After Hayden's death my life in Tanzania was busy.
Helping the skydive company shut things down, witnessing the removal of the engine from the plane, holding a memorial for the town to attend, packing Hayden's belongings, traveling to Kenya to take care of his friend who survived the crash and having to inform him that Hayden had not survived, spending time at the orphanage, fighting a case of Malaria...... by the time I had tied everything up and stopped to ask myself 'what next?' I noticed that my visa was about to expire.
I had been due to board an overland truck mid feb which had long left without me.
I wasn't ready to go home. I didn't want to grieve in my loft room at home - I wanted to wander about a bit and try accept what had happened for myself first.
And so I booked a flight to cape town.
I bid a sad farewell to the town of Moshi and the many many people that had helped me through the most difficult experience of my life. And the town in which Hayden and I had formed a relationship that I will never forget.
I boarded a bus to Dar Es Allam where I planned on spending one night before an early morning flight to Cape Town. A friend from Moshi by chance was catching the same flight and it was lovely to have some company.
It turned out to be a godsend being a duo - Dar airport is not a fun place.
The events included long delays, Chris being hauled off by the police because a taxi driver accused us of owing him money, me being accused of not having paid for my flight despite having a boarding card in-hand.... it was an emotional and angst filled departure to a country that had provided the highest highs and lowest lows of my life.
The relief that Chris and I felt as the plane took off spilled over in to emotional laughter and big sighs.
I had arranged to meet up with a dear friend of mine Andy, a south african who I had met whilst he was working in London. He was collecting me from the airport. When we arrived after many delays it was very late. Andy offered for Chris to stay at his house also rather than hunting out a hostel late at night.
Chris and Andy bonded fast and were thick as thieves by morning!
And so followed a week of Chris and I staying at Andy's - sightseeing in the day and spending time with Andy, his fiance Jo and his wonderful family of an evening.
We were taken care of like their own.
Family braiis, long days catching up and reminiscing and finally Andy and Jo's wedding!
Andy and Jo headed off on their honeymoon and the time had come for Chris to continue on his journey - a short stint back in the UK and then off again!
Saying goodbye to Chris was hard. I was scared of being alone - I had been surrounded by people since Hayden had died and now for the first time since boarding the plane to Africa I was going to be alone.
But I was still not ready to go home. I headed in to Cape Town with my backpack on and found myself a hostel. I visited the beaches, Table Mountain, Robben Island, hung out on Long St with the other backpackers, Visited the waterfront and went cage diving with great white sharks!
I adjusted to being alone and of course met other backpackers constantly.
Once I exhausted Cape Town a plan had formed in my head.
Hayden's friend Zak had been transfered to a hospital in his city of Johannesburg.
I would backpack the coast from Cape Town to Johannesburg - see Zak and then fly home.
Surely I'd be ready to go home then.
And so I boarded the Baz Bus. A hop on, hop off backpacker bus. You buy a ticket from one location to another and hop on and off between those places as you go.
First stop for me was the wine region of Stellenbosch.
Here I expored the town and went wine tasting.
I had my first taste of the solo backpacker blues here.
I felt very alone and couldn't help question my decision to have stayed away alone rather than going home to my family.
Wine tasting was fun though!
Rather than let the blues send me home, I boarded the bus headed to the town of Oudtshoorn.
On the bus I got chatting to a guy called PJ. He was traveling with a girl called Jess - they had met on an overland trip and were backpacking their way up the coast like me.
We all got off in Oustdhoorn and headed to the same backpackers.
The first activity I attempted was to mountain bike the Swatberg Pass - and I fell off in quite a spectacular fashion! Here I gained a leg injury that lasted the following month.
That night at dinner (Ostrich steak!) PJ, Jess and I were joined by a swiss nurse called Orla. Orla very kindly took a look at my leg and gave me strict instructions for taking care of it.
Not one to let an injury stop me I spent the next 2 days riding an Ostrich (!) and exploring the famous Cango Caves.
I headed off to the town of Knysna.
Here I met Jo and Mike. They were doing the trip of a life time through Africa and so much fun to hang out with. They however were going in the opposite direction to me. They told me that they were headed to an amazing hostel on a beautiful beach in Buffalo Bay. It sounded amazing. 'Come with us?' 'Ok!'
And so we headed off to Buffalo Bay - so much for my itinerary and journey headed towards Johannesburg - I was now going backwards!
Every evening was spent in the hub of the hostel lying on cushions chatting, playing board-games, reading.... all by candle light. The home made meals were out of this world but we continued to save money by self catering, however every evening we would have the dessert of the day. Usually amazing cake with hot custard.
Bulungula is a community run business. In order to offer employment to the villagers and a cultural insight to the backpackers members of the village can act as guides and show an aspect of their life in the community. What a wonderful initiative.
We spent a fantastic day with the witch-doctor out in the forest learning about all the different plants and what they can be used to cure.
The blue containers.... home brewed booze. And yes I drank it!
Saying goodbye to Bulungula was tough and I almost didnt go. But eventually I had to move on.