Day one of our trip started around 8am. We all met up at the Shanti Lodge loaded up our ginormous truck and then left for a township in Cape Town. I hadn’t yet been to this township but parts of it reminded me of the township I lived in. The major difference between the two was that this one was a lot more famous and saw hundreds of tourists on a daily basis. In that way, I very much so preferred the township of Kayamandi better. It was nice though and everyone else on the trip was experiencing a township for the first time so I think they all enjoyed it. One thing I did like about it was that I was able to practice my Xhosa some more and when you do that you gain a lot of respect from the locals. I think you’ll find that with almost any location you travel to where they aren’t speaking your first language. While we were touring around the township (which I should mention is famous because it was the very first township in South Africa, and home to over a million) we made a stop at a local brewery. It was just a shack that looked no different than the other shacks but inside they brewed beer in large trashcans. Our guide bought a bucket for our group to try and I can tell you it wasn’t the worst stuff I’ve ever had. My only complaint was that it was a bit foamy and warm.
For lunch we ate inside the township at a local restaurant where we had a typical South African Briaa. The meet was great and the veggies were good as well. They also serve this stuff that looks similar to mashed potatoes but it’s actually corn and flour. The taste and texture couldn’t be further from mashed potatoes but once you mixed it with everything it wasn’t too bad. What’ll be interesting is that there are 3 vegetarians on board for this trip and some places it may be difficult to provide something for them. More meat for me though, right?
After the tour of the township we started the long journey north. The trip was mostly desert so far it’s been incredible. Saturday night we stayed on a ranch owned by a man named Sparky. He was a real character and we all got along very well. The ranch we stayed on harvested grapes for several different wine companies and because of that we were able to participate in a fantastic wine tasting. It’s always nice to meet loads of new people over several classes of delicious wine.
Dinner that night was a stew created by Sparky’s staff I believe it was called chicken poiky. Good stuff and a nice way to finish off a successful first day. We also had a brief lesson on how to put up our tents and where everything on the truck was. Naturally, I got compartment number 8 as my personal locker and Helene and I named our tent Paradise. So as I’m sure you can imagine… living in paradise is a pretty nice gig we have going on. Likewise, on board we have a safe that we came up with name for. The reason was if we were ever off the truck and needed to discuss something in the safe we needed we’d be able to refer to it in code rather than just calling it The Safe. The name we landed on was Trouble. So from now on we will constantly be getting in and out of Trouble.
Let me tell you about our overland truck! It seats 24 in the back but there are only 18 members on board so there is a little bit of extra room. Most of the seats face forward but the last few face each other with tables in between them. Those last few are idle for playing cards or hanging out with a group of people. Behind the seats in the very back of the truck are 24 lockers for all our gear, a refrigerator, two coolers, Trouble, outlets, extra storage, and a small library. The outside and underside of the truck is where most of the good stuff is stored. There are huge compartments underneath us that are stocked with tents, chairs, tables, food, an entire kitchen, and much more. I can tell already the trip is going to be incredible!
Our driver is from Namibia and his name is Richard. He’s a big burly guy who has a real passion for braiing (cooking). He’s been driving for this company for 5 years and seems like the right guy for the job. His partner, and our guide is from the UK and her name is Kelly. She has loads of experience traveling and has been part of this company for the past year. Lucky for us she is also a good cook!
Our first day together we found out that we’d be broken into teams. Each team would be responsible for a different task each day. Some days you’d be cleaning while other days you’d be cooking. Throughout the duration of the trip we’ll be cooking all our own meals and also be responsible for cleaning up after ourselves. One thing I found funny was that we don’t use towels to dry our dishes but instead we flap them around until they are air dry. Imagine 20 people standing around with their plates and silverware flapping about. I think before all is said and done we’ll have a dance to go along with it. So far I’ve been pretty good at video blogging different events and taking pictures from each of the places we’ve visited, minus the township because I have so many from Kayamandi.