The Road Less Travelled

It had been a long time since I had set of on my own to explore a country that I didn’t speak the language of and I was a little nervous when I had heard that not speaking French made it nearly impossible to travel northern Togo and Benin solo. I guess that could put a lot of people off but for me I like the challenge and adventure of it all, Money speaks all languages, so long as you have some you will always get to where you want to go.

The Border crossing between Aflao, Ghana and Lome, Togo was as annoying as it had been written. The touts hung around like flies trying to find ways to get you to accept a service they could offer that you didn’t need. ‘It’s ok the form is in English, you don’t need to translate it for me’ etc. To my surprise though none of the border officials asked for bribes which I had heard was common. I got my transit visa for Togo at the border and paid what I should have paid and had a good little laugh with the immigration officer while doing it.

Lome is basically on the border with Ghana so it is an easy 10-15min walk to the hotels once you have cleared customs, the taxi-moto’s don’t like this  but until you work out the best price for things it is better to pay for nothing at a border unless you have too.

I spent 2 nights in Lome so that I could get my Benin Visa before heading north, the lady at the consulate was very nice and helpful to me and I felt quite bad when I made a spelling mistake in her receipt book and had to correct it, she reacted as though I had just killed her first born. I was glad I had the passport in my hand first or she might have tried to take my visa away from me for it.

Lome was not an amazing city and the fact that I had decided that I had Malaria did not help me to enjoy it any more. I woke up with a very sore, stiff neck and read that it was a sign of malaria. This mixed with my feeling of vagueness the few days before made me head for a pharmacy to get tested. The pharmacies don’t do the test so I decided to just buy the treatment anyway as it could not do much harm if I didn’t have malaria and it only cost 4 euro. For various reasons I had decided not to take anti-malarial pills in Africa and got told off by the pharmacist for this, so I bought some one a week lariam’s that would do me for the rest of my 2 week stay.

The next day I felt no better and no worse so I got up early and headed for Kande in Northern Togo. I was a little apprehensive about the trip due to my complete lack of French and the reports of Togo and Benin’s complete lack of English. I stopped a taxi-moto and asked him to take me to the bus station, he spoke English. We arrived to the station and immediately 4-5 man came running to see where I wanted to go and to throw me inside a van, the man whose van I ended up in spoke English. I bought my ticket to go to Kande and was told that we would be there in 7 hours. So at 9am the 24 of us headed off in the 19 seater van.

The lady beside me in the van also spoke English which ended up being a good thing as when we arrived to Kara(1 hour from Kande) the van stopped and was not going any further. We explained to the driver that I had a ticket showing Kande and the price for Kande so he happily but reluctantly organised a taxi to take me there and paid my fare. This taxi was a squeeze with 7 of us inside and we all thought the driver had lost his mind when he tried to get 2 more people in, we asked where they would sit and he suggested they would lie across our laps! We had no say in the matter, his car his rules, and were happy when the couple saw the options and refused the ride.

I was beginning to realise now that these were the reasons why people say you need patience to head north and into ‘The road less travelled’ border crossing between Togo and Benin. My motto for the trip had been to say ‘you are never there until you are there’ repeatedly everytime I felt happy that I had successfully made it to my destination. The taxi stopped at the next town before Kande and said that I would have to get another taxi as he was going no further as I was the only one travelling on and it was too late for a return fare.

This created a lot of chatter amongst the lady I met in the van, the taxi driver and all the taxi-motos who arrived to offer their services. They were very upset that I had been sold a ticket all the way to Kande as apparently they never go the whole way, they were also upset when I told them that the taxi driver had already been paid to take me the whole way. In a fun and light-hearted way they gave him some jip for taking the money and then changing his mind and it felt really nice that although they didn’t know me they were all looking out for me as a fellow human being who was in a situation that any of them could be in at some time. I have to say that the people of Northern Togo are perhaps the most helpful, respectful and polite people I have met.

I decided that I did not have to continue onto Kande that day for the extortionate price they wanted to charge and instead said I would stay ……… and go to Kande in the morning. I asked about a hotel in town and instead was basically abducted by the lady I had met and taken back to her housing compound, one building with 5 rooms attached for 5 families and on the other side 5 separate rooms for kitchen and washing.

I was a real novelty in her village when I arrived. One lady was breastfeeding with it all hanging out and had to quickly cover up when I was led into the courtyard to be ‘viewed’ by everyone. I was sat on a bench while everyone laughed and joked and came up to me one by one to bow and say ‘Bon Arrivee’. I felt like a real Muppet sat there as some sort of presentation piece but it was an amazing experience to see how hospitable and welcoming they were. After dinner we went for a little tour of the village where I was always sat down with the women coming up one by one to bow and welcome me.

I was starting to realise by now that not speaking French was a negative to the whole experience of West Africa, they say West Africa is all about the people, and it is absolutely true so when you don’t speak the language of the people it makes it a little boring in the end. For this reason I later changed my flight and left Africa earlier than anticipated.

After a good night’s sleep and a great thunderstorm I woke up to get my stuff and try to escape from captor. I was told I had to go out into the courtyard and greet everybody good morning and then we ate some breakfast, went to the collective crafts school for the disabled and then flagged down a taxi moto to take me the rest of the way to Kande and the border. Not before I was given another bottle of water that appeared to be from the well and probably what gave me the squirts that were soon to arrive.

I bargained a good price for the taxi moto and again thought everything was going well and that I would be at the border soon. Again I was wrong and as soon as we reached the entrance to the Unesco Tambemra Village sight there was a little office set up with the sole purpose of fleecing tourists! My taxi moto was unable to enter as he had not been approved by them, I would instead have to pay a taxi moto that was waiting there. I understood this and didn’t mind too much but when they said I had to pay $8 for guide to come with us to see one of the compounds, on top of the $3 entrance fee, I got a little agitated. I told them screw the guide and ill just pay the taxi-moto more to show me a house. Apparently this is not allowed and after much frustration with them the three of us headed off on the 125cc motorbike along the bumpy gravel road.

30mins later we arrived at a Tamberma compound and I got to witness the little circus their area has become. The Compound huts were amazing, Mud fortresses built to resist elephant attacks and raids by other villages. The huts are built far enough from each other to avoid arrow strikes, have a sleeping area on the roof with a hole for boiling water to be poured on intruders and holes in the walls to fire arrows. Unfortunately a very very small percentage of the money I paid the guide goes towards the owner of the hut basically performing tricks on demand.

‘look, the man just crawled into the sleeping area…take a photo’

The man is then slipped 50cfa(less than 10cents) for his effort. I saw where this was heading and decided to get the hell outta there as I felt bad for the locals.

‘Look the man just climbed the tree for you, take a photo’

‘It’s ok I don’t need a photo’

‘But he did it especially for you, don’t disappoint him’

Click click and then man comes down for his 50cfa reward aka doggy treat. I was told that if I paid 200cfa then we could ask the alligator man to get naked and show us the scars from his attack. It felt really wrong to be any part of this so I told the taxi moto man to take me to the border and left the guide behind.

It was a long and bumpy ride to the Togo border post, no man’s land and then on to the Benin immigration to get my passport stamped. I especially liked the street smart of my taxi moto guy which is why I paid way too much to let him drive me all the way to my destination in Benin. At the border post he saw the van that would be taking people to the town for a third of what he was charging, so he quickly veered away and bought some petrol even though we had got some not long before. When they are this nifty you don’t mind paying them a bit more.

As we left the border and zoomed quicker and quicker along the bumpy gravel road for the final 1 hour of the trip I started to realise that I was on the back of a crappy motorbike doing 70-80kmh wearing shorts and a t shirt and no helmet. If death didn’t result from a crash then drain damage or lack of skin definitely would have. But what can you do but hope for the best, so many times now I have been in similar circumstances and thought ‘this is really dangerous, this could actually be my time, this is just wrong’ but I cant change it so I just Clench J

We never did crash and mad it safely to Natitingou, a respectable 2 hours late due to the breakdown along the way ‘you are never there unless you are there’ was all I could think.

One night in Natitingou was enough for me so I headed for the hustle and bustle of Cotonou then next day. It was a comfortable and reliable bus ride down and all the transport problems of Togo seemed to be nonexistent in Benin. Benin did however have Cotonou, one of West Africa’s craziest cities and home to thousands of taxi moto drivers. It is worth going to Cotonou just to jump on the back of one and speed dangerously though the streets weaving through traffic and side swiping other vehicles, this is basically what I did as I got straight out of Cotonou and headed further down road to Porto Novo, a little more of a relaxed city.

At Porto Novo my belly started to make sounds that it hadn’t for many a year and I was still concerned that I may have had Malaria. I was now so doped up on pills that any of the symptoms I had in the next few days could have been malaria or just a mild overdose. I was on malaria treatment tablets and I also took a triple dose of the strongest Anti malarial pills available. After 2 days on the beach at a Rasta bar/guesthouse in Grand Popo I decided to get back to Lome and change my flight to get out of Africa.

I could not eat for 2 days, my dreams were freaky as hell and on the day I crossed the border my arms were numb and tingly making filling in my immigration forms hard work J. I was back in Lome 4 hours after leaving Grand Popo and went to the Airline to change my flight and then to the clinic to get a malaria test. The clinic said I would not get results until 4pm which did not suit me as despite being so ill I still wanted to visit one more town before leaving Togo. I did not get the test, stupidly or wisely i’ll never know, and headed to Kpalime to find that it was pouring with rain and pointless being there so I returned to Lome and spent the next 36 hours tossing and turning in bed, not eating and unluckily getting the squirts about 12 hours before my flight back to London.

I was wondering if I would be able to make the flight with the way I was feeling and was very relieved when 2 hours before I left for the airport my body said it wanted water and food, I knew that the worst of it was over.

I was looking forward to getting back to the UK to sort out my Russian trip as I was over Africa by now. I was amazed by Togo and Benin and found them a real highlight of my trip. I can honestly say that you should not visit West Africa without seeing Northern Togo and its people. All along the trip I was always asked for either money or gifts by children and adults, when I got the Lome airport it was the first time in Togo I had been asked that question, it was by the security guard at the baggage x-ray machine! She held my passport and waited and unfortunately I was too ill and tired to tell her to F*”k off and refused to give her anything instead.

See photos for Benin and Togo:

 

Dodging Al Qaeda: The BusRun 2011

It was a little hard to say goodbye to Lagos, Portugal after spending a very lazy and relaxing three weeks there on the beach. The Hostel I stayed in was great along with the owners and all the other guests and Lagos was just a fantastic town, parties all night and day and secluded beaches to escape the subtle madness of the town. It reminded me a lot of Plakias, Crete but without the harder mentality of the Greek Culture.

I had to double think my decision to leave and make my journey through West Africa but weighing up the pros and cons I knew that the busrun was something I had to do. I had found the trip a few months earlier on the Thorn Tree. An English charity operating in Elmina, Ghana had bought an overland tour truck and needed it delivered to Ghana so that they could operate tours around the schools they supported in the country. We were taken on the truck as paying passengers to help cover the cost of getting the truck to Elmina.

The normal tours that run from Gibraltar to Ghana take 10 weeks and cost £2000, we were doing this 6500km trek in just 3 weeks for a cost of £500!  It was an offer to good to refuse and when we all meet up at Gibraltar airport met our trip driver I realised that we were exceptionally lucky in what we were getting. Matt had been leading these trips through Africa for 10 years and had driven 3 Trans Africa expeditions already, he also co-owned The Sleeping Camel Guesthouse in Bamako, Mali which later got us the tour we all wanted to Djenne and the Dogon country.

3 weeks was a short amount of time to reach Ghana and we all had to push ourselves to make the most of the sights we wanted to see along the way and also just to keep ourselves going the distance. Travelling from Marrakesh to Bamako took us a total of 8 days and it was hard going! Mauritania was a fantastic place and the people were amazing but unfortunately there are very severe travel warnings there due to Al Qaeda so we had to get in and basically out of the country as quick as we could. Heading east from Nouakchott we woke at sunrise and started driving, at some point later Matt would throw a big bag of bread into the side of the truck for breakfast on the go and then we would stop 30mins before sunset, cook our dinner and sleep before doing the same routine the next day.

I really liked Mauritania and think it would be a fabulous place to explore someday when the risk of kidnapping and beheading is not so high. Next time however I will plan my times and make sure I do not go there at the hottest time of the year like I did this time. My God, It was hot! Matt had told us since day one that it was going to get hot, real hot, and on the day we headed from Nouakchott to Kifa we felt what he meant. The wind was blowing like a hairdryer, the sun was belting down and we found later that it had been 46 degrees at 3pm with a real feel of 50. It was no wonder we all went through around 6 litres each of (hot) water and still didn’t need the truck to stop for a pee break. The best moment was after a few hours of suffering silence when Christina looked at us and asked if anyone else was wondering what the price of a flight from Bamako back to London might cost J It was that hot that you had to wonder if you could handle it, yet the locals kids would run around kicking their makeshift football made from plastic bags.

After taking the ferry from Spain we spent 3 days in Rabat, Morocco waiting to get our Mauritanian visas and taking day trips to Fez and Casablanca. Fez was a great place, apart from the touts in the Medina, and Casablanca is well worth a look for the huge Mosque. Our nights in Rabat were spent in the nightclub next to the campsite joining in the traditional dinner and dancing that the locals loved so much. It reminded me of the way the Cretans drink and sing and dance but the Moroccans seemed so much more relaxed and friendly than some of the Greeks can be.

One highlight for me was seeing the local village ladies collecting water in big 20ltr drums that they were transporting in wheelbarrows. I felt bad that these old ladies were doing this hard work while we stood watching so I headed over and offered to help. I was greeted by smiles and immense laughter and shown to a wheelbarrow and pointed in the direction I had to go. The lady I was with loved it and kept laughing, holding my arm and telling everyone we passed about what was happening. It was a long push back to her house/Hut but worth it for the look on her daughter in laws face when I barged through the front gate with by two barrels of water for her. The whole family came out to greet me and offered me food and drinks, I felt guilty taking from such poor people and instead went back to get the others to show them the village life of true Moroccans that I am not sure many tourists get to see.

 

Our visas arrived and we started the trip south with a quick stop in Marrakesh to see the famous main square. It was just like something out of an Indian Jones film and I would have loved it if t wasn’t for all the touts hassling tourists, especially the monkey men throwing their monkeys on you then trying to get you to take a photo and charge for it. I felt bad for the monkeys but you had no choice but to toss them back to the handler when they landed on you. There had been a bombing in the main square 10 days before we arrived and although the Cafe had been sealed off and flowers had been left the rest of the square was business as usual.

We bush camped two nights in the Western Sahara and on the second we stayed with a local nomad and his family who invited us to drink tea with them. It was a great experience although I think we all felt a little out of place there until the young son came along and after a quick chat procured some of our beers from me and then sat up drinking with us until 2am. He wanted me to go for a night drive in his 4wd through the sand dunes but after a few too many I thought that it was not the best idea, he wanted me to drive and it was far too tempting to be a good idea.

Western Sahara is an interesting place. It has nothing really but loads of sand and was its own country until the Spanish took over years ago, they then left abruptly and Morocco went in and took control with force and a long battle with the local tribes who wanted to gain independence started. The hatred for Moroccans was very high and we mostly spoke Spanish with the local Saharawi people as they refused to speak French and none of us spoke Arabic. Technically they are still their own country and still want independence from Morocco but to be honest I am not sure how their quality of life would be if the Moroccans left and took all their money and construction with them.

We arrived sweaty and tired to Bamako and ready to drink, we had smuggled some beer into the Islamic state of Mauritania but keeping it cold was pretty hard in the Sahara desert. The sleeping Camel solved this problem and when Matt decided to extend our trip by one day so that he could ‘get so feckin drunk that I can’t speak’ we all started and were ready for a big party.

Matt was passed out by 9.30pmJ and we all not long after followed and spent the next day rehydrating and sitting under fans ready for the 4 day trip that we had arranged into the supposed Al Qaeda danger towns of Mali. Our tour was so quick that we basically drove, slept and drove so when Matt allowed us the time to head off and explore Mali we really appreciated it.

The main highlight, after the mud mosque and town of Djenne, was the Dogon Country. The Dogon people have been living in little mud hut communities in the desert for thousands of years and seeing their traditions and cultures was a very unique experience. It was 45 degrees during the day so we would get up early and walk for a few hours between villages before sitting in shade and sweating out the heat of the day before walking a few more hours in the evening further down the 30km long cliff face that holds the many Dogon Villages.

Our last night we all bought special Dogon hats and wore them on our way back to meet the truck and head for Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso a city that had just recently lifted a 2 week curfew imposed after the army looted the streets and fired their guns in protest at not being paid on time. There seemed to be no real danger for tourists but we decided to get through the country as fast as we could anyway. In fact about 4 days after we left the army again hit the streets to riot and another curfew was imposed.

We arrived to Ouagadougou at 5pm, got our rooms in the local monastery and headed out for dinner. I was very dehydrated after the Dogon trek and should have been drinking water and not beer, hindsight is a great thing. The beer was giving me a good buzz when we hit the local bar and things went for good to better to bad when we decided that buying a litre of vodka in the bar for $90 would be best. 5 of us polished this off in about 30mins and another one was ordered. I lost all memory halfway into this bottle and am told that I fell asleep on the dance floor, got carried out by the bouncers, carried back in by the tour group and then helped out to a taxi at the end of the night.

My roommate was none too pleased when I came staggering in to our little room and took a pee in the shower as we had no toilet and then he was really mad when I woke in the middle of the night to puke but could not get out of my mosquito net and decided that it had holes so I could just puke through it. Ooops. Great night by all accounts but the next day was a long one across the border into Ghana, I slept for most of it bouncing around in the back of the truck.

Ghana was our last stop after braving the dangers of West Africa and Al Qaeda and we all expected to be greeted by a friendly and safe country on our arrival. Instead we were greeted by police who told us that we were not to bush camp or drive at night as there had been some violent armed hold ups in the last few days on the highways. Matt pushed the issue with them but they were adamant that if we did not do as they said we would get attacked. You don’t hear about this on the travel warnings! The safest country in West Africa is the one that holds the biggest threat to us so far.

I was really unimpressed with Ghana and would even say that it is the only country I have come across that I have hated. The people were a disgrace! All through Africa people ask for money or presents from white people, it is just the way it is and although annoying you get used to it but in Ghana they were really rude and aggressive about it. Everywhere you went people would call out ‘Abruni’, which meant white person, and the ones that then wanted something from you would not ask for it, they would demand it.

I spent a week in Elmina planning my next few weeks of travel, and seeing the great work of the www.sabretrust.org which was the charity we travelled down with, and then I got the hell outta Ghana. I cannot say that everybody in Ghana was rude but it seemed to be a higher percentage. I gave the benefit of the doubt to the rude embassy staff in London and figured that maybe London had rubbed off on them, I now reconsider that and think that any rude experience I have in London is possibly Ghana rubbing off on them.

It is absolutely true that West Africa is about the people and East Africa is about the animals. From Morocco to Mali we were met everywhere with friendly locals and great encounters. I am not sure if it is a place I would want to live or even travel to again but for the 3 weeks of the trip it was an amazing time and something that we will all remember and I was glad that I had remained free from Malaria, well I thought I had anyway.

See photos for Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana

 

 

 

 

The Lady that got burnt

I have never written about this travel incident before nor even told more than 3-4 people about it, to this day it still brings a tear to my eye to remember it. It is the worst thing I have had to experience in the life I have lived. I can only call this story ‘The lady that got burnt’

Leaving Edinburgh after working and partying for 8 months was hard but it was also so exciting to head to South Africa and see Eilidh and Tracey again and to do some travelling with them. We had all met on our trip through the middle east and were so looking forward to travelling together again especially in Tracey’s home country.

I arrived a few days after Eilidh and was driven by Tracey’s sister the hour’s drive to meet up with them in Moussel Bay. As expected they were already on the wine and beer and ready to party. That was basically what we did for the next few days in the beginning of our trip up the garden route until we reached Port Elizabeth for a nights rest.

We started the drive to Grahamstown the next day late and were excited to be getting there for their big yearly festival when all the students graduate from university. We were in a real party mood and knew that rocking up to a party town would bring out the best and worst in the three of us.

Tracey always seemed to drive at a high speed but it also seemed normal when on the South African highways. On this day however it was a little more worrying when at 130kms per hour in the middle lane of a three lane highway the car started to wobble and swerve all over the place, luckily Tracey did a great job and got the car safely to the edge of the road. We were on a section of road built upon the side of a hill so there was little room to pull off the road before you were against the guard rail.

After assessing the damage to the car we saw that all we had to do was change a tyre and we would be away again, no problem as I had changed a lot of tyres and knew how simple it was. I had the girls stand at each end of the car and wave to other drivers to warn them that there was a problem and chocked the wheels of the car so that it would not roll back down the hill. It was a very freaky experience as at times I had to lay down to get under the car and have my legs out near the traffic lanes of the road.

Cars didn’t really see the point in slowing down or in trying to keep their distance from us, I found out after that some cars were driving at very high speed and within a few feet of where my legs were in the road. Thankfully we fixed the tyre and were back on our way after about 20mins, I started chain smoking the strong cigarettes I had as my adrenalin was pumping so much after the incident. It really was one of the scarier things I had had to endure, little did I know that less than 3 hours later it would seem like a holiday experience to what was to come.

We forgot the tyre incident, laughed about it and kept having our usual great time on the road. Eilidh as usual feel asleep on the back seat and I kept chain smoking and talking with Tracey to make driving easier for her. In the distance we could see some smoke over the road and brushed it off as a small bushfire which was not uncommon. As we got closer we realised that it was not a bushfire but a car that was on fire, still we brushed it aside and thought it had been an accident before and no need to panic.

Just seconds later we realised that the accident was not a thing to ignore, it had actually just happened and we were the first vehicle on the scene. We stopped and I Jumped out of the car to rush over and help, I still cannot remember whether I had put my shoes on first or just run barefoot through the broken glass. I came to the first vehicle and saw steam coming from its front and water leaking underneath, behind it was another car that was smouldering and had a small fire under the hood. I asked the guy at the first car what had happened and he said he was driving behind the car and suddenly it burst into a cloud of smoke, he rammed as he could not see where he was going, it then burst into flames.

I asked if he was OK as he had blood all over his arms and also as to what we could do to help. He told me that he had cut his arm busting the window open on the other car and dragging the kids out to safety, I looked across and saw two kids sat on the ground with a look of fear in their eyes and not making a sound. I asked him if there was anyone else in the car and he replied

‘I don’t care… they are black, I got the kids out and that is all I care about’.

I am not sure if the man meant to be racist or if it was the shock of the moment but being South Africa apartheid was still very real to many and it probably was his real thinking at the time.

I looked back to the car on fire and saw that the father was at the backdoor of the car and his wife, the kid’s mother, was trapped inside. The noises this man made are the sounds that bring a tear to my eye, It is a sound I had never heard before, never heard since and hope I never have to hear again. It was not a scream, and not a cry it was just a noise of pure desperation and anguish, truly an indescribably sound.

I rushed to the man and started to help him pull his wife out of the car, the heat from the flames was very intense and I noticed the man’s very black hands and arms had huge white patches on them, where his skin had melted away. We got his wife to the edge of the car window and I thought she was going to get out and left the heat to stand at a distance. As bad as this is to say, and it would be funny if not for the circumstances, the wife had such a big bum that when we pulled her to the edge of the window her bum was too big to pull over and the husband had to let her drop back in.

I rushed into help again and the same thing happened, I feel quite sad knowing that if had just stayed that bit longer and not worried about burning myself badly the lady then would not have had to experience what happened next.

As I stood back for the second time and watched her fall back in, the car made a ‘woosh’ sound and went up in flames even more and instead of seeing the lady and the flames behind her I was seeing the ladies face behind the flames. The flames were immense and she was stuck in them, I stood shocked and all I could think to myself was ‘Am I about to watch somebody burn alive’ and I didn’t know what to think to this thought. It was the worst feeling and thought I have ever had to think through. I could not even see the ladies face, I could only see the whiteness of her eyes and the complete fear in them. She did not make a sound, like the kids she just had the biggest look of fear in her eyes and was silenced by the shock

Not the husband though, he was now making those noises that I never want to hear again louder than ever, which snapped me back to the fact that we have to get this lady out. At the moment his last scream was heard all his strength was put into pulling his wife’s big bum over the car door and getting her to the ground. As he did I rushed over with someone else who had appeared and we dragged her off to safety, her body was smouldering, her clothes and shoes had melted to her body and still she made no sound just that look of fear in her eyes.

Luckily a nurse had arrived in another car that stopped to help and called an ambulance and immediately went to the lady, she had been looking after the kids until the mother was rescued from the car. Tracey and Eilidh were in shock over the incident and none of us knew what to say or do, there was really nothing we could do and I often wonder if that lady lived. In some ways I hope she did but in others I hope that maybe she didn’t! She was in a terrible state when she got out of the car.

I told Tracey and Eilidh that we should leave as there were to many people about already and there was nothing we could do to help. We went to the car and started driving off in silence, I continued to chain-smoke more than before and after 20mins Tracey asked me to drive as she was not feeling well.

We got to Grahamstown 2 hours later, pitched our tent, got a drink and sat and tried to talk about things other than the accident. None of it worked and we realised we had to go to bed and hope for a better day tomorrow, I was the only person that could even finish their drink that night, some things never change I guess.

We woke the next day and heard that we had gone to bed and missed the best party that Grahamstown had ever had in its history, yet we were not really that bothered about it.

See photos for South Africa: