Day 2 - July 15
(CHRIS) Using a plane to cross time zones brought us quickly to Day 2. We spent 1.5 hours in the Eternal City refueling and then heading to Addis Ababa. The biggest airport in Ethiopia was quite small. Only 4 terminals. It was basically all one building. They didn’t really check our passports or anything and after a short wait, we found our gate, met an American named Brenda, and were taken thru the rain on a bus across the runway to a place where sentences go on forever and ever.
As we got ready for our 3rd of 4 takeoffs in 24 hours, we commented how impressed we had been with Ethiopian Airlines and with E people in general. They were always happy and friendly and gave good service. They were also good-looking people. Their skin was light brown and their hair was straighter than most Africans.
The food on the plane was pretty much like any other airline. Over the 24 hours, they served 5 meals, so Sam ended up breaking his age-old rule to always eat EVERY MORSEL of plane food, including the pepper.
Anyway, we saw Addis from above when we took off and it looked like a fairly large, clean city. Next we landed in Lusaka, Zambia and refueled and were off again. The terrain below looked dry and brown. We saw brush fires several times. I think they were controlled fires to prevent big fires later.
We got to Jo’burg on time – 6:20pm local time. Customs was simple – no medical check, no baggage check, just a quick stamp on the passport and she put some info in the computer and we were thru. We met Lynda and Yan from Leisure Wheels and they were real nice. They took us to our jeep in the parking lot. It is a real nice hard-top maroon Asia Rocsta. She went thru every detail with us, cataloging everything from cooking gear to scratches on the fenders.
Then, we were off. We were already East of the city, so we did not see downtown as we headed further east. Sam was just getting used to driving as we got on N17 East. He did real well driving on the left from the right side of the car. He even had no problems with the stick being on his left hand.
The countryside was pretty desolate, just fields and an occasional small town. We saw some more brush fires – one was inches from the road and we felt the heat. The jeep was OK. It easily would rock side to side, tho, when we got over 90kph. Looks like top speed on a straightaway is 100kph (60mph).
Still unsure of the night’s lodgings (it is winter here so it has been dark since landing.) We debated hotel or wild camping. We had been told by Lynda that there would be no camp areas until Sodwana.
(SAM) So we drove and drove, rocking back and forth the whole way. Lynda told us the gas tank was small and we would have to stop for gas often. This is not what I wanted to hear since we were going to be driving out into the wildernes. We did have a gas can, though, so we stopped to fill up. Chris surprised me by buying bread, cheese, and meat for sandwiches. Then we drove on, looking for a place to stay. Hawk-eyed Chris spotted a sign for camping. It was a nice site in Bethel, about ˝ way from Jo-burg to Sodwana Bay. There was a lake and the grass was brown and short but spongey and thick. We spied another one of those strange fires about 200 yards away. We set up camp and then noticed that the fire had burned in a line around the right side of the lake and was closer. We figured we could ignore it and it would go away, so we got in the tent and ate supper. You might think it strange that we would be eating in the tent when there are lions, tigers, and elephants outside… so did we. Chris led a rosary and we went to sleep.