Places we've been...

Canada
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Edmonton, Alberta
  • Abbotsford, British Columbia
  • Fredericton, New Brunswick
  • St. John's, Newfoundland
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
  • Thunder Bay, Ontatio
  • Alma, Quebec
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • St. Cesaire, Quebec
  • Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
  • Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
  • Regina, Saskatchewan
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
United States
  • Auburndale, Florida
  • Brandon, Florida
  • Dunedin, Florida
  • Lakeland, Florida
  • Venice, Florida
  • Valdosta, Georgia
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Runnemede, New Jersey
  • Glen Falls, New York
  • New York, New York
  • Rochester, New York
  • Syracuse, New York
  • New Bern, North Carolina
  • Tarboro, North Carolina
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Canonsburg, Pennsylvania
  • Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Elsewhere
  • Namibia, Africa
  • Frankfurt, Germany
  • Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Managua, Nicaragua
  • Aguadilia, Puerto Rico
  • Salinas, Puerto Rico
  • Villalba, Puerto Rico
  • Barquisimeto, Venezuela

Namibia (2005)

Sand Dunes, Safaris and Shanty-Towns: 3000 Kilometres on a Bus with No Name by Larry Jaroslawski

Day 1 – Wed., March 9
  • In the first of many early mornings, eager travelers arrive at school to start the packing process. Even Mantin looks slightly excited. Moffat eats 6 donuts in case they have no food in Africa.
  • Departure delayed a half hour due to confusion in the Chan van.
  • An unscheduled pit stop in Fort Erie puts us further behind schedule as Flanigan takes fifteen minutes to relieve himself. In what will seem to become an hourly event, Mooch yells out his first Flaaannigaaann!
  • An uneventful border crossing makes up time but we arrive at Buffalo Airport to find SJK missing in action. Their limo does arrive though, delayed due to a paper chase to get Holger through customs.
  • Yet another delay as five unidentified people in our party have names linked to terrorists.
  • Morgan gets drawn in by the smell of Burger King, forgets his ticket and barely makes the plane. Mooch is content to leave him with a supply of Big Whoppers for the next ten days.
  • We get squeezed into a shoebox of an airplane for an hour jaunt to Phillie then are forced to walk a marathon to make our connection. Morgan gets yelled at again for becoming distracted and almost making us late for the plane.
  • Mac tries picking up a twenty-three year old for Baxter and strikes out looking.
  • Poker breaks the ice as ECD and SJK begin to communicate. Despite a smorgasbord of entertainment choices, gambling is the passtime of choice.
Day 2 – Thurs., March 10
  • After a solid thirty minutes of sleep we arrive in Frankfurt, 7 am German time, 1 am our time.
  • Bus confusion keeps us hanging around the airport for 4 ½ hours. After initial excitement due to girls, porn magazines and Mercedes taxis, the boys decide to seek culture so they find a German MacDonalds.
  • Holger and the bus driver take us on a guided tour of Frankfurt. The stories are interesting for the three people that stayed awake.
  • We arrive in Assurnipal. ( editors note - Hey Mathew, it is spelled Aschaffenburg but you were close ! ) SJK and LJ visits the castle, Drury guys are led astray by Baxter, visit Frauline Hilda's Café and come back giddy.
  • We arrive at a deserted military base to find no Leopold, no wrestlers and no idea what to do. Our German talked to the Germans in German but something must have got lost in translation. The guys entertain themselves by crawling into old buildings. The bus driver gets miserable after Cako tries to borrow his phone.
  • The German version of Junior Dynamo eventually show up and tell us that Leopold is having eye surgery so we practice on our own.
  • Drury guys (except for Moffat who goes to MacDonalds ) enjoy a schnitzel dinner in the last supper before the dark continent.
  • All aboard Air Namibia- next step Africa.
Day 3 – Fri., March 11
  • Most guys drowse off somewhere over the Sahara. Mooch takes advantage of free beer and wine service well into the night.
  • It's not long before landing that the cloud cover finally breaks and we get our first sight of Africa. We have a smooth landing in bright sunshine and no one minds walking to the terminal from the middle of the runway.
  • Everything is good until Moffat pisses off the customs lady with a dumb comment and we are refused entry due to our lack of some sort of sports visa. After a hour and a half, we have our passports confiscated and are told to go find visas. We pile aboard what will be our new home for much of the next week and a half…the bus.
  • After a drive-about Windhoek, we fill out forms that cost $40 each and go to the high school to meet our new families. Mooch and Cako are interviewed by NBC (Namibian Broadcast Company).
  • The hosts and accommodations are quite varied but overall there are no complaints. Mooch and Cako have servant take their bags and try to initiate conversation but it does not seem to be allowed.
  • Chan and Cako go for a run to make weight and are confronted by armed guards. If they weren't at weight already, they sure were after that.
  • After a confusing weigh-in and light workout, all head back for supper and a sleep in the first real bed in 3 days. Mooch takes a walk on the wild side enjoying warthog and springbok for dinner.
Day 4 – Sat., March 12
  • It's tournament day. A march-in, ceremonies, oaths, only one mat and the noisiest scoreboard in the world makes for a different wrestling experience. Chan gets gold despite being harassed by natives. Leaman wins gold and is attacked by eight year olds for his Canadian money. Morgan wins gold and is attacked for his pins. Moffat, Flanigan, Baxter and Cako also win gold. Most guys wrestle good, Mantin gets yelled at for being a pig.
Day 5 – Sun., March 13
  • Another early start for quad biking at a wild game farm. We see some animals, get fed by the former Miss Namibia and have a great day. Poor driving skills exhibited on the mini-course as both McMahon and Morgan take spills.
  • A spontaneous Namibian Olympics takes place. Namibia wins the pond jump. Chan falls in and the pushes in Rob. Holger (illegal import) wins the tire suplex for SJK, Willy beats Moffat in the tire roll and ECD wins the truck lift.
  • Chan and Leaman get lost on an evening run. Namibians keep their distance from the scary China guy.
  • Its movie night in Namibia as the country stops to watch Tomb Raider.
Day 6 – Mon., March 14
  • The long ride to Etosha starts early. A $4 breakfast at an impressive lodge gives us a much needed bus break. A tour of the lodge is taken but Smith cannot take his eyes off the lady of the lodge.
  • A visit at a private school and a wander around a small town gives us some insight into Namibian life. The excitement mounts as wild animals are sighted along the road. Morgan's trip is made when he sees ‘wild bamboos'. As an added bonus they decide to share some passion on the side of the road.
  • We are just minutes into Etosha when we see our first zebras and first giraffes. After a quick camp check-in we are back on safari and add Springbok, Vultures, Wildebeest, Oryx and Jackals to our list.
  • We return to camp for a late night braai. The meat is medium raw. Poker gets interrupted by a waterhole visit by an elephant and a lion. The Namibian's party hardy and anger German tourists who more than once yell …”silence please”.
Day 7 – Tues., March 15
  • Cako leads early morning workout and Greco on the grass. The first signs of Etosha's revenge begin to appear. First Jordy, then Leaman gets the runs. Despite warnings never to leave your vehicle, Cako gets off the bus to puke. A nasty lunch doesn't help matters. Add ostriches, gnus, a big tortoise and dik-diks to our safari list. We check into Fort Namutoni. The hunter becomes the hunted … Mac tries to intimidate baby warthogs but it's the warthogs who make Mac run for his life.
  • The evening braai consists of barbecued lamb, maise with tomatoes and sheep liver wrapped in cow stomach for appetizers (called turtles). After supper we bond with the jackals (some bond more than others)(Morgan hopes to get lucky with the cutest jackal). The fun ends when the ‘corporal' arrives and threatens to kick us out of the park for feeding the jackels. (He insists the rule is somewhere in our contract). He refuses a photo because he is not a criminal.
Day 8 – Wed., March 16
  • We leave early on a mission. We follow a trail of elephant dung until we finally find the big beast. We also see kudu and a black rhino before calling it a day. Cheetahs and Leopards will have to wait until the next trip.
  • On a long, long bus ride home, we stop at a shanty town where Baxter feeds barefooted kids. We visit a famous sinkhole with caged animals and smelly sheep. A late lunch at Wimpy's makes us late getting back to Windhoek so we have to practice African style with no shirts and no boots.
  • It's off to Joe's Beerhause for a team dinner. Most guys have the Bushman Sosastie (kudu, crocodile, ostrich, oryx and zebra). Cako has what appears to be a dinosaur leg. Morefat has French fries.
Day 9 – Thurs., March 17
  • It's a school day. Some guys go to school with the hosts. Mac, Johnny, Morgan, Moffat, and Flanigan go to a private school to watch people write tests and talk in Afrikans. Chan, Leaman, and Jordy go to the government school and have stuff thrown at them. Smith has some sort of business meeting. Having him involved with their economy is all they need. Everyone makes sport out of bartering with street vendors and Johnny almost has his bank card stolen twice. We drive through the shanty town and stop in a destitute bar to mingle with locals. Yellow meat hangs by a rope in the open market making us appreciate the stuff we've been eating. Why are there so many barber shacks?
  • We endure an African cloudburst. A tour of the Namibian Brewing Company is interesting and tasty but not so good of an idea before practice. ECD defeats SJK in a pre-practice rugby match and Willy bleeds like a wounded warthog.
Day 10 – Fri., March 18
  • It's off to the desert on a bus with no name, its good to get out of the rain.
  • We get off of the main road and on to Pothole Highway and venture into the Namib to see the moonscape and a 15, 000 year old plant. Drury builds a human pyramid. The wind is hot. 20 minutes later we are on the chilly coast and visit a rock museum. We climb a small dune but it is big in our eyes.
  • After weigh-ins and a clinic we feast on a chicken dinner and the boys led by Flanigan begin making moves on the Namibian girls. Moffat charms them with his display of gluttony.
  • Kevin who has been designated as SJK's Flanigan, snaps and starts pointing his bow and arrow at people and throwing bricks.
Day 11 – Sat., March 19
  • Another long, one mat, tournament. The local headmaster greets us with CDs and what seems to be a funny speech but no one understands.
  • Morgan, Leaman, and Mac win gold. ‘The Yellow” wins two golds and gets a standing ovation. Leaman wins Outstanding Wrestler. Cako breaks a chair then beats up an old, racist man. Chan ends up with a perfect record in Africa, 10-0. Baxter and Leaman challenge little kids to cricket. Johnny gives it a try and embarrasses our country. Smith sucks as manager as he lays outside all day trying to pick up chicks.
  • After the tournament everyone goes sandboarding on Dune 7. Moffat gets the distance record, big John has the most impressive crash, breaking his nose.
  • Andre introduces Mooch to click talkers. Sing Song rocks the bus on the way back to the chalets.
  • Pre-dinner ceremonies feature heart-felt thank yous, farewells, reminisces and presentations. The Namibians toast us with a robust " Shiddi Cakas " . We're not sure whether that was good or bad. Cako befriends a Dutch reform nun. He has kavorka…the lure of the animal. We enjoy tasty Namibian stew for supper. To mark our last night in Africa, it rains in Walvus Bay for what they claim is the first time in ten years.
Day 12 – Sun., March 20
  • We don't save the best till last. After the first round of good-byes we hit the long and winding road. It is cold and damp. We see piles of salt and a desert resort town where we take over an hour for slow fast-food. We drive through the rocky part of the desert and see strange looking mountains. By the time we get to Leon's, there is no time to shit, shower or shave.
  • We say another round of farewells. We pass a series of motorcades bringing dignitaries in from the airport for Independence Day ceremonies. There are more farewells, photos, handshakes, hugs and kisses and a few tears (Flanigan). Namibian girls sing a goodbye song. The final Namibian dollars are used up on anything that costs money including Oral Master toothbrushes. Flight fairly uneventful except for lady across from Chan freaking out and Mantin sitting beside an old weirdo who sat on the floor with her head on the seat.
Day 13 – Mon., March 21
  • Mooch's quiet cappuccino at Frankfurt Airport is disrupted by a security alert that removes people from the immediate area. He then discovers the mysterious bag on the walkway causing all the excitement belongs to Moffat. It doesn't end there. Moffat's bags get to Philly with no tags so he takes it as a carry-on despite having knives in it.
  • A lady tries unsuccessfully to save Smith and Johnny's souls after observing their lust for German porn. Next stop Buffalo.
  • That's it, that's all, its over, Mantin says thanks to Mantin for typing up this novel. Mooch says " why did it take 2 months ? " 13 great days and everyone (pending unknown viruses and parasites in the coming months) comes back alive and much richer for the experience. As they say in Afrikans … Kgomu kwanyana … whatever that means.