I liked the pilot's announcement (in delicious South African accent ) as we landed in Jo'Burg: "Ladies and gentleman, we have you within a hop, skip and a jump from the terminal. The temperature is heading for a warm 30 degrees, and I wish you a zippedy-do-dah day."
Travellers' grapevine reporting civil war has broken out again in Mozambique, concentrated on the inland road to Malawi. Planning to go to Chimoio to hike the mountains in a few days... Should be okay, apparently military convoys accompany the public buses. Heading to Mozambique Island now so will get the word in the hostel.
Madagascar - dirt cheap! There are no tour groups/truck tours, only independent travellers, which is very, very welcome! In the hostels most people have travelled as much as me - I'm among my people! We chat for hours. I'm used to people shutting me down or even walking off if I try to talk about my life, consumed by jealousy or unable to understand my experiences. It's only in places like this I can freely talk to people. It's hard to explain how nice this is for me! English guy at breakfast today had spent a month in prison in Iran. Advised me on a trip to Sudan and Somaliland, I'm thinking about maybe 2018...
Tourists still a bit of a curiosity in Madagascar. You just have to be okay with basic infrastructure and shocking roads. The bus from Tana to Diego Suarez in the north took 33 hours! (Well, crammed minibus with a huge pile of luggage, animals and even a whole tuk-tuk on the roof!) However, the north was lovely, they let us (travelling with a German guy) camp in the national parks for free, we just paid the local farmers a few ariary to use their bucket shower. The lemurs are so cute; they stare down at you from the trees. We did a 30km hike through the tsingy forest one day. Got a return bus which only took a sanity saving 26 hrs and then jumped on the 13 hr bus to Morondava to see the baobabs.
The bus stopped for lunch yesterday coming back to Tana (Antananarivo); I wasn't hungry so I wandered up the road. Groups of delighted kids assembled to point and cry "Wasa!" (white person). One if the parents said something to them which I'm guessing was along the lines of: the evil spirit wasa will come and get you if you're not good. Some of the kids ran off screaming and the adults were pissing themselves laughing. Very friendly people. Local buses in Tana cost a few cents.
Could go on and on and on better go jump on my flight to Maputo.
Due to the bizarre perspective created by the endless, flat salt pan, you can dance salsa with a dinosaur at Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. I would have preferred an imperial walker, as this is where the planet Crait scenes from ‘The Last Jedi’ were filmed, but then again they probably don’t have very much in the way of musicality...
Valparaiso, Chile - this is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been. Somewhat of a cross between Potosi (Bolivia) with its steep hills and colorful colonial facades and the laneways of Melbourne (Australia) with their famous street art, but more beautiful than the other in each respect. A gorgeous city.
Santiago de Chile doesn’t feel South American; it reminds me greatly of DF (Mexico City), particularly the metro (without the groping)...
Thinking about next summer already (of course!) - would I be able to backpack both Sri Lanka and Oman in 5 weeks? After the Sri Lankans kicked out their war criminal president I started to plan to travel there, but wouldn’t need the full five weeks. Oman is enticing. I’m not sure how good the public transport is and how easy it would be to get around quickly. I could then have a salsa-and-shopping stopover in Dubai on the way back - Muscat to Dubai by bus is only 6 hours - although Dubai-Australia flights are always at horrific, jet lag inducing times. I prefer to hop over to Doha instead and take the Qatar flight back, but that’s no longer an option since the UAE shut down flight connections to Qatar.
Of course, all salsa advice welcome for each destination