I haven’t had time or enough news to do an update and all of a sudden so much has happened that this will now be a looooong post. Enjoy!
What a busy few months it has been. Organising an international move (albeit the fourth one, we are experts by now) as well as a yearlong safari is no joke.
So much planning and preparations has to go into it: vaccinations, home schooling, trailer, vehicle, bookings, dog relocate, visas, storage, “dying” in Singapore. That is how it always feels to me when we move, you have to die in one country to be born again in another. Close-up and pay-up everything: TV, Wi-Fi, cell phones, school, activities, utilities, water delivery, car, insurance, house, bank accounts, gym memberships, dependent and employment passes to name a few (and that is excluding friendships…). Just to be born again in another country and start the whole process from the beginning. At least we are going to South Africa this time and we have established “identities” there. We hope…
Our biggest and proudest accomplishment so far is to have found and bought a trailer. I don’t know how many hours we sat in front of the TV and watched YouTube videos of trailers. Do you know how many trailer manufacturers there are in South Africa? Way too many. How do you choose? The Boss and I had different criteria. Mine was the kitchen, obviously! It had to have a sensible layout where everything is in its place and you can find anything within seconds. Enough work space, a gas stove, and everything within reach. Easy hey? Not so much. Then we had Hugo’s list: it has to weigh less than a ton (packed!), axle must be able to take 2,5 ton, intelligent charging system that can charge from the car and can take solar panels, etc. After many hours in front of the telly and computers we each finally found one we liked. Problem, we each liked a different one! It meant I had to fly to South Africa to physically inspect the trailers and choose one. An off-road trailer costs a lot of money and we have to live in it for a year, so it hopefully was worth the trouble. We will tell you in a year.
Hugo’s choice won by far! The Metalian Maxi 4×4 trailer has so much more packing space than the runner-up, and such a sensible layout, the choice was easy. They also have excellent reviews on various 4×4 and camping forums. Metalian (the owner is Heinz Modricky) is based in Kuilsriver, Cape Town where they build the bodies. It is then sent to Henk and Jenny Bannink (Ultimate Overland) in Johannesburg where they work their magic and add the canvas works (tent, awnings and packing systems), the electrical system, hot water system and other cool little things. And that is where we are in the process, the trailer is on the road to Johannesburg as I type (7 Nov 2014).
In the meantime Petronella (the petrol-loving Toyota Landcruiser) went to Baillies Landcruiser Specialists in Midrand for a thorough check-up, as well as work on the gearbox, exhaust and clutch among other things. Hugo had to sell his left kidney to pay for it all, we hope she will get us where we want to go. And back!
So, vehicle and trailer sorted, kind of. We have also bought a satellite phone for emergencies that will not happen because we bought the phone. For the same reason we will be buying a very advanced and complete first-aid Kit. Hugo and I went on a two-day First-aid Training Course which was a complete waste of time apart from learning how to do the Heimlich and how to do a bandage (which is not that hard, really). For everything else they taught us to shout at a bystander: “Hey! You lah! Phone ambulance 911! Get the defibrillator lah!” (which are everywhere in Singapore) (all of that we can now do with a perfect Singaporean accent) and to put the patient in the recovery position and watch them. Lah! Which helps “sweet blou boggerol” (otherwise known as f-all) when you’re in the bush somewhere in Malawi. Or Kenya. When asked about snake bites, he said to chop off the limb! I kid you not. So we did our own research on snake bites and bought good books on snake bites and first-aid.
We bought photographic equipment to the value of the Gross Domestic Product of a small to medium country. Because. Just because. Maybe there will be a nice Kodak moment sometime during the year. And a small little point-and-shoot just will not take a nice photo of the flea on the lion’s eyelash. Then I had to have lessons on how to use the equipment as I can only point and shoot, but unfortunately it is still a work-in-progress. A BIG work-in-progress. I hope the lion keeps still so I can figure out the lighting and speed and aperture and focus and…. Lost it!
Because you have to be healthy and fairly fit to traverse the great unknown, we have done numerous medicals and doctors’ visits. Dentists, tick. Vaccinations, tick. Gynaecology, tick (sorry). Breast Surgery Specialist, tick (I had breast cancer last year, fortunately everything is sorted and hunky dory!). Vaccinations, tick. Tick again. (Note – Anti-vaxxers please skip the rest of the paragraph to avoid a heart attack). We had the following vaccinations over a period of a month or so : Yellow Fever, Rabies, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Cholera, Polio and Tetanus. We now need to go for Meningitis as well as we hope to travel all the way to Ethiopia, which is in the so-called Meningitis Belt that stretches across sub-Saharan Africa. It is a pity there are no vaccines for malaria at this stage, the prophylaxis is vile to say the least, as well as very expensive. I know you want to, but please do not ask me about Ebola, go check on a map how big Africa is and how far Liberia is from Kenya, or South Africa for that matter. Then we (okay, just I) still need to go to the optometrist for new prescription sunglasses. How else will I see the lion?
Hugo said his biggest worry for next year was where and how we will sleep, luckily that is solved now with the trailer. My biggest worry apart from a nice kitchen, is the children’s schooling. Both children’s teachers are really lovely and helpful and even volunteered to go with us next year!? Since we do not have any space for them, apart from on the roof-rack, they are now helping me to put together some kind of plan. The nice thing is that everything is available online and there are loads of excellent resources. Online. Which we will only be sporadically. So we need to go the old-fashioned way and work with paper and pencils. Last week I’ve ordered a mountain of books from The Book Depository (they deliver free worldwide, go check them out) and we are waiting anxiously for the delivery so we can go through it. As I have no clue, I ordered for each child the level below I think they are, the current level and the next level. For Maths and English, including reading and writing. And because I do not know the writers or systems they used, I ordered from a variety of publishers/writers. Just covering all my wickets here!
Next on the list is to get out of Singapore, on a plane and in South Africa for Christmas. It will be the first Christmas in eight years that we will spend with my parents. The children are almost more excited about Christmas with their cousins on the farm than our trip! Sophia is actually definitely more excited about that. She reckons after the fourth time of camping it will become really boring and hard work and she wants to go back to her ouma on the farm. She will even go to school there! Here’s hoping we will proof her wrong…