It's easy to forget that when we started out our African journey in early May 2018 there were only two of us. Alan Wise (Wise-O) was still in Australia and Gabba (Gabriel) was still taking driving lessons!
It was left to Morgs (Morgan) to accompany Oom (Joel) to Litha Park and TT Section informal settlements in Khayelitsha and then proceed to Murray and Block 6 in Philippi - all in Cape Town, our home city.
We also went to Manenberg where we met some of Oom's old comrades and saw a new housing development on land secured by the South African grassroots network with which Oom has worked for over 25 years - the Federation of the Urban Poor
Our first stop was at Mokala, a little known national park about 50kms from Kimberley in the Northern Cape. This set the scene for the rest of the trip: travel overland from one informal settlement to the next, stopping along the way in wilderness areas. In the process we combined our focus on the urbanisation of poverty with a secondary focus on human habitat and its impact on biodiversity.
To say nothing about encountering history at places like the big hole in Kimberley as well as contemporary reality by nearly being hijacked at a street light in the city centre.
Then it was off to the Free State to visit the houses of the Free State branch of the Federation of the Urban AND RURAL Poor (average age of members: 65) in a number of towns in the northern region of the Province that was once the butt of many a South African joke. That honour was bestowed on it once again a year or two ago, thanks to Zupta's man, Ace (in a hole) Magashule and a hapless dairy farm near the Voortrekker town of Vrede. South African history is replete with sarcasm.
There are times when the cosmic wave ends up sending you on a detour down memory lane. So it was that we made our way to a very specific street in the dreary town of Kroonstad: Robb Street, where Gabba and Morgi's dad, Steve, was born almost sixty years ago.
And to the boys' surprise (but by Oom's design) they bumped into their old man outside his childhood home - passing through on his way to Northern Zimbabwe to set up a camp in Mana Pools.
Then we drove in convoy to Johannesburg where, for nostalgia sake, Steve took the boys to one of their late grandfather's hang outs: Parreirinha Restaurant in Rosettenville.
Our week in Gauteng was spent mainly with the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) and in the traffic (fed up)
In Gauteng we finally teamed up with Alan Wise, the Ace Cook from Australia (via New York) and thanks to Steve we got to take him to Kwalata Lodge in Dinokeng - the only big five Game Reserve in Gauteng, where, among other things, some of us enjoyed a close encounter with a bush baby.