How did we come to an idea of a long-term travelling?

It was June 2007, when I boarded the plane for the first time going to London and few days later to Hong Kong on my way to Malaysia. I was dreaming of it for years, but needed to have that first push to actually doing it. Back then I was in a long distance relationship and going travelling was a way of spending time together.

On our last trip to Vietnam we met a Canadian guy on our boat trip that had been travelling for 6 months. That evening I talked with my partner at the time what he thinks t kind of travel (I did not want to tell him that this is my new dream) and he only said he thinks he wouldn’t be able to travel for a long period. I was disappointed, and kept my dream for myself until we broke up. It was hard time, but it was the best thing that happened to me. I went back to England to work for English summer school in Oxford and to figure it out; what I want to do for myself. The main goal was going to travel for 6 months. Where? Anywhere! At the end of my summer work I returned to Slovenia to prepare for a move back to London, where I would be able to earn enough money for my travels. This time nothing could stop me and I went on my last holiday trip to Bosnia with my friends. There I met Tan, who just finished his 3 months travels around Europe. We parted the next day and only thought we will be long distance friends, but daily Skype talks made us closer and closer.

We talked about life and what we wanted for ourselves. I shared my dream and asked him what he thinks about it, and he was all up for it, at the end of the day he already was affected by the long term travel bug by doing a Euro trip. Things started evolving fast and he came to London (one of his cities to live in list) with me to start saving. Our passion for travel got us together and continued to be a big part of our relationship and an even bigger part of our marriage. But our idea of 6 months long travels got us so excited, that after many talks it slowly expanded into a year-long one and ended being idea of an almost two years-long travel adventure. Our life in London was about us saving money and preparing ourselves as individuals, and as a couple for both of our dreams to come true. None of us needed to compromise about this dream, we just found each other at the right time of our lives.

Sarajevo on a day we met

Sarajevo on a day we met

A Biggie Smalls World

So Lu and I were splurging a little. We had pizza and beer. I mean after 14 hours of travel and getting through the Tanzania-Zambia border we felt we deserved it. We have eaten our fair share of beef stew with Ugali and greens it felt about time to get some melted cheese in us.

Often when Lu and I are having pizza and beer (as we did every Friday in London) our conversations go on for a little longer. Probably the rush of endorphins from pizza and the liquid massage of beer (booze) gets talk going. We often talk about childhood and while we were talking I started to think about how my concept of what the world is and exploring it has grown and keeps getting bigger and bigger.

When I was little or as far back as I can remember having a concept of the world, the world was pretty much our house. I remember even in the house there were unexplored places. Such as the secret area in the attic, the creepy basement room with all the broken pots, the unused basement bathroom, basically the basement in general. The basement is pretty scary, but after a while I eventually had to go get something from the basement and explored it. As I got older my view of the world expanded to my hosue and my street. I became friends with the other kids on the street and we would play hockey in the street or when playing hide and go seek we might discover a secret passageway between the two houses. Finally I got to the age where I had to go to school. From there I met the other kids in the neighborhood and for years we ran around our streets and park, but then expanded to walking downtown every weekend, making my world even bigger. I was introduced to new ideas, like used CDs and Taco Bell. After a while we got bikes and so now our 1-2 hour long walks downtown could be done in 10 minutes. My friends and I then explored some of the neighborhoods off of downtown, some of the surrounding park, swimming pools and the river, also the circle of friends grew since now we could see each other with our getting a ride. At this point we thought we knew everywhere in town, but then came getting driving licenses. From there we went to all places both just under our noses and at the edge of town. Also we started to go to other towns, other parts of the state, and just before leaving for college we started road trips. We thought we could then go anywhere in a car. But living in the states is like that, the country is so big that most people never leave it so having a car is the key to the world. Throughout college my friends and I road tripped whenever we could. Sometimes even a trip to the airport ended up getting lost and exploring some part of the state we never thought to go to. Trips to Northern Michigan used to seem like they took ALL DAY, but by college it was basically just a commute. (Especially when you have a friend who is going over 100 the whole way back from northern Michigan….. you know who you are). Then came the time to leave the state, I moved to Montana, then Wyoming, then Seattle. After that the US started to seem smaller, easier to grasp the distance and just because something might be a 30 hour drive away it seemed totally do able. In Seattle I got back into biking. Biking is probably the best way to explore the world now that I look back on it. I was able to cover so much of the city but still be connected and not in the bubble of a car. We discovered routes through the city that used less hills, road full speed down the main street at 2 am with no cars, and explored the islands around the city, or just went for a beer. But by bike I really started to appreciate the little things again, the small discoveries, where as in a car I was covering a lot of ground, but not taking everything in. When I came to Europe I decided to use my own two feet more. I walked everywhere both in my travels around Europe and in London. I walked for 8 hours around Berlin, I walked from Gard du Norde to the 16 District via the Champs Elysee with a bag on my back, and spent hours getting lost in Sarajevo with Lu. Later in London when I didn’t have work I just walked everywhere, I didn’t have a job so to save money I just walked. I walked to Brent from Homerton, from Wimbledon to Battersea, from Picadilly to Whitechapel. London must be explored this way as it has so many tiny streets, alleyways and small shops that even on bike you might miss a little wonder. So again progressing backwards, my world was expanding, but it’s the little details that really matter.

So now things like renting a car in Slovenia from some dude at bar seems second nature, where as a few years before it would have scared the hell out of me. But after renting that car we made sure to appreciate the good views from the car or the simplicity of good Burek and to enjoy the time with friends in the car.

While I am on a wonderful trip now, we both look back at our previous explorations. They look small and probably hilarious that they were considered explorations, but now it is sort of the same way now just a bigger scale. Every day here is not discovering a new species, or an encounter with a Lion, or an epic encounter with a tribe. Most days we end up finding a new small shop in some small town, finding a new deal on a local bus, or a bakery that is only open on Sundays. So it is still the small discoveries that thrill us, but eating an egg bought from our bus window is not something I have had on my other explorations. 

Tan  inside  a giant Baobab. Our new home?

Tan inside a giant Baobab. Our new home?

The Barbaig and Massai

When we left our Safari tour group in Zanizibar our main goal was to set off on our own to discover Tanzania outside the bubble of our overlander; to experience the most out of the land and the people. So we toughed it on public transport, complete with children starring at us, falling asleep on us, sitting next to guys with massive machetes, people elbowing and stepping on us, people putting sacks of beans under our feet and then us helping unload them off the bus.  The usual expected from public transport and we loved it because we were with the people how they usually are - not staged at all.

Further than that we wanted to connect with some of the people who haven’t changed much despite all the changes going on in the cities, these people are what most people refer to as tribes. We have also found though that there are so many staged experiences for tribes around here in Africa, where people might still live in the tribal area but they don’t really keep up with practices and only do them as a show.

We knew going to Babati would be a good place to start as there are cultural tours which sounded authentic; on the way we happened to stay a night in a hostel.

We got to talking with the hostel host and their Massai security guard. We found that they actually do a sort of unofficial tour of the village, well not really a tour he sort of just goes home to see his wife and newborn - and we get to tag along.

We decided we would come with him and spend the night with his family. When we got to the village a few girls were around and sang us a welcome song. It was nice but we still felt a little awkward since we didn’t know if they enjoyed the welcome song. But, we thanked them and walked to the huts. At the center of the huts he started talking to everyone and we had no idea what was really happening. So we sort of blankly starred at the fences built of fallen thorny acacia. We then realized he only called a few people so he could suprise his wife and child. After the surprise he took us to a hut where we sat and talked with his mother while sipping tea. More and more people came to greet us and say hello to our guide. We were surprised that after the shock of being in a mud and thatch hut wore off, just sitting around and chatting felt normal. But then as the night came the young boys brought the goats and cows in for the night and all hell broke loose. My watch had a glow light on it so it became the new village toy… while still attached to my arm. I also became a jungle gym. While I was outside throwing boys into the air while they climbed on me, Lu was in the hut with the women. It became obvious to us that the men and women have very different roles. The women are there to keep track of everything in the village such as water, food, clothing, the huts and the men take care of the animals and leadership and are served by the women. This is true even for the boys; that as future men they were equal or higher in rank than their mother’s.

The boys were hilarious and all over us; constantly just making noise, taking stuff off of us, and playing games, or just bouncing in our laps. But their mothers did not stop them from any of this. Later the women performed a song and dance for us. (Again we were worried it would be staged, but later we were told that they love doing it and we were merely an excuse. Even after we went to bed they carried on.) While they performed the boys constantly jumped in and made noise and tried to distract us.

It was fun but exhausting as well, fortunately we were invited to sleep in our guide’s mother’s hut. We slept on wood and goat skin in the smoke soaked hut. I slept great, Lu not as much, but the next day we were again sipping tea with his mother. It honestly felt almost the same as a Saturday morning at home. When we left we went to the Massai market where the men went to sell goats, and separately the women hauled, coal, corn flour, and water for of 5km on their head or back for sale. The men may rule the roost, but the women are the backbone. At the market we shared a goat with some of the Massai men, and also after chatting we found that despite the difference in sexes they do appreciate each other which can be seen in how they treated us. We found that while they do have multiple wives and arranged marriages, they do also marry for love, love all of their children, and honor taking care of everyone in their family. Siblings from other mother’s are still treated as equals and the children refer to their father’s other wives as mothers. So while there is much separation there is still warmth and love.

We said goodbye to our guide (who later sent my lost jacket) and ended up in Babati to go on a cultural tour. We went on a bike tour to visit with someone from the Barbaig tribe. We rode our bikes through the rift valley, saw some naked dudes bathing in the hot spring, then repaired our bike, then ended up in the shade outside some guy’s mud and stick house. Our guide then stated that we were at a Barbaig house. The Barbaig dress similar to the Massai, but one difference is that their women have tattoos around their eyes At the beginning of the conversation we were a little confused how we ended up there, and then realized this is also someone our guide just met. Our conversation was pretty light, but they were so baffled by us having only one wife.

One wife? Really?

How many cows did she cost?

None!?

Getting a wife is cheap, why don’t you have more!?

As we asked more about the wives (I mean it’s a pretty interesting concept to both sides), we found that they are actually different from the Maasai in that while the women are not allowed to marry more than one man they are allowed to have sex with as many partners as they want and if there is a child their husband will accept it as their own, and there are divorces. So while they carry sticks, have extended earlobes and checkered blankets, they might look similar but actually each tribe does have their own customs and culture still alive today.

When we left Babati we had to take an overcrowded bus and fight for our seats. But then a clearly Barbaig woman came on the bus. We smiled and looked at each other because now had learned the difference between the tribes. She then sat next to me on the bus ….. and repeatedly elbowed me in the chest and fell asleep on my shoulder. 

Modern Africa

It feels a little strange to write about modern Africa since I have never been here before. So I suppose I am probably comparing it to the Africa I had in my head either from documentaries, movies, firsthand accounts, news, or books. So, actually I am probably comparing to my own biased-ness from documentaries about remote tribes, filmed 10 years ago - probably not a good comparison. Anyways it is remarkable what people think about Africa and what it actually is. It is a strange mix of traditional ways, aged colonial infrastructure and modern tools. To get around this limits though people use the modern tools in remarkable ways.

I would say the two most important things I have seen while here come from the Chinese; cheap motorbikes and cell phones. The two actually work hand in hand to bring Africa forward. For example before people had to spend a whole day to go to the store or get some lumbar for their house. Now with their phones they can place and order from anywhere to be delivered by dala-dala. Or if they have to go to the city they take the public bus or motorbike down. Even remote roads have a motorbike which takes you to your house or lodge where no cars or buses go. With the bikes now everyone is connected to the major cities or towns and can get there in a day or do the round trip in a day.

With their cellphones the people here have turned them into the whole economy with a tool called m-pesa. For smaller transfers, such as groceries or taxi rides, they just transfer money instantly between phone numbers. Plus as we have seen here everyone is very connected. People stop to chat to each other even if it is a stranger. So it seems like almost everyone knows everyone, which is key because connections mean everything here. If you want something you go through your connections and they fix it for you (zrihtajo!). So between texting and Whatsapp, their world moves instantly. And now as they have 3G across the country, which connects them no matter where they are to the world allowing both instant connections to each other but to the whole world and its ideas.

This hit us hard when our computer cable broke. We walked to the towns local main street lined with corrugated roof shacks, and low and behold one shack had a Dell symbol painted on it. We took the cable in and the guy said he could replace it for 20$, or he could try to fix it. We looked at each other thinking – really!? How the hell is this guy going to fix it, he has a repair office next to some live chickens in a shack about the size of an airplane bathroom. But hey for 10$ vs 20$ it’s worth it! He gave it a try for about 2 hours, but he was missing a part since I had a rare US cable, but he still explained everything and he knew his stuff! Plus we saw while he was doing it he was researching on YouTube. Still, he could not repair the cable and we got a new computer cable faster than in Slovenia, London, or Seattle.

The mix of technology, traditional ways, and the aged infrastructure can happen all at once. The lights go out because of the bad power system, but you see the glow of cellphone from traditionally dressed Maasai.

There are countless stories like this; such as our guide calling a friend in the bush to take him to his house, booking rooms while riding the overcrowded bus, local music but from people’s phones, hearing Whatsapp and Facebook notifications as often as birds on bus, watching tribal lion hunts filmed on phone, or getting a lost jacket delivered same day 300 kilometers after I left it in a remote Maasai hut.

When we prepare to leave the continent we will be doing the usual things that people imagine of scrubbing the red soil out of our clothes and shoes, looking at photos of Lions and tribes, handwriting letters to be mailed, but also we need to make sure that we have connected on Facebook to share our photos so our new Barbaige friends can view them on their smartphone with their family in their mud and stick hut or in some cases we need to get photos from them since now they take photos of us

She wanted to do a selfie and was our photographer for our time in the Massai Village

She wanted to do a selfie and was our photographer for our time in the Massai Village

Pare tribe

Another great experience was going to Pare Mountains, to a village that we could not find on a google maps. We spent only few days there, but it was amazing. We stayed at the only possible accommodation in that area, which was definitely not our favourite. Me being a tourism professional, I usually do not judge when I travel, but seeing a place so badly mismanaged it hurts my head. But the highlight is the option to have a local villager (who speaks English) to show you around on various walks. Our local villager will definitely stay our friend as she was so kind to let us into her world of being from the Pare tribe. We learned about plants, which have medicinal characteristics, how to grow certain foods and spices, met her auntie that was just cooking beans with banana in her little mud house, met an uncle who is the most famous former traditional dancer in the tribe, saw the making of mud bricks, and much more. She also showed us few places from their darker history, such as a rock where they threw children off to avoid being cursed. We also read that it is very unlikely that we will see special places where they store the skulls of their ancestors, but we were lucky enough to be shown two of them. A lot of things they used to do as a tribe, they changed, but they try to keep the good parts of their culture. By the end of the stay we were being greeted like we are one of the fellow villagers. And again people here were welcome and happy that we came, by inviting us to their houses or elders trying to chat with us on the road in Pare tribal language or Swahili. It was amazing.

Annie introducing us to her auntie

Annie introducing us to her auntie

Living with the locals

When leaving Zanzibar, we were followed by a porter/tout and made to pay for his service of following. It is such a shame that a person having an amazing time leaves with bitter aftertaste. He tainted our Zanzibar experience, but then again he made us so mad that we woke up from our holiday mode back to our traveler mode. So as soon as we stepped on mainland soil in Dar Es Salaam we were ready to brush touts off us. We don’t have a desire to stay in big cities; they are only our transport hubs as they are too intense. So we bought our tickets towards Arusha but asked to be dropped off few hours earlier in a village.

Somehow we managed to walk a few km away from the village, thinking that we will find the cheapest hostel, which is a Lutheran centre as well. We found some help to drive us to the right place and we ended up at the Lutheran church. They showed us around their project, which helps parents from extremely poor families, to raise their kids with consultation, enrolling them into schools, sorting health situations and more. They were extremely nice to us and children kept coming and touching our hands and being amazed that they see Mzungu from a close up. But when we got lost, we were not aware that an hour later we will be giving a speech in front of a classroom full of youth. We also were not expecting that they will feed us and just simply treating us as we were one of their US donors. We were expecting to be asked for a donation, but they did not want anything from us. They only directed us to our hostel, to which we were escorted by a bunch of barely teenage girls, who were trying to practicing their English whilst holding our hands. We were amazed that nobody expected anything from us. We were not a dollar sign on legs, like in all other parts we’ve been to. Next day we went to check their service for a big celebration as I was promised to hear some fun singing, and again we were not expecting giving ANOTHER speech in front of a full church. After that the whole village knew us and they were even warmer to us (if this is even possible). The experience here was so amazing that after our few days trip we returned to this village to stay few more days. During these days we witnessed another big event; a yearly singing competition where one of the choirs was a Massai choir singing whilst dancing. Dressed in their traditional celebratory outfits, but not because they have to put a show on for tourists, but because they want to show off the outfits-and they enjoy it. They surprised the local non-Massai villagers, as even for them this was a rare occasion to be part of Massai dancing culture.

I can only be your global friend

I am in a way a global nomad, I made friends all over the world and with my constant moving from place to place I think I still have very rich life with friends. But coming from a small town (almost a village), some of my old friends might think I am out of their lives already.

Meaning of the word friendship has a different meaning to me. For me a friend is someone that I do not contact every day, week, month or even years. But when we do see or hear each other we are like we used to be, it seems like only a day has passed. I loved our weekend break in Norway when we went to see my old high school friend. I did not see her for about 6 years, but we ended chatting for hours day and night. We both changed a lot, but our friendship and openness to each other stayed the same.

Especially living in London allowed me to have similar friendships. It seems like they are in our group of global nomads. Although living in the same city, we sometimes did not manage to meet for months, but when we did it was the most incredible time with fun experiences. Whether it was occasional scavenger hunting, once a year bbqing, occasional trips to Brighton or Devon, night outs to the theatre/cinema, weird costume themed parties, or just simple and plain old family style Christmas dinners with snorting-laughter. Seeing all of them and be part of their amazing life experience makes me speechless and grateful that we have met them. I am glad that these friendships are lasting and I am sure they will continue to last, even though there are thousands of miles between us, and years before we meet again, we are still there for each other and want to share our important life adventures. We feel so grateful that so many people let us into their important life events.

All this amazing experience of being a global friend is being such a positive thing of making friends for life. But as I wrote earlier I come from a small town and country where a friend is usually regarded as a person that is there constantly. Unfortunately my situation of being a global nomad means I cannot be there the whole time. For this reason, I am extremely blessed with only a handful of people that can understand this and are keeping me in their lovely circle. Who would think that people from this same small ‘village’ can be the ones to understand not hearing from you for years or even not seeing you for months or years (although we used to spend every day together as children). People I met when I was a child are the best gift to me, as we were there for each other whilst growing together into adulthood. But it is also some individuals that I met throughout and taught me that being different and a wee bit crazy is a good thing. Specially friends that took an effort to come to see me when I was far away.

Island of Krk in Croatia

Island of Krk in Croatia

All our friends (old and newer) are the best gifts we could ever wish for and even if you do not hear from us for a while, we are still there when you need us. Although we are on the road and away from you, we still think of you.

Love,

Lu

Forgot to do before leaving

When we left Slovenia for Africa I honestly didn't know how I felt about our travelling. I hadn’t put thought into it, more just saw it as a goal like summer vacation – get through exams then summer is there. But travelling isn’t just vacation.

 We had gone through so much from about March to September that my mind hadn’t even really switched into travelling mode. When we finally prepared to leave London we had a every growing list of things to do, and when we checked one thing off the list it seemed that three new tasks would appear. Then as we were leaving we had many goodbye to say, and as a result the planned relaxing month before we left turned into a chaotic one. We thought we would be coming to the end of London at a snail’s pace but instead we were going 60 miles an hour right until the plane took off for Slovenia. In Slovenia we had a month to prepare for the arrival of all the family and friends, which we thought would be easily enough time… it wasn’t, we had to rush the whole way.

In the last month in Slovenia we still had task to task up until the last day. Our final day was spent with our dog, and actually I was dreading the departure hour as I knew we would have to say goodbye to him. When we did I was a wreck, Lu asked me if I wanted to stay. I of course said ‘No’ but in that instant of course I was thinking ‘Yes’.

                As we walked around Venice I still couldn’t comprehend that we were going travelling. Even this felt more like a day trip, not a layover trip. When we headed to Nairobi it started to hit me only when we were going in the Taxi to our accommodation but even then it didn’t hit. We were passing by all the sights one thinks of in Africa; exotic animals, fruit markets, people on bicycle, vans rampaging through traffic, extreme poverty, trucks with hundreds of people, red dirt roads. But as we talked about this for so long and looked at documentaries and magazines none of it really shocked me or even got to me that we were really travelling yet.

                Then around the 3rd or 4th day it started to set in, and I was going back and forth between unease and excitement almost every 10 minutes about the trip. I hadn’t really prepared at all mentally for this, I had just ticked boxes of shots, pills, sandals, travel towels, backpack. Only things you need for the trip, not really the thoughts for the trip. The one thing I didn’t really prepare for was ‘what do I really want out of the trip’ besides just ‘seeing stuff’. Lu had prepared (as usual), and I had nothing ready.

                Fortunately while Lu is much better at being prepared; I am much better in the last minute. We had time at our lodge every day to just relax. So, I looked at an original list of some goals I wrote a while ago and forgot about, and they were totally unreasonable, which probably lead to the unease. Who has time to learn SQL, HTMl, CSS, get-as-in-shape-as-Schwarzenegger, learn Spanish, French, Slovenian, get a Masters/Ph.D., and become a millionaire on the road!? So, some simpler goals; read, listen to music, write, stay in shape a little, work on a foreign language, and just appreciate it. The funny thing is that this is probably the most important thing of travel – to get something out of it and take time for yourself, which I sort of forgot about.

                The other source of this unease actually came from Lu. Well not really Lu, but I have only ever travelled for a long time by myself. Before when I travelled Europe I had my own brain every day. It could be 2 or 3 days before I had a real conversation with someone when travelling alone. So as a result my mind went to all sorts of places from abstract ideas, to dumb ones, to practical ones. Almost like meditation (or solitary confinement...depends how you see it).

My mind has been put to ease since those first few days. I noticed that my mind has plenty of time each day to expand and think fantastical thoughts, and now Lu has to listen to my dumb thoughts, but also I get feedback and as a result we are able to have several real conversations (a.k.a Real Talk), a day instead of having to wait 2 to 3 days. For some goals, I have already read two books and am halfway through a third. Plus I am writing and thoughts about life are flowing freely in my head and in journal or ‘blog ideas’ document. So after a month of travel I can now say ‘OK-now I can travel’. Only a month late, a little slow off the starting block but now it’s coming easier.

 

Ready for the road ahead!

 

Tan having deep thoughts 

Tan having deep thoughts 

Zanzibar retreat

It is only a month since we left Slovenia, but we already need some down time. In these past weeks we experienced so many things that we need some time to look back, take it all in and refresh. We were waking up in the early mornings to start our game drives or to get from A to B in a good time, to numerous touts following us trying to sell us nick nacks - which can be tiring. It feels like we are on the road for ages as we already have so many memories gathered in so little time.

We decided to have a break as soon as our safari ends. It happened that it ended with 4 nights on a Zanzibar island, spending two in Stone town and another two nights on the northern village called Nungwi. It was sad to say goodbyes, but all good things come to an end. Nungwi was extremely nice place, with beachfront hotel that also has a pool and numerous bars and restaurants. But  we can not afford to stay there for another week, so we placed ourselves in a small hostel on the east part of the island. It is very nice place, with an unbelievable Rastafarian influence. The only downside is, that we have to eat at the hostel as there is no kitchen and the first village with street food is about and hour and a half walk each way (if the tide is out). But overall it is still cheap, although for Zanzibar it is definitely a higher budget than for the mainland. For a meal (per person) we would spend around 10.000 Tanzanian shillings (approx. 6 USD).

Nungwi beach, Zanzibar

Nungwi beach, Zanzibar

We will stay here for a while before heading back into the mainland of Tanzania.

Safari of a lifetime!

We are back, safe and sound, a bit dirty and tired, and full of memories that feel like we just watched the most amazing animal documentary of our lives – by being in it!

Our safari was amazing, due to our crew, fellow safarians, animals, panoramic views and more. Our drive started with a monster safari vehicle at one of the nicest Nairobi hotels (Hill park hotel). It was a great one night stand, after week long camping and before another two weeks of camping with some cold showers, long drop toilets and other luxuries that we were about to have.

So we headed from Nairobi in Kenya and camped the whole way through Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru, Lake Victoria, Serengeti, Ngoro Ngoro crater rim, Snake park and at the edge of Kilimanjaro just before we went back to civilization to spend some time in Zanzibar.

You are probably wondering if we saw anything, and our answer would be a lot! Can you imagine seeing a rare moment when a lion climbs up a tree, to wait for a prey to come to him? Well this is the kind of luck we had the whole time of our safari, from seeing black and white rhino, leopard, and wildebeest migrating to Masai Mara, vultures feeding on carcass, servile cat hunting in the grass, and seeing crocodiles which were too stuffed to eat more food that was just floating around. This was definitely experience of a lifetime.

 
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We are so happy we decided for a camping safari as being in a tent in the middle of Serengeti, hearing hyenas laughing, wildebeest almost tripping over our tent and our guide instructing us to stay in our tents as there is a lion walking pass our tents. Then another funny moment at the rim of the Ngoro Ngoro crater, when we were washing up our dishes and Tan welcomes the park ranger. Only to realize that the ranger is there to follow wild elephant which was just behind Tans shoulder. There was a lot more little moments that made this camping worthwhile. We also loved the way our safari was done, where we were helping with camping chores and I learned how to do some of the local dishes from our cook Issa. Our guide refused to give us village experience that is designed for tourists, instead he threw us out of the truck and made us to go and explore local villages and talk to the locals on our own and by using our terrible Swahili. 

Foodie time in Nairobi area

A big part of our travels is to explore the new flavours and dishes. We will share these experiences with you along the way.

We had our first street food experience our second day in Kenya when we asked to stop at 'mamas' (a local woman, who sells cooked food by the road) in Hardy, Nairobi. 'Mama' pilled the plates with enormous amounts of rice and potatoes, over which she poured two scoops of a variety of meaty broths. As in every Kenyan meal so far, there was also some dark green chopped kale to get our 1 out of five a day. She handed us our plates and directed us into a small shipping container where we stuffed ourselves with a plate costing just over a dollar.

Then we head off to find John (our Kikuyu cab driver for a day), who was sitting at a fruit stall with a big bowl of freshly cut fruit. As soon as we saw it, we knew that this will be our desert. Young lady gave us plastic stools so we could sit, and went to make us the best fruit salad we have had in years. The flavours of fruits were mind blowing, completely different than in Europe. A big bowl full of vibrant colors of watermelon, papaya, avocado, pineapple and banana that cost us less than two dollars was almost more filling than the earlier starch filled meal. It was my first ever papaya that day, and since that fruit bowl we eat papaya almost every single day. Yuuuum!

'Mamas' place in local market in Hardy, Nairobi (vicinity of Giraffe centre)

'Mamas' place in local market in Hardy, Nairobi (vicinity of Giraffe centre)

Few days later on Langata Rd, very close to Galeria shopping mall, we saw another 'mamas' place that we had to try it. The view of the Galeria with the middle class doing some shopping and queuing outside KFC, whilst few hundred meters away a small family is struggling to earn money with a simple fries stall. The family is super nice and 'mama' gave us to try Mandazi (Kenyan doughnut) for free. They laughed and smiled as white people seem not to be their usual customer profile. We ordered a portion of fries that was cooked by the dad in front of us, and served by 'mama'. She packed it in a black plastic bag, poured a ton of chili sauce and sealed it with a toothpick. We walked down the road and tried the fries, turned around to give thumbs up, which made them clapping and laughing as we approved their food. It was delicious with chili sauce not to spicy and fries still boiling hot and slightly crispy at the ends. Doughnut was not too sweet, unlike our usual western doughnuts, so it also satisfied Tan (who does not really have a sweet tooth). We almost became regulars at this family stall, as we always stop by when coming from our fruit shopping. For about half a dollar per portion, there is no guilty moments of craving some good homemade fries.

Our fries family 'mamas' on Langata Road, Nairobi

Our fries family 'mamas' on Langata Road, Nairobi

So all these cheap and tasty 'mamas' experiences made us want to do a 'food day' in Nairobi city centre. Little did we know, that this will be almost mission impossible.

On one of our Nairobi city centre trips, we went to the all famous Beneve coffee house, where we ordered Matumbo (fried beef) with Ugali (some sort of white maize polenta), and beef stew with Chapati (bread that resembles a very oily crepes) and of course chopped kale. It had familiar taste to some of the foods at home. Although there is a few good places to get this type of local food, such as beef stews, whole fish and some other goodies, we were looking for something new. This proved to be very difficult as the city centre is flooded with fast food (which surprisingly takes longer to get - approx. 30min for portion of wings). We managed to try some pastry pies filled with chicken chilli and one with goat meat, which were nice but not really a 'mamas' place. So we gave up, and decided to try Ethiopian cuisine as they are neighbors. We found ourselves in west part of Nairobi in the place called The Smart Village and the food was amazing. We tried mixed wot and it was definitely worth 9 dollars to feed both of us. 

But we still think that street food rocks!

Mixed wot

Mixed wot

Kenya as a positive place

We are in Kenya for five days now, and we are both impressed. People we meet, places we go to, everything seem so positive. We met a few locals (mostly our street food ‘mamas’, and some individuals along the way) who were all eager to help and talk to us with a smile, without trying to earn money from us. It might be just luck, but it made our transition from Europe to Africa so much easier. Kenyans are also very caring for their wildlife, at least what we saw so far. If I dare to quote a local: “If you are a fan of ivory, do not come to Kenya. If you are not fan of ivory, you are very welcome in my country!”

We visited an elephant orphanage, where they help baby elephants to become independent enough to return back into the wild (read more in causes). Also we visited The Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, which is helping Rothschild Giraffes to stay in Western Kenya. It was only 120 of them left, so they really needed help to get numbers up. Kenya has so many positives.


Even going to Nairobi was pleasant, if you exclude the smog. We read and heard about it being horrible, full of touts, crime, and just being it not that nice. But to tell you the truth Nairobi compared to Marrakesh (Morocco), is very nice and calm. It might be just the case of personal experience in each place, but we think Nairobi is an ok city.

The new chapter of our travels

After 4 years of dreaming, planning, reading about this adventure we are finally taking the plunge. Two more days and we are back on the road. It is strange to say back on the road as we are "on the road" for the past 4 years.

Living in London was a great adventure. Being a new couple, getting to know each other and moving into a big city was hard. We had to lift each other's spirits by sharing our concerns and thoughts. Exploring the city by foot when none of us had a job let us to get to know the city better than most locals do. By the end of our stay in London we were extremely happy with our lives which made it harder for us to leave. But we still did it. We packed our bags and Herbie (our lovely old shih tzu who travelled more than most dogs do) and flew to Slovenia, to spend some time in my home country with my family and friends.

But it would be a crime for me to start travelling without checking off one major Slovenian activity. Climbing the highest Slovenian mountain Triglav (2864m) is something every Slovenian should do. We have a saying that you are not a true Slovenian if you don't reach the top. So we had to do it and now we are free to explore foreign lands and with this starting new chapter in our lives. 

We are describing our new chapter as: "A search for a new home". We are going to try to keep you updated on a regular basis about this mission. Stay tuned to see where we end up. 

View from our Triglav (missing peak on the left) climb

View from our Triglav (missing peak on the left) climb