Saturday, 3 August 2013

How's Your German ?

Let's hope pictures tell a 1000 words , :)  I looked for a translator to English and found nothing, so
Your imagination and German it is. The documentary is about the ship MV Liemba,  part of my recient travels thru east Africa.   
My few days on the ship was an adventure I hope others consider , if wanting to truly get the feel for Africa.
You may have to copy and paste into the browser.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

"The Dust Bin of Africa"

 SUDAN is  nicknamed" The Dust Bin of Africa " for many good reasons. It is also the country in sub-Sahara Africa with the largest amount of bureaucracy of any on the continent.  The Sudanese stamps in my passport that recorded the endless details that seem to serve no purpose, are also my favourite!  My interest in the desert started as a child and a grade school science project. Now many years later I am still learning. Carcasses of hundreds of camels that have perished along the road, gives "reliability" a whole new meaning when trusting a motorcycle to get me to my next destination.
This is my adventure.  Some of us may enjoy the excitement of Disneyland, or a trip to the lake fishing, but for me it's adventure of overland travel on a motorcycle.
Now after almost two years in Africa I find myself completely within my comfort zone. Negotiating with street traders for the best currency rates of the day, setting GPS coordinates for pyramids, or understanding security considerations of an area, is all part of everyday travel. The warm welcome I received from so many children in Sudan made it difficult to see the last bits of Africa fade into the horizon.

 YES:  Africa is SAFE ... My own lack of knowledge usually had me on guard for the first day or two in any given country, but I constantly learned for myself, not from the 6:00pm news, that there is nothing to fear. The best example of safety was Egypt. If you look at the numbers of murders the: US state department should have{ travel warnings} to many of our own states and not Egypt .

 In total the trip was about 30,000 miles? Lots of new Chinese parts on the BMW and tires. A counter clockwise trip of well as several countries.. The motorcycle accidents I could always walk away from, and items lost or stolen I could easily replace !
Arrived in Turkey last week ... Garth

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Monday, 8 July 2013

Egypt : tensions soar at Port Said

A recent headline in American news was : Egypt Descends into Chaos . I am stuck here for the time being,  but I would not say the country has descended into chaos . most of the killings have been very isolated to specific areas and limited to supporters of former President Morsi. The millions of protesters who came out against him far out numbered those who came out to support him. there were almost no killings until the few armed \Morsi supporters came into the streets.
 It will take some time to bring order again, but I am sure it will come and Egypt can try to find a leader who doesn't consider himself Egypt's next pharaoh , trying to give himself unlimited powers, and ignore the supreme court as Morsi did.

Fifteen days ago I arrived at the Suez Canal ( Port Said ) to board the ship Aqua Hercules to Turkey . After long waits and unlimited amounts of bureaucracy no one would ever believe,  the ship finally arrived from Turkey with 108 transport trucks and drivers on board. Only after boarding the ship did I realise it was basically being held  captive at the port by the union truck drivers. The drivers  refused to listen to there employers and leave the ship, feeling Egypt was no longer safe for them they demanded the ship take them back to Turkey. Out side the port 116 trucks and drivers wait to board the ship and leave Egypt. ! Five others and myself have been caught in the middle, and the port has been our home ever since. Expired visas , and officially stamped out of Egypt we are forced to wait in no mans land for the issue to be resolved and the ship leave. Soldiers , police, trucking company owners, union leaders ,  immigration, the shipping company, media and many government officials have all been involved in the stand off.
Although most do not understand English , I did hit the end of my rope today during one of the many screaming secessions calling them all pirates for ceasing the ship, and babies afraid to travel Egypt. I travelled Egypt solo on a motorcycle the past 30 days saw the many sites, and got to know many wonderful people, but unfortunately these union drivers have probably not made a real decision for themselves in years.
The past several days on the ship the drivers have all been very united, but slowly they have been fighting more and more. I knew it would only be time before solid lines of division were drawn and those fear full of loosing a good union job would get in their trucks and leave. Its Monday night and the first trucks have started to leave the ship !! I feel it will not be long before they are all gone. If the army needs to force the remaining few off the ship, I think they will and Turkey should be my next port of call by the end of the week !
Love Garth Anton

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Egypt Coup of 2013

 The photo is my armed escort and myself in Ethiopia ... This is not something you would see in Egypt. Throughout Egypt the millions of protesters that took to the streets to voice there demands for President Morsi to step down were loud like a world cup celebration . Yesterday the army staged a coup, but did not take control of Egypt , it gave the supreme court the power of the president until elections can take place. The coup was celebrated late into the night with army helicopters flying low over the cities dragging flags of support for Egyptians. Millions of people dancing in the streets, fireworks, painted faces, horns honking, A party like nothing I can ever imagine. Egyptians vow to continue protests demanding change as long as they need to, if corruption in government continues.  
Its the noise that keeps the Peace ! it may be a man loudly shaming another man by screaming at him over an unpaid loan. Or a woman loudly screaming from her roof top how her husband cheated on her. These loud public displays of anger are often resolved without violence. Egypt has a very low crime rate as a result of there public system of justice. 260 people were killed in the city Chicago from January to  June of last year.  Compare  this to the 32 Million protesters making noise demanding Egypt's removal of its president and resulting  in  only 15 deaths. If you consider the numbers and forget about what the news is saying about Egypt you should see how and why I have always been  VERY SAFE in Egypt . The experience has been incredible in so many ways, but  I know if your relying on the news for your reporting of what its like in Egypt you probably think otherwise.. hmmmm
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Saturday, 22 June 2013

Las Vegas Luxor

It now seems clear to me that the owner of the Luxor Hotel in Vegas has never been to Luxor. Lots of tombs, temples, and the Nile of course, but no pyramid. Maybe he  travelled to Giza on a cheap package tour and did not known where he was,  when he decided on the name Luxor.
Its been a very long time , almost 2 years since I have seen the Mediterranean Sea. Departing Spain into Morocco in 2011 I have now completed my loop around Africa. The final week here I will follow the coast from Alexandria to Port Said where I will get on a ship to Iskenderun Turkey !
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Friday, 14 June 2013

I Invite You!

      Sudan is a very relaxed country in which to travel. The people  roads, and deserts can easily be enjoyed if you take a deep breath and just go with the flow. Inshallah ("If God wills it"),  is a term used frequently, whether you are going blue in the face waiting for someone to fry two eggs, or suffering through the bureaucracy of registering with security before or after you check into a room. Nothing is ever hurried, so you learn to relax and enjoy the never ending cups of tea.

     Travel in a Muslim country is very different from other parts of the world. Representing a very specific way in which society behaves, as a tourist I always pay the same as the locals, and treated am treated no differently. I am left to enjoy my privacy when asked to be left alone, or treated like a king if looking for any type of help.

       " I INVITE YOU " are words that are spoken a lot in Sudan. The invitation shows deep honour and respect. As a guest as I am hosted in ways not experienced anywhere else. My host would be offended if I wanted to pay for anything, and stops at nothing to see that anything I could possibly need is provided.

       It's a combination of Hell and Paradise while travelling Sudan with a motorcycle. Photo sessions of people sitting on the bike, offering a ride, or answering the same questions again and again never get old where people are exceptionally helpful and friendly.  With temperatures reaching 50 degrees celsius, I questioned what I was doing here many times, but constantly made shade and water my companions and had fun,  reminding myself that no one invited me here!
There are many places worth seeing in Sudan, but never visited by tourists.

Friend Jeremy warning me not to drop my bike again!

Camel riding
Temperatures up to 50 degrees celcius in Sudan!

       It would not be a trip to Sudan without visiting some of the many ruins, temples, and pyramids with dates from 9th century BC. Riding into the desert for some fun, I set the GPS as best I could.   Two friends on motorcycles from France and I set out for lost temples. After dropping the bike four times in one day I was ready for bed. Bruised ribs still and the dust in my lungs make sneezing difficult.  I have a black and blue foot that has almost healed. And the feeling of a BMW landing on me after a fall is also fading. Dragging the bed from my room into the hotel courtyard to sleep communally under the stars with a cool breeze off the Nile river definitely makes it all worth it at the end of a hot day. Mornings start early with traditional bread, beans,and tea. I stock up on water and fuel reserves before starting the day's search for the next pyramids.
Although the White and Blue Nile are prominent geographical features of Sudan, the country is really just sand.  I am sure many eager students have done many PH D's on this. Now young men spend hot days in the desert with metal detectors turning rocks in search of gold. They relax at hotels for a few days in new clothes, cell phones, and big dreams before returning to their work camps.

       There currently is only one way from Sudan into Egypt. It is a 20 hour ship up the Nile to Aswan, Egypt. The shade under a life boat was a premium spot during the day, and at night, cruising the Nile under the stars was a great way for me to relax my bruised ribs.  It is now close to two years that I have been making my counter clockwise trip around Africa, along with many loops around several countries. I am filled with many thoughts as Egypt will complete the final loop. There are a lot of people, and places I hope to see again, but know it's time to start thinking about the next ship from Egypt into Turkey.

Cruising to Aswan

From the ship to Egypt

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Road To The Sun

"The Road To The Sun"  in Glacier National Park is a breathtaking drive for the million or more visitors to the park every year. Riding over several mountain passes of Ethiopia, reaching 10,000 feet, have been incredible, equalling Glacier each time. The good gravel roads are far from the transport trucks or tourists, but are worth every effort it takes to get a motorcycle from Seattle to Ethiopia.

The Afar region of Ethiopia is equally interesting. Planet Of the Apes and the Apollo Moon Landings :) were filmed in the area. I find the topography of Ethiopia truly amazing: elevations in the range of  4500 meters, the famous Blue Nile River, and one of Earth's lowest points below sea level. I also journeyed to the National Museum to see " Lucy " as well as the area where she was found.

When in Addis promoting tourism, I was on local TV and radio. This was after a day trip to Ethiopia's crater lakes, a coffee ceremony, dancing, music, and of course lots of local brewed spirits...
In Addis I also put on another fuel pump and waited for DHL and my new GPS. Next it was on to Lalibela, famous for the rock hewn Churches. These cave churches date back to the 13th century. Medieval and monolithic, they are still places of devotion and pilgrimage. Now a world heritage site, the nine churches draw visitors from all over the world.



These women are cooking delicious food.

The coffee ceremony is 3 cups of coffee starting with really strong !!! It is usually served with some popcorn!

Parts and repairs for the BMW have been very extensive. The exhausting search for parts and being stranded in the "Middle of Nowhere," with a motorcycle I cannot trust, has not helped my travels. Now on my 3rd fuel pump, I keep an extra one in my parts supply. Toyota (Japan) makes a fuel pump at $480.00US. Germany / Bosch,  as well as China are making the fuel pumps...None have lasted and I now have to put my trust in the high quality Chinese fuel pump made for my BMW .... ugh!

At the border, visa issues did not allow me into Djibouti, and on June 1st I will have exhausted my visa for Ethiopia and enter Sudan, travelling to Egypt via Khartoum. I still want to hike Ethiopian's Simen Mountains, see Lake Tana, and visit the ancient city of Axum with ruins dating back from the 1st and 13th century before I leave, as well as view Gondar's, the walled city of palaces and churches from the 17th century.
Ian is one of 3 south Africans riding scooters to Ireland from Cape Town South Africa.

Today's Ethiopia continues to be blessed with astonishing beauty. Some 84 languages are spoken among its 92 million people, compared to 1935 when Ethiopia was just 15 million people. Home to its own calendar, Ethiopians are very proud!  It's 2005 here.  The day starts at sunrise (6:00 am) for us, but for them its 12 o'clock. One hour past sunrise its 1 o'clock and so on. The days are spent in the fields where everyone is involved, even 4 year- olds are responsible for herding the families' live stock. The cities are filled with coffee shops, night clubs, markets, business men, prostitutes, and traffic. Its a stark contrast to the rural areas, but the city is also a place where you can see farmers walking there heard along a main street to a market.

I have less than two weeks before leaving for Sudan and already wish I could stay longer.
Love Garth

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


       I hope you enjoy the pictures; they probably say more than I can. I had a difficult time getting into Ethiopia. Kenya is working on the roads but it's going to be a few more years before I would make a recommendation . The road is called "The Bandit Highway." If you want details, just google it, it's in Kenya.
       After a long truck ride with the bike in the back, I stayed at a VERY NICE hotel in Nairobi, the Nomad Palace Hotel,  complete with a glass elevator, and balcony over the slums . At
$20.00 it seemed odd for such a place to be there. I found out that it is how pirates off the coast of Somalia invest their money... not wanting to support them I left the next day.
I am staying healthy , and will blog more when I have internet and not worried about the rain  coming down on me... It rains a LOT here, and drivers are coming into the place I am at and telling me to hurry before the road washes out again.. I have 80 miles to try and cover today... :)

This photo is of a Mersee woman in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. Women start cutting their lips at the age of 14 and they remove their two lower teeth to help support the clay plate.


Monday, 22 April 2013

Arusha & Nairobi

       The past 2 1/2 weeks were well spent in Arusha and Nairobi catching up with a friend, Elvis and making trips to embassies. Not much different from Seattle hanging out with friends, we spent time at local bars, hiking, and  visiting the village to visit the Elvis' grandmother.
      Riding north past Nairobi, the bike is sorted as well as visas for Ethiopia and Sudan :)
The 400 km of unpaved road in northern Kenya is all that remains for overlanders travelling the traditional Cairo to Cape Town route. The next challenge for me will be customs in Ethiopia and Sudan. My paper work for the motorcycle has expired... so we shall see what magic I can do at the border . On the road to Marsabit  in Kenya, I saw elephants, camels, kudu, gazelles, and of course lots of people.
       A shooting at the overlander place I stayed at, rattled me enough to move on. Surrounded by an eight foot wall, steel gates and razor wire, a gang still tried to rob the place. The loan unarmed guard tackled two of the men without getting shot. Three shots were fired. Unfortunately a guard dog was shot but will survive. Myself and three others quickly went to assist the guard, and the get-away car was left running as three of the bandits fled on foot. In the end ,we were all okay, but way more drama than I needed. Somehow I feel safer at local places than tourist places. International travelers have cash, computers, cameras, and make the places targets for gangs to hold up. I have lots of respect for a guard making but $2.00 per day to put his life in such danger to protect visitors,  as well as the two guard dogs who play around like all labs do, but know when to attack.
     Next stop is Moyale before crossing into Ethiopia.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

MV Liemba

     What's your once-in-a-lifetime experience? The final pieces of untouched Africa are soon to be lost to shopping centers and autobahns, courtesy of the Chinese. But for the many villages along the world's longest Lake Tanganyika (670 km and  1400 m deep) the MV Liemba has been the lifeline for the past 100 years. Built in 1913 as a German warship, it is the oldest passenger ship in regular service in the world.
       The trip to the lake where I would eventually board the Liemba was not easy, and I have had some tough riding experiences, so trust me when I say not easy! The motorcycle engine lights stayed on, and every 10th of a km, the bike shut down. With 100 km to travel on bad roads to catch the ship in just two days, it did not look good. Waiting for a truck to take me and the motorcycle to the lake was hot and disappointing. After several hours in the sun, I solved the problem of the bike shutting down by disconnecting the battery cables and tricking the motorcycle computer into thinking I did something good! It's just like when we have inplugged our computers and plugged them in again to reboot. When I hooked up the battery cables, my problem was solved.
       The motorcycle was loaded onto the ship by crane at 7:30 pm and soon after the MV Liemba departed for Kigoma. Nineteen stops at villages along the way took about 48 hours. There were stunning views along the lake with Zambia to the south, Tanzania to the East, The Democratic Republic Congo ( DRC ) to the West and Burundi to the north.
My 1st class cabin was $95.00, but I spent very little time there, never wanting to miss the action on and around the ship. Day and night, small and large boats from shore were rowing out from villages to meet the ship. Villagers dropped off or collected passengers, business men took rice, flour, dried fish, solar panels, just about anything ... to the DRC. Traders also brought goods onto the ship to do business with the ship's passengers as they continued to their next stop along the lake.
Note - the DRC is in the background.

Coming aboard...dried fish, palm oil, flour etc.

Loading Rice  - destination DRC.

Taking part in the German documentary...
The cameramen cannot be seen but are to my left.

        Now considered a passenger ship, it's really a working vessel. I did get my two minutes of fame and will have to learn some German. In celebration of the ship's 100 years, a documentary is being made and the film crew were happy to see me and the BMW. They followed me around the ship with cameras and interviewed me a lot. It was probably not as big a film production as C.S. Forester's 1935 novel, "The African Queen" and subsequent film version also done on the MV Liemba, but it was fun.
       My voyage ended in Kigoma where I continued north along the lake to the capital of Burundi " Buj" or Bujumbura, where Stanley first met Dr Livingstone. Fear seems to keep travelers away from the small land-locked country of Burundi, so for me it was a feeling of West Africa all over again. The  francaphone country welcomed  me with smiles and probably a million people along roads shouting and waving hello. Riding Burundi's hillsides was like being in a parade. Stopping for a cool drink brought nothing short of several hundred people to look at the motorcycle, greet me, and ask questions. Small children sat and just stared, while some braver ones waited for the chance to touch the skin of the mzongoo (white man).
        It's a paradise for those willing to get a motorcycle into Burundi and enjoy the twisties. By comparison, only Rwanda's "Land of 1000 Hills" can compete for such a motorcycle ride. YES I am having a great time !! Love Garth :)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Turned 53 Yesterday

         I am always happy when travelling to meet someone older than I, doing more than I should at my age. I met Steve, age 65 riding his bicycle from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town. I loved his answer when I asked him why he was riding solo and not in a tour group. He said that if he only had 4 months to live and needed to get back to work maybe he'd do it that way, but right now he has all the time in the world.
         Before leaving Malawi I was invited to friend's for dinner. This was followed by pool as two villages played off until the sun came up. My old bones left long before thatto get some rest.
        The bike is now working okay... just well enough to get a speeding ticket for going 70 in a 50km. The ticket was $8.00. I talked the police down from the $12.00, because I showed him I needed money for fuel.
          It's a big change from West Africa where military police wait to pull a rope attached to a plank full of nails when I get close,  hoping I will stop.  None of the police have cars so it's kind  of fun sometimes to mess with them and let them think you're going to stop, before riding around their makeshift barracade to take off.
        Stopping on the road for a Coke or Fanta is nice for a break.  Yesterday I paid about 26 cents and had a little moonshine added to the Fanta for flavor :)  It was too strong to drink it and ride, so I finished it with my dinner.
        Many people ask me, "What are you doing?"  I am completing a counter clockwise trip around Africa. When that's done , I will proceed to ... I was sitting in my room typing, there was a knock at the door. It was immigration wanting to see my documents;  know what my business was here;  and where I am going in the morning.  This was odd , but probably they are just looking for someone.
        I am finally boarding the MV Liemba Friday night to Kigoma. It will take several days to travel the 600 km up the world's largest lake and before I have access to the internet again, so thanks everyone for remembering my birthday.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Lake Tanganyika

       Sorry it's taken so long to get a few words out. Poor internet, more bike problems, and just having a great time travelling to new places in Africa.
       It's the third time I am stopped waiting for BMW parts since I left in January. This time my back shock needs to be replaced before I can proceed. Nuff said on that :(
        Presently I am in the sister city of Coburg, Ontario -  Mzuzu, Malawi. On the 15th I will travel to Zambia and get on a boat to take me up Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. It's something I have wanted to do since I got back from my last trip. The 40 hour cruise up the lake borders the DRC on one side and Tanzania on the other. My trip will end just before the Burundi border. It should be interesting, and I promise to send photos.
       Malawi is a great country to which I will return. I feel very at home here. There are many connections to home. Today I had my corn flakes and banana with a girl from Bella Bella, British Columbia.
        I am off to Lake Malawi for the rest of the week while I wait for the BMW parts to arrive. The plan is to sit on the beach and read a book, "The Challenge for Africa."  I am also still on track working to exceed my goal of 10,000 push-ups this year, and to stay healthy .
At night a large boat is loaded with smaller ones that help set a row of lanterns in a circle. The fish are chased into the nets by the lights.

These guys are a bicycle transport company in Malawi.
Notice the padded seat for the passenger's comfort.

Typical end of day setting along the shore....bath time for the kids!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Bermuda Triangle

Congratulations Dave, completing your BMW ride from Vancouver Island to Tierra del Fuego, and to Steve on your Harley Road  King  from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town!! Picking up a Road King over and over again is a young man's adventur , not mine.  I know now to buy new and get the extended warranty.

About three hours from Cape Town is my Bermuda Triangle. The electronics on the bike went dead, and not long after that, the bike died. I was stranded in the African Heat. The stator and regulator got hot and burnt up. Heyneman Yamaha in Swellendam picked me and the motorcycle out of the sun and here I wait. Parts are coming soon and I should be on my way next week. I think Dave's reply to my last post put some bad jo jo on me.

In the mean time I have visited the library, bars, museums, churches, have done lots of hiking and reading.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Don't bore me !

Yep, I'm blogging again about stuff or experiences away from home.  Do not expect to read about the food, or lack of ... and as Claude at Vino Bella said to my friend Elvis & I,  "Keep it short and don't bore me!"
Hindsight being what it is, I went to Bobby for a tension band workout routine before I left; to Chinook Centre CIBC for a new credit card; also visited H.D. Fowler for 5 inch PVC pipe, attaching it to the bike for extra storage; and called African Overlanders to let them know that I was on my way and no longer storing the BMW.

It seems easier to travel now than it was to reconnect after my last trip. Americans have a need for constant entertainment, and competing with TV, work schedules, movies, eating out, or the favourite "shopping",  to chat with friends over a coffee seemed a struggle at times. I also discovered from some that a six minute slide show was too much. Blog posts will be short, leaving out the never-ending answer to: "Is it safe?"

Look for this journey in Africa to be a lot faster then the 14 month West Africa trip. I am excited to see Madagascar, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Ukraine. If you look at a map, the Ukraine is a long way north of Capetown where I am now. My goal is to be in the northern hemisphere with some summer left.
South Africa is easy travelling and I will be in Durban soon. If I can get the motorcycle to Madagascar by boat, I hope to see more than a coastline of ship wrecks.

This trip will also include visiting friends, but I regret  that I will miss some friends in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana. The situation in Mali now is very difficult for me to talk about, and I wish I was there in some way knowing what friends are going through.

I am blessed to have friends and family that care. Please follow along and take the time to email or skype sometimes, it's always nice to here from you.