Day 1

Okay here goes….

It began with an idea: let’s see how elephants are doing in Southern Africa. The logistics were another matter. Months of preparation – the research, the vehicle, where to go, where to camp. Then when? The rainy season across the 18th parallel ends around April1, but then it just happened to be one of the rainiest seasons in memory. ‘You may see elephants above the grass in Namibia,’ someone said, ‘but nothing else.’

But you have to draw a line in the sand. Ours was April. And by pure synchronicity, friends Ian and Sharon McCallum were leaving then too and on the same trajectory to do a recce for an foot/cycle/kayak expedition next year called In The Tracks of Giants. So yesterday morning we headed out of Cape Town in a fully kitted Land Cruiser with rooftop tent and fridge (in which I managed to freeze to death the carefully selected fresh vegetables). Courtesy of Britx 4x4 hire.

Headed up the N7 at a steady 100km/h under a blue dome of sky. Seven hours later we were handing passports and bits of paper to exceedingly bored police and customs officials on either side of the Orange River which, just then, was a seething mass of brown water. The only perky official was on the Namibian side and he informed us happily that northern Namibia was under water, lodges abandoned and roads flooded. He shook his head and smiled hugely. ‘You going Caprivi Strip? Ah! Eh! You need big luck. You going to get big problems up there.’

With that happy wish we headed for the Felix Unite base on the river where my old friend Carlos Peres hangs out, hauled up the rooftop tent, cracked the cork on a bottle of good red and toasted the beginning of an adventure.

 

Day 2

Ian and Sharon had stuff to do in Windhoek and took off early. We were to follow more leisurely. But we were travelling up the endless, straight road on the way to Mariental about six hours from the border when we saw Die Withuis. I’d stayed there before so popped in to say hi to Dolf and Kinna and they invited Patricia and me to stay the night. Well how can I resist?

It’s a spectacular old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere with the rim of hills so far they look like sandpaper on the flat horizon. I remembered spectacular sunsets and relented. So here we are in a cool cottage (a Withuis annex) drinking Earl Grey tea and munching Kinna’s legendary boerebiskuit and thinking: ‘Why rush this thing?

Day 3

In Namibia all blogs must necessarily begin with: ‘After a long road…’ So. After a long road we turned in as a sign that read Oppikopi and climbed an escarpment on a road only 4x4s would approve of to a cluster of square, bunker-like buildings painted in camo clustered round a thatched boma.

The view over the plains was spectacular and we watched a storm flashing and rumbling across the dusty plain below like a giant carpet brush being dragged by a handle of cloud. Well, you know what I mean. It headed south, opening a slot behind it through which the setting sun descended, turning the wet grass luminous cream. As a planetary show it would be hard to beat.

‘When foreigners from overseas come here,’ said the camp owner Mercer, ‘they sit right beside the bungalow like you are doing and stare – for hours.’ We did.

Day 4

After another long road (phew! Namibia is BIG) we turned off the B1 just before Otjiwarongo to a farm called Weaver’s Rock, run by Nadine and Mark zu Bentheim Tecklenburg-Rheda. It is well named, perched high on a koppie above a plain so flat and far you could be looking out to the very edge of the earth. Ian made a ritual fire (‘not for cooking, but because humans need a fire’) under another memorable sky show. But it ended in a downpour that had us scampering for cover and eating supper cramped in the back of Ian and Sharon McCallum’s camper. Really great camp site – and we missed the converted stable where we could have had a meal in more comfort.

Day 5

Outjo, nothwest of Otjiwarongo, has a splendid German bakery with delicious pastries and served one of the best bacon and egg toasty I’ve ever eaten. It’s the sort of town you used to find in South Africa before everyone upped and went to the cities – humming, prosperous and creative. From there we headed straight west through what once was brown desert but is now covered in grass. Achingly beautiful.

The C40 from there to our destination, Palmwag, is usually flanked by brown scrub desert, but after the most rain in living memory (what happened to global warming?) it was cloaked in grass as high as a cow’s belly. The vast plains are dotted with orange granite koppies and rimmed by sandstone mountains that go on for over 40 kilometres. The road eventually wound up the Grootberg Pass. From the top looking further west – deep valleys and another horizon made of layer upon layer of flat-topped mesa mountains. Beyond the mountains was the Skeleton Coast and the icy Atlantic. The northwest of the country is huge and lightly peopled giving you a sense of what the earth was like before humans took over.

The road took us through Kamanjab (watch out for the vegetable ivory carvers at the garage. They ask your name, carve it on a vegetable ivory nut with other carvings and then how can you not buy it?).

At Palmwag Lodge we met a legend, Chris Bakkes, a man who knows the area like none other. Over a beer, then another, he regaled us with tales of border wars and bush exploits, quoted Kipling from memory end explained why he had only one arm – the other was bitten off by a crocodile. He agreed to guide us on the perilous track to Purros – and hopefully see desert elephants. I have a sense our adventure is just beginning.

Day 6

I’m going to start this backwards. The precariousness of our situation struck me with disconcerting force as I awoke this morning. Yesterday we followed a one-armed man with a one-eyed dog through wild, beautiful country and across about 12 flowing rivers without bridges into one of the remotest parts of Africa. Now he’s leaving us with the injunction: ‘If you look to the east and clouds are masing you’re in shit. Storm surges in the rivers can kill you.’

Chris has a Jack Russel named Tier who was bitten by a leopard and is now half blind and lopsided. So it goes.

I watched the hot ball of the sun rise over the distant, nameless mountains and thought of those rivers and our return without our guide. I remembered a question I’d asked myself rather too often: ‘What the hell am I doing here?’

I guess that was answered yesterday on the trip to Purros on the rim of the Skeleton Coast. We passed beneath sandstone mesas, through limestone hills yawning with dark caves, across huge flaktes covered in silver grass and had wound among granite koppies dancing with mountain zebra. Gemsbok had taken thunderous flight at our passing and giraffes, tall and unafraid, had blinked at us and carried on munching treetops. Wild young ostriches trippled like two-legged racehorses. After the unprecedented rains everything was fat, frisky and fecund. As far as you could see, tall grass rippled in the breeze. It was beautiful beyond imagining.

Today we are chilling under huge camelthorns in the Purros community campsite, which is very fine indeed. Chris, his wife, Emmerentia and Tier have left for the coast.  We’re building up energy for the trip to Etosha – and watching for clouds building up in the east.

Day 7

Awoken by a spurfowl yelling its silly head off right next to the tent. I mean, five am! I’d been swatting malaria mosquitoes before going to bed and had three bites and I hope not malaria.

We set off with a local guide to get us across the river. Actually it was five rivers with a single name. None pushed water over the bonnet so we took that as a good sign. My respect for Toyota Land Cruisers is growing daily – ours used to be white but is now mottled brown except under the rooftop tent.

The land is nearly as beautiful going back towards Sesfontein with just as many rivers – 12 to be exact and two more to Palmwag after that. We stopped at the German fort in Sesfontein to discover it was a really cool hotel with a pool, beer and toasted cheese sandwiches. On the way to Palmwag I remembered why we’d gone to Purros – to find desert elephants. We’d heard stories about them, but none had appeared. The ample water and grass was good news for elephants (and everything else) but bad news for humans wanting to see them.

Day 8

Slept in a very nice campsite at Palmwag and awoke with a slight headache from several large pints of draft beer the night before as Ian and I celebrated getting back from Purros in one piece.. Great for bush philosophising under the Southern Cross but with a kick afterwards.

Ian was getting his fridge fixed so Patch and I went on ahead – over the Grootberg Pass to Kamanjab (which has a very good supermarket) and on to Outjo for their legendary toasties. Mine was terrible! They did it on white bread and that sucks! This evening we’re in the campsite at Okaukuejo in Etosha National Park. Great site except several truckloads of overlanders are here – all testosterone and noise – which makes finding a free shower or loo a mission.

Day 9

I’m sitting in a thatched picnic site northeast of Halai at the edge of the seemingly endless Etosha Pan. A sign behind me says the pan covers 4 730km² and was once filled by the Kunene River which decided to head off elsewhere a million-or-so years ago.

We’ve seen several herds of springbok, a few impala, a lilac breasted roller that refused to fly and display its gorgeous underwings and a hell of a lot of flat grassland and flat water. No other animals and certainly no elephants, which would stand out like koppies in this landscape. I think they’ve all emigrated to Angola. Tonight we book into the posh Mokuti Lodge for a bit of R&R – and maybe some info about the missing elephants.

Day 10

At Mokuti today we met Stretch Combrink – and he is very long and thin. He’s the resident ecologist and herpetologist at Mokuti. His snake park is impressive, with a black mamba, a number of cobras, dozens of other fine specimens and two crocs that come when he whistles. The lodge is huge and run by tree squirrels – well they seem to think they run the place – and a small herd of blesbok. And some nice people. After roughing it, this place is a bit scary.

Day 11

We were thoroughly spoiled at Mokuti and this morning left for Roy’s Camp just north of Grootfontein.  Now this is an unusual place! The owners, Wimpie and Marietjie Otto are farmers with a taste for junk art and natural things. Everything is sourced from nearby of auction sales and mostly built by Wimpie with décor by Marietjie. Its eccentric, friendly, spotlessly clean and absolutely delightful.

Day 12

There’s an almost straight, dusty road from Roy’s through Bushmanland to Tsumkwe. It’s a sort of last-stop-before-oblivion town with diesel, beer and a lot of Bushmen, several of whom were inebriated and shooting down imaginary Migs with rolled-up paper.

The track from there to Khaudum hardly felt like the way to a national park but it was. We checked in to a slightly broken-down camp called Sikereti which had warning signs about hyenas, lions and elephants wandering through the camp at night. It’s night now, everyone has gone to bed, it’s black dark outside the 4x4 and now I have to wander off to pee among the wild things and head to the tent, watching my back for predators. Nice to think about in retrospect but right now I’m bracing myself to open the car door. Oh, by the way, this is the most run-down camp we’ve stayed in so fare. Farewell…

Day 13

Survived the bush pee and left early this morning heading north. Deep sand says the map and it wasn’t kidding. The good bit was an endless, uninhabited (even by animals it seems) leadwood forest backed by blue skies with puffy white skies. The bad bit was the road. VERY deep sand with tracks grooved into it so at times we bottomed out with the sumps.

Seldom got out of second gear for 60km with kilometres at a stretch screaming in first/four-wheel drive/full difflock. Ian, with thinner tyres than mine, stuck twice and we had to dig him out and tow him off the track. Twice I swerved and nearly hit a tree. We had to keep up revs and speed so we bounced. Everything in the van bounced too – boxes and bags flying all over the place.

It went on and on – the most stressful, tiring ride I’ve ever been on. No other vehicles, fortunately, till the last kilometre when a single Land Cruiser refused to get half out the tracks, demanded right of way and was clipped by Ian’s bulbar for his rudeness. By then it was midday, he was alone with nobody to pull him out. He was going to get stuck for sure. And he was so rude we had no chance to warn him before he blasted off. Maybe he’s still there, stuck in the sand.

We drove onto tar with relief and headed east down the Trans-Caprivi highway to Mudumu and slept at Kwando Lodge camp site on a lawn with the grunt of hippos just beyond it. Yum.

Day 14

The day for elephants! Had to be. We’ve driven 4000km and not seen one yet. The smiling Sub-Receiver of Revenue (as he called himself) at Mudumu assured us the park was loaded with them. Patricia and I drove down the Kwando River and saw an impala and lots of huge jackalberry trees, then returned to where we’d decided to camp.

What about the other direction – up the river? I asked. Patricia was reluctant. Enough bumping around on rough tracks. But she came anyway. After about five minutes a huge matriarch appeared in the road, flapping her hears and swinging her head threateningly. Behind her were two small ellies. I stopped the Land Cruiser and switched off.

Patricia began making retreat sounds, but in my rear-view mirror I could see our escape was blocked by more elephants – and still more were emerging from the river to our left. We were surrounded by a natal herd – the most dangerous gathering of elephants that carries warning signs in guidebooks. ‘Do not approach a breeding herd’.

The matriarch eyed us, ears flared, trunk up, sniffing at our threat. We didn’t move. Was our first elephant encounter in 4000 kilometres going to end with a tusk through the door? Or worse? She slowly lowered her trunk and rumbled infrasound. The elephants around us visibly relaxed and began flowing around us towards a mud hole. We were inside the herd. I felt a strong need to wallow with them. The matriarch turned away, two young ones at her side.

I began counting. When I got to 45 another herd moved up from the river and I stopped. 50 elephants? Maybe 60? We’d finally found our elephants – en masse. Or had they found us?

That night, as I was drifting off to sleep under a full moon in one of the most beautiful camp sited we’d stayed in, I heard the low rumble of infrasound. Elephants were still all around us.

Day 15

Tracks this morning showed that, while we slept lions, a leopard, a genet and elephants had moved around our unfenced campsite. We left early on a good dirt road that ran along the Linyanti floodplains then up to Katima Malima, then straight to the border at Ngoma Bridge.

There a bad tempered Namibian soldier decided I was his pick for revenge and insisted the numbers on the licence document didn’t match the vehicle registration plates. Whether he was being wilful or stupid I can’t tell, but it took an hour in the heat to get a copy of the actual licence papers faxed up from Gauteng. How many SA licence papers he must see every day? But how do you tell a growling soldier in camo with a gun at his hip he’s an arsehole?

At the Botswana border they confiscated three oranges and a banana and had me sign for them. In the dog-eared book was listed a whole orchard of confiscations. I wonder what they do with all that fruit and vegetables? After 60km through Chobe National Park we were in Kasane, to be welcomed by my friend Peter Comley and offered elegant accommodation in his private park on the edge of a floodplain near the Kazangula Ferry. Fish eagles serenaded the ending of day.

Day 16

Dealing with mounds of our dirty washing, checking emails (what had been happening in the world in the past two weeks?), getting the Namibian dust out of vehicles. Busy day on the banks of the Chobe River at the confluence of four countries.

We took a ride into the park with Kelly Landen of Elephants Without Borders and there were elly’s aplenty – big tuskers, mums, teenagers frisking around and babies still with golden fur glowing in the afternoon sun. The Chobe River was a flood lake, spreading across the grasslands and up the sand banks where crocs lay waiting for the unwary.

Day 17

Took a ride with Clay Wilson, a wildlife vet in the park with permission to ride where he chose. In his huge Dodge 4x4 we almost became a boat, approaching large pods of elephants down to drink. Took the best elly shots ever – wet tuskers glowing burnished bronze under a hot sun. So we have found the massed elephants at last! There are over 130 000 in the northern Botswana area, and you can see it. I think even the desert elephants from Purros are here.

Day 18

Spent time with Mike Chase and Kely Landen of Elephants Without Borders reviewing their huge survey of animals in Botswana. They have flown aerial transects over wide areas. Have tracked Chobe elephants to Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Longest trek? 3200 kilometres in two years. These beasts are nomads and built for long distance marathons.

Disturbing finding, though, is that many species in the Delta are massively down – wildebeest by 80%, zebras by 75%, same for roan, giraffe and the list goes on. Mike’s not sure why. Habitat destruction, drought, poaching?  It’s a huge problem because the Okavango Delta is the crucible of life in the KASA region.

Day 19

Left Bots at Mpandamatenga and drove the tracks into the northern part of Hwange National Park. Roads here quite good but Robin’s Camp is falling slowly into ruin, though the staff try hard and are such nice people. It has hot water showers and cottages and we had it to ourselves. Tourism up here is seemingly absent. Zim parks get no state subsidy and have to exist on tourist dollars. How do they cope? This evening we were watched by hyenas.

Day 20

Took beautiful roads through mopane woodland and spent part of the day lazing at Masuma Dam, probably the best picnic spot in all Hwange (you can book it and stay there, with the loo, showers and hide all to yourself).

There was a smart heron who’d learned to stand on the backs of the hippos waiting for frogs to beach themselves on the think hide. The hippos tolerated it and would often go completely underwater. The heron stayed put, moving across the water, often backwards, with no observable means of locomotion.

We finally trundled up the road – briefly stopped by a large elephant bull – to Sinamatella. Nice campsite there overlooking a vast mopane plain. Restaurant and pub out of action and gently decaying. Camp site spectacular. We made a potjie over a mopane-wood fire, cracked a Hansa, watched the sun set over Africa and raised a toast to almost everything.

Day 21

Couldn’t leave Sinamaella. Too pleasant. Chill day. Views over a forever mopane forest far below. The restaurant and bar have spectacular views, but are mothballed and gently decaying.  No fuel in any camps and ants had colonised Sinamatella’s pumps. We watched two companionable bulls browsing and drinking in the valley as the sun dipped to the west. Then it was our turn to do the same.

Day 22

Early this morning much crunching heralded a large bull elephant in the camp site. Seemed very friendly and ignored gawping campers. Patricia and I left our travel partners to do their waking up more slowly and headed east towards Main Camp. At Masuma Dam the couple in the smart trailer were making pancakes and I couldn’t resist the offer. The heron was still riding his hippos and doing very well on yellow frogs that considered them convenient islands. Smart bird.

The road was good until it became tar, which is badly broken with nasty sharp edges. We had a look at Mopani Dam camp site then Shumba – both in good condition having been repaired by the Save Hwange Trust. At Shumba a family and some friends had come from Gauteng to upright a windmill that had fallen. They were windmill engineers and were using the Easter break to do it free of charge. There are good people out there…

We stopped at the Guvalala Platform – a great favourite of mine – and were rewarded with four big bull elephants and a herd of impala. The platform itself – where you are allowed to sleep over – is in possession of zillions of biting ants that swarm over you as you mount the steps. There’s no water in the taps or loo and its falling into disrepair.

We pulled into Main Camp and under a weeping wattle for the night. The Southern Cross emerged as if on stage as we ate pasta and drank red wine.

Day 23

Before dawn a hyena streaked between the tents, then a honey badger came sniffling for food and stood up against Ian and Sharon’s open van inches away from their tempting toes. Patricia clapped her hands and asked it to leave.

Time to leave Hwange. We headed up the road and over a railway line that explained the strange rumblings in the night, then turned northwards searching for Miombo Lodge. It has recently been bought by Mike Sherren and some friends and is due for a big revamp. I asked him howcome he had that sort of confidence in Zimbabwe, especially with elections coming up – events that are usually bloody affairs that scare away tourists.

‘Now’s the time to invest in Zim,’ he said, with the usual ex-Zimbabwean hopefulness. ‘US dollar economy, SA parks getting overcrowded, still wild and wonderful up here. And there’s food and fuel – so a year or 18 months from now there’ll be a boom.’

Even before the revamp it’s a nice lodge and excellent campsite with boma and hot showers all under shady trees. While we were there Paul (with an unpronounceable surname I never caught) popped in to say hi, as well as the editor of the local newspaper. We lounged around, dipped in the pool and had a good meal.

Day 24

Had a look at the Wild Dog Sanctuary (they vocalise like birds not beasts) then bid a sad farewell to Ian and Sharon, who still had another month of exploring all the way to Mozambique. Then we set off south for Bulawayo. The road arrows through almost 300km of sand forest and would be monotonous if you didn’t like trees. Of those, in many shades and types, there were plenty.

Just a few kays down the road, on a whim, I turned into Sikumi Tree Lodge – what a wonderful place! It’s managed by Brian and Marleen Sabeta and has elegant cabanas on stilts, an inviting pool and a waterhole that, just then, had a herd of elephants around it. Marleen is a great chef, having run a restaurant in Utrecht, Holland, and we were spoiled.

Towards Bulawayo the forest has succumbed to goat destruction – they sure can trash an environment. We overnighted with Mario and Dolly Gomes who help with the Save Hwange Trust.

Bulawayo has a wide, tree-filled feel. Shops seem to still be working and plenty of people throng the streets. Standard Bank ATM had no dollars left but Barclays spat out a handful of slightly tatty ones so we filled up with diesel no more expensive than in South Africa.

Day 25

Heading south again on the long road to Beit Bridge. Stopped along the way at Tod’s Roadhouse near West Nicholsen. What an interesting place – old Rhodesia with an English pub, doilies on the tables, wire chairs under the trees and a resident giraffe who tried to eat my camera and licked a wet spot on my shoulder. They have rooms, a campsite and reputedly serve the best hamburgers in Zimbabwe.

Beit Bridge was a nightmare, with queues of hot, impatient people hundreds long and snaking out into the chaotic car park. Here’s how to get through in under an hour.

Ignore the touts who offer to do it for you for ‘only’ a few hundred rands. Give nobody your documentation. Don’t join the queue, but go through a door further to the right clutching your car papers and beating away touts. Walk right down past all the counters and cut through the queue and hand in your passport and car papers at the last counter and pay your US9.50 for a gate pass.

Then take that to the table at the opposite end of the long room and get police clearance for your vehicle, getting them to stamp the gate pass (never lose the gate pass). Then walk right back to the counters waving all documents and tell them the police said you must get your passports stamped. Bluster a bit.

Then head triumphantly for your car, trailed by touts who demand your gate pass. Do not let them get their hands on it, or on anything else. Go through the boom and stop at a small office and hand your gate pass and passport to the man for stamping and you are free!

The touts rely on you not knowing all this. One couple we met afterwards had parted with R380 in the belief that it was the right thing to do. They were shocked when I explained all but the R80 was scam money.

We were heading for the Tuli Block and hoped to find a camp site but couldn’t. Night was falling and we were now back in the land of crime and getting worried, so we called the number on a hunting lodge sign and were invited to come right in. On the way we met the professional hunter, Robbie, heading out with clients. ‘Just make yourselves at home,’ he said. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow morning.’

We had the camp to ourselves and a few staff. Lawns, a pool, showers and a place to flip our rooftop tent. We had supper, a quick dip and headed for bed. No malaria mozzies so we slept with all the window gauze down and each time I looked up there was nothing but the glittering Milky Way and wandering satellites.

It was so three-dimensional that I could feel our place on one of the arms of our spiral galaxy and see the dust clouds of exploding stars and engulfing black holes. What we lose to city lights…

Day 26

Robbie arrived and explained why it would have been dangerous to sleep beside the road along the Limpopo. Apart from refugees flooding over from Zim, there are cigarette smugglers who will readily attack you if you tumble on a drop point. Then there are guma guma gangs who prey on the smugglers and will pick you clean if they can catch you parked beside the road. ‘My brother is in the police at Messina,’ he said. ‘You wouldn’t believe the crime going on in these parts. But the worst are the smugglers.’

We thanked him for providing sanctuary and headed back to Smuggler’s Road and headed for Pontdrif, the border post into Botswana and Mashatu, our next port of call.

Day 27

You get into the Tuli Block at Pontdrif on what most be the most unusual ways to enter a country: by cable car. The Limpopo was pumping as we swing across it in a rickety little cage that can take four people max. From there we had a 45-minute ride in a game-drive vehicle to Mashatu. The lodge is elegant, under-stated, expensive and has some of the best rangers in the business. They’d brought their elephant researcher up from Durban to be our guide – how about that?

Jeanetta Selier spent 10 years with the Mashatu herds and knows the matriarchs and a good few other by name. If I wanted elephants, I sure have them now! They’re everywhere.

Day 28

It was the Royal Wedding today so Patricia decided to trade a seat on a game drive vehicle to sit and watch. Botswana’s President Ian Khama was visiting and decided on the same strategy so she watched with the Pres and his friends eating lunch off their laps.

I spent much of the day immersed in elephants. Pure bliss…

Day 29

Over the cable car and off down the long road to Cape Town. If you draw a line to Cape Town from where we started today it would be the longest line you could draw through South Africa. In other words, bloody far.

To avoid the nasty N1 and Gauteng, we headed out through the bushveld through Lepelale (Ellisras), the Waterberg and Rustenburg. As the sun was setting we began looking for a place to sleep on the endless straight road south.

We drove into Ventersdorp a few hours ago and found it to be the dirtiest town we’d ever seen. Trash everywhere. The council either doesn’t exist or, if it does, should all be fired. So we fled out of town to nearby Rietspruit Dam and a place called Amigo’s Holiday Resort and have found all the local white folk have done the same. Thousands of them, all with rigs or tents and fishing rods. Turns out it’s a public holiday – or they’re simply escaping the trash heap back in town. Nice place, Amigo’s, with spotless toilets and bathrooms and lots of soft lawn. Right now it’s raining so everyone’s in the hall watching the Blue Bulls ride to triumph over who we know not – been away too long to keep up.

Day 30

Another long road today – down the N12 through Klerksdorp (mines, mines, mines), Kimberley (really pretty city – demands later exploration)  and Victoria West to Beaufort West. Found a cool campsite at a place called Steenbokkie Nature Reserve just out of town. We’ll leave early. Still a long road at 90km/h.

Day 31

Back In Cape Town. What an adventure! Now to write, sort photos and see what’s been happening in the world while we’ve been away. Still seems to be there, after a fashion.

I wonder if the desert elephants have returned to Purros or are trekking to Angola? My body’s here but my head’s someplace else far to the north. They say your soul lags behind your body when you travel. I know the feeling.