A Very Special Christmas In South Africa

Talking about hospitality and friendship, I always think first on my dear friends in South Africa, who not only taking care of my Land Rover when I’m back in Switzerland, but also introduced me to the entire family and thought me a lot about the country and their business, farming.

Every time after I arrived the country, I was invited to stay at least a few days on their farm. I was taken around, got to see what’s changed since my last visit and spend also time with their sons and their families or friends. There’s no warmer welcome possible, since they make me feel as part of the community, almost family, but not as stranger anymore. It went so far, I got invited to the big family reunion for Christmas two years ago. 

When I came back this year, I was missing my old friend H., who sadly passed away last January. That terrible covid-pandemic got another victim. A big man with big heart let behind not only a beloved wife, but also five sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

I spent some time with my lady friend A., the widow and sharing good memories about Sir H. And listen to interesting stories from the past. Although I had other plans, A. Invited me again for Christmas to join the family gathering. When my plans got changed, she almost insist to come and I couldn’t deny the honor which was given to me again.

Terrible news reached me a day before the family gathering: my dear friend A. passed away. I was in shock of that completely unexpected event. She was in deep grief of the big loss of her husband, but seemed physically strong and healthy. 

To be frankly, I was not only in shock, but also got uncertain, how to deal with the grieving family. Was it inappropriate to stay on the farm? Should I arrange anything special and how can I show my deep condolences to them? But once again I felt the big hospitality of this family, which decided to gather in memory of Lady A. and welcomed me to stay. 

The festive days began early morning with a memorial ceremony of Lady A. 

All family members gathered on a viewpoint of the farm, where the bush opens to beautiful African landscape with the Blouwe Berge on the horizon. All helped making this spot special with putting flowers, oranges and candles there. I was asked to help with filming and photographing for keeping it in memory, and I was grateful to be able to contribute something

The family said goodbye with singing, reading from the Bible, sharing some memories about this lady with a big heart. It was a wonderful, heartwarming event, made me feel cry over the loss of such a good friend.

Despite this awful loss, the family knows life goes on. And in good memories, the joy of Christmas wasn’t forgotten. Children playing cricket or rugby on the grass, on the braai (SouthAfrican BBQ) is food roasting and from time to time we drove around the farm to watch the wildlife. This also included a thorn in a kid foot, which I tried to remove, or some minor sun burn after floating on the pools bit too long. 

There’s a lot of talk, laughter, play and of course food and drink. Special occasions like icing of cookies (#lebkuchenhaus), swimming in a water reservoir in the bush or delivering gifts, are not missed either. 

All in all a very jolly time, but never forgotten the two people who founded this family

You will understand, that I avoid to show clear faces, since this was a private occasion. Nevertheless, I want share some impression from these special and emotional days. Also as an expression for my gratefulness for all this hospitality and big friendship.

The Source Of River Nile

I felt the privilege to camp on a grassy site overlooking the River Nile. One site called „The Haven“ became easily a base of tranquility and peace, inviting me to stop by for awhile and do nothing than watch the river flow, the eagles fly and fishermen boats float. It was both, inspiring and meditative. The village nearby couldn’t offer much but laughters and friendly talks when i got to the only little shop around. It was actually just a shack with a weird calendar showing the Ugandian president in truly Rambo style. The ‚roll-eggs‘ they made was delicious, though.

Another camp i found was just above the spot where the Lake Victoria giving birth to the River Nile. A humble monument shows the place where the first European, a certain Mr. John Hanning Speke, spotted the source of the river on 28th July 1862.

Lushoto – Arriving At Irente Farm

Something different after those weeks at the coast. A nice, cool place with fresh air and green, lush forests. A quite, peaceful spot with great view over landscape. The Irente Farm just out of Lushoto has the perfect reputation for that. After a friendly welcome, i parked my Land Rover at the grassy campsite, took a fresh breath and got already a taste of the famous dishes with garden fresh vegetables. Back to my car, it was surrounded by big group of teenagers, playing and screaming. Oh Lord, why have these school class from Germany to be here on this week? They visited a partner school here for a project. However, it turned out pretty fun when they started with drum lessons and dance schooling. If i needed some breaks, i headed for a walk and chased bugs or chameleons with my Nikon.

Zanzibar – Stone Town Nights

When night falls over Stone Town, the few lights on the narrow streets fight against the dark, giving a new face to the old town. Youngsters racing with their scooters trough empty alleys, street food sold for late visitors and shadows escapes around the next corner. And you never knows from where the strange sounds comes, echoing in the alleys.

kitchen stuff

Just a few photographic impression all around kitchen stuff in my camp and nearby 🙂

Fun Group Hiking At Mt.Longonot

Mount Longonot a quite volcano about two hours drive out of Nairobi, is the destination for a group of friends for a hike. I got invited and joined it with pleasure. Too long time i didn’t hike, and with that funny, open minded and nice people it’s pure pleasure too.

There’s many photos in purpose of giving the people of the group the chance to see them and download it. Have fun along the „photo story“  …and many thanks for the group letting me join in for that day!

Visitors from India

A few years back i met that nice lady in Bangalore who invited me to her family stay. Now she’s on a trip trough Europe and i had the honor to meet her again in Zurich for one day. There was a lot to catch up, so we had coffee and chat with her friends who accompany her. Between all the luxurious shops on the famous Bahnhofstrasse we bumped in a guy offering „free hugs“. Big fun and bright smiles guaranteed.

Despite the cool temperature and overcast we had a stroll trough the inner city, seen some ancient spots and cultural highlights. The weekly flea market caught the attention of the visitors. Just before the rain started we made it back to the main train station, where the local „Oktoberfest“-party started…

Tanzanian Maasailand (part 2)

Silence woke me up early in the morning. Camping in African bushland is always a great experience, with vast scrubland or desert around. For my new „friends“ joining me trough Maasailand there’s all new kind traveling. Little things has to be learned, like to cook and dishwashing with a little amount of water or to use a shovel if you’re going to bush toilet. The nature gives back many little things too. The chirping birds, slightly waves of the wind, the scent of wildflower …and sometimes annoying flies.

The path lead us to a dusty, little town called Naberera, where we get some more supplies from a tiny shop. I asked for banana beer to let the girls taste it later that day. The shop lady was shouting into the backyard and few minutes later a guy appeared with the ordered drink. Meanwhile my tourist girls started to go around and having fun by making selfies with locals. It wasn’t the first time i noticed they hardly try to avoid having me on one of their selfies. Although we started as friends, i feel treated as a tour guide for free. This feeling persisted when i stopped next to a village for the opportunity to meet real village people. A dozen women gathered under a big shady tree to listen to man who taught them something or gave a speech. The girls wanted rush into the village, as i hold them back and told them to wait till we get invited from the inhabitants. Not long after that two younger men arrived, started to talk in Kwisahili with us. He asked us to wait and got an elder man, presumably the chief in village, who spoke some English. He looked uncomfortable but couldn’t refuse the repeated request of the girls to show us the village. While i tried to learn more about the village and life, the girls had fun taking selfies, teach them Dutch phrases and asked them several times to jump around as they expect all Maasai people doing it permanently. The chief looked awkwardly with the GoPro cam and selfie stick in his hand, not knowing what to do with it. When the situation got unbearable to me, i thanked the people for their understanding and kindness and asked the girls to continue our trip.

The young Maasai men and warriors, those ones who use to jump for rituals and to impress the girls when they look for a wife, are usually outside the village to protect the livestock. We’ve been lucky to meet some at a pond next our route. Of course, the girls got a lot of attention. The men came shyly closer, but start soon to have fun by showing their weapons and teach the girls how to use them. After awhile -and many selfies- we proceed our journey towards coast. But not without taking an elder man as an hitchhiker a few villages further. The next day we reached the tarred highway, let beautiful Maasailand behind us, but bringing a bunch of new experiences with us.

As we got closer to Daressalam, the traffic got heavier. The girls pushed me to drive faster and overtaking the big trucks, since they wanted to reach the ferry to Zanzibar. I suggested to stay together at the southern beach to celebrate the end of our trip, as friends suppose to do. But they wanted leave desperately. I’ve been even asked shamelessly i really want the money for fuel, since they’re late to reach the ferry and would have to withdraw cash first. HELL, YES!!

Namibia Selfie Project

Being a tour guide for my parents was a completely new thing. It brought me a whole bunch of experiences and challenges too. At the start i did a selfie with my crappy cellphone at train station for remembering reason and posted it on Instagram. I repeated it at airport. Somehow i liked it and went on picturing my parents in this selfie style throughout our trip in Namibia. It became a collection of selfies of our journey.

Solitaire in Namib Desert

A little spot, just south of the Tropic Of Capricorn sign, on the vast Namib desert marked as fuel station on the maps, but it’s far more than that. Not only fuel, snacks, cool beverages and cold beers are served here. It’s also the place for the most famous apple tart in Namibia. The German baker, who introduced that delicious dessert midst in the desert, passed away a few years ago. His apple tart stays for many more generations, hopefully.

The big eye-catcher are the old-timers and trucks standing around the fuel station. In colorful rusty conditions they attract people for a stroll between them and take a few shots for remembering.