It wasn’t very long ago that three friends decided to leave their respective husbands, abandon their children, cast responsibilities to the four winds and set off to conquer Africa. And we did it!
Two of the three were me (aka ‘Stompie’) and my sister, Janie (aka The Countess). Jane de S. (aka ‘Stukkie’) was our wonderfully eccentric and much loved travelling companion until we reached Tanzania where she had to leave the team and fly back to meet her children in Uganda. Undeterred, Janie and I bashed our way on up through the Serengeti, down into the Ngorongoro Crater, across into Kenya…and up over the border into beautiful Uganda and our ultimate destination …..the foothills of The Mountains of the Moon.
Here is my account of the journey in a poem which is written backwards because we originally intended to start from Uganda. In fact we eventually did it the other way around – starting from the meeting of those two oceans at the very tip of Africa up to the Mountains of the Moon (Ruwenzori) in Uganda – 10,089 kilometres in all!
THREE LADIES AND A LANDROVER
With vehicle stocked and engine oiled
And brand new Michelins still unsoiled,
We’ll venture forth to chase our dream
Of dusty plains where wild game teem.
Of glistening dunes in desert places,
Immense blue skies and feral spaces.
Of rainbow’d falls and verdant valleys
And canyon floors – vast granite alleys.
From Malawi’s clear, sun-crystal’d lake
The southern route is one we’ll take.
Through Tete and Zim to Mozambique
Past fever trees and dried-up creek.
Then ‘cross the Swazi hills we’ll go
Where geysers soar and rivers flow.
From highland veldt and blond savannah,
Through sprawling huts to hillside manor.
Across Limpopo hinterland and the desiccated plain
To teeming herds of antelope, and elephants again.
Down through the desert, past skeletal coast
Bleached white bones and shipwreck’d ghost
To shimmering saltpans and dry bed Chari
And the sand filled seas of the Kalahari.
Through wastelands red, the ochre Nama
Mythical canyons and rock strewn drama.
On to the mountains, through fields of maize
To magical memories of childhood days,
Where dolphins skim the blue-green sea
And the wild, white beaches – running free.
Through sunny vineyards with grapes so sweet
We’ll reach the point where two oceans meet.
We’ll watch the waves crash, huge and mighty
And then turn our thoughts to dear old Blighty.
But Africa will hold her spell; the pulsating beat
And rhythm of cicada song, the sizzling heat.
Misty valleys, sapphire lakes and sunset glory;
Jungled slopes and snow-clad peaks of Ruwenzori.
Crocodiles and splashing hippo, the puissant Nile.
A tribal song: a ritual dance – that welcome smile.