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   Welcome to mad nomad’s adventurous website! This site is about travelling the way I’ve been dreaming of as a child! When I took the decision to make my dream come true, it seemed remote and totally unfamiliar to me. Finally, after two years of profound research and intense preparation, I hit the road!

   On the 14th of April 2007 I set off solo from Thessaloniki, Greece by my small motorcycle (Honda XR 250S), on a journey to four countries, for ten months’ time: Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India. During my trip, however, there were many changes in my schedule, and, finally, I ended up returning to Greece after two years and two and a half months, having covered 73,000 km. (45,361 miles), after travelling to fourteen Asian countries: Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh! This was my journey known as “greece2india“. You will find my trip reports from that time at: http://www.moto.gr/forums/showthread.php?t=38448

 

 

   On July 18th, 2013, we hit the road for an even longer journey! Africa and Middle East are calling us and we are eager to explore those lands! Why do I use the plural form? This time, Christina, the she-mad nomad, was travelling with me for 10 months. Therefore, we were riding two motorcycles of the same type (Honda XR 250), travelling according to my usual recipe: innumerous detours, in order to visit everything interesting, years on the road, to catch the scent of the local societies we are visiting, always guided by the love for People and Nature. Since August 2014, I keep traveling solo, as Christina decided to fly from Zambia back to Greece because of some personal reasons. This is the expedition called “mad about Africa“! You can check out our route on Live Trip Traveller and you can enjoy our reports at the Trip diary section.

  

Mozambique: Life in ruins…

   Mozambique is a quite big country and I had almost a month to explore just its northern part. I rode 1,400 km (870 miles) from the border with Zimbabwe to reach the coast. When I saw those exotic beaches with the turquoise water, I knew it was worth the effort! I relaxed for a few days in a spartan room in Mossuril, next to the water, being hosted by some friendly locals. Everyday I was exploring the region around there. My favorite beach was Cabaceira Pequena with its long, white sand. I loved watching women and children fishing on the coast while the wind was blowing the sails of picturesque dhows in the background…

The coast of Mossuril

The coast of Mossuril

   Somewhere around there, I celebrated a great moment… Since 2007, when I first hit the road on my motorbike, I spent more time traveling around the world than being settled in Greece! Between my two long trips in Asia and Africa, I stayed in Greece for four years. However, the time I am exploring the world is longer since now and… I’m still going strong!

Women and children fish on the coast, while men fish by boats.

Women and children fish on the coast, while men fish by boats.

   I visited Mozambique Island which packs so much of history… Well before the 15th century, it was already an important trading settlement dealing with Madagascar, Persia, Arabia and elsewhere. Then, Vasco da Gama landed there and eventually Mozambique Island became the capital of Portuguese East Africa. The Portuguese architecture is still evident on the forts and the old houses which survive. As a result of history, this little place is home to a diverse and multicultural society. On an island that you can walk from side to side in a few minutes, you can find Christian churches, mosques and a Hindu temple!

São Sebastião Fort in Mozambique Island is the oldest complete fort still standing in sub-Saharan Africa.

São Sebastião Fort in Mozambique Island is the oldest complete fort still standing in sub-Saharan Africa.

   I couldn’t stop enjoying the majestic coastline, so I spent several more days around the small town of Nacala-a-Velha. With my host, Joachim, and his friends we visited the Catholic mission of Cava. On Sunday, Father Silvano got his motorbike, I got mine and we were riding on trails in the bush for an hour to reach a remote settlement. Tens of villagers from the whole region came to attend the open-air liturgy. They were surprised to see me there and they were very curious about my adventures in Africa. I was answering their questions in English, Elena was translating my answers to Portuguese and a local elder who speaks Portuguese was finally translating everything to Makua, the language that the villagers could understand. They never had a guest from that far, so they made me feel really honorable. They even organized some traditional dancing for me! The interaction with those people was really interesting…

These villagers never had a guest from that far, so they even organized some traditional dancing to honor me!

These villagers never had a guest from that far, so they even organized some traditional dancing to honor me!

   After singing all together “What are the problems in your house?”, the villagers were replying to the question one by one. This way everybody knows what is happening in the village and if it is possible, the elders give their advices. After that, the liturgy started with local music and dancing, mostly by women. They had brought two live chickens to prepare a meal on the fire for everybody. After eating, we bid farewell and they asked me to let them know if I will reach my country safe and sound.

That's the small church that the villagers built in the bush and we reached with Father Silvano to make a liturgy.

That’s the small church that the villagers built in the bush and we reached with Father Silvano to make a liturgy.

   It was time to leave my motorcycle for a while and take a small boat to Ibo Island. I had to camp on the coast and wait 22 hours until the next boat would leave. Forty people were packed on a tiny, wooden boat with their luggage. Men, patient women and children were sitting anywhere, on the floor or on the luggage. As the old boat was battling with the waves and some water was getting inside, I felt that this must be what all those African immigrants go through for days when they try to cross the Mediterranean Sea and reach the promised land, Europe…

While sailing to Ibo Island, I felt that this must be what all those African immigrants go through for days when they try to cross the Mediterranean Sea and reach the promised land, Europe...

While sailing to Ibo Island, I felt that this must be what all those African immigrants go through for days when they try to cross the Mediterranean Sea and reach the promised land, Europe…

   Ibo used to be an important slave-trading port and Mozambique’s second-most important town. Now it’s a surreal place full of old, dilapidated Portuguese houses. Some of them are already ruined, while some other look ruined but people live inside. Mozambique suffered a terrible civil war for 15 years and everything now looks ruined. The country is less developed than its neighbors but Mozambicans are still smiling and trying to build a life out of the ruins…

After 15 years of a brutal civil war, life is going on in Mozambique between old, Portuguese ruins...

After 15 years of a brutal civil war, life is going on in Mozambique between old, Portuguese ruins…

   It was time to move inland again, since I definitely wanted to visit Malawi. It was more than 1,000 km (621 miles) away but I took some nice shortcuts through dirt roads. Some of them had quite a lot of sand and what they call “fis-fis” in Sahara. It’s that powder-like sand which makes a whole cloud of dust once you hit it. Anyway, the ride was enjoyable and after a couple of nights wild camping in the bush, I reached the border…

I finally replaced my broken windscreen with a Chinese one... Price: 3 euros for the windscreen plus 1 euro for the bracket. Installation was included!

I finally replaced my broken windscreen with a Chinese one… Price: 3 euros for the windscreen plus 1 euro for the bracket. Installation was included!


 

You’ve got mail, in Zimbabwe!

   I met Blessing in 2013 in Thessaloniki, Greece, my hometown. He was born in 1987 in a village near Mutare, Zimbabwe. In 2009 he got a scholarship from his country to study medicine in the Greek Military School of Combat Support Officers. The public school provides him accommodation and boarding. He learnt Greek well enough and he speaks English fluently, as many Zimbabweans do. Zimbabweans are famous for their education, their friendliness and their humour. That’s the case of Blessing too. He visits his family and friends in Zimbabwe every summer, when the school is on vacations. He is now at the fifth and last year of his studies. So, he will soon return to Zimbabwe to serve in the army.

Liberty with his BMW

Liberty with his BMW

   In Zimbabwe I had the chance to visit two of his friends. The first one was Liberty in the capital, Harare. Liberty is a young photographer who shoots weddings and other events. He came to meet me on his tuned and shiny BMW 316! We went to eat in a local restaurant where I tried sadza, a white, tasteless staple food which is made out of ground maize and is found almost all around Africa. They eat it with a sauce made out of vegetables and leaves, sometimes topped with fish or meat for people who can afford it.

Eating sadza with Liberty and his friend.

Eating sadza with Liberty and his friend.

   In Mutare I met another friend of Blessing. Peter was born and raised in the same village where Blessing was. Now he is the accounts officer of a banana plantation which supplies many African countries with its tasty fruits. That’s one of the few farms which belongs to a white Zimbabwean that the government hasn’t confiscated. It is huge, it employs thousands of people and it really supports what has been left from the country’s collapsed economy.

Peter in the office of the farm where he is working as an accounts officer.

Peter in the office of the farm where he is working as an accounts officer.

   Peter himself rents a small farm to grow some potatoes and beans. Now he is thinking to venture into cattle and goat raising, since there is a high demand around Christmas. He used to be a sculptor working on wood. He showed me the scar on his arm which is what was left after an accident with the chisel. Zimbabweans are famous throughout Southern Africa for their handicrafts. However, Peter realised he could not make a living out of this. So, he decided to get a better education and make a career on accounting.

   I was glad to meet Blessing and his nice friends in Zimbabwe! I got to know how each one of them lives in Greece and in Zimbabwe. After all, that’s what “You’ve got mail!” is all about…

 

Zimbabwe: Wonderful people, terrible politics…

   Crossing into Zimbabwe from Botswana, my first stop was at Victoria Falls! I was there almost 6 months ago but this time I had a very different glimpse of the falls. At that time I was in Zambia and it was the peak of the dry season. The waterfalls had almost been vanished and the spectacle was not impressive at all. But this time… when I first saw the 1,708 meter (5,604 ft) wide waterfalls, I was astonished! I couldn’t even see the end of the falls, since the spray that is formed when the water drops into the gorge is conquering the whole area. That’s why most people wear their raincoats there. It feels like raining constantly. I stood there staring at the huge amount of water, its extraordinary power, the rainbows that are formed and the green, lush landscape. I was mesmerized by the natural beauty…

I had seen the Victoria Falls almost 6 months ago but it was this time that the natural beauty really mesmerized me...

I had seen the Victoria Falls almost 6 months ago but it was this time that the natural beauty really mesmerized me…

   I rode south to Bulawayo, where I saw a cute, glorious city in its decay. Old colonial mansions are standing next to overgrown bicycle lanes. Zimbabwe was colonized by the British and it was known as Rhodesia. A white government was on power until 1980. Then Mugabe was elected. Initially he was a great example for many African nations. The economy was soaring, as well as the life quality of Zimbabweans. The health care system was working fine and the education made a difference that is noticeable even today.

Overgrown bicycle lanes remind a long gone glory of Zimbabwe...

Overgrown bicycle lanes remind a long gone glory of Zimbabwe…

   Unfortunately, this euphoria didn’t last long… When Mugabe started to hate his opponents, he slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians who were considered dissidents. With the turn of the millennium, he confiscated most of the farms which were belonging to white Zimbabweans or black dissidents. His pretension was a land reform programme which would supposedly benefit the poor landless people. Unfortunately, what really happened was that the high-ranking officers got the farms for themselves and the landless locals remain even poorer than before, since they lost their jobs in the farms. Most of these farms remain uncultivated. The new settlers either don’t care or cannot farm due to a lack of knowledge and money to invest.

The guy on the right was sniffing the tobacco from that nylon bag! That's usual in some countries...

The guy on the right was sniffing the tobacco from that nylon bag! That’s usual in some countries…

   This lead the economy to a crash. Until 1990 the Zimbabwe dollar had a similar value to the American dollar. In 2009, however, there was a banknote of one hundred trillion Zimbabwe dollars… which was worth almost nothing. From the end of 2007 to the end of 2008, the real rate of inflation was seven sextillion per cent! Now the Zimbabwe dollars are useless and everybody uses American dollars.

At last I became a billionaire :-P

At last I became a billionaire :-P

   It was time to visit Great Zimbabwe, the medieval site which gave its name to the whole country. It actually means “old stone houses”. The largest medieval structure in sub-Saharan Africa has been found there. The extensive stone ruins of a whole town indicate that an advanced civilization had been developed there during the 11th century. The white government of Rhodesia didn’t want to show that the indigenous tribes were able to develop such a civilization, so they put pressure on the scientists to assert that Arab traders or Phoenicians built Great Zimbabwe. Of course, now it’s proven that the black indigenous tribes were the ones who built it…

The largest medieval structure in sub-Saharan Africa has been found in Great Zimbabwe, which indicates that an advanced civilization had been developed there during the 11th century.

The largest medieval structure in sub-Saharan Africa has been found in Great Zimbabwe, which indicates that an advanced civilization had been developed there during the 11th century.

   I stayed a few days in the capital, Harare, to get visas for the next countries I wanted to visit. I was lucky enough to be there during the annual Harare International Festival of Arts. I was glad to listen to some great international musicians like Salif Keita from Mali.

Young farmer who came to the capital to sell his tobacco. That's the most important cultivation in Zimbabwe which still survives.

Young farmer who came to the capital to sell his tobacco. That’s the most important cultivation in Zimbabwe which still survives.

   I followed some dirt roads through the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. The forested mountains around Nyanga were very charming but very cold too. I was there in May, which is the beginning of winter in the southern hemisphere. I reached altitudes higher than 2,100 m (6,890 ft). I was wearing all my winter clothes, thermal underwear, full face, glove liners but I still got a cold there.

The Eastern Highlands are very charming but very cold too!

The Eastern Highlands are very charming but very cold too!

   Happily, I had the chance to recover in the green and peaceful town of Mutare. My motorcycle was sick too… The last days the engine was coughing, eh, sorry… I meant to say stalling, especially on low rpms. Initially I blamed it on the fuel, because I had noticed that the carburetor was flooded at some point and I checked that there was a spark at the spark plug. I took apart the carburetor, I cleaned it but I still had the same issue. When I checked the spark plug again, I realized that there was no spark this time. So, I realized it was an electric problem. I replaced the CDI unit, which I was expecting to fail since I was in Namibia, months ago. Unfortunately, the engine was still stalling. Then I thought I should clean all the cables and check their contacts. After days of tangling, I found out that the source of the problem was just a bad contact on one of the ignition coil cables! Phew, that was easy to fix but hard to diagnose…

After days of tangling, I found out that my engine was stalling just because of a bad contact on one of the ignition coil cables!

After days of tangling, I found out that my engine was stalling just because of a bad contact on one of the ignition coil cables!

   After visiting the neighbouring Bvumba mountains, I crossed the border to Mozambique. I finally enjoyed a lot Zimbabwe! Many South Africans had scared me about the corrupt policemen in this country but it seems the situation now is not as bad as it used to be a few years ago. Well, of course that doesn’t mean that the locals don’t suffer due to the corrupt authorities. After all, the Zimbabweans impressed me with their education, politeness and humor!

Zimbabwe is full of weird stone formations and balancing rocks which seem not to care about gravity!

Zimbabwe is full of weird stone formations and balancing rocks which seem not to care about gravity!

More photos and reports at: Live Trip Traveller

 

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