From the Wild Coast to the last African Kingdom

Arriving to the Wild Coast was a reality check. Pumpkin’s shoes (the motorcycle tires) were not adequate for the type of riding we were doing. We needed to change them as soon as possible to a set of tires built for off-road riding. This experience made us realize that we had no clue on how to ride two-up on dirt roads.  This could be a major problem as less than 10% of the roads in Africa are paved and we still had a long way to go up North.

From Coffee Bay we headed to charming Port Edwards and from there we moved to Durban. In Durban we were lucky to find a BMW dealer where we could get new tires for the motorcycle and get the rest of the riding gear we were missing. Durban is the third largest city in South Africa and has the greatest Indian population.  We took advantage of this opportunity to visit the biggest Hare Krishna temple in Africa and to eat delicious Indian curries. We also met several motorcyclists who gave us invaluable tips about the journey ahead of us.

Bike_maintanance_Durban

Pumpkin taking the day off in Durban

As we discussed with different riders about our challenges and fears of riding in Africa we got advice and recommendations. The best advice was from John at Gear Up who told us that we needed to go visit the headquarters of Country Trax. Country Trax is a motorcycle paradise hidden in nature. Jan de Toit, the founder of Country Trax, has designed an amazing motorcycle course where he teaches to ride off-road. He has also built with his own hands beautiful wooden cabins where the riders can rest after the arduous training.  Jan is a legend in South Africa and among the adventure motorcycle community.

Since Country Trax was on the way north, we decided to stop by and at least see this amazing place that several motorcyclist recommended. John gave us some tips on how to ride off-road two up and then uploaded a track of mostly good dirt roads all the way to Jan’s place.  We headed out of Durban with new tires, new techniques and on a Sunny day. After a few days in a big city it was nice to be out in the wild.

The ride north was amazing with beautiful scenery and almost no traffic. For the fist time in our trip we were not sure where we would spend the night. We started becoming tired and hungry after several hours on the road with no good places to stop. Luckily, universe gifted us with a beautiful place. We spent the night at a hotel in the middle of nowhere with wonderful hot springs that helped relax and rejuvenate our bodies. It felt wonderful to be pampered. The best part of all was that we paid backpacker’s price! The following night we headed to Vryheid. After a couple hundred kilometers, screws started to get lose on the bike and the one holding the headlamp came off. Luckily Abdul, from MICA hardware, helped us find a solution at no cost.

Beautiful ride off-road, north of Durban

Beautiful ride off-road, north of Durban

A wonderful gift from nature to us, Hot Springs in Kwa-Zulu Natal

A wonderful gift from nature to us, Hot Springs in Kwa-Zulu Natal

Finally, after a few more days of riding, we made to Country Trax. To our surprise, when we arrived at the biker’s paradise, one of South Africa’s biggest television channels was filming a documentary with famous DJ Cleo and notorious radio host Angie.  When the film crew saw the bike they got very interested in our trip and asked us to be part of the program. The next day we were all geared up for our first television appearance in Africa! We were delighted with the celebrities’ simplicity, openness and fun attitude.

Angie Khumalo and DJ Cleo leaving Country Trax after filming the 8th episode of 'Vaya Mzansi'

Angie Khumalo and DJ Cleo leaving Country Trax after filming the 8th episode of ‘Vaya Mzansi’

After shooting at the Country Trax facilities we headed to see the “Big Foot”. If you’ve ever walked barefoot through thick mud, and then seen how the impressions look after the mud has dried in the sun, you’ll appreciate how bizarre this rock formation is.

Legendary Big Foot, South Africa

The Legendary Big Foot, almost as big as Salva

After the television crew left, Jan was available to talk to us.  We explained to him our travels and our limited off-road riding skill set. Although Salva had experience riding solo, Tarci had practically no motorcycle experience. After several talks we finally convinced Jan to do a personalized training for us. We spent the rest of the day going over the theory. The next 3 days were some of the most difficult riding we would do. The training involved waking up early and pretty much being on the bike all day. The course included all types of terrain that we would encounter during our Africa. We had to remove all three boxes from the motorcycle to be able to do all of the challenging drills.

country_trax_training

Tarci learning to ride

This drill felt like being on a roller coaster: fun and scary!

After three days of intense training, several falls, several bruises, broken motorcycle parts and filthy gear we had completed the course. It was time to celebrate and enjoy the accomplishment of having completed the intermediary course. We felt that we were finally ready for Africa.

We left Country Trax with mixed feelings. We were happy to be back on the road heading to one of most beautiful places in South Africa, but also sad to leave Jan and his family behind. They took great care of us and felt like family.

Celebrating with Jan and his wife Elsie

Celebrating with Jan and his wife Elsie

After a long day of riding we reached the Blyde River Canyon.  Here we spent a few days exploring the area. The views, the roads and the people were just amazing as you can see from the pictures.

Beautiful view of the Blyde River Canyon

Beautiful view of the Blyde River Canyon

From South Africa we decided to visit the last Kingdom of Africa – Swaziland.

LSD Trip in the Wild Coast, South Africa

Yesterday, we rode over 450 kilometers mostly under the rain. In the last 5 hours of the ride we got fog, enough rain to get us wet to the bone and the temperature dropped down enough to make us shiver in cold. The roads have gotten much worse which required full concentration at all times. The paved roads had potholes the size of small craters and the dirt roads had mud, gravel and big ruts. I will not list the variety of animals on the road…

Yesterday’s ride has been the hardest one in the last 3,000+ Km that we have ridden in South Africa. We got really scared when a black goat jumped in front of us on the highway. I’m not sure who was more scared, the goat or us, but luckily he jumped back where he came from just seconds before we hit it.  In the last hour of the ride it was dark; the road became very technical with a mix of sections of gravel, mud, animals, rain and fog, with steep up hills and down hill. We did not expect or plan for the ride to be so long, difficult and exhausting.

As I write, we are in the Wild Coast of South Africa. Our lodge is south of Coffee Bay on top of a beautiful hill overseeing the Indian Ocean. The waves are breaking loudly against the cliff and the full moon rays are struggling to come through the dark clouds.  Only the thunders allow us to get glimpses of our magical surroundings.

The Wild Coast is one of South Africa’s most remote stretches of shoreline. The scenery is surreal, the energy around us is paradisiac and after a delicious meal this is the perfect time to reflect on the experiences we have had in the last few weeks. As we look back we realize that the past few days have been a Look, See and Decide (LSD) trip.  We will let the pictures narrate the trip:

Riding_with_Johan

When we arrived in South Africa we did not know what to expect. We were excited to be arriving into this wild continent and at the same time scared from all the stories we hear on the news. On our arrival Johan in the picture above picked us up at the airport and for the next few days he was our guardian angel. He and his family looked after us, provided guidance on our trip and helped us get organized. The most amazing thing was that we have never met Johan before our arrival and we connected with him through a motorcycle forum.

garden_road_south_africa

We rode our first 1,000 Kilometers in the area around Cape Town and we could have easily ridden much more as you can appreciate from the picture above.

Cape_Agulhas_South_Africa_T_n_S

After a week in the Cape Town area we headed to Cape Agulhas the southernmost point in Africa where the Indian Ocean meets with the Atlantic Ocean. A sense of happiness and achievement surrounded us.  Finally we felt that we were in Africa in a once in a lifetime adventure.

cango_caves_oudtshoornFrom Cape Agulhas we headed inland to Oudtshoorn to visit the Cango Caves. We did the adventure tour that required climbing and sliding across narrow holes under the grounds. The smallest passage was just under 30cm high at the exit! The cave system of tunnels and chambers was impressive to say the least and the picture above does not do justice to the beauty of the caves.

Plettenberg_Bay_Diamond

 

From Oudtshoorn we went to Plettenberg Bay. We stayed in Brian’s house (identity hidden) shown in the picture above. Brian is an ex-diamond smuggler. He made a small fortune in the 80’s going to Namibia and buying diamonds that were stolen from the diamond beaches.  Brian told us that in Namibia there are beaches that are full of diamonds and you can pick them up from the sand. These are not large diamonds but they are big enough for wedding rings. Anyway, Brian was a very interesting character with a lot of great stories.

view_head_knysna

While in Plettenberg Bay, we went to Knysna for the day. The views of “the Heads” where spectacular and the food amazing. It was a good day!

Addo_Elephant_Park

From Plettenberg Bay we headed to Addo to see the Elephant National Park. It is one of the few places if not the only place in South Africa where you get to see so many elephants together in one place. The elephants provided a lot of food for thought. It reminded us of the Indian God Ganesh and our time in Asia. It reminded us that we are in Africa. It reminded us that this animals are being killed for their ivory tusks.

John_Orange_Elephant_Backpackers

In Addo we were guest of John the owner of Orange Elephant Backpackers. John is a motorcyclist who read about our trip and wanted to support us along our way north. It was great to meet him and we were very thankful for his help!

road_hole_in_the_wall_wild_coast

From Addo we came to Coffee Bay. Yesterday due to the rain our camera drowned and we were not able to take pictures. The picture above and below are from today’s ride to Hole In The Wall a few kilometers south of Coffee Bay.

wild_coast_south_africa_beach

The beaches in the Wild Coast are just unbelievable!  It was nice to see the sun after a long day riding under the rain.

hole_in_the_whole_wild_coast_south_africa

The famous Hole In the Wall.

white_clays_coffee_bay

The picture above is where we are currently writing this blog post. On the right is our small hut overseeing the Indian Ocean. As we Look back we realize that we have Seen much more than we expected and it will be challenging to Decide what to do after the Trip.  Maybe it is just better not to think about it and do what my father told Tarci: “Go with the flow and just keep both wheels in balance”.

48 Hours to Africa!

Imagine being in a gorgeous tropical island in the middle of the ocean and in 48 hours being dropped in one of most dangerous and most beautiful places in the planet – Africa!

We have spent the last 6 weeks in Bali meditating about life, redesigning this blog, practicing Yoga and embracing our new lifestyle. We have also been planning our next leg in our holistic healing journey – Africa!

Africa Route

The plan for Africa is to travel by motorcycle across the continent. We will start in Cape Town and from there we will travel north. As of today we are not completely sure how far north we will be able to reach, however, if the political situations, weather and safety permit we plan to reach Egypt.

Over the last 6 months our focus has been to find our internal Self. We visited spiritual places, we embraced spiritual practices and have traveled within ourselves through meditation and other techniques such as Yoga Nidra. Now we plan to travel outside ourselves and to help other people.

Every year in Africa over 200 million people get infected with malaria and of those more than 500,000 people die. The shocking part about these statistics is that malaria is a preventable and curable disease. The saddest part is that over 90% of the of the people who die are children below the age of 5. Malaria is the number 1 killer in Africa and we want to do something about it.

Through this blog, social media and traditional media we plan to increase awareness about this deadly diseases and motivate people like you to take action to help eradicate this disease. We have started to develop online tools to facilitate knowledge sharing about new strategies to fight this diseases.  If you are interested to learn more about our initiative or are interested in supporting us please leave a comment below or send us a message.

Today we are starting to pack. Last night was difficult to sleep. Maybe because we don’t know what to expect upon arrival in Africa. Traveling by motorcycle is not easy and is not the safest method of transportation. So we are in this emotional roller coaster of excitement and doubt – are we really doing this???

12 Special Moments in 2012

According to the Mayan calendar, an era in humanity’s history ended on December 21, 2012.  After this date, begins a new 5,125-year cycle. This transition marked a shift in human consciousness. Researchers devoted to the study of consciousness and evolution say that a large segment of humanity will not be ready for this evolutionary leap, but those who are will be in a place to help those souls who are still focused on war, conflict and segregation. People who are already making this evolutionary shift will pave the way for others to move towards “unity” and “oneness”.

It is an interesting coincidence that in 2012 we decided to radically change our lives and that this thought crossed our minds in Mexico, close to where the ancient Mayan civilization settled.

We hope that in 2013 we see more natural holistic healing methods preventing diseases, people becoming more spiritual, and resources being channeled to those who need it the most.

We leave you with a summary of 12 special moments in 2012 and with a prayer to achieve true freedom through love in 2013.

Christmas in Tuscany, Italy, with Salva’s family

Toscana Italia Wine with Family_Trip We Love

Eating cheese fondue in Basel, Switzerland

Basel Switzerland Eating Fondue_Trip We Love

Celebrating with pisco sour and special friends in Mexico  

Mexico city with Friends_Trip We Love

A wonderful Easter holiday in Playa del Coco, Nicaragua, with family and friends

Playa del Coco Nicaragua_Trip We Love

A warm blessing from Tarci’s family in Brasília and Recife

Brasilia Recife Brazil Family_Trip We Love

Getting the good vibe from special friends in Atlanta, United States

Atlanta USA Friends_Trip We Love

Starting our journey in Thailand!

Mae Rim Thailand Rice Fields_Trip We Love

Dedicating time to “look inside” in Rishikesh, India

Rishikesh India Meditation_Trip We Love

Touring Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Singapore in search of  healthy food

Malaysia Singapore_Trip We Love

Visiting Salva’s sister in Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong China_Trip We Love

370 hours of Yoga and Thai Massage Training in Nepal

Kathmandu Nepal Yoga Teacher Training_Trip We Love

Matteo: our Christmas gift imported from Australia and made in Italy. Dinner in Ubud, Bali (Indonesia)

Ubud Bali Indonesia_Trip We Love

 

Link to Prayer: The Toltec Path to Freedom

 

A More Spiritual View of Bali

It has been about 5 months since we started our trip. Originally we had planned to visit Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines in these last few weeks of our Asia journey. We will definitely visit these countries one day but we felt that it would be more important to stop for some time to consolidate our knowledge obtained so far and finish our preparation for Africa. We chose to return to Ubud because the food, the energy and the people are great!

We spent the first few days in Bali at the beach. We visited one of Bali’s sea temples in Uluwatu. Although it is a small temple, it sits on top of a fascinating cliff.

Bali_Uluwatu temple_Trip We Love

It is interesting how we looked at Bali differently this time. We were more curious to learn about local rituals and to visit spiritual places. It seems we became more sensitive to energy than we used to.  For the first time in our lives we chanted a mantra at the beach for almost 2 hours! It is one of our favorite mantras, called Shaanti Path, and it is a mantra for Peace, Harmony and Happiness.


Bali_Mantras at Dreamland Beach_Trip We Love

 

This was the longest Salva’s bear has ever been! Tarci convinced him to trim it a bit now that it is hot.

We send all of you Peace, Harmony and Happiness through this beautiful sunset at Dreamland Beach… May all your dreams come true!

 

Bali_Dreamland Beach Sunset_Trip We Love

Yoga Training in Nepal

We arrived in Kathmandu on September 21st, about 1 week before our training. At the airport the immigration process was very manual but it went by rapidly. We could get the visa on arrival for up to 3 months.  Outside of the airport we got a phone chip and had to get our fingerprints for that (not with a biometric reader but by sticking our fingers in ink). We had a recommended driver to pick us up. The car was so tiny, almost like Mr. Bean’s car, and had only 4 gears. All other cars looked old and most of the streets were under construction due to a road expansion project. It felt like we had travelled back in time!

A simple country with simple people and SO MUCH to teach us! We stayed at Budhanilkantha, north of Kathmandu, at a peaceful Cottage on top of the mountains with a beautiful view.

 

Shivapuri Mountains_Budanikantha_Nepal

In the village of Budhanilkantha lies a 5 meter tall sleeping Vishnu (a popular Hindu God) in the middle of a small pond. The sculpture from the 5th century represents Vishnu sleeping in the cosmic ocean while resting on Ananta Sesa the thousand headed snake.

Vishnu Temple_Kathmandu_Nepal

Salva was blessed by the sadhu (holy man) dressed in white on the right
Yogi_Sadhu_Vishnu Temple Nepal 

On September 29th we headed to the house where we would spend our next 6 weeks in our 320h Yoga Teacher Training & 50h Thai Massage Certification.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj” which means to connect or join.  That is why Yoga is commonly understood as body, mind & soul union, or matter with higher consciousness or self with Divine. The most important thing is that Yoga is a powerful means to an end. In Yogic tradition, the ultimate goal of all human pursuits is moksha, or liberation. Liberation from insecurities, desires, and limitations; freedom from all that separates us from the Divine. The end of all human pursuits is everlasting peace, happiness and a sense of fulfillment. Yoga helps to cleanse and purify the mind, which in turn prepares us to know our true Self.

In our journey to learn about different holistic healing therapies in Asia and to realize our svadharmas (true purpose in life), a training in Yoga felt like the right path. Before the training we were required to read 3 classical Yoga books: The Bhagavad Gita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. We highly recommend these readings. There is a lot of misunderstanding about what is yoga and several people are starting to believe that physical excercises is all to this practice.

During our training we learned about the history of yoga, the different branches, the eight limbs of yoga (yama, niyama, asana,pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and Samadhi), anatomy, subtle-anatomy, prana, koshas, vayus, chakras, mantras, mudras, bandhas… basically we were introduced to a whole new language, world and lifestyle of Yoga.

We were 9 students from all over the world training and living together in a house – ashram style. We woke up around 5am, daily activities started at 6am and ended at 8:30pm. Sunday was free.

This was our first day at the house after the Initiation Ceremony

Nepal_Yoga Teacher Training_Initiation Ceremony_Trip We Love

Our Yogi-Nomad teachers kept us on a tight schedule but also gave us their hearts during our training. We feel grateful to have been part of such a beautiful group.

Our teacher Yogatara (founder of Isha Center) teaching Yoga Nidra, a technique which we loved!


Nepal_Yoga Nidra_Trip We Love

Tarci & Salva Teaching Yoga Classes

Nepal_Tarci Teaching Baddha Konasana_Trip we Love


Nepal_Salva Teaching Navasana_Trip we Love

Besides the Yoga training, as part of our course we also learned Thai Massage. The theoretical foundation of this spiritual practice is based on the concept of invisible energy lines running through the body. Working on these energy lines can break blockages, stimulate the flow of energy and help to restore well-being. An Indian physician called Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha, who used to be a friend of the Buddha, is the founder of this healing technique. The giving of Thai massage is a physical application of loving kindness.

Tarci & Salva giving and receiving Thai Massage from each other

Nepal_Salva Blind Thai Massage_Trip We Love


Nepal_Tarci Thai Massage_Trip We Love

At the end of 4 weeks our teachers organized a 3-day “field trip” to visit some of the most sacred places around Kathmandu.

View of Himalayas after sunrise

Nepal_Nagarkot_Himalayas View_Trip We Love
 

The picture above was taken at Nagarkot, which is a village part of Bhaktapur district. It is about 2,200m above sea level and is renowned for its sunrise view of the Himalaya (including Mount Everest), as well as other snow-caped peaks. It was worth waking up early in the cold to see this sunrise!

On our way to the temples and villages that we visited we were lucky to meet very interesting holy men, like the one in the picture below.

Nepal_Baba_Trip we Love

This is a beautiful family we met at a local village

Nepal_Beautiful Family at Village_Trip we Love

We visited a charming medieval town called Bhaktapur, which means “City of Devotees”, and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and artwork. 

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

Nepal_Bhaktapur Durbar Square_Trip We Love

On October 31st, Tarci’s Dad birthday, we visited one of our favorite places due to its powerful energy, the Boudhanath stupa. It is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is said that anything you wish for comes true as long as it is aligned with your svadharma (purpose in life). We prayed and lit candles for the birthday Dad, our families and friends.

 Boudhanath Stupa

Nepal_Boudhanath Stupa_Trip We Love

In the last 2 weeks of training we had to give a one-hour and a one-hour and a half yoga class. We also had to give a Thai massage blind-folded. These were all experiences we will never forget. It was beautiful to see the growth of our classmates, our own development and to share an important part of our lives with such special souls.

Our wonderful group!

Nepal_Yoga Training Class Nov 2012_Trip We Love

After the training it was harder to unwind than we imagined. We kept waking up early, chanting mantras and practicing every day. It did not take long for us to realize that we had not only gotten a diploma but a complete change in lifestyle.

During our last 3 days in Nepal we stayed at Isha Center and met Darshana, a sannyasa who is continuing her yoga studies at the Bihar School in India. On November 11th she took us back to the Pashupatinath Temple, which is one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world, listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We had been there before in our tour with the group but this time she showed us the more local side of the temple. We stood in front of the entrance to the main temple (which is forbidden to enter for Non-Hindus) while we made our offering and received and amazing energy! We also walked by the cremations on the riverbank, had prasad (holy food offering) with a Baba in his cave and found a hidden Ganesh temple where his mouse showed up to greet us! A lot of auspicious encounters. We had wished to celebrate our anniversary in a more spiritual way, but we had nothing planned. That was the best gift the universe could have given us!

Tiger Baba preparing prasad in his cave

Nepal_Tiger Baba in Cave_Trip We Love

 Tarci with Darshana at the hidden Ganesh cave in Pashupatinath Temple

Nepal_Pashupatinath Temple_Hidden Ganesh cave_Trip We Love

After Nepal, instead of continuing to explore different places and cultures, we decided to stop for some time to process what we have learned, brainstorm new ventures and prepare for Africa.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...