Tag Archives: Hitched

Gregory gets Hitched in Turkey

Jordan Deall from Hitched, Gregory Baltoro 75 Litre Hiking backpack

Traveling can be rather unusual at times. Constantly on the move, it often just feels like an bizarre blending of different cultures and peoples. Experiences begin to merge into a strange passing of place and time. Things from a month ago suddenly feel like faded memories, but then there’s also small things like a handshake or nap in the shade of a particular tree that stick like vivid pictures in the mind.

You’re neither here nor there, and the longer you travel the more that becomes reality. Home becomes distant, and foreigness becomes normal.

That’s why I think it’s difficult to say that I’ve had a favourite place I’ve travelled through. Perhaps though, in it’s passing, it is the place you remember most. And if that is the case, then Turkey would probably be it. It’s the kind of place your mind imagines living in.

The many picnics on patches of grass with children playing loudly, their father’s making huge meat dishes over smoking fires, their mothers pouring endless chai. Soccer games enthusiastically cheered by passersby. Tight alleys lined with old men engaged in games of dominos. Coffee conversations in broken English. Bustling markets at two in the morning. Couples eating ice-creams, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with nuts. Strangers sharing watermelon, more red than pink, with hardly any seeds. Friendly smiles on trains and buses. The kind park robber who returned our passport…

These are things I will remember.

Gregory Gets Hitched in the Sudan

Luke MacDonald from Hitched, Gregory Zulu 65L Backpack through Sudan

After the whirlwind of Ethiopia where we were seperated and struggled to find each other due to an internet blackout during an attempted coup, Sudan is, according to media reports, supposed to be even worse.

Khartoum is in the middle of a civil uprising, and things have become so bad that it’s being dubbed ‘a massacre’ around the world. Because of limited visas options we have no choice but to pass through, and so we desperately sell some camera gear before we enter, so as not to look like a bunch of undercover journalists.

Yet when we enter Sudan we’re totally surprised, and we’re taught a lesson in the true goodness of humanity. Despite the unrest people are the most hospitable we’ve ever encountered. We’re reminded how different people are from their politics, and how people can unite in times of difficulty. It truly is profound, and we leave Khartoum both challenged and humbled.

In terms of travel, the conflict is quite isolated to specific areas and the rest of our passage is a relatively easy procedure. There are many military check points, but we aren’t hassled too much. Just an endless amount of searches and document clarifications.

But the desert is gruelling and by the time we reach Egypt we’re physically broken. The last stretch of Sudan is a blurr of heat, sand and thirst, with our only respite the occasional crossing of the winding river nile.

Arriving in Egypt, we’re close to finishing the length of Africa and I’m reminded of the oddity of our first lift in Namibia – an Egyptian man selling carpets. Now four months later we’re in his country, walking through the same markets he gets his supply from. Life is a strangely woven tapestry.

So far it’s been simultaneously slow, and yet time has also flown by. Most of all it’s just a strange feeling to have finished a Cape to Cairo, yet know you’re only at the half way point of a trip.

Gregory Gets Hitched in Kenya

Luke MacDonald from Hitched, Gregory Zulu 65L Backpack

After cruising through Zambia and Tanzania along the trucking and train routes, we arrive in Kenya, crossing in the far South East corner of the coastline, after a long beach walk that ended with me falling off a rocky cliff and a mild concussion.

I’m still a bit sore and walking is painful on my cut up feet. Jordan has kindly taken some of my stuff, as he has a bigger pack, so I can’t complain too much.

That said, when he and Don and suggest getting cheap bicycles to cross a section of Kenya, I’m not in the mood. But they convince me quickly, mainly because my ego isn’t about to say I’m not up to it.

Our first task is making them rideable with the backpacks. Jordan’s choice is a ridiculous bike, but nonetheless helpful. It’s a three wheeler, with a grotesque looking cage at the back. It’s slow and has no gears or any worthwhile features. These are old bikes, but at least he’s able to take his own bag as well as Don’s, which will free him up to film.

My bike is an epic, elegant, old-school yellow back-break bicycle, topped with an amazing pair of shimmering tassels. It’s glorious, yet we have to make some small alterations. Mainly, attaching a wooden board behind the seat which I can in turn strap my bag to. It’s not a proper cycling rig and so I’m a bit top heavy, but we’re not rushing anywhere with Jordan’s absolute donkey wagon, so it’ll do the trick.

It’s slow travel, and the wind is against us almost the entire time, but the weeks that proceed are some of the best of the trip. We can suddenly go wherever we want – we have wheels. It’s just fast enough to feel like you’re moving, but slow enough to see ecerything. Best of all you can stop whenever you want. It’s also the perfect speed for human interaction and so we’re blessed with some of our best moments of our journey, as we continually bump into people and are invited in for meals or a bed for the night.

In the end I’m thankful for my ego, and once again another thing is added to the ‘to do travel list’ – a long cycling trip. At least 3 months I tell myself.

Gregory Gets Hitched in Botswana

Gregory Mountain Products - Great packs should be worn, not carried. Gregory Mountain Products deliver quality backpacks for hiking, backpacking, and travel. www.gregorypacks.co.za |

Midway through Botswana I find myself promising that I’ll have to come back here once this trip is over. It feels a bit like an unfinished visit.

Growing up in Africa you often take nature for granted, however my last job working on a film project in the Sabi Sands, Kruger National Park, has recently rekindled my love for ‘the bush’ all over again.

Here in Botswana there’s something special though – a relationship between humans and nature that I’ve never experienced before. An understanding of the importance of preserving wildlife, and living side by side with wild animals. An almost deep knowing of our interconnectedness.

It’s too much to put in limited words here, but my feelings are summed up on our last night camping just outside the Zambian border, about one kilometre from the outskirts of the nearby town.

It’s about 2 am when I’m woken by the sounds of cracking branches. I immediately know it’s elephants from the strong, yet very deliberate and almost delicate snaps. I freeze. The rain sheet of our tent is off and through the mosquito mesh, aided by a near full moon, I can see quite well.

I sit up slowly and see that Jordan is already up. His eyes are big. As big as mine. I’m about to whisper to him when suddenly the moon disappears. A towering black mass against the dark blue sky sways gently in front of us. I feel tiny. Somewhat squashable. I move only my neck so as to face her straight on – I’m sure it’s the matriarch of the herd, and she’s here to suss us out. I can hear Jordan’s breathing quicken.

Neither of us is afraid, but we also know this could always go ‘bad’. It’s very unlikely, but the potential is always there.

Five minutes later and she’s okayed our presence. Suddenly we’re surrounded by the herd. We watch for about half an hour, feeling a oneness with nature I’ve felt very rarely.

It’s a surreal moment that is suddenly broken by Don snoring. For a moment Jordan and I again hold our breaths, not sure if it will upset them.

But in a truly hilarious response they begin to grumble back as only elephants can. We muffle our laughs, which also join the belly chorus. The elephants are totally fine with us being there, and they almost come past one by one to check us out. Even the little ones, their curious trunks almost brave enough to touch the tent.

They’ve become so relaxed we can move quite freely now, and so we wake up Don to share the experience.

Gregory Gets Hitched in Namibia

Gregory Mountain Products - Great packs should be worn, not carried. Gregory Mountain Products deliver quality backpacks for hiking, backpacking, and travel. www.gregorypacks.co.za |

Although we left home a month ago, having already hitchhiked from Durban to Cape Town, stepping into Namibia feels like the start of the trip. Mostly because it’s a new country, and we’re suddenly no longer ‘at home’, but also because our original plan to get to the Americas had failed miserably.

We’d wanted to catch a boat from the Cape across to Brazil, and then go up through South and Central America and on into North America, but for various reasons we had no luck with that.

Instead, like all good journeys, we’re now on a completely unplanned route. Our new route is to travel up the length of Africa and then cross the Mediterranean into Turkey. From there we’ll either go West into Europe or East into Asia in order to get to America.

We’re not walking fit yet, so everything feels heavy and cumbersome. We literally have our lives on our backs. It’s not much, but it’s what we’ll live off for the next few months. It’s crazy to think it all fits in a single backpack!

The desert temperatures are insane, it’s got that typical heat shimmer, and the sporadic black rocks make it feel like Mars. The Namib desert is said to be the oldest desert on the world, and as far as the eye can see is sand. It feels formidable, but we’re pretty confident we’re gonna score a lot of sympathy points and getting lifts will be easy.

So we walk, and walk. Nothing. About 2 hours and 10km’s later we’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s nothing visible ahead, we’re already feeling low on water, and now we’re searching for shade. It’s a good reality check, and although we’re well travelled a good reminder of how things can go in Africa if you’re not careful.

Nonetheless, we remind ourselves that all long trips start with baby steps. Namibia is the second least densely populated country in the world – maybe lifts won’t be as easy as we initially thought. We’ll have to turn back and stock up better for tomorrow.

Solid start. Typically us. Under the stars that night we can hardly sleep with the excitement for the road ahead.

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