April 14th: Once in Cape Town

“Once in Cape Town” is the name of the hostel where I was to join up with the Intrepid Travel tour that I had signed up for. I normally prefer to travel on my own, but I was so unfamiliar with Africa that I decided to sign up with the tour as a sort of “orientation period,” a 3-week stretch of traveling with fifteen other people while I got my bearings and learned a little about how Africa works.

On Sunday, April 14th, we met our tour crew and our tour vehicle and each other for an orientation meeting. I had chosen not to pay the single supplement, so I also met my roommate, Gail. Gail is from southern New Zealand. (I cannot tell a lie, I found it very hard to decipher her accent at first, but I’m pleased to say that I got better at it as the days went by, and sometimes even fell into using some of the same phrases. “No,” for instance, became “Nie,” like the ending of “deny.”)

The tour crew consisted of Mambo, our guide and person generally responsible for everything and everyone; Henry, our cook; and John, our driver. The vehicle is a thing called an “over lander,” a hybrid between a bus and a truck, where the cab is separate from the body, and the body, which resembles a basic Greyhound bus, sits on top of a series of storage compartments that hold the tents, chairs, a couple of tables, automotive maintenance tools, food (other side,) and kitchen equipment, and some miscellaneous. The rear wall of the body contained 24 compartments, accessible from the inside, designed to hold a backpacker-sized amount of luggage.

The vehicle was designed to hold 24 passengers. We had 16 plus Mambo – John and Henry rode in the cab – so there was room for everyone without crowding, which was nice.

This first meeting was pretty short. Mambo (which I later learned was a Swahili word for “leader”) gave information and we absorbed it. Mainly, it was crew names, chore assignments, and an explanation of the seat rotation so that everyone would have a turn in the front and at the seats that had tables.

We would start at noon the next day, and the truck would be open at ten a.m.

So, there we were. Adventure to start at noon tomorrow.

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