An Empty Coast

An Empty Coast
My latest novel

Sunday, September 20, 2009

This is Africa calling...

I could tell you that it’s hard work escorting a tour around Africa, and that staying in the lap of luxury is not all it’s cracked up to be… but I’d be lying.

Greetings, at long last, Legion of Fans (LOF) from the stark but beautiful Karoo, in South Africa.

I’m on The Pride of Africa, Rovos Rail’s luxurious olden-days train, somewhere between Pretoria and Cape Town.

We are Day 10, or something like that, into the inaugural “Silent Predator Safari” in which yours truly and the indefatigable Mr H from the Africa Safari Co are leading eight hardy readers on a grueling 13-day tour of the best South Africa has to offer.

I know some of you wanted to join us, but were unable to do so because of financial and other issues. All I can say to you is: sell a child, a car or some superfluous organs because if we’re doing this again next year (and I certainly hope we are) then you would be mad not to join us.

We kicked off with five nights in the Kruger National Park – three nights in the national parks rest camps at Skukuza and Satara, followed by two nights in Tinga Private Game Lodge.

Attentive members of the legion will recognise all these places from my books, and the idea is that on the tour we visit places where my fictitious characters are shot, stabbed, lost, kidnapped, or (ahem) intimate etc.

We had some truly sensational game viewing in Kruger. By the second day the group had seen all of Africa’s Big 5 – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. In fact, on the second day we saw all five in one drive, and then four out of five on the afternoon leg… but who’s counting.

Tinga (which features in SILENT PREDATOR) had a lot to live up to in the animal stakes, but head guide Mr Q did not disappoint us.

On a guided walk along the banks of the Sabie River we saw something that neither he nor I had ever seen – a big crocodile killing another croc. Right before our eyes. Sabie means fear in English and the river lived up to its name as this was one scary sight.

From Kruger we jet-setted back to Johannesburg and thence on to Pretoria where we picked up our five-star choo choo. I love The Pride of Africa. The gentle rocking of the carriages… the lovingly restored coachwork… the all-inclusive bar… I could go on, but I fear the lunch gong is about to sound and I really must squeeze in a bloody Mary first.

45 comments :

Trin said...

That sounds so awesome. Really, really, really jealous. I think I might have to pay some regular visits to St Kilda, as I only have one child and I can't possibly sell her.

I hope you got lots of photos that you will treat us to over the coming months.

Look forward to more details of your safari exploits when you are more "rested".

dozycow said...

It's about time you remembered the LOFs left behind - been checking the blog at least 4 times a day in the hope that you would share some of your adventures with us !
It is, however, wonderful to know that you are all having such a fantabulous trip - enjoy it all to the fullest !!!! (I am a jealous cow aren't I ?)

ali g said...

What a wonderful country is SA. beautiful scenery, the big Five, good food, cheap wine and beer that costs less than bottled water...what more could one want?
Keep holding up those bars mate..we're thinkibg of you.... going down to the dam now to see if I can get my plastic crocs to start a donny brook with each other..
Looking forward to the 'pikka cha chas'. hope you got some good ones of the crocs
<^..^>

Karen Bessey Pease said...

How exciting to read this blog posting! I just, JUST finished Silent Predator, and I can see it all in my mind's eye!

Wonderful, amazing...what's a teenager bring on the open market, anyway? Mine come complete with rolling eyes, exaggerated sighs, and a vocab that's restricted to, 'Like, whatever!'

Going once, going twice...

Heidihi said...

Sounds great - you're making us all very jealous.

I'm currently planning our next trip to Africa and currently trying to decide on either Botswana or Namibia - any suggestions?

Les said...

I am pleased to see you are all having such a great time.Would like to see pics of the crocs.
Now ...now... ladies don't be jealous like Tony says put the kids on the market or might I suggest the husbands or .....yourselves.( Am I going to be shot for suggesting this? )
Karen trust me when I tell you ,you cannot see the beauty of Africa in your minds eye,this you have to see with you own eyes no imagination can do justice to what is here.

dozycow said...

Les - an old boiler doesn't fetch much at all these days so I'm going to have to sell my house instead & hope that next year boh Trin & I can make the trip

Trin said...

Les, no you won't get in trouble for suggesting putting ourselves on the market. When I made the comment that I would need to take some trips to St. Kilda, that is because St. Kilda is the red light district. And Dozy...age doesn't seem to matter (or so I've been led to believe) when it comes to matters of flesh peddling, so old boiler or spring chicken - I think we could probably come up with a sizable deposit (however, keep on with the house selling - just in case).

And on to cleaner subjects(I think)....Ali G, what is a donny brook? Can't think of any strine for that one. For some reason I thought you were over there with TP?

KPB: teenagers unfortunately do not bring much on the market these days until they've passed the phase where they are smarter than the rest of us!!

ali g said...

G'day Trin ...a 'donny brook' is a fight or a ruckus..smaller than a brewhaha but larger than a rumble...
Dunno about selling kids. Sold one of mine once but they brought it back after a week and wanted a refund. Said it wouldn't work and I said that's why I sold it in the first place.
We're going over for 2 weeks at Xmas arriving J'burg 14 Dec then driving to Kruger the next day meeting T & N there.
Looking forward to it!

Les said...

Like Trin says Dozy you will be surprised and the old boilers have got the experience.
Thanks Trin I had no idea what St Kilda is.

Karen Bessey Pease said...

So...selling the teens is put on hold until I'm smart again. I shall anxiously await the day.

Husband, hmmm, Les? He might consent to hiring out as manual labor to aid my cause, but anything else...not a chance. The man hasn't been nekkid since the spring of '99. He's punishing me and the world at large for a completely innocent comment made in jest...sheesh! You guys are soooo sensitive! And you hold a grudge, too...

Guess it's up to me. I may have to be shipped Fed-Ex, though...just can't imagine I'd bring enough cash to fly coach. At my age, experience might help a little, but total darkness is the only real cure.

For a Silent Predator tour, though, I just might give it a shot. Speaking of SP and TP, I'll be posting a review of that most excellent novel on my blog in the next few days. Perhaps I can point a few more American readers in his direction. (I'll be at it just as soon as I get back from the auction block...a girl has priorities, you know!)

Have fun, Tony and gang! Thinking of you while brainstorming on how to raise our own funds for a tour!

And btw, I'm definitely a fan, now! Fantastic writing! Zambezi is next!

dozycow said...

Old boilers may have the experience Les but they don't seem to have the appeal any more - I'll just stick with selling the house I think.....

ali g said...

Well LOFs..may I direct you to KBPs blogsite where you will find that I..yes me the modest ali g has won yet another book.
I am making a DVD called 'How to win books on writers blogsites' so if you would like a copy just send me A$2 [plus A$23 p&h] and you too can join the winners circle.
Within my DVD there will also be hints for ladies on how to save money for TP luxury safaris without having to visit St Kilda, sell children or houses.....
<^--^>

Karen Bessey Pease said...

Oh, Ali g, I would LOVE to buy your 'How to Win Through Nepotism and Banking the Odds in Your Favor' DVD! :o)

However, after a recent fiasco with Australian Customs (who knew a humble raw potato would be considered contraband?), I'm not sure they'll allow any packages to be shipped from Oz to my address in Maine... How long would it take to download that same tutorial on dial-up? :o)

Perhaps you might give us ladies a hint into those money-saving tips, so we could be assured the DVD was worth two bucks...after all, it took me three hours to earn that much over in St. Kilda (Trin was earning almost three times as much...I need to talk with that girl!)and I'm not inclined to part with it without a taste of what's to come!

(Congratulations, btw. Keep it up and your next building project will have to be a library addition...)

ali g said...

OK
It's a franchise arrangement Karen...
You buy [at a negotiated price]a copyright agreement from me for my DVD and you can then print and sell your own copies.
I'll let you into my secret...
It's not so much the price of the DVD that you make the bucks on its the postage & handling side of it where you clean up.
I've worked it out that by franchising my copyright Lady Chatterley and I should easily be able to afford TP's Luxury safari by next years one where as you girls with say 5 years hard work with feet firmly planted on the ground [instead of up in the air] could also be relaxing on the train from Cape Town by say 2014.
I usually find that it's the bunny potato posting type who falls for this scurrilous scam....err I meam excellent franchise offer that you make the most money from with the DVD sales.
<^..^>

Karen said...

Ah, Ali g.

What can I say? I bow to the master.

Is it a 'pyramid' scheme? Because I just left one of those back in St. Kilda, and it was a bit much, even for this reformed Baptist.

:o)

ali g said...

Nice review of 'Silent Predator' on your blog Karen. Just read it..Well done!

dozycow said...

Oh Ali, how I've missed your wonderful wit these last few weeks.
I tried your "legs in the air" theory (by vegetating on the sofa with feet pointing skywards) but alas no money came my way, although we've just had a lot of thunder & lightning.....
Congratulations on your book win - how do you do it (I know, I've got to buy your DVD....)

Karen said...

Holy Smokes, Ali g!

I've been usurped by Dozy! Apparently, my naked rain dance has been rendered impotent... no wonder I haven't had any luck breaking your drought for you! My rubber-boot-encased feet had stayed firmly on the ground!

I guess you'd better give your obeisances and your offerings to Ms. Dozycow, instead of me. She even gets THUNDER and LIGHTNING!! All I can manage these days is a tepid drizzle for my efforts.

Feet in the air... who knew?

ali g said...

Dozy ..probably didn't get any money cause you had the door locked?
Must become a writer ..girls with legs in the air and running around dancing with just rubber boots..
did actualy go to writers school once ..was 10 easy lessons or 5 hard ones..took the 5 hard ones but got expelled in lesson 3 for pinching Ruth Lindsays skipping rope and trying to look up her dress..

dozycow said...

Oh Ali, you were right,it was locked (but it shouldn't have stopped anyone knocking)

KBP: The thunder & lightning were awesome & the rain was very welcome, didn't last long though & now it's all (quite literally) turned to dust. Everything is surrounded by an eery orange glow.......maybe I should try something different ??

Karen Bessey Pease said...

I'm still trying to figure out 'bunny potato'...

And now, an 'orange glow'...Hmm. I'll have to think on this a bit.

Dozy, while feet were in the air, did you have your rubber boots on? And if so, what color were they? Green, I've found, is the most reliable, but purple--when they work--bring the most measurable rainfall.

I'm thinking you forgot your boots, and confused the issue. Either that, or you had one yellow and one red boot on...and everyone knows yellow and red make orange! You just may have set the precipatory world on its ear.

I'll consult the authoritative manual, 'Downpour Dancing for Dummies' and get back to you. In the meantime, dig out those green gumboots, won't you?

An orange glow... I wanna see!!! :o)

On the plus side (my own orange glow)I just recorded a slice of setting moon with the hooting of a Great Horned owl and the cries of a pack of hunting coyotes as background music. Heaven!

Wonder what Tony and crew are experiencing at the awesome hands of Mother Nature? She sure knows how to keep ME humble.

(BTW, here in Maine, it's pronounced KIGH-oats...)

dozycow said...

Is a bunny potato similar to a couch potato or a lounge lizard Ali ?

The golden glow is the result of a massive dust storm fueled by wild winds Karen - everything's coated in layers of red dust, including the sun.And no, I wasn't wearing boots (although I do have a pair of thigh high suede stillettos in the wardrobe) my feet were "au-naturale" at the time - don't worry though as the rest of me was well covered.

Karen Bessey Pease said...

Dozy, my dear...I think I'll let the boys take it over from there.

Thigh high stilettos...no wonder you get thunder and lightning!

Rubber boots...no wonder I get drizzle...

I've just seen pics of your red dust--truly awesome. What an amazing place, Down Under.

tonypark said...

If I could interrupt the online fetish chat for a momnent...

Heidihi, Namibia is probably a bit better than Botswana for self drive as the parks a bit cheaper, and a bit easier to book. In Bots you will need a 4x4 to get into the Moremi game reserve in the Okavango Delta, but you could quite easily do everything you want in Namibia with a two-wheel drive rental.

Etosha's bungalows get booked well in advance.

Email me if you want some more info.

More tales from the tour soon...

Joey said...

Hi Heidihi, like TP said,Namibia is much easier to get around to visit and see all the interesting places. Botswana is just as interesting, there are local tour operators here in Johannesburg that do the Okavango Delta etc in big off road vehicles. If you need any help or info you are more than welcome to ask.

ali g said...

Dozy ..'bunny' in this context refers to someone who tried to send raw potatoes from USA to Australia and had them confiscated by customs....no names but known to wear rubber boots.
Sorry about the fetish Tony. I've been trying to keep these girls under control while you've been busy on safari but dear me... they're just a bunch of harlots.

Karen said...

Fetish? Nuh-uh!

At Tony's suggestion, (and Les' encouragement) we've been brainstorming for ideas to raise money for our safari.

And at Ali g's imploring, I've been trying to end his NSW drought. What works here in the northern hemi just doesn't have the same effects Down Under.

Trial and error, that's all this is.

And, Ali g (you who feel so BRAVE now that you know I'm banned from entering Oz with my potatoes), I'm sure you meant 'harlot' as in 'itinerant jester', from the Olde English, yes?

Thought so. We ladies were sure that's what you were intending to convey with that comment.

You may step out from behind Lady Chatterley, now. T'was a simple misunderstanding, and you're forgiven.

dozycow said...

Thanks Ali, I get your meaning now, it's just that I've heard it referred to as being a "dumb bunny" instead - probably similar to being a dozy cow.....(as opposed to an "itinerant jester" ?)

Trin said...

Ali G, if us girls are a bunch of harlots, that would make you one HUGE pimp for soliciting..... and.... if we WERE such harlots, we would have been able to afford this year's trip!

Dozy, funny how the duststorm missed Victoria - started in SA then bypassed us - I was sure we would cop it as we normally get SA weather - must investigate what wind patterns prevailed. And isn't it eerie when that happens - we had a huge one after Ash Wednesday (I think it was) - bit scary at the time.

Waiting very patiently for pics of crocs having a donnybrook - plastic or otherwise.

dozycow said...

I'm with you Trin - after all, we're still stuck in Oz.
Meanwhile I have been looking, but can't find, a word for the male equivalent of harlot. The only term I that have heard of is "wombat" but that is usually uttered as an expression of admiration.....

Karen Bessey Pease said...

American equivalent for 'harlot' or 'itinerant jester' is 'Larry the Cable Guy'.

ali g said...

Trin
If'n my grandma were alive today she say
'young ali, don't solicit for those girls that's not nice''
unless you get a good percentage of their price'

You're right about wombats Dozy I call Claude 'the white wombat'

Karen..am wearing the nice moose T-shirt you sent me so you can call me Larry or even Bullwinkle if you like.

Crookedpaw said...

Dozy...

There are any number of male equivalents to "harlot", so it's not hard to come up with one. Finding the right one is the difficult part.

You know how, sometimes you use a word but it doesn't "feel" right? That's because words, either written or spoken - just like everything else in our world - have their own unique resonance; understanding that resonance (energy, vibration) is the key. A word with that doesn't feel right can totally destroy the entire tone of a sentence or even a paragraph.

If you look at all the synonyms for harlot, you'll find that each as a different energy to it: The same occurs when you look at all the male equivalents. It then becomes a simple matter of pairing those that "feel" the same.

For my mind, the male word that comes closest to harlot is libertine.

Okay, class dismissed. For homework I want you to .... :)

Live long and prosper.

Karen said...

Ali g, if you're wearing my moose t-shirt, I'll just call you 'cute'. :o)

Real men like cats...and wear silly Maine t-shirts.

dozycow said...

Hi Crookedpaw, welcome back, long time no see...
Re: Homework - to be a "Libertine" (or "Rake") evokes a Victoria tone of admiration amongst males of particularly loose morals (but women of this genre are referred to as harlots)
This same admiration is extended to today's "wombats".

Basically, us harlots think they're all (except for Claude) just a bunch of r**t-rats.

ali g said...

For those wondering, TP is currently out of range in Zim counting his elephants. Should be a while as has to make sure none have been pinched since last time.

dozycow said...

Thanks Ali - hopefully none are missing !

Anonymous said...

Utter swanning so & so...and you call that work!!

Check your e-mails. Mike Williams is re-locating.

Karen Bessey Pease said...

I am half-way through Zambezi and LOVING it!

Hope the elephants are all accounted for...

South Hill Toronto said...

Wow, I am so jealous of you, to be quite honest. It sounds just amazing. A wonderful experience. You made me want to try it too.

Elli

Tanzania Safari said...

It sounds like a fantastic Southern African tour. Maybe next time to visit East Africa and see the great migration?

Veloniva said...

That is one chance that comes once,surely visiting Africa will be a dream come true particularly Tanzania.safaris in Tanzania

Tanzania Adventure Safari said...

Whats your favourite part of Africa you saw on your trip then? Looking forward to hearing the answer...!

tonypark said...

The train trip probably - although Kruger's my favourite place in Africa.