The celebration of cycling the length South America, was fantastic, but it quickly subsided and gave way to many sleepless nights which had us thinking about Africa, our next destination! A place we have always longed to go, Africa, was and continues to edge its way into our news sources for good and bad, and yet it remains one of earth’s most fascinating and wild places to visit!
Fantastic view of Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, as we set sail for South Africa!
Our flight to Cape Town, South Africa, ended up being 49 hours long! We left Ushuaia, Argentina, and made flight connections in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Dubai, and finally touched down in Cape Town, with a seven hour difference that we spent about two weeks adjusting to!
A tired Erek shows off his pet camel in Dubai! To our readers, “May your camels spit nothing but dates!” ~ Cpl. Maxwell Clinger ~
By far, Dubai, was our most interesting stop over. Having taken a few semesters of Arabic, it was nice, for a change, to brush up (more like re-learn!) some of the intricacies of this fascinating language!
A rough sounding language that is written from right to left. My learning was what is called ‘Modern Standard Arabic’, much like you would hear on the news or read in a news paper. Arabic in the Middle Eastern world; however, is a bit different (it is localized) and each region has their own ways of pronunciation and word usage. Arabic in Lebanon, for example, may sound very different to someone from Sudan. They could probably understand one another but with some alterations on words.
While meandering around, we found our terminal and spent about three hours waiting for our connecting flight to Cape Town. It turned out that our terminal had changed without there being an announcement.
All of a sudden people with Muslim garb (we are in Dubai!), began sitting with us in the terminal. Women sat, heads covered in hijabs, while holding hands and praying incessantly at about three in the morning. The men had long robes, long thick beards, and very piercing eyes. There was an indescribable tension that we both felt in our new environment. I wonder what a conversation with these people would have been like!
A beautiful young girl, wearing a hijab, worriedly looked over at Candice and myself about every five seconds. What was she doing? Did she want to talk with us, but felt restrained? We turned to each other inclined to say, “This can’t be going to South Africa!,” and after awhile we heard an announcement say that this terminal led to Karachi, Pakistan, and that our terminal had moved. A conversation with these people would have been interesting, and who knows, a good friend may have been made in the process!
We sat at the terminal for a bit longer and tried to observe this different world around us and maybe even have some fun by continuing to worrying the girl with our Western attire, if that is what was on her mind!
We finally landed in Cape Town, and now our goal was to get two bicycle boxes and two smaller boxes into the city center and into a hotel. We ended up taking the MyCiti bus and then I dragged each box, as Candice watched the boxes and a security guard watched her, from Green Market square three blocks to a hotel.
Carrying our packed bicycles through the center of Cape Town, is as expeditious as it gets!!
Before we entered the center of town we saw a man lying, deceased, on the road with other bystanders carefully taking care of the scene. This man must have been hit by a car. This was an important warning for us on our bicycles before we started off on our journey of South Africa! It is amazing to think that of all the dangers we think we face, traffic can be the most hazardous, in any part of the world for that matter! On top of that, we now had to get used to cycling on the left side of the road. In fact, all of the prospective countries we plan on cycling, also drive on the left side: Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, among others.
I almost bit the bullet one day while in Cape Town. Still trying to work out crossing the road with the traffic going in reverse, especially difficult at an intersection. I made it half way across the road and then looked the wrong way before finishing the next half. A mistake that almost ended our journey! Fortunately for me, the driver was paying attention! Knowing me, we will finally get used to left side driving, then return to the U.S., only to be flattened by looking the wrong way before crossing!
But to sum up this short post, we were beginning to get our sea legs in South America. The people, customs, climate, terrain, were beginning to feel like home to us. There is no place like Latin America, and to leave this special place was very difficult. Now we had to become accustomed to another part of the world. A world that always seemed so distant in terms of culture and its people. Now, at our pace of travel, we will have to become accustomed to this culture, and live life, in many respects, on their terms.
Are there changes that you have made in your life that, at first, felt uncomfortable or scary? If this change is not yet accomplished, but you look at it as if it had already been done, would you be happy you did so? And is the fear that holds you back worth it? Either way, there is a sacrifice: Allowing that fear to prevent your success, or following your goal to its conclusion despite that fear.
Fear always lurks in the path of our goals. Fear tells me that I must prepare for something! When I have prepared the best I can, I then take the leap on the goal that will cause a good change in my life.