Category Archives: South African days / Dél Afrikai Napok

South African epilogue

22:20 pm and there is still enough light on the Dutch sky. I am watching my girlfriend study, enjoying the sight I could not enjoy for 4.5 months. In the background the gentle rhythm of “Shosholoza” flows with my thoughts of Africa. The song that united black Africans in their time of struggle, the song the verses of which I still need to learn. I arrived back to Europe yesterday; to one of many places I lately call home. These 4.5 months changed me as a person, pushed the limits of many aspects of my life and made me wiser. I say wiser because every new experience we go through marks us in one way, but South Africa left the greatest impression till now.

More than a day ago I was sitting crammed on an airplane from Johannesburg, flying over the African continent. My mind was engulfed in a state of nothingness, a point of transit between a world I left and a world I was going back to. In the media files offered by the flight company, I stumbled upon “Invictus”, a movie depicting South African reality after the 1994 elections which brought the end of ‘apartheid’. There are few moments when a tear leaves my eyes, but the resonating sound of “Shosholoza” did its effect on me. It was the moment I felt mature enough to watch such a movie, depicting a country I had the privilege of living in and a country I had the privilege of knowing during my stay.

It is the ‘rainbow nation’, a land of wonders, outstanding natural beauty and wildlife, 11 official languages and every type of people imaginable, trying to share a young common identity. The driving economic force of the African continent, still plagued by racism, social discrepancies and a multitude of social issues, including the highest level of murders and rape in the world and the rising HIV epidemic…A country that still baffles me, a sociologist’s wet dream, a travelers paradise.

I had the chance and the luck of living, interacting, talking and understanding whites, blacks, coloureds. And my conclusion is that the deficiencies, the scars and plague of the old regime are slowly eradicated. But the wounds of apartheid will take many generations to heal. I saw a great amount of progress, but dividedness is still present and it will take many generations until this young nation can call itself a true nation. My understanding of hatred among people, a personal mission, grew and I still don’t find the answer to why people opt to hate and not understand. This experience has pushed my own limits of human understanding, whether I had to experience racism among white Afrikaners, racism between lighter skinned and darker skinned blacks, the guilt of the past and the corruption of the new government. But I feel privileged to have taken part in my own personal social experiment.

In these 4.5 months I was on the road for 56 days, 3 overland trips and 14 weekends of travelling. I can say that I managed to see almost every facet of South Africa, almost every corner of that country, whether the rich and predominantly white Stellenbosch; or Vooslorus township in Johannesburg; Cape Town which by far I consider the most beautiful city I have visited, Johannesburg the melting pot and economic drive force of Africa, the dry Namaqualand and Kalahari, or the green hills and ocean cliffs of the old Transkei; the sunsets over the Karoo, the beauty of the Garden Route or the endless roads of Botswana.

I thank the people I met, who helped my stay be a memorable one. Whether it is MZwakhe, ma brada and passionate revolutionary; Mrs Mars, my host, personal dietician and part time grandmother; Olivier, the most understanding and best travel partner I ever had, or gym partner and disciple Fabian. Many more people deserve a Thank You, a Baaie Dankie or a Siyabonga.

I thank you South Africa for the treasures and the realities you made me see, for the chilly desert mornings, the sweet wines of the Wineland, the warmth of the Indian Ocean and the chill of the Atlantic; the sands of the Kalahari and the forests of Tzitzikama; the long African nights and the amazing Sunsets; the Lions of the Kalahari, the freedom of the open road and the incredible African sky. I thank you South Africa…

Maastricht, 10th June 2011

Az eddigi legjobb dél afrikai vicc :) Best South African joke till now


(Ez csak egy vicc, tehát remélem senki sem sértődik meg)

Volt egyszer egy nagy, kövér, 15O kilós fehér Afrikaner. Sajnos annyira kövér volt, hogy nem tudta kis dolgát egyedül elvégezni, tehát volt egy kis szolgája, aki minden alkalommal segítette, amikor pisilnie kellett.

–         Fiam, pisilnem kell. – mondta a nagy pocakos

–         Igenis uram. Mindjárt kiszedem önnek. – közben a kis szolga lehúzta a zipzárt, de bármennyire is kereste, sehol sem találta. – Uram! Nem tudom hova tűnt, mert sehol sem találom!

–         Mi az, hogy nem találod fiam, a múltkor még nálad volt. 😀


(Please, I do not want anyone to be offended. It is just a joke.)

Once upon a time there lived a huge, fat, 15O kg white Afrikaner. Unfortunately he was so fat that he couldn’t pee by himself so he had a small slave for the purpose of helping him pee.

–         Son, I need to pee – said the big tubby one

–         Yes sir. I will pull it out for you in a jippy. – in the meantime the little slave guy pulled down the zipper but no matter how hard he searched for it, he couldn’t find it. – Sir! I think it disappeared because I cannot find it anywhere!

–         What do you mean you cannot find it? You had it last time. 😀



Namibia as it never happened – the Kalahari and Botswana instead – part 2


18th of May – Wednesday – Tsabong – Mokolodi Game Reserve (510 km)

The morning started with us visiting the Tsabong hospital so a doctor could check Olivier’s foot. The atmosphere was a unique African hospital’s one. First of all you don’t know what to do, neither are there sign. So we waited in a line where people were waiting. Then the lady gave us a paper to fill out and she charged us the doctor’s fees (5 euros – looks like standard). Afterwards we waited with other people in a hall like space. The hospital was relatively nice and tidy. Nothing to exceptional… Some big mommas were interested what two white boys were doing in such a small desert town. Three guards escorted some inmates from the nearby prison and it looks like they were happy to be out of the joint (even if at the hospital). One old papa was curious about our travel as well. Two nurses took the temperature, blood pressure and weight of everyone in the queue then after about 30 min we got into the doctor’s office. Young, skinny fellow… Didn’t even have a good look at the foot and prescribed antibiotics and sent us to the nurse to clean it. Then we waited for the nurse, who eventually bandaged the foot, we bought the antibiotics (60 cents for 1 week) and were surprised that in 1,5 h we managed to do everything.

The road from Tsabong toGaborone(capital) was not particularly eventful. It is quite long and boring actually and it was a bit frustrating that we couldn’t use our foreign cards at the ATMs. Luckily we had some SA rands with us and once again we were at the mercy of the exchange rates. From the desert like landscape we passed through rain towardsGaboroneas the climate, vegetation and landscape changed as well. The country and infrastructure became greener, more densely populated and better developed.

We arrived at the Mokolodi Game Reserve, south ofGaborone. We paid for the tent sight just to discover that well, it was actually a tent sight, in the middle of the reserve, with one donkey-boiler shower, one outside toilet but luckily a sink and a fire place. No one in sight, just us, a hoard of baboons ravaging the toilet and the night falling fast… Well what can you do? We set up the tent, chased away the baboons and as man does, he makes fire. So because probably the previous campers used up all the twigs and branches, you know I was born in the East, so yeah. I started taking some from our bush shower. But I swear just a couple J So now we had fire, the tent and we started cooking our beloved omelet with wieners. Soon some park rangers came and informed us that close buy others will be camping and … are we making a fire with fire wood from the bush? “No, no it is prohibited”…”Oh”, we said. So we gave them 5 euros, they brought wood for a good campfire and it turns out that most probably they didn’t go far to get them (from the bush of course).

While shivering in the tent and sleeping we heard baboons howling, then Oli thought he sensed a big impala next to the tent…

19th of May – Thursday – Around Gaborone – 120 (km)

So we got up early in the morning to discover that we had visitors around the tent. There were impala hoof prints and plenty of baboon tracks. So the 6th sense of Olivier ws right J

We decided to take it easy and pay for a 2 hour game drive around the park. Can’t say we saw much and a couple of zebras and kudus compared to Kalahari lions are you know… Not enough anymore 😛 The lady driver showed us once again that African people are more straight forward. I told her that their national motto “PULA” means something “that hangs between the legs of a male”. And she responded quite frankly. “Ah, penis you mean, then why didn’t you say so?”

After the game drive the Mochudi rock carvings were on the list andGaborone. The rock carvings were a disappointment. First of all no one stood guard at this ‘relic’ which tells the tail of how the Tswana people came from this big hole in the ground. Actually it looks like a big, deep puddle with some foot prints carved next to it…So we decided to visit Bocca Dam, but got so mingled in small unpaved roads that we feared for the car’s safety. So, finally we got toGaboronewhich dear God is the strangest capital I have ever seen and there are no street signs whatsoever. On one street you have a flashy government building, on the other some run down houses. But I must admit. It has a specific charm this little place. You see government people, with ties and fancy suits mingling on the same streets as street vendors and the capital has this small African vibe going on, and compared to Joburg andPretoriait is safe. It really feels safe.

We spent the night outside the park, next to it, at a private tent sight/hostel with proper facilities and no baboons ravaging our toilet.

20th of May – Friday – Mokolodi Lodge – Border Crossing – Mafikeng – Kimberley (600) km

It was the day we came back to South Africaand left Botswana. We filled up the tank as much as we could, abusing the fact that gas is sooooo cheap in Botswana(80c/l) and crossed the border at Ramatlabama. Sounds funny, huh? These guys at the border control are always cool and I can tell you J It ain’t a Schengen crossing. So we got out of the car, the guy asked us whether we have “animals, statues or other things to declare (AK 47?)” and we opened the trunk, he gave it a fast look and we were good to go. Strangely all SA border patrols asked us whether we like SA. Yeah, am, we do? And what if we say no? J

Then as we reached Mafikeng it felt like civilization again but I must admit the rural side of theNorthwesternProvinceis quite run down. Then there were works on the highways, no proper signs so we stopped to ask a big momma the road to Vryburg. She thought we wanted to pick her up for hitch hiking, so eventually we gave her a lift to Vryburg. I asked her whether she was working, studying there. She said “self employed”. I don’t wanna know what that means…

We passed thevillageofTaungand the map said there is some prehistoric skull. (turns out one of the oldest humanoid skulls). But as usual it was some 40 km out of town, next to some quarry. I went to the gate and asked how much is it to get in. Two guards, in typical African fashion replied “Am, no, no. It is closed. Yes, yes… Closed.” Then I insisted that we want to see it and one of them replied “Well you know we could let you in for a small favor.”  Well I though to myself, not the first bribe I have to give in my life. “So, name your price?” I asked. “Well it is not a bribe you know, just a small favor. 50 rands.” Now that is the entry fee for a proper park but what the hell. And the dumber one of them accidently managed to screw it up. “But the skull is not here. No, no. It is inPretoria. In the museum. Here it is only a replica”. Aha. You should’ve kept your mouth shut idiot. “Well in that case bye. Don’t think I will give you 50 rands just to see a fake skull.”

So we got back on the road, stopped to overnight inKimberley. We took a tour at the Big Hole and saw it. And it is what it says to be, a big mother of a hole, 800 m deep, that got filled up with water but there is still a good 140 m from the surface to the water level. And they managed to get out 2.5 tons of diamonds from there, including the famous yellow Tiffany diamond. J

Then we walked around town but discovered that the ‘sparkling city’ is just another run down, dirty mining town. We found a cheap camp place, but ended up not paying (no one was there) and we searched half an hour for one restaurant and one pub.

21st of May – Kimberley – Karoo National Park – Oudtshoorn (745 km)

The road to Beaufort-West was fast, long, desolate and we managed to get into the Great-Karoo, one of my favorite SA places. A huge, vast land where sheep graze, yellow grass is at the mercy of the wind and amazing rock formations litter the landscape. We got into Beaufort-West way ahead of time so we decided to visit theKarooNational Park. And what a priceless gem my friends… We were expecting this run down park. It has recently been renovated, it is only 2.5 euros to get in for SA residents and it is fabulous. It has just amazing landscapes, herds of Mountain Zebra, ostriches, Kudus and somewhere up the 4×4 trails black rhinos and lions. We saw, I must admit, the best sunset in the whole ofSouth Africa.

The sky becomes flooded with every imaginable shade of orange, pink, violet. One side of the sky is a dark, flame like orange as it turns into pale pink and a light violet color. It has been one of the best surprises.

We decided to push to Oudtshoorn and drove the last leg of the journey in the night. We found a good, and cheap hostel and decided that for 10 euros each we deserve a good ostrich steak with some good wine J

22nd of May – Oudsthoorn – Cape Agulhas – 362 km

Early risers. Yes, we became early risers during this trip. We drove up to theCangoCaves, passing some amazing scenery and decided to take the adventure tour. The two of us, a Dutch lady and her at least 65 year old mother (she turned out to be the most flexible of all of us, not kidding) and a Canadian couple.

The first three halls of the caves are just simply amazing. The stalagmite and stalactite formations, combined with the water flow formations provide for a unique spectacle of natural beauty. These formations are hundreds of thousands of years old, and unfortunately sometimes subject to human behavior. But the caves are well managed and I would not recommend claustrophobic and overweight people taking the adventure tour. We managed to pass through the “Kitchen”, the “Chimney” and the “Letter Box”. The worst one is the chimney and the narrowest is the letterbox. A 27 cm high opening so if you have a huge belly you might get stuck. And they told us that once a big momma got stuck and they did have to use 5 l of oil to get her out. J

After the Caves we went and visited an ostrich farm (it is the ostrich capital of the world with over 120.000 of them), stood on some ostrich eggs (they can support 140 kg) and even managed to feed them and sit on one of them.

We continued our journey, passed into the Western side of theGarden Route. And to my astonishment, this land that in March was all dry and yellow became a splendid array of green hills. Soon after, we reached the southern most point of our trip as well as that ofAfrica.Cape Agulhas…  We were standing at 5000 km on our mileage meter. At a point like this you have to stop and sit down next to the ocean and just take it in…The point where the warm Indian Ocean and the cold Atlantic meet, where nothing stands between you and theAntarctica. And it was my dad’s birthday as well J So I couldn’t attend it, again. But I know he understands me.


23rd of May – Cape Agulhas – Hermanus – Stellenbosch – 220 km

We packed up the tent for the last time and headed over the hills towards Hermanus. Amazing landscape, some rain and wind but we were spoiled with the countless rainbows that guided our way into Hermanus. The whales haven’t yet decided to come back, but maybe next time.

We drove back in rain but with a huge sense of calm, enlightenment, adventure and wisdom. A trip like this puts things back into perspective and makes you realize that the world is not such a small place and there are many hidden treasures that are yet to be discovered.

Tips and advices

–              when travelling in a desert always have: sufficient gas (full tank), proper equipment (we didn’t have shovels so the frying pan had to do), ample water (4, 5 l each)

–              when in the desert bear in mind that day temperatures even in winter months can go up to 3O C but night temperatures fall close to 0 C. So if sleeping in a tent, have extra warm clothes and blankets (we still froze even with these)

–              drive safely – the distances are huge, hundreds of kms of nothing, with scattered traits of civilization; in countries like Botswana always look out for animals, goats, cattle on the road

–              have all the necessaries for camping: knives, torches, tent etc.

–              do not fully trust maps: you are inAfricaand reality might be better or worse than on the maps or you might end up with a fully paved express way where the map doesn’t show anything

–              be friendly to the locals as they will help you out (thanks bartender in Tsabong for helping us find a place; thanks Big Momma in Tsabong for letting us stay at your place; thanks funny old guy in Kimberley for coming 2 km with us and pointing the way)

–              always have enough cash on you.Botswanadoesn’t have enough ATMs and European banks will not really allow you to withdraw money there

–              always let people know about your whereabouts. You will only find mobile phone signals close to towns and internet is well… You might just forget about it.

–              always call up the embassies to see what papers you need to enter a country. Web pages and even border guards will not be of great help and provide the wrong info. But if not, you might just end up being turned back fromNamibiaand ending up doing a fantastic adventure like we did


Costs per person

–              car rental 11 days + wash – 210 euros

–              gas 11 days (5200 km) – 210 euros

–              campsites, accommodation, park entries – 145 euros

–              Food – 90 euros (including restaurants)

–              Total – roughly 650 euros 

Mit eszek és iszok Dél Afrikában? What do I eat and drink in South Africa?




Braai (bráj) – a nyári grill, kedvenc esti, hétvégi mulatság. Minden, amit a grill sütőre lehet tenni.

Broodje (brújkí) – sajtos, hagymás és paradicsomos kenyér, amit szépen a grill sütőre helyezünk és várjuk amíg megpirul a kenyér és elolvad a sajt 😀

Potje (pojkí) – egyszerűen lábast jelent. Afféle BMV – bele minden vacakot étel, amit egy agyag lábasban készítenek, nyílt tűz fölött.

Koeksister (kúkszisztá) – ez senkinek sem a lány testvére, hanem egy mézbe fullasztott fánk szerűség (remek ha kissé berúgsz)

Milie pap (míli páp) – az előbbi ételek tipikusan fehér ételek, ez pedig a feketék alap étele. Egy kukorica lisztből készített fehér pép szerűség.

Kenyérre kent avokadó- egyszerűen az érett avokadót kibelezik és kenyérre kenik (sonkát is lehet tenni rá)

Karoo Lamb – a Karoo, száraz, sztyeppés vidékről származó, kemencében sült bárány. Nem vagyok nagy bárány szerető, de ez igazán jó.



Papaya – tipikusan trópusi gyümölcs, meghámozzák, kibelezik és felszeletelik.

Prickley Pears – nem körték, hanem egy kaktusz gyümölcs. Belül vörös/rózsaszín, édeskés gyümölcs, amit villával kell megfogni és késsel hámozni.

Guava – késő nyári, őszi, eredetileg brazil gyümölcs. Harapni kell, mint az almát. Belül rózsaszín vagy zöld és savanykás.



Wineland Wines – hát épp a dél afrikai, és a világ egyik legnagyobb borvidékén élek. Van bor elég. Főleg, mint rosét nem kedvelő, épp egy édes rosé a kedvencem.

Windhoek sörnamíbiai sör. Tipikusan német sör íze van. Kedvencem.

Castle és Black Label sörFőleg az utolsó afféle jó egyetemista sör. A Bohemia kocsmában, este 9-ig kettő darabot kapsz 1,6 euróért 😀

Amarula – a marula bogyókból készített kuu….va jó likőr. J És a bogyó több C vitamint tartalmaz, mint a paprika, vagy citrom.



Braai – summer grill, a favorite weekend or late afternoon pastime. Everything that can be grilled will be done so.

Broodje (brooikee) – a grilled cheese, tomato and onion sandwich. Wait until the cheese melts one it and the bread becomes nice and crusty.

Potje (Pooikee) – it just means pot. It is the sort off, let’s put and mix everything in it kind of dish. You cook it in a clay pot over an open fire.

Koeksister (Cooksista) – it ain’t anyone’s sister. It’s a pastry dipped in honey and it is excellent when you are drunk.

Milie pap – the up mentioned dishes are typically ‘white’ dishes. This is a base meal for black people and it consists of a white porridge made out of corn flour.

Avocado spread on bread – just take a piece of ripe avocado and spread it on a toast (you can put a piece of ham on it)

Karoo Lamb – oven cooked lamb, from the arid, steppe likeKaroo region. I am not a big fan of lamb but this is just out of this world.


Papaya – a typically tropical fruit, which they peal and slice up.

Prickley Pears – they are not pears but fruits of a cactus. It is either red or pink inside, slightly sweet, and you peal it with a knife while holding it with a fork.

Guava – a late summer, autumn fruit, originally fromBrazil. You bite it like an apple. It is pink or green and slightly sour.



Wines from the Wineland – it just so happens that I live in SA’s and one of the world’s biggest wine regions. My favorite is a sweet rosé.

Windhoek beerA Namibian beer with a typical German flavor. My favorite.

Castel and Black Lable beers – the last one is the student beer. In Bohemia pub you can get two of them for 1.6 euros, before 9 pm.

Amarula – a daaaamn tasty liquor made out of marula fruit. And marulas contain more vitamin C than capsicums or lemon.  

 Stellenbosch, 28th of May 2O11, rainy day and I don’t feel like studying :>)

Namibia as it never happened – the Kalahari and Botswana instead – part 1

Everything was set for Namibia, the hostels, the sights to see, the mileage each day, the car, the tent, the sleeping bags…And we ended up in Botswana

Friday – 13th of May – Stellenbosch – Springbok – Namibian border – Springbok – 820 km

The car was ready to go, we signed the papers, got the tent from Stephan, the sleeping bags from Martin and all the camping gear from my landlady. Till now it all looked great. But as luck has it, it had to be a Friday and the 13th. As they say “Never turn back, if you leave”. We had to, because finally the lithium battery arrived for my camera (long story), but as my luck continued, the company sent me the wrong one. No worries, 700 km to go till the Namibian border.

Once you leave the Western Cape, the landscape is an endless semi-desert, rock desert called the Namaqualand. The landscape is arid, barren and seems endless. Small towns appear in the middle of nowhere on the highway. We managed to be at the border by 5 pm, we crossed the SA border post, took photos of the Orange river and the ‘Welcome to Namibia’ sign, got our passports stamped. But misfortune so had it that a second guy decided to double check my passport and tell me the verdict ‘Ah, no. Hmm…There seems to be a problem. Romanian citizens need a Visa’. Boom!!! smack in my face. Nearest point to get a VISA isCape Town. What to do? I started cursing, regretting every moment of having this passport (till now it has only done harm to me), but I was lucky to have a travel companion such as Olivier who looks at the bright side of things.

We went back 150 km to the nearest town, Springbok and after calling 10 different B&Bs we settled for a cheap 2 star hotel and decided to rethink everything in the morning.

Saturday – 14th of May – Springbok – Augrabies Falls – 435 km

We decided to go into the uncertain and the unkown. Our Lonely Planet book included Namibia and Botswana as well, but we only had a rudimentary map of South Africa.  I recalled a host of mine at the Tsitsa Falls recommending me Augrabies.

The road is magnificent; open, endless semi-desert like landscape, with the occasional windmills pumping water into wells. You can easily do 150 km/h and travel 150 km without seeing a car or a small town by any chance. The Botswana Embassy was closed on Saturday but my friend Nino told me that I shouldn’t need a visa.

We booked a tent site, but the entrance fee is 10 euros for internationals, 4 times higher than for SA nationals and the lady wouldn’t budge even if we had SA residence permits. The falls are amazing; the Orange River carved a 20 km long gorge which is of outstanding beauty. The falls also contain a national park, with some amazing desolate landscape and we managed to see one lonely giraffe as well.

We enjoyed the sunset with a 4 pack of Peroni, wild hyraxes (Dassies) jumping on the rocks and a mini earthquake underneath us 🙂 It was the first night we set up the tent, cooked food on the gas burner and froze our asses off in our sleeping bags (+blankets).

15th of May – Sunday – Augrabies Falls – Upington – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Twee Rivieren) – 400 km

We decided to try our luck with the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is a joint park between SA andBotswana, and is bigger than Belgium(38.000 km2). The landscape towards the park changes between semi desert with occasional red sand dunes, to almost savanna like plains by the time you reach the reserve.

Luck finally struck on us. We forgot to make a booking in advance for entering the park, but a wonderful Afrikaans lady (in a hurry) asked us whether we would like to take her luxury chalet for a night as they had to cancel it. For free !!! So we ended up staying in a nice 4 bed bungalow for free 😛 We managed to enter the park as well in the afternoon and spotted herds of  Springbok, Oryxes, Ostriches, Wildebeests and many wonderful birds.

16th of May – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Gemsbok – 250 km

We woke up at 5.45 am to be able to prepare in time, catch the sunrise and enter the park at 7 am. In total, we did 10 hours of game drive with our car and the moment we waited for, happened. We spotted the predators: 2 male lions, then 2 female ones and a young male one, 3 females on a hill and one astonishing male on a hill. I must admit. They deserve the name, king of all animals. Till now, they probably are the most majestic creatures I have ever seen. On our way back we also managed to spot a cheetah with its pray, a dead Springbok, lying under a tree.

Uncertainty struck again, as on the Botswana side the rangers told me that I need a visa and also there weren’t any tent sites available. Plus we were not allowed to cross into Botswana through the park without a 4X4. So we found a nice campsite 40 km outside the park and managed to spend the night there.

17th of May – Gemsbok – Bokspits border crossing – Lost in the Kalahari – Tsabong – 480 km

We got up early as usual, packed up the tent and headed back 20 km to try out sand boarding. 😛 We found a nice sand dune and rented some cheap board like thingies and started acting like stupid kids, first going down the dune sitting, then standing up and even trying out some tricks.

Good news, finally. I didn’t need a visa forBotswana, so we entered through Bokspits but ended up turning back to ask where is theBotswanaborder post? It turned out to be 5 km ahead, in a small town’s police station, in a run down building, with two horses grazing next to it and a capsized car. The police officers were extremely friendly, stamped our passports and wished us good luck.

We decided to enter the Botswana side of the park through Mabuasehube, as we were forbidden to do so from SA because we lacked a 4WD. The nearest town from the border crossing was Tsabong, at the edge of the Kalahari, 267 km away. This meant that our gas and 2 l of water had to last us, as there was nothing till there. To our surprise, two of our maps showed a run down gravel road till Tsabong (even Google maps doesn’t show any road :/), which in reality turned out to be an amazing, new tar road. So we could do 150 km/h without a problem. Even the police officers recommended us to do the distance in 1,5 hours.

The landscape is a mix of semi-desert and red sand dunes with some occasional cow herders living in the middle of nowhere. We reached Tsabong after asking for permission from a herder to view his magnificent sand dune.

TSABONG, oh yes this name would haunt us. A dusty little town with one supermarket, one gas station and one bank.

We exchanged our SA Rands to the local currency, Pula(which quite frankly means ‘c…o…ck’ in Romanian but ‘rain’ in Tswana). So I head the best time of my life at the bank, asking for pulas, paying in pulas and just mentioning that name. 🙂

Then we checked the map and it showed a 120 km long gravel road to Mabuasehube. So I called up the reserve, booked a tent site and we were steaming ahead on the gravel road… Botswana is already remote, wild, with amazing wildlife not in the parks but on the side of the gravel roads. So we passed oryxes, kudus, impalas and we managed to get stuck 50 m in the sand, 20 km from the reserve, in the middle of nowhere before nightfall. Now this is really not a joke. We didn’t have any shovels whatsoever.

So the toil began. We got out the one frying pan we had, the dinner plates and started digging out the sand, which went up to the engine house. In 10 minutes we were already sweating. No cars on the road, no phone signal. Olivier put his leg under the car to scrape out the sand and managed to put a deep cut into his foot. So we stopped the bleeding by cutting his old sock and I rapped it around the wound. Then the digging resumed. The car sank in again. We got rid of the sand for 20 m, put some huge rocks under the front tiers and started pushing. It took us more than an hour. We were dirty, sweaty but happy to be out of there.

We managed to get back to Tsabong at nightfall, but all the hotels we stopped at were fully booked. I found one big bartender, who accompanied us to this motel, but it was booked. I managed to convince the big momma manager to give us a room in her own house for 35 euros a night for the two of us. We spent the night at her place, with her son and grandchild and we disinfected the wound with the first aid kit she gave us….

The last great African adventure – Namibia

So here is the plan – In short, once again around 3500 km…We will be heading into Namibia and the Namibian desert with sleeping bags (thank you Martin), tent (thank you Stephan), utensiles, gas burners (thank you Mrs. Mars).
We will be gone for 11 days, Olivier and myself. So tomorrow is the big journey. Wish us luck 🙂

Friday, 13th of May: Cape Town/Ai-Ais (ca.700 km)

Sleeping: p. 361

 Saturday, 14th of May: FishRiverCanyon

Second night in Ai-Ais

Sunday, 15th of May: drive to Luederitz (ca. 450 km)

Via Seehheim, then on the B4 through theNamib Desert. The wild horses of Aus / Garub. Spend the night in Luederitz (p. 352)

Monday, 16th of May: Luederitz and Kolmanskop

In the morning guided tour of Kolmanskop (diamond ghost town) (p. 355); then sightseeing in Luederitz (Felsenkirche Church, museum, Luederitz waterfront and harbour, Shark Island, Agate Beach, lagoon and Sturmvogel Bay).

Second overnight stay in Luederitz.

Tuesday, 17th of May: trip to Maltahoehe (ca. 350km)

Map p. 341

Via Aus on the C13 to Helmeringhausen (restaurant). Excursion into theTirasMountainspossible. Visit ofDuwisibCastle(admission N$60).

Spend the night in Maltahoehe or on one of the guest farms in the vicinity.

Wednesday, 18th of May: trip to Sossusvlei (ca. 210km)

Via Tsaris Pass to Sesriem and further into the dune Namib to the Sossusvlei.

Spend the night in Sesriem or a lodge in the Solitaire region.

Thursday, 19th of May: trip to Swakopmund (ca. 300km)

From Solitaire or Sesriem on the C14 through theKuisebCanyon.Walvis BayLagoon. Spectacular coastal road to Swakopmund.

Overnight stay in Swakopmund (orWalvis Bay).

Friday, 20th of May: Swakopmund

Sightseeing (historical buildings, museum, aquarium, lighthouse, beach).

Sandboarding, Quadbiking (p. 319)

Swakop valley and Moon Landscape.Welwitschia Drive.

Second overnight stay in Swakopmund.

Saturday, 21st of May: drive toWindhoek (ca. 370km)

Through the Namib heading for Usakos. Excursion to Spitzkoppe mountain.

Sidetrip to Phillip’s Cave on Ameib (prehistoric rock paintings) possible, with overnight stay on Ameib Ranch recommended.

Karibib (precious and semi-precious stones). Okahandja (arts&crafts market, Herero graves). In the evening arrival inWindhoek.

Sunday, 22nd of May: drive to Keepmanshoop (ca. 570km)

Have a rest at Hardap Dam; Sunset atQuivertreeForest(Farm Gariganus) near Keetmanshoop.

Spend the night in town or on the guestfarm.


Monday 23rd of May: drive toCape Town (ca. 750 km)

Behind the photos…A long distance relationship/A fényképek mögött…Egy távkapcsolat

Behind the pictures of great African sceneries, wildlife, university life and great adventures lies the reality of a long distance relationship, of how the difficulties and joys being apart from your loved one influences your every day life.

From the beginning we knew that we were against the odds and people around you will make sure that you know that. And the common phrase ‘just live your life, most of them don’t work out anyways’ will be rubbed in your face at every possible occasion where people find out that you are going to be apart for 4,5 months. And it is the moment when you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself what you really want.

I am on the road for nearly four years now, and whatever I wanted from travel experiences, what other men and women might seek, I already experienced those. Now I felt ready to commit myself to someone.

And the reality is that it is the most difficult thing I have ever done. Not one day passes by when you ask where is your loved one, what is she doing, does she miss you, does she still care for you? And trust issues arise, and fights do occur and apologies follow. And you move on and you look forward for the day you will meet again.

We are at the last leg of us being apart, and 34 days separate us from seeing each other. And the South African context made it even more difficult to keep in touch. You spend hours each day on the messenger, as you can only use Skype in an internet café and you cherish that moment, when you see her face once or twice a week. And the difficulties persist. Words, expressions that till then didn’tt mean anything, become suddenly important, over emphasized. You ask yourself whether you are doing the right thing, whether she is doing the right thing, whether this should happen. And then you go home, you see a gift she gave you, you see a picture of you two together or she sends you an sms in the middle of the night telling yout she is by your side. And suddenly it becomes worth it.

Our future is still uncertain as our carriers will once again set us apart from autumn. I wish these remaining days to pass quicker than ever. Right now there is nothing I want more than to be with her. I left her at a train station in Germany, with tears in her eyes and I want to find her in that same train station smiling at me.

A lenyűgöző afrikai tájak, állatvilág, egyetemista élet és nagy kalandok mögött áll egy távkapcsolat valósága, az amint a távolléttel járó nehézségek és örömök befolyásolják mindennapjaidat.

Elejétől fogva tudtuk, hogy az árral szembe kell haladjunk és körülötted lévők mindent megtesznek, hogy tudtodra adják. És a már megszokott és elcsépelt „éld az életed, ne törődj, az ilyenek úgysem hosszú életűek” felfogást pofádba nyomják minden lehető alkalommal, amikor az emberek rájönnek, hogy 4,5 hónapig távol éltek egymástól. És ez az a pillanat, amikor szembe kell nézz saját magaddal és megkérdezd, hogy valójában mit is akarsz.

Már szinte négy éve úton vagyok, és bármit, amit más férfik és nők elvárnak az utazással járó kalandoktól, én már megtapasztaltam. És talán ezért határoztam el, hogy  ideje valakivel elköteleznem magam.

És a valóság, hogy eddig életem legnehezebb próbatétele. Egy nap sem telik el, amikor nem arra gondolsz, hogy hol van, mit csinál, hiányzol-e neki és tart-e még hozzád? És a bizalommal járó gondok is felbukkannak, és veszekedések, meg megbékülések követik. És tovább teszel és várod a napot, amikor újból együtt lesztek.

A távollétünk utolsó szakaszába léptünk és már csak 34 nap választ el minket. És a dél-afrikai környezet még nehezebbé tette a kapcsolattartást. Órák hosszát ülsz a messenger előtt minden nap, mivelhogy a Skype-ot csakis nett kávézókban használhatod és őrzöd, azt a percet, amikor heti egyszer-kétszer arcát láthatod. És a nehézségek nem szűnnek meg, hisz addig lényegtelen kifejezések, szavak hirtelen más jelentést öltenek és fontossá válnak. És akkor felteszed a kérdést, hogy jól cselekedsz-e, netán ő jól választott és netán ez egyáltalán meg kéne történjen. ÉS akkor hazamész  és meglátsz egy tőle kapott ajándékot, egy fényképet, vagy egy éjjeli üzenetben megírja, hogy veled van. És hirtelen rájössz, hogy mégis megéri.

A jövőnk még bizonytalan hisz ősztől a karrierünk újból új utakra terel. Várom, hogy a maradék napok minél gyorsabban teljenek. Most semmit sem akarok jobban, mint, hogy vele lehessek. Egy németországi vonatállomáson hagytam könnyes szemekkel és ugyanott akarom találni, amint mosolyogva rám vár.

Stellenbosch, 6th May 2011

Subtle mini dialogues between the opposite sexes in South Africa…

Subtle mini dialogues between the opposite sexes in South Africa…

Spending a lot of time in the Transylvanian countryside I got used to the subtle, somewhat pinchy conversations or remarks that might occur between the opposite sexes. In pro-feminist modern, western society these kinds of harmless remarks among the opposite sexes can be dubbed as ‘sexual harassment’. Harmless stuff like as a teen I would go to the mommas and aunties preparing the traditional wedding goodies, and I would add “What are my beautiful ladies doing?” It would always make them smile and maybe remind them of there youth and passed beauty. 🙂 But I never really came across these dialogues in Western society, until I came to South Africa.

So here are two recent South African examples: one subtle and one not so…actually quite straight forward…

This morning in the SPAR where I regularly take my breakfast

A joyful, middle aged colored woman greeted me today at the food section.

– So what will it be sir?

– Amm…hmm…some potato salad and five pieces of chicken (yeah that is breakfast for me).

– Should I heat it up for you? – she asked

– Neah, I like it better when it is cold.

– Ehh, I don’t like it cold. I like it hot. I am hot 😀 – says to my amazement the woman my mother’s age and went on giggling with the other mommas working behind the food stall

– I know J But we Europeans tend to be colder 🙂

Exactly a week ago, in a Pretoria fast food, same time in the morning

I was sitting by myself waiting for my food to arrive, when the young black waitress, my age, behind the counter asked me a question…

– Ei, chief. Why you’ so sad?

– Haven’t seen my girlfriend for 3 months and I miss her like hell. – I replied thinking of my lil’woman.

– Ahh, you make me youa’ wife. – and she started giggling

– Pardon? – I replied quite amazed

– Yeah, you make me youa’ wife. I have job, don’t eat too much but ei, Chief!! I need clothes ei, I like expensive clothes!

– No thank you 🙂 I have my woman back home and I think I would not be able to afford your clothes 🙂


I am riding my bicycle home, while passing a group of shouting white Afrikaners, having a huge barbeque and party on one of the nice campus grounds of Stellenbosch. Just a couple of hours ago I was still 1500 km away, next to Joburg in the Vosloores township. I spent six days in a world which white South Africans ignore, do not venture in and a world that made me more humble, more aware of my surroundings and showed me the side of this country which is the reality for most of its inhabitants.

My journey started last Saturday, when I got a flight to Joburg to spend the Easter holiday with my friend MZwakhe in the place he calls home, the township. Townships are the result of not just apartheid, but pre and post apartheid governance. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, laws were enacted to keep South African black people out of the white areas, which culminated in the 1950s when people were forcibly separated and interracial marriage was banned. Black and colored people were moved outside the cities in dwellings which were later dubbed townships, placing them as far as possible from white areas. MZ’s township lies 40 km from Johannesburg. Unfortunately the sprawling of squatters proliferated in the post apartheid era as well, in places like the Western Cape where the new black government translocated hundreds of thousands of black people into the squatters to dilute the white voting pool.

I ventured into a place that media describes as unsafe, which western media uses so often to “portray” the Africa westerners like to see (poor and not like us ‘good old Europeans’), in the statistically most crime infested city of the world, Johannesburg. And I got back humbled, amazed and thankful.

As Easter approached, I spent Saturday night and Sunday morning with MZ and his friends at the Christ Church next by. The Church was my first encounter with an institution which plays a great role in defining the identity of the township. It is a lively place, where people sing, dance, let go and pray for hope and a better tomorrow. I was amazed by some of the gospel singers, by their talent but I was not amazed by some of the pastors. A born and bread skeptic, I always question each word of so called spiritual leaders. Some of the speeches were oriented to make people believe that all of us can live in mansions and drive fancy cars, topics that should not be the focus of prayers and words spoken by pastors who are local celebrities and drive fancy cars. But as MZ puts it, these people need hope for a better life. Hope can come in different ways and probably a home economics lecture would help people better manage their small finances, than listening to false words.

The same scenario unfolded in front of me, as inRomania or other post communist countries or regions that were deprived from western living standards. In many cases I saw people spending money on useless car rims, expensive shoes or something to show off. But amidst this I met people of great character that made me rethink who I am, where I come from and where my life has gotten me.

Getting around the township as a white man will definitely turn heads. It is regretful that most of white South Africans never try to bridge a connection with the townships and ignore them by living in their bubble world of rugby, nice cars and swimming pools. I grew up as a minority in my home country, fought my way as an Eastern European in the West, but I never felt so conscious about who I am and what my skin color is. And coming from a society where whites are poor, middle class and rich I was amazed how people associated me with wealth and money, a reality they see among many white Afrikaners.

Being part of the township and its people means acting natural and open, not like some spoiled white kid. Once people see that you are approachable and not another upstuck ‘whitey’ they will truly open their arms. I felt accepted, understood and told them of my own background as an Eastern European. My understanding and acceptance of these people grew day by day as I got into the daily routine. And life is not easy. These places were purposely designed to be far away from the city, so you wake up at 6.45 am and catch a black taxi as white people refer to them. It is the only way to get into town, if you do not have a personal car. Small mini buses designed for 9 people, modified to fit in 15 passengers. I pulled over my first taxi, by holding my index finger and thumb together and showing my remaining 3 fingers, indicating that I am going to Joburg. And this is how I got by myself to Joburg, a white boy in a crammed little van with big mommas, papas, kids, bags and all that. The trip costs 12 Rands (1.2 euros), and you end up in the Joburg MTN Centre, a place that resembles Mogadishu. Joburg in itself is a mix of Africa and Manhattan. After 1994 the white people left the Central Business District to Sandton, and this area is now quite dirty. I ended up in minutes in neighborhoods where I was the only white guy for miles, immigrant neighborhoods with Africans from all over the continent, laid with filthy and bustling streets.

Advice for white travelers doing such a gig:

–         do not talk to strangers

–          if someone bumps into you, you continue your path

–         if someone offers you to help, ignore him

–         act confident, like you are from town and you know where you are going ( I didn’t have a map, I relied on my gut instinct)

–         do not wear flashy clothes; plain simple, dark colored clothes

–         keep your valuables in your front pockets and don’t act like an ignorant tourist

Joburg left me with a bitter sweet feeling, parts of it look like Manhattanwith high-rise buildings but the slums are beyond the corner. You have to leave Joburg before or at early nightfall to catch the last taxis back. There is no system how the blackcabs work. No numbers or routes. You have to ask the people which one goes where, you wait in a queue and when inside, each row of seats gathers the money and hands it to the driver. You will not be cheated. People are as fair as possible and they will give you back your last cent.

Tuesday was meant for Pretoria and I was lucky to take the black cab with MZ till Joburg and from there I went on my own with another taxi to Pretoria. Pretoria has the main government institutions but the streets tend to be filthy and you might get a marriage proposal from a black waitress in a fast food restaurant. It is worth visiting the UnionBuildings, the UNISAUniversity, the Church Square and the Kruger Street. If you have time also go to the Voortrekker museum.

Food in the township mainly consists of ‘pap’, made from white corn flower, a sort of porridge, and chicken. You might get fed up with it, and maybe it is not enough for your white stomach used to better food, but it will teach you to value food and you will know how it is sometimes to have an empty stomach.

In the townships themselves you can find all sorts of people. I met amazing characters like Mandla, who right now started working as an accountant for Ernst and Young. My esteem towards MZ grew day by day as I saw how he was one of the few people who was determined, who had visions, who took care of his mother and younger brother, built his own little house and who became a journalist for the Citizen, travelled around Europe, met influential soccer clubs and players who helped sponsor the local kids with football equipment. He was also the one to form the football team.

Wednesday caught both of us in a bad mood and we ended up fighting as we faced personal hardships and also the uncertainty of the future in our lives. But friends get passed quarrels easily. It is not easy at 26 to act as the main bread provider when the jobs are insecure. It is part of African tradition that anyone who has a job will have to support the rest of the family. As a more individualistic European it is hard to accept, especially when people will start relying on you and will constantly ask money. In many cases these family ties hold back gifted people to move on, as other family members are just not willing to earn their own income.

I saw how educated black people don’t believe in the current government’s populism and detest the corruption that unfolds on the government corridors. This also lead me to see the other side of the post apartheid era, many black government officials forgetting the struggle of their forefathers, diverting public funds and becoming the new generation of rich black South Africans, flashing their expensive cars on the streets. I was also struck by the fact that racism exists among blacks themselves. I never thought I would experience one black person detesting another for the color of his skin, because he is darker.

The rule is simple. Be streetwise, learn fast how the system works and respect the people as they will help you out. This is how I met Rethabile, a Pedi, who drove me to the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and from whom I learnt that you have to be streetwise and hustle if you want a decent living. Getting back from the reserve was challenging and I missed my last taxi back to Vosloores. Finding your way back home, from dark Joburg at 7.30 pm is not easy and a constant problem will be the inability of people to point you in the right way. People just don’t know maps (I didn’t have one anyway) and will have problems giving you directions. It might end up in frustration but the best is to ask as many people as possible and call up MZ or someone you know. This is how I got on a mini bus, ended up getting off at another stop, in the middle of a township where I met up with MZ and walked home from there.

The township made me aware of who I am and where I stand in life. It made me aware of my personal struggles of the last four years, as I chose to make it on my own. My childhood days spent in rural Romania helped me out, and I wasn’t set off from washing myself in a dish, seeing potholes in the road or be in crammed little mini buses. All the people I met were amazing. They welcomed me in their homes, they treated me like one of their own even though I was probably the only white guy that set foot there for a long time. It made me sit down and look myself in the mirror and realize how fortunate I am to be there and make the connection the local whites are ignoring to make. Whether it is my friend, the self entitled ‘passionate revolutionary’ MZwakhe, Mandla the aspiring accountant, Kwandile the bright law student or Renthabile the hustler entrepreneur, I realized that these people looked beyond my skin color, accepted me among them and made me feel like I am among people I have known for a long time. A feeling that I didn’t get so often in the West. It also made me realize how the modern day realities of South Africa are much more complex, how many of these people need to take 1,5 hours just to get to work in crammed buses but how also newly rich black yuppies forget about them and most whites ignore them. The township is the place where bright minds, soccer players, great thinkers are born but also the place where some choose to live from the pocket of others and choose to flaunt whatever they have. It made me change my view of this country, it offered me the insight I needed to have an objective image in front of me and it made me want to go back there when I will have the chance to visit Africa again. I realized that the words of Martin Luther King are still as alive nowadays as they were when he spoke them “A man should not be judged by the color of his skin, but by the contents of his character”. Siyabonga ma’bradas, sistas, mommas and papas. Shap!!!

Húsvéti tervek – Plans for Easter

Easter in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Pilansberg Game Reserve… Húsvét Johannesburgban, Pretoriában és a Pilansberg Rezervátumban
 So as Easter is approaching and inSouth Africathere are a lot of public holidays I decided to spend Easter with my friend MZwake (MZ for all us non Zulu speakers) at his place inJohannesburg 🙂

Our history goes back to the summer of 2009, in the “magical world” of Albert Heijn supermarket aisles, where the Alex, Fanja, MZ and Gashi team made life more bearable. We used to hang out after work (during work), organize nice dinners in the weekends and make the best of our summers which consisted of a lot of ours spent in the supermarket. But hei, we needed the money, right?

A short, quick 5 minute encounter with MZ this end of January, on the Jo-burg airport where after 1 and a half years we had the chance to have a quick chit-chat while I was changing flights.

The original plan included going toBotswanaas well with some other people, but this didn’t materialize. So I will spend 6 days up in Jo-burg, and in the meantime visit Pretoria and the Pilansberg Game Reserve (a small version of Kruger, 2 h drive from J-burg, but they do have the BIG 5).

I wanted to squeeze in Kruger (size ofSlovenia) National Park, but my student budget will not pay 400 euros for 2,5 days spent in the park. Sorry guys, but it is ridiculous.

Till then Happy Easter Holiday for y’all!!

Nos, hogy a Húsvét (elnézést, de nagybetűvel írom) a nyakunkon és Dél Afrikában igen csak kedvelik a nemzeti ünnepeket, elhatároztam, hogy felkeresem MZwake barátomat (MZ a zulut nem beszélőknek) Johannesburgban :)A sztori valamikor 2009 nyarán kezdődött az „Albert Heijn” üzlet mágikus folyosóin, ahol az Alex, Fanja, MZ és Gashi csapat a légkört élhetőbbé tették. Munka után (és közben) együtt töltöttük az időt, hétvégenként nagy ebédeket szerveztünk és megtettünk mindent azért, hogy az üzletben, sok órai munkával töltött nyarunkat jobbá tegyük. De hát kellet a zsé…

Január végén épp 5 percnyire futottunk össze a Jo-burgi repülőtéren, repülő váltás közben,  miután egy és fél éve nem láttuk egymást.

Az eredeti terv szerint valami belgákkal kellett volna Botswanaba is eljussunk, de nem jött össze. Tehát 6 napot fogok tölteni Jo-burgban és közben Pretoriát és a Pilansberg-i Rezervátumot (a Kruger kisebbik változata, de itt is megtalálható a NAGY 5) is meglátogatom.

Krugert (akkora, mint Szlovénia) is valahogy beékeltem volna, de az egyetemista büdzsém nem engedi meg, hogy 2 és fél napért 400 eurót kihajítsak. Egyszerűen marhaság.

Addig is Kellemes Húsvéti Ünnepeket mindenkinek!!!

Stellenbosch, Western Cape, 22nd of April 2010