmas day was SO nice (except for the fact that Stephanie was not there). Emile and Erin came over, and like I said, this was the first time in 7 years that the family was together. So we were only 5 people for Xmas lunch, but it was great! We went to church in the morning and I heard those old Xmas songs that we used sing this time of the year. I know I had a tear in my eye when we started singing it. So many memories came back to me and I realized how long I have been gone. Had a great lunch and I had WAY too much to eat (after I went for my cycle the morning) – 3 plates of lunch, with lots if wine and beer, not a good combo especially after exercising. I was man down in the afternoon and actually slept for 2 hours. So glad I am not Emile and Erin, they had to go to Erin’s dad for Xmas dinner. If I had to eat anything more after that big lunch……

Big thing from cycling perspective is it is going well, but I need to up the distance (or time) on the bike. Saddest things about Xmas was that Stephanie was not here to celebrate it with me. But we did have a very cool conversation over the phone.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Buenos Aires ("BA") - last few days of holiday

19 November 2010
First day in BA and we had to try and figure out what we wanted to see, especially from Stephanie’s perspective, as she was only staying there for 3 more nights before her return flight. BA is not so well know like a Paris or Rio with so many well known sights, so it does take a bit of time reading up and see what we can and wanted to do. After reading though Mariska’s and Rob’s tips (thank’s guys) and then my Footprints, and with the help of a postcard with various sights of BA on it, we figured out what we would do. Plan was to do central BA first on the Friday, Saturday Palermo and Recoleta and then Sunday San Telmo and La Boca. City is pretty easy to navigate with a map and there are a few big landmarks, which help a lot getting your direction right.

Also Milhouse Hostel is located in a great spot! So we headed wets first to the Plaza del Congresso, which as the name implies, is where there Congress meets. Then we walked to the theatre, Colon (which is very famous and many stunning plays have been held there), and then to the Obelisk (like a giant needle) in the middle of the widest street in the world (Avenue 9 de Julio). Then off to Plaza da Mayo and all of the buildings that are in the plaza, including  the famous pink building where Evita’s balcony was – still trying to figure out what she actually did on that balcony (Casa del Gobierno). Then we walked to Peurto Madero, which is like the waterfront area in BA), where we had some lunch and ice cream. After lunch we headed for the shopping street, Avenue Florida, which has leather shops galore (both me and Stephanie bought ourselves a leather jacket). We walked all the way to the end of the street (at Plaza St Martin) and then turned around to look for dinner – where we discovered one of the restaurants of the trip regarding quality of food. We had the most divine Patagonian lamb stew, definitely one of the dishes of the holiday! All in all, a great first day spent well.

20 November 2010
Caught the Metro in the morning (very easy to use and cheap) to go to the Recoleta district to see the very famous Cemetary that they have there (all of the rich and famous of BA are buried there, and all of their graves are also above ground, in these stunning tombs that are carved out). Some fantastic grave stones and some of them were dating back to the 1800’s (Evita is buried here as well). There are quite a few things to see in that Cemetery area, so we decided to have some coffee at one of BA’s most renowned and famous, La Biela, which is also right next to a very old and large tree. It is a very touristy area, with lost of people selling different goods (like a flea market). It was very pleasant to walk around there and take some nice pictures. Then we headed towards Palermo with the metro, but first we walked along avenue Sante Fe, which is also a very large street with lost of shops). Initially we walked in the wrong direction when we got off the station (heading towards the Japanese botanical gardens), but after some deliberation, both Stephanie and myself decided we can skip it (not garden people) and rather head to the more trendy area with nice little funky shops and cafés t sit down and people watch.  Palermo is a place that is very hip and happening – a lot of small restaurants, bars and almost young designer shops.  There was a big party in the square there, with lost of street performers entertaining the crowds. We ended up sitting down at one of the cafees that overlooked all of this entertainment and just had a few beers. There was this band playing acid jazz type of music, which was very cool and appropriate for the moment – they were real crowd pleasers with their music. We then headed to La Cabreara, probably the most famous steakhouse in BA (in Palermo). Getting to the restaurant, it felt more like to trying to get into a club, which was crazy! We made no booking before hand (which is actually a big no-no for that place), so we were put on the waiting list, which because we were there so early, at elast we were more on the top of the list. We decided to wait at this restaurant across the street (I think which gets all of its clients from that place  because of people waiting) and then had to wait for 2 hours before we could get seater (again, we had some more beers). Eventually, after some small talk and “I am a tourist and this is my only chance that I can eat here”, we got a table (the place still felt at this stage like I was trying to get into a club). Steak we had was good (ribeye), but still it did not blow me away, and I do not think worth the queues etc. Probbaly with all of the hype, I was expecting this out of this world steak. The “best Argie” steak is still eluding me! We walked a very long road back in order to try and get to the station, only to be told that the metro was closed – dammit! If someone only could have told us this, it would have saved us some time! Still a great day.

21 November 2010
We headed to San Telmo area, which on Sundays are lined up full of street markets (especially along
Defensa street
and Derrengo Plaza). Loads of different goods that people were selling, but very nice to walk along the streets on a Sunday afternoon. We were advised not to go to La Boca (specifically to Carninito streets), because it is one of the more dangerous areas in BA, and with a football game being played that day (Boca Juniors football team), the locals will be out having a few drinks getting ready for the game (they have very passionate supporters). So we decided that we would go with the hostel to a Boca Juniors game (which was basically listed on all of the travel guides as a must to see – very cool atmosphere the crow creates and lost of singing). Took the bus and it dropped us off at a local Boca bar/club to “gets us in the mood for the football”, playing load Boca music and also providing beers! The game itself was  bit weird at first, because we though we were whatching the first team play, and the stadium was basically empty, but then after they left (they only play a half), the actual match started and the stadium was very full and noisy (so I could not understand at first why the people were coming to the game only at half time, mean time it was actually the start of the game!). Really good atmosphere and the crowd really get into the football, especially were we were sitting. Now I understood why seeing  a Boca game was a must! Boca Juniors is also Maradonna’s old club before he played in Europe, so they idolize him here! Really great experience (my first football match) and some of these fans will put the rugby supporters back him to shame with their passion and they just go on and on sigining and clapping for the full 90 minutes, and they stand all the time as well. They only time they sit is half time! Stephanie was leaving tomorrow, so at the end of the day, it was also sitting on both of our minds, the holiday was coming to an end and it will be very long before we see each other again….

22 November 2010
Woke up and feeling sad, but we knew it was coming, Stephanie’s holiday had come to an end unfortunately. Actually, both of us were sad, but we know it has to happen in order for this whole thing to move forward. I went with her to the airport (there was no way I was letting her go by herself). At the airport, both of us said our goodbyes (which I hate) and we had our moments on different occasions when we shed some tears. I also recall a good Nickleback song playing in the McDonalds which said, “if today was your last day……” – cant remember the whole songs words, but very cool and fitting for the moment. Took the shuttle bus back to the hostel, and I was feeling a bit lonely, but met a nice Swedish girl who had just traveled to BA to meet up with her friends, so she wanted to know lost of information about BA, which I could tell her, and it made my ride back less sad and a little easier. I decided to go to Colonia (Uruguy) tomorrow, and kept myself busy in the afternoon doing blog entries (which I was a lot more behind that I thought I was). Went for dinner that afternoon by myself, and just kept myself busy with more blog entries. The one thing I had noticed about traveling alone, it is fine traveling around alone, but having dinner alone sucks! At the end of the day, it still also did not sink in completely, but I was not going to see Stephanie for another 6 months, which is a long time.

23 November 2010
Last full day in BA and woke up early (and feeling weird being alone for the first time again) to go to pier to get the ferry from BA to Colonia for a day trip. (Fortunately) it did not work out, as I missed the quick boat that takes 1 hour to get there, so I would have to take the slow boat, which takes 3 hours to get there! And because of the time that I would have arrived there, I would have to take the slow one back again, which meant that I would have to travel for 6 hours in one day – and that felt like it would be a waste and that I had enough flying ahead of me. I also phoned Mariska and she advised me to rather leave it as well, it would not be worth it. So I decided to do the La Boca walking tip with the hostel, which includes visiting the Boca Juniors stadium and museum. There was a lot more people that did the trip in the end, and while I was waiting in the foyer, I met an American from LA, ________, and we started talking (his parents both from Egypt). He was at the beginning of his travels, and because he did not have a clear cut plan, he was bouncing  a lot of questions off me. The tour started at Boca Juniors Stadium, and then the museum (which was not that impressive). Then we were taken to one of the stands, which is a little different if the stadium is filled with people vs if it is just empty (like now). It is also defiantly Maradonna place this, everywhere pictures, posters, paintings of their hero. Then we walked to a rstaurent in la Boca where we had some lunch and I had my first parilada (basically a place of barbecued meat with almost everything on it – including some very weird stuff that no one on our table could get down their throats – if this was Fear Factor, we would loose badly!).The table I was on, was with 3 crazy Ozzie guys, and 3 Ozzie ladies, but they were traveling in different groups (half of the people in the hostel were from Oz). Again, we had a few very good laughs and I saw how easily I get along with them. After lunch, we walked to the famous
Caminito Street
in La Boca, where all of the houses and walls are these different colors (painted like in blocks of different colors). Loads of activity in this street, which was very touristy, almost too much. And I saw my only “live’ tango show in this street (which was still a bit cheesy). Walked around and took some pictures and then took the public bus back to the hostel. I picked up our leather jackets that we had bought and had to pre pack my backpack to see if it would fit in, otherwise I would need to go and buy and extra bag. In the evening, I basically did nothing, as I was all “tourist” out by this stage. Pretty excited that I was flying back, and that after 5 years working abroad, and 2 months traveling, I would be heading back home to SA!

24 November 2010
Woke up feeling very excited!! Really had very little to do, so I decided to go to Aerolineas head office close by and give them a piece of my mind and complain about their bad service and flight delays (I literally had the whole day to kill, as my flight was only leaving 11 at night). There was at least a helpful lady that listened to me and my complaints, but we will see if something is going to come from it. Checked out at the hostel (left my bags there) and then went to the most famous coffee shop in BA, Café Tortoni, which opened in 1858, so the interior of the place is very grand and the people literally queue outside to get it. The coffee shop is the oldest in the country and surrounded by wooden walls, and besides its oak and marble tables, some very famous politicians and businessman have wined and dined here. Had a brilliant lunch there, French sandwich, covered with ham, cheese and blue cheese meted over – great way to end the last lunch in BA! After lunch I wanted to do the city tour, but because it was all booked out till about 3pm, I decided that I would walk around St Martin plaza, which was very pleasant (and hot). After that went to the internet just to get the time over. When we finally had t go to the airport, I was like a little kid, SO excited! Met a very nice British lady that lives in Cape Town in the que, and very interesting lady that had some great stories and we got along really well. So well, the queing felt that it actually wnet by very quickly! I had my last stint and lost it with Areolineas (again) when I went to do a claim at their offices at the airport, but by that time I just had enough of them and wanted to forget about them. Much rather looking forward to the flight back home!

And so it was, holiday Part I coming to an end, now for Part II………….
25 November 2010
Plane was pretty empty, so we had enough space that I could lie down (flew with Air Malaysia). With the help of two sleeping pills, had a very solid sleep on the plane, which I normally struggle with. Arrived in SA, Cape Town and it felt pretty surreal. Back after so long! Immigration went very quickly and then I was onboard to get my flight to Johannesburg.
Just before we landed in JHB, I had my moment and shed a tear of joy, so nice being back. I also found it fitting to play a song from my Itouch when the captain said we were preparing to land. I thought “Eye of the Tiger”, one of my favorite songs, was very appropriate for this moment. And I had a huge smile as we were landing. So nice to see mom and dad!!!!

Wow, after 1.5 months traveling, it was a blast. So glad about the twp portions of the trip, the one traveling by myself, which put me out of my comfort zone, which was great and something that I needed, especially for the trip that was coming up in Africa, and then the other part traveling with Stephanie, which was so nice spending 3 weeks together and getting to know here even better. We had some fantastic moments and saw some breathtaking things! I am truly very lucky and blessed! Now, where is that bicycle???