...somewhere on the road....
  ...on the Dark Continent!!

  ... Servas host and traveller Ron GRANT shares his experiences from the roads of Southern Africa

Meeting Servas Hosts ...
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The project

Why Africa?

Ron Dispatches from Southern Africa

Fri, 28 May 1999

Ron Out of Africa!

So I thought I should do a bit of a trip ‘wrap-up’ , as many will wonder how it all turned out, after the accident. Three weeks later, as I sit here at my friend Bill’s place in Los Angeles, I am pleased to say that I am mostly all healed. A bit of residual joint soreness, but otherwise I am ready to start my next motorcycle adventure, and meet more SERVAS hosts, as I ride up the West coast to Canada. But first, let’s talk about the past three weeks.

As I quickly mentioned in the last repast, I stayed at John and Wallis Sullivan for two weeks, in Bulawayo. They were the most considerate and gracious hosts, and after a week, as I was sufficiently mobile, we took an overnight trip to their ‘country’ home, in Matopas Park. Matopas was a spot I had hoped to visit before the accident, but had not made on my ‘first’ visit to Bulawayo. Actually there is a story there too, as the reason I did not have the time to get to Matopos earlier was because on the way to Bulawayo I had lost the clothes luggage pack off the back of the bike! And there is a story with that, too, as it happened because I had a front end flat tire, and had hastily re-packed after fixing it! So you see, in a ‘karma’ scheme of things, the few days leading up to my final accident, things were not looking too good, actually. But that is in the past, so not too dwell on too much is best, I suspect. I do have this recurring scene in my mind, however, of some poor African family sitting around in their rondavell cookhouse one night, trying to divide up the contents of my black bag. “So now, who would like this pair of fluorescent green trackpants from Thailand??!!??

Matopas was pretty fabulous, and the Sullivan “cottage” the icing on the cake. John is an extremely accomplished engineer, and his dwelling , just outside the park boundary, is a real showcase of his design and construction talents. It was built around and encompassing many of the unique round weathered rocks for which the park is world famous. The inside effect is stunning, as you walk around and through these massive sculpted boulders to move from room to room. I just hope my photos do the architecture justice, as I really thought it was the most impressive home design I have seen since touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Falling Waters’ in Pennsylvania. When we were there, John ad his kids were in a hiking mood, something I was not yet ready for. So as they went into the bush I sat on the balcony soaking in the fantastic scenery and watching the Black Eagles and yellow-billed Hornbills.

Later in the week I got another chance to see Matopas Park as John’s brother, Vincent, took me on an overnight camping trip into the park. Matopas is one of only two game parks in Africa where campers are allowed “in the wild”, this in spite of having a large Rhino population. Vincent felt that because of the caution due to Rhino poaching fares the wardens keep a close eye on their location, and would move campers if they got close. In any case, our only worry was the group of monkeys that descended on us as the bacon and egg fumes wafted skyward in the morning! On the way out of the park. Vincent decided to show me the scenic ‘back’ route, which required a bit of weaving and dodging of rocks in places. In fact, at one point I thought we had holed the radiator , but luckily it was just water fro a stream we had forded. As we did not see another car in an hour of driving, I’m not sure how we would have handled a holed radiator!

So all in all I did get to see more of the Bulawayo area than I had planned. I did get a visit from SERVAS host Birgit, again, after the accident. I had stayed with her on my first visit to town, and we had spent a great night in the local disco! Unfortunately my total SERVAS visits on the Africa trip stand at only 3, as when the accident happenedI was heading to Livingstone, where there are a number of hosts I had hoped to meet.

I flew out of Harare to England and a restful week by the seaside in Hastings with old friends Hugh and Gail, ex-SERVAS travelers I had met on the beach in Tonga in 1993! Now I am readying to leave Los Angeles on the Honda VF700F I bought from a email contact. I have been riding it around for a few days and it seems like a great bike. With a new helmet and very tough UK purchased cordura jacket, I hope I will be well prepared for the next accident that never comes!!

Servas travel "should be a learning experience".
Reva King

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