5 Weeks ‘Into Africa’

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across the these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up, near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen)

Karen Blixen Out of Africa“We paid £3 for a haircut in South Africa,” we told our flamboyant, full-of-opinions, Irish hairdresser in London some years ago.

[This, when he quoted Hubby £45 for a men’s short back and sides.]

“WELL! … I don’t exactly live in a frickin mud hut, do I?” he pointed out.

[He had a point.]

“So, are we cutting today or not?” he asked us, waving the scissors around.

The cost of a village hairdresser is not the only thing we love about our little corner of the African Wild Coast, but it’s certainly in the top 5!

Here’s what we got up to on our 5 week sojourn in Southern Africa over May / June 2019:

15 flights
17 business meetings
7 cities and 2 villages
3.5 Countries
3 church services
2 uneaten coconuts
1 Museum (1 step closer to my tenuous link to Meryl Streep)
5 horses (in 2 out of 3 rides our trail rider fall off the horse)
3 hornbills on our terrace
1 wine cellar tried and tested
A rain forest
Several dozen keys
Edible clay (yes, you read correctly)

Week one:

Cape Town, Durban – business meetings, amazing food, red winter aloes, and a catch up with my little sister.

Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town
Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town (Hubby’s happy place).

Week two – three:

Morgan Bay – relaxing with friends, setting up our office, game reserve, beach walks, sorting out house keys, under siege by Nguni cows, lunch on our sunny winter terrace, sunset on the cliffs, local church 1 of 3.

Week three – four:

Libreville, Gabon; Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya; more business meetings, a few lovely days with family of cousin-in-law, 2nd local church the L’Assemblée GAbonaise du Plein Evangile, in Libreville, Gabon; 2 coconuts we didn’t get to eat, red-headed lizards that do sit-ups, a beautiful rain forest (L’Arboretum Raponda Walker); lots of French practise for me; mangrove oysters; a ‘bus’ (flight) stop in Cameroon and edible clay!

Week 5:

A final goodbye to Kenya with a stunning view of Mount Kilimanjaro from the aeroplane window; 1 last business meeting in Johannesburg; church service 3 of 3: The Assemblies of God, Kei Mouth; horse riding on our beloved Eastern Cape Wild Coast and FINALLY some wine and snacks in our wine cellar (please note the sad small collection of wine in there – donations welcome).

It was a bit of a culture shock to come back to what Joanna Lumley once told me is “sad, cold, England” except that it was sunny and hot. But no beach, no wine cellar, no edible clay and strange red-headed lizards, no scarab beetles, no Nguni cows outside our bedroom window, no sunburnt-red-winter aloes, no loud frenetic warm African church services.

Africa. What’s not to love?


P.s. Yes, you read correctly – edible clay is eaten by some Gabonese and many West Africans. It’s especially believed to be good for women. Google tells me it’s supposed to be a little like taking charcoal tablets which absorb toxins like a filter. Hubby and I did not taste this!
P.p.s. Can I count Cameroon as one of the countries I’ve visited if I sat in the plane for an hour in the heat while some passengers got off and others got on?
P.p.p.s. In Nairobi we visited the Karen Blixen Museum. Karen Blixen famously wrote her memoirs of nearly 20 years on a coffee plantation in Nairobi, Kenya. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford then made her story even more famous in 1985. It’s a beautiful farm house and farm which has been preserved by funding from the Danish government and the Kenyans who so loved Karen Blixen that they have named an entire large suburb of Nairobi ‘Karen’. I’m now finally reading the book.
P.p.p.p.s. While we were away a few precious little angels looked after our allotment. We thank God for them!
P.p.p.p.p.s. I’ll leave you with a classic quote attributed to Britney Spears: “I’ve never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don’t like eating fish. And I know that’s very popular out there in Africa.”

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