Traveling in Africa, Africa Travel by foot

History of Organic Gardening

Traveling in Africa by foot

Enclosed are emails from a relative about his trip in Africa. They are funny.


—–Original Message—–

 From: KwaZuzulwazi Science Centre []

 Sent: Thursday, August 28, 1997 4:57 AM


 Subject: unemployed benefits


 I hope all is well with my many 8-5 desk dwelling friends. (Harvard, this doesn’t mean that you’re not my friend. You just happen to work sleep-in hours). Also, I hope all is well with John Mark Stein and soon to be John Mark Ricketts and John Mark Hjelm. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect name.

 I spoke with my mom the other morning and she said the grapevine (Judi) has produced no news to speak of. Which is always good! All I heard was the annual Labor Day hiking trip that Judi does each year. My flying saucer tent is in the garage if you need it again. It’s in my Thailand bag. Make sure that it’s all there. (Older brother talk)

 So far this country is unbelievable. The people are terrific and always willing to help. For backpack travelers I’ve never seen a country so organized. They have cheap trips that go to anywhere you want. I can’t wait to see more.

 I am currently in Durban, South Africa. A major surfing city. The beaches are full of boarders and butt floss suits. The waterfront is one long water park for the kids. All day long they go between the salt water and into the fresh water park. There’s even a 50-meter pool adjacent to the beach. I’m thinking of maybe going for a swim later this afternoon. That’s after I hit the beach for a few hours. The life of being unemployed is tough. I hope none of you have to go through what I’m currently going through.

 I didn’t get to see much of Hong Kong. They had a Class 3 typhoon warning when I was there. It pissed all three days.

 From here I’m heading along the coast to Cape Town. I’ll be hitting all the beach communities between here and there. I need to get to Cape Town on September 18 to check in for my trip. I’ve been talking to other travelers about getting from Kenya to Egypt. It looks like I won’t be able to go through Sudan due to the civil war, so I may fly out of Ethiopia to Cairo or ferry to Saudi Arabia and then through Israel. We’ll see!

 I’ll try to say “HI” again when I’m in Cape Town.

 Could someone call Judi and let her know that it’s that time of the month for her to shower. THANKS

 Catch you around,


 From: Esquire []

 Sent: Monday, September 08, 1997 4:59 AM

 To: Stephanie Williams

 Subject: Life of the unemployed

 Importance: High

 Hi Steph. I want to thank you for getting my last E-mail sent around. By the way that’s a great looking outfit that you have on today. These terminals in Africa allow you to see all. Could you please send this letter through the troops? THANKS

 Good Morning to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 I hope this letter finds all to be healthy and happy in Seattle. Also, I hope the Labor Day hiking trip went well. I’m currently in the beach community of Mossel Bay about 60 miles east of Cape Town. I’ve been working myself along the coast since leaving Durban.

 After Durban I went to East London. Wow, what a major surf city. The place I stayed was an old lifeguard center that the city decided they built to far away from the swimming portion of the beach. So they fenced it up and left it to the street vagrants to trash. Along came Chester at the age of 23 and got a 10-year lease on the place to use it for back packers. I spent a total of four days there. The first couple of days I was teaching a couple from Austria how to boogie board. Chester has wet suits, surf and boogie boards for the taking. The Austrians caught on pretty fast. Another day Chester and I grabbed his sand board and headed for the dunes. He took a snowboard and screwed shoes to the top.

We climbed to the top of one of the dunes, applied floor polish to the bottom of the board and boarded down. I’ve been finding sand in every orifice since that day. I managed to get the hang of it by days end. It was quite difficult with the amount of climbing involved.

 Chester also leases a house in the mountain top city of Hogsback ninety minutes out of East London. For those that have read “The Hobbit” or

 “Lord of the Rings” you may remember reading about this town. It is said that J.R.R. Tolkin got his inspiration during a visit to this city to write these books. The city was full of waterfalls, forests, mountains, etc.

 Most of the stores had a name relating to characters within the books. I climbed up to the top of one of three of the hogsbacks. I had to stop twice to avoid crossing paths with the local baboons within the forest. I heard that the males don’t like humans between them and their mates. From here I was off to Oudtshoorn.

 Oudtshoorn is a cool city also within the mountains. On my second day their I rented a bike and decided to do a 45 mile loop with an optional detour of 22 miles to some water falls. Half way through the ride I realized that the brake handles was reversed from those in the states (I don’t know why). I didn’t worry much about it. I’ll get back to that later. Anyways, I went to an ostrich farm for a tour. This city has a population of 350,000 ostriches. During the tour the guide asked if anyone wanted to ride one. I was very polite and thought I’d let someone else go. No one had any interest. So, of course, my hand went up. You mount the bird well behind its legs and grab its wings. They take off its face cover and off you go. It was very difficult to stay on. The bird goes about 100 meters at 15 mph before it decides the hell with you and sits down. After that one other person went.

 I asked if the bird’s ancestors ever flew. The guide said that no one knows which way on the evolution chain the bird is going. If the wings are growing or going away. The bird does have a thumb and two small fingers at the end of its wings. However, they don’t use them. The egg has a volume equal to 24 standard eggs and can hold a non-impact load of 300 lbs side to side and 600 lbs tip to tip. I stood on a fertile egg to check it out.

 After the farm I took the dirt road to the waterfalls. On the way back I was cruising (not as fast as Rob can go) down this hill and was approaching a corner way to fast. From force of habit I squeezed the right brake hard and found myself flying through the air over the bars. It was a beautiful flight that the Wright brothers would have been proud of. Luckily I landed on the only part of my body I don’t use, my head. I actually think the tilt in my neck is less.

 The next day was the best of all. I went for a cave crawl. I ran into some cavers the day before and talked them into taking me with them on a CRAWL. We went a measured 202 meters through an old water flow that I was told was approximately nine feet wide at the most and 12 to 18 inches in height. They gave me coveralls, hardhat and a headlamp to wear. It was by far the best thing I’ve done. If you want to be scared to hell this kicks butt on skydiving and bungee jumping. It took us 2 hours and 15 minutes to make the crawl into a giant underground cavern. Of course we then had to turn around and go back. At one point we turned off all lights just to see what absolute black is like.

 From Oudtshoorn I came here. So let me tell you why I’m here. For only $75 dollars this company takes you out in their boat near a seal island, throws blood in the water, throws a shark cage over board and then you in the cage when the great whites appear. I was scheduled to go today but the water is to rough. I figure I’ll give it two more days before I move on. The owner told me that last month they had a 45% ratio of great whites appearing. The pictures in their shop looked great. I’m going to buy one of those disposable water cameras for this trip. After the cage dive (I hope) we tow a fake seal behind the boat and watch the sharks attack it. Those pictures were the best. It’s a full day trip with food, beer and all.

 From here I’m off to Cape Town to see how badly the locals trashed the place after the I.O.C.’s decision to hold the 2004 Olympics in Athens and not Cape Town.

 I’ll be there for about eight days so I’ll find a place that will accept E-mail.

 Tell Judi that her wrinkled older brother is putting on his Oil O’lay with SPF 15 every morning.

 Also, I promise that I’ll get post cards out soon. Especially to those that have sent them to me over the years.

 Take Care, John

 P.S. On my next E-mail I’ll start my movie and book reviews.

 GOOD MORNING to all!!!!!!!

 So how is everyone doing this morning? As you know it’s Friday so I hope everyone has a great weekend. Again I hope all is well with everyone.

 I don’t have much time to leave a message because it’s getting dark here in Cape Town. I don’t care to be on the streets and I have a long walk home.

 I did the shark dive. I’ll talk about what it’s like to have a 12 to 14 foot great white within touching distance later.

 If you have spare time please sent an E-mail to the following address. Be sure to sent it to BROTHER JOHN and not Cowpie. I will come by once a day to check for messages and then respond back. I’m in town till September 20.



Catch you later, John

 —–Original Message—–


 Sent: Friday, September 19, 1997 4:35 AM

 To: Stephanie Williams

 Subject: Last E-mail for a while

 Hello to all!!!!!!!!

 I hope all is well at home. This E-mail stuff has been better than I could have imagined. Thanks to Mom, Judi, Duncan, Gail, Deanna, Kathi, Nancy, Farhad, Ima, Ricketts and Harvard for your mail. It’s good to hear from all of you. I hope I didn’t forget someone. Also, thanks go out to Stephanie and Carolyn for the mail they sent. If there is more mail the overland travel group will forward it to Kenya for me. And special thanks to Nancy and the Ricketts for making sure that Judi is showering.

 GREAT news about little baby Alex. If he’s anything like Greg you’d better keep a huge first-aid kit ready. You’ll have to send me a picture at the Kenya address. Stephanie should have the address.

 Time to catch everyone up on what’s been happening. I sent out another E-mail this morning. I made a mistake the other day when I tried, so out it went again today.

 Lets see, the wind finally slowed down a bit so I climbed to the top of Table Mountain. Great view. It’s a 4.5 hour round trip hike and climbs an elevation of 3,300 feet. They wanted all of $2.50 to take the tram, but I knew that if Nancy was here she would have hiked it so I did it for her. After the hike I hit a Turkish bath for a massage. I just couldn’t pass up the thought of having a hairy Turkish man rubbing me down. Steve, I’m only joking. It did feel nice after a long days hike.

 The day before a group of use rented a car and went to the Cape of Good Hope. It was blowing up a storm when we got there. No wonder why so many ships have sunk in those waters. Going through the park to the point we saw two wild ostriches doing the dirty. An interesting site. On the way back we had to stop, because a group of about 30 baboons decided to warm themselves on the black asphalt road. Well stopped we had one brave soul jump on the hood of the rental.

 He used the hood of the car the slide back to the street.

 So get this!!! There’s a young French couple at the place I’m in with three kids aged 18 months, 3 and 4 years. They packed up a van and while 3 weeks pregnant hit the road. They traveled East through Europe to Jordan where they had the baby nine months later. Went into Egypt to cross into Sudan but got turned away. So they went up and around into Saudi Arabia and caught a boat to Kenya. Now a total of two years later they are in Cape Town. They leave today to fly home to France. They of course sold the van to other travelers. They are full of information to help me get overland to Egypt. It looks like I hitch through Kenya to the border city of Moyale in Ethiopia. Take public transportation to Addis Ababa and get a transit Visa for Saudi Arabia and an Eritrea Visa at their consulates. Then get into Eritrea and head for the port city of Massawa to catch the boat. The boat goes to Saudi Arabia, but then up the Red Sea to Sinia (sp?). This is good stuff to know.

 Anyways, I met my travel group last night. I will be with these people for the next 50 days going to Kenya. They look like a good group. I’d say we are all between 25 and 40. Should be fun. I’ll use my own tent so that I have a place to escape each day from the group. No one else has a tent for themselves. The group provides two person tents.

 That’s all for now. I’ll contact you again when I find an E-mail service. It may not be until Kenya, we’ll see.

 Take care, John


So where is John? The last I heard through the family grapevine and per some post cards to my daughter, he was by Victoria Falls. I understand an elephant came quite close to him in his sleep. It was

the flapping of the elephant ears which woke him.

Have any of you received any post cards lately?


Sent: Monday, November 10, 1997 4:47 AM


Subject: BROTHER JOHN – Part 1

Good Morning to all!!!!!!

Just to let everyone know this is an old E-mail that never made it so I’m trying again.

Again I hope all and everyone is well. I always assume it’s morning that everyone checks their E-mail. I feel like Steve

Martin in the” Jerk” when he first noticed his name in the phonebook. It was the first time in his white boy, no rhythm life that he had an identity. Well I now have my very own E-mail address. It is SORRYNOEMAIL@ROCKETMAIL.COM. Rocketmail is a free

service that is paid for by advertisers such as Sprint and Coke.

Pretty cool thing for travelers. You guys should check it out. It’s http// Therefore, where ever I can find E-mail I can check out if I got any mail. And “yes” mom I received your E-mail this morning. THANKS.

Lets see where I left off last time. I was waiting in Mossel Bay for the wind to stop. Well it did and I found myself in a shark cage with a great white approximately 14 feet long. The shark, of course, was on the outside. Although if they put them in with you it would add abit more thrill and adventure to the whole thing. I could have reached out and touched it. What a beautiful fish. When the shark was around 25 feet from the boat you couldn’t even see it. The colors blend in amazingly well with the surrounding water. I was in the cage for around 10 minutes before others got a chance to jump in. It was nothing like you see on T.V. when the shark bites and rocks the cage.

He (trust me it was a he) just swam around eating some of the food we had placed around the cage. By far a terrific experience.

From there I had to hitch here to Cape Town. My prepaid bus service was booked up for three more days so myself and a Kiwi hitched out of there. It was a 380 Km hitch and it only took two lifts. Our scond lift was a salesman going into downtown Cape Town. He even dropped us off at one of the many backpacker hostels. Great guy!!! I left that hostel and moved to the quite part of town. My body just can’t stay out till four in the morning anymore. What am I talking about I don’t believe I’ve ever stay out till four in the morning partying. That’s all this hostel did.

Since arriving here I’ve been walking everywhere. Well actually the first day we went to a penguin colony almost at the end of the Cape. We had two penguins jump out of the water and come within three feet of where we were sitting. They took one look at me and were gone. This place has been protected since the early 80’s.

This morning I tried to climb Table Mountain but the clouds have put a blanket over the top. Wouldn’t be able to see anything once I got up there.

Tomorrow two Aussies and myself are renting a car and hitting the wine vineyards and the Cape. I heard the end of the Cape is a site. There are supposed to be whales everywhere this time of the year. Well see??

As promised you’re all going to be stuck hearing about the books I’ve read. This helps me to read more, which means I actually have to sit down. Although I’ve got to use the duct tape I brought as least once already. In other words I got to fix something. So here’s my first list:

Dragon Tears – Dean Koontz

There’s a new god on the planet that considers his older brother Jesus to have been weak and forgiving. This new God is 18 years old and has told no one who he is. He’s waiting to “Become” prior to killing all mankind for their sins. Well waiting he’s been doing some premature practicing on the side and the police are getting closer. Good book – a bit long in some places.

Fallon – Louis L’Amour

Fallon is up to his regular gig of killing Indians and looking for easy money in the new West. Good book – easy reading.

The Warriors Path/Sackett Family – Louis L’Amour Sacketts four sons continue their father’s dream of exploring the new Western Frontier. They battle with slave hunters in search of white women. Good book as all Sackett stories are.

Dragons of Darkness – Edited by Orson Scott Card

A series of short sci-fi stories that all entail dragons. About 15 of 18 were good.

I’m currently reading a book called “Deep Time” about the journey of a single sub-atomic particle from creation to the death of the universe and beyond. It’s a book that follows the traditions of Carl Sagen. So far so good.

Well that’s about it for now. I leave here Saturday morning for Kenya. Can you tell by my hand writing that I’m getting pretty excited?

Talk to you soon, John


Sent: Monday, November 10, 1997 4:42 AM


Subject: BROTHER JOHN – Part 2

Good day everybody!!!!!

It’s me again. I’m in the city of Nairobi. I hope all is well with everyone. I want to thank Mom, Judi, Duncan, Farhad, Steph and Milton for the E-mail. The rest of you are falling behind. I’ll have to rewrite my will and leave all my many valuables to those that leave E-mail. Actually their are to many of you all ready, because I don’t have any valuables. Also, thanks to Kathi and Mom for the mail. The post office up here never did get my mail from South Africa sent up. Sorry for those that wrote to there.

Farhad the new truck sounds great. I’m sure upon my return I’ll have plenty of time to see it. Congratulations to Steph on the new job. Duncan I will be taking a boat up the Red Sea out of Eritrea(sp) to Egypt. Milton I also miss Cassey and Laura (not you).

It’s been awhile since I spoke to all of you and there has been to much for me to write about at this time (they charge by the page). So I thought I’d talk about from Zanzibar up.

The island of Zanzibar was great. It has to be great, because Freddy Mercury was born there. Yes I saw his house. And I’m sorry Steve I never got a picture. The north end of the island is like a paradise. The beaches are of the same texture and color as flower. I spent four days reading books and scuba diving. The diving was great. Plenty of fish.

From there I went to Arusha which is the main send off for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The government requires that all climbers have a guide and porter with them. This brings the lowest price to $580. That sorta breaks my budget. The sad part was that the clouds were in and I never got to see the mountion.

I spent four days in a Land Rover (junk cars) going through the Seringeti National park and the Ngorongoro Crater. Wow, tlak about getting close to wild life. We had to stop the car and hang out because eight lions decided to sleep in the road. I must have seen 10,000 Wildebeast, 1,000’s of deer and Baboons, 50 hippos and 100’s of other animals. We saw a lion eating both a Zebra and a deer. The place is full of life. The crater is one of the most amazing places I’ve seen.

So from there I ended up here. I had one short stop at Joy Adamsons house. Nairobi is a pit. Full of people, dirty and unsafe. I’m here till Wednesday night. I’m having some clothes fixed and waiting for a visa to Uganda. I’m heading straight to Jinji, Uganda to a camp sight that I heard a great deal about. It’s right on a class 5 river at the mouth of the Nile river leaving Lake Victory. From there I’m off to Zaire to check out the gorillas. I know mom that there is a war going on in Zaire but I here it’s cool where I want to go. Anyways I’m insured. I plan to come back to Nairobi in about three weeks and I expect E-mail from all. The reason I’m heading out is the tension of the upcoming elections here has made this place a hot spot.

Well I gotta go. I’ll say hi in two days before I head out.

I want to hear about the gap trip.

Take Care, Cowpie

From: BROTHER JOHN[SMTP:SORRYNOEMAIL@ROCKETMAIL.COM] Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 1997 12:09 AM To: Subject: White nomad backpacker

Wow!!!!!! Thanks to the following for your E-mail (Rodney, Judi, Kathi, Deanna, Tim, Greg B., Gail, and Duncan). You guys are back in my will. I’d love to see the fight over my car. You’d be fighting to make the other person take it.

So let me tell you about the dinner I had last night. Ima would have loved it. Two Aussy women and myself went to a place called “Carnivores”. They couldn’t have picked a better name. They first brought out a salad and we told them to forget it and bring out the game meat. We wanted as much room in our stomachs as possible. It was an all you can eat for $20.00 USD. That’s alot of money when you’re on the road. We ate Warthog, Zebra (yum), Water Buffalo, Ostrich, Crocidile, various birds and others I didn’t know. I’d be surprised if there is any wildlife left in the Serengeti. We spent 3 1/2 hours eating. That meal will hold me till I get back from Veitnam with Steph.

Tonight I leave for Uganda. I’m looking forward to getting back in my tent. Nairobi has been the first time in a while that I’ve slept inside. Let me tell you about my fine hotel recommended by Lonely Planet. When you first enter the room you notice the lovely foot print wall paper. At a second look it’s just mark from people using their shoes to kill the bugs. I added my share. During the night I had to brush of my bag because the plaster from the ceiling fell. The bathrooms are even better. When the water is running you can even take a shower. The drop toilets actually flush, but with no water you have the management bring in a bucket and pour it in the hole. This intern flushes the toilet. As you can tell I live high when I travel. Oh, I almost forgot about the roaches. I had one fall on my head well reading a book in bed. I let him go. All this can be yours for $3.22 USD/night.

Food here is cheap. I got fish, chips and a coke for $1.00 USD. About 10 bananas on the street cost $.25 USD. It’s a cheap but ugly place. This morning I went to call Judi to wish her a happy birthday (Nov. 11) and as I walked I noted that I didn’t see another white person. That’s a weird feeling. I’m sure that everyone called her. I doubt there is anyone out there that would forget a COWPIEs birthday.

I’m glad to hear that the Chile Bowl was fun and the trip to the gap went well. Did you take my chain saw out and give it fresh air. It needs love like everyone you know.

I think I’ll head north to Ethiopia around December 15. If you want to send mail you can continue sending to the American Express or the following:

COWPIE, John Posta Restante GPO Nairobi, Kenya Africa

It seems to take about ten days.

I’ll check it when I come back from Uganda to get my Ethiopia Visa.

Johnny, I saw how well your stock is doing. I would’ve doubled my money in six months if I left it in. Story of my life.

Judi, get the house because I need to place to live when I get home. Yes, I will work on it. What else do I have to do?

Steph, I’ll write you a letter about Vietnam. Talk to Judi and get a ticket to Bangkok about one week after she leaves Napal. I’ll meet you at the airport. We’ll get tickets to Vietnam in Bangkok.

Tim, I do remember the trip to Forks.

Rodney, are we still going to Alaska for a chain saw, no women party? Yes I saw plenty of lion cubs. However, I never ate any last night. They would probably be good and tender. (that’s for Ima)

Talk to you when I get to another E-mail service. Mayby in Kampala?

Take Care, Cowpie


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