Traveling around the world was a vision for Akila and Patrick that turned from a three-month trip to a multi-year lifestyle. Akila writes for online magazines and blogs and is working on a novel, while Patrick consults for his software design firm doing software architecture and grant writing. They left the United States in September 2009 and have found delectable food, awe-inspiring scenery, rollicking adventures, speedy Internet, and people who fill their hearts with wonder and joy. They chronicle their journey eating, cooking, and traveling across the world at The Road Forks. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Akila and Patrick as they travel through South Africa.
Day One: Saturday
The setting: Private bush camp outside Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa
5:30 a.m.: Knock, knock, knock on the door for the wake up call at Naledi, a luxury bush camp.
5:37 a.m.: Patrick out of waterfall rock shower and poking Akila to get her out of bed.
5:51 a.m.: Akila out of ultra comfortable bed.
6:03 a.m.: Bleary eyed but on giant 4×4 vehicle, wrapped snugly in coats and blankets.
6: 50 a.m.: No major animal sightings. Akila mentally goes through upcoming work.
7:50 a.m.: Jeep pulls up to a herd of elephants.
7:51 a.m.: Just-born baby elephant sighted, still wet and sticky from the birth, and no bigger than a large dog.
7:59 a.m.: Frantic video recording and photography concludes as elephants move away.
9:05 a.m.: Jeep returns to bush camp for gourmet breakfast of apricot muffins and eggs benedict.
10:00 a.m.: Sit on bed with computers to begin working.
10:01 a.m.: Fall asleep.
2:00 p.m.: After lunch, call Akila’s parents and watch pixelated versions of Chewy and Abby on Skype.
3:30 p.m.: Set off on afternoon drive.
7:00 p.m.: Watch two small herds of elephants eating their dinner, return to dinner of coriander and pea fritters, curries, and an apple-pear cake.
9:00 p.m.: Akila responds to e-mails and comments on blog. Patrick responds to work e-mail.
9:50 p.m.: Lights out.
Day Two: Sunday
The setting: Private bush camp outside Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa, and Kruger National Park.
5:30 a.m.: Knock, knock, knock on the door for the wake up call.
9:05 a.m.: After a frustratingly unsuccessful game drive, jeep returns to camp for breakfast.
11:00 a.m.: Call Patrick’s mom on Skype.
11:10 a.m.: Car packed up and on the road to the Lower Sabie rest camp in Kruger National Park.
3:00 p.m.: Wonder whether animal sighting luck has run out. Should have stayed at camp to work.
4:04 p.m.: Spot a herd of elephants with a small baby elephant still suckling from its mother.
4:58 p.m.: Line of cars stopped in the middle of the road. Lions on opposite bank.
5:06 p.m.: Not able to get a good view of the lions with the string of cars on the road. Go forward and turn around.
5:08 p.m.: Maneuver into a clear view of opposite bank but lions are a little to the left. Decide to inch forward.
5:09 p.m.: Lioness walks directly across path in front of car. Akila fumbles to get video camera working while Patrick shoots pictures.
5:10 p.m.: Second lioness walks across path, then third, then two male lions.
5:12 p.m.: So jittery and excited that can’t stop smiling.
5:13 p.m.: Third male lion walks across the path. Lions lay in dry river bed behind bushes.
5:20 p.m.: Have to be in rest camp that is 45 kilometers away in 40 minutes.
5:57 p.m.: After driving 80 km/h in 50 km/h zone, reach camp before gates close at 6:00 p.m.
6:15 p.m.: Try to drop clothes in laundry machine. Machines being used by staff.
6:18 p.m.: Enter room and unload car. Room smells like monkey pee. Shrug it off and turn fan on.
6:45 p.m.: Finish checking e-mail. Drop laundry in washing machine.
7:15 p.m.: Eat mediocre burgers at Lower Sabie restaurant.
8:00 p.m.: Try to put laundry in dryer. Dryer being used.
8:01 p.m.: Return to room. Patrick charges camera equipment and backs up laptop. Akila writes notes from the day and imports videos and photos.
8:40 p.m.: Patrick checks laundry room. Dryer still being used. String up laundry cord in room and hang laundry.
8:44 p.m.: Akila writes next blog post. Patrick drafts company website revisions.
9:50 p.m.: Turn fan higher to dispel monkey pee smell. Lights out.
Day Three: Monday
Setting: Kruger National Park and Komatipoort, Mpumalanga, outside Kruger
7:30 a.m.: Wake up. Shower.
8:03 a.m.: Finish packing and open door. Lift suitcases over pile of monkey droppings in front of door.
8:11 a.m.: Eat peanut butter sandwiches at viewpoint.
12:04 p.m.: Leave Kruger.
12:36 p.m.: Eat vegetable burger and beef burger at Wimpy’s fast food chain in Komatipoort.
1:25 p.m.: Check into cement room at Kruger View Backpackers. Scratch heads of two friendly dogs.
1:51 p.m.: Sit on couches in open air lounge.
1:53 p.m.: Patrick organizes travel receipts into Excel spreadsheet for tax purposes. Akila writes upcoming blog posts.
4:30 p.m.: Patrick and Akila work on editing and designing contracting project, a company website.
7:00 p.m.: Surprisingly delicious dinner at Lion and Leopard pub of cheese pizza and grilled steak sandwich.
9:30 p.m.: Lights out.
Day Four: Tuesday
Setting: Road through Swaziland to Sodwana Bay, South Africa
12:40 a.m.: Akila wakes up and thinks that lamp in the corner is a leopard. Patrick confirms it is not a leopard.
4:40 a.m.: Akila wakes up and asks Patrick if there is a lion in the room. Patrick confirms that there is no lion.
8:40 a.m.: Akila wakes up and does not remember waking up before. Patrick laughs at Akila.
10:00 a.m.: After showering and packing, head to Wimpy’s Burgers.
10:15 a.m.: Unimpressed by sorry looking eggs and toast.
10:40 a.m.: Drive toward Swaziland.
11:58 a.m.: Arrive at South Africa/Swaziland border.
12:04 p.m.: Get very confused because no signs explaining type of paperwork to be completed.
12:16 p.m.: Enter Swaziland, Akila’s 24th country in the world, and Patrick’s 21st country in the world.
1:00 p.m.: Drive past waving sugar cane fields and through beautiful game reserve. Giraffe on side of highway.
1:40 p.m.: Stop at Big Bend, a “large” city in Swaziland. No open restaurants. Buy potato chips, yogurt, and fruit at grocery.
3:40 p.m.: Arrive at Swaziland/South Africa border.
4:20 p.m.: Paved road ends; start pot-hole ridden dirt road.
5:15 p.m.: Car shakes, rocks fly, and dust everywhere. Slowly drive past village people who stare, apparently surprised that a white person would drive through this road.
5:21 p.m.: Wonder whether we have a spare tire.
5:23 p.m.: Wonder whether our car rental includes an automobile service.
5:56 p.m.: Dirt road ends. Paved road to Sodwana Bay. Sign reads, “Potholes. Next 23 kilometers.”
6:01 p.m.: Confirm that potholes are indeed through the next 23 kilometers.
6:20 p.m.: Check into Sodwana Bay Lodge and Dive Resort and a luxurious wooden bungalow.
6:30 p.m.: Dinner at restaurant, included in package price. Akila has a pizza, Patrick has the lemon butter fish.
7:30 p.m.: Answer e-mails; Akila writes next blog post about last month’s trip to Beijing.
10:00 p.m.: Lights out.
Day Five: Wednesday
Setting: Sodwana Bay
8:15 a.m.: Eat breakfast of potatoes, eggs, and toast.
8:40 a.m.: Akila writes 700 words in novel; Patrick builds presentation for contract proposal.
11:30 a.m.: Eat leftover pizza and potato chips.
12:15 p.m.: On transfer to beach for first scuba dive.
12:45 p.m.: Nerves settle in. This is the first dive since Open Water certification.
1:00 p.m.: Head out on rubber dinghy. Waves are huge swells, about five to six feet, and told to put feet within straps so don’t fall out of the dinghy. Wind is at 13 knots per hour.
1:04 p.m.: Akila begins to feel nauseous. Patrick is not too happy with ride.
1:10 p.m.: Arrive at dive site; Akila is incredibly nauseous as gear goes on.
1:11 p.m.: Do backwards roll into the water. Nausea hits Akila hard. Hard time breathing leading to a panic attack.
1:12 p.m.: Akila signals to instructor that need to go up.
1:15 p.m.: Get back on boat, exhausted, and nauseous. Patrick stays on boat to watch over Akila. In between her misery, Akila remembers how much she likes Patrick.
1:43 p.m.: Akila hugs the side and bottom of the dinghy as it rocks up and down, back and forth, and her lunch evacuates her body into the ocean. Fish feed happily.
1:45 p.m.: Humpback whale spotted in distance but Akila and Patrick are too nauseous to see it.
2:10 p.m.: Other divers back on boat. Head back to shore.
2:32 p.m.: Dive instructor checks weather and says that Thursday is going to be very windy but Friday will be calm. Cancel dives for Thursday.
3:15 p.m.: Akila is tired. Lays in bed and reads. Patrick has conference call.
3:40 p.m.: Patrick works.
6:00 p.m.: Patrick takes another conference call.
6:40 p.m.: Dinner of roast beef, cauliflower with cheese, butternut squash, and green beans, with coconut cake for dessert.
8:00 p.m.: Watch 30 Rock episode with Jerry Seinfeld. Laugh hard.
8:40 p.m.: Get into bed and read.
9:40 p.m.: Lights out.
Day Six: Thursday
Setting: Sodwana Bay
8:40 a.m.: Wake up, feeling awesome after sleeping for eleven hours.
9:30 a.m.: Breakfast of eggs, toast, and baked beans.
10:00 a.m.: Patrick works on company website design; Akila organizes photos for next blog post.
10:30 a.m.: Akila drafts company website text; Patrick works on company website proposal.
12:30 p.m.: Call parents to see puppies on Skype.
12:50 p.m.: Order sandwiches at bar for lunch.
1:00 p.m.: Are attacked by bees.
1:01 p.m.: Akila wonders if said bees are in fact flies.
1:02 p.m.: Patrick responds that they are probably African bees that could kill them.
1:03 p.m.: Akila laughs at Patrick.
1:40 p.m.: Akila and Patrick work on website revisions together.
3:00 p.m.: Akila works on next blog post; Patrick drafts company proposal.
6:00 p.m.: Conference call with company members in India and the United States. Website proposal approved. Akila and Patrick are happy.
7:00 p.m.: Dinner at Sodwana Bay Lodge. Patrick gets eisbein, a huge hunk of pork basted and grilled, and Akila gets a vegetarian pizza.
8:30 p.m.: Read books.
9:30 p.m.: Lights out.
Day Seven: Friday
Setting: Sodwana Bay to Durban
5:30 a.m.: Brring, brring, brring of the alarm clock.
5:31 a.m.: Akila slams the snooze button.
5:40 a.m.: Patrick gets out of bed, puts on his swimsuit, and eats breakfast.
5:50 a.m.: Akila gets out of bed and eats one breakfast bar.
5:53 a.m.: “Do you think I’ll be okay today?” Akila asks Patrick. Patrick reassures Akila. The weather will be good. Akila takes Dramamine.
6:35 a.m.: At the beach, suited up, ready to go.
7:00 a.m.: On the rubber dinghy. Waters smooth.
7:05 a.m.: Reach dive site. Put on gear and flip backwards into water.
7:06 a.m.: Akila gives okay signal to divemaster and heads to the bottom.
7:07 a.m.: Patrick can’t get down.
7:08 a.m.: Akila checks buoyancy at bottom and starts swimming around. Patrick struggles to fin down but can’t move beyond the shallow depths.
7:10 a.m.: Akila wonders where Patrick is.
7:11 a.m.: Divemaster tells Patrick to get back on boat and add another weight to his dive belt.
7:12 a.m.: Divemaster signals to Akila that Patrick will come down later.
7:15 a.m.: Akila is so happy that she is diving. Lots and lots of fish.
7:15 a.m.: Patrick adds two kilograms to his weight belt.
7:17 a.m.: Patrick dives down and joins the group.
7:22 a.m.: Akila has a minor mishap that results in her floating to the top.
7:25 a.m.: Divemaster helps Akila back into a vertical position and back to the dive site.
7:40 a.m.: Akila and Patrick point out beautiful fish and coral.
7:55 a.m.: Out of air. Back to dive boat.
8:08 a.m.: Back on shore. Thrilled that the dive was (mostly) successful.
10:00 a.m.: Shower and eat breakfast. Pack car and check out.
11:07 a.m.: Akila falls asleep. Patrick drives away from Sodwana Bay.
12:30 p.m.: Stop in small town for lunch.
2:10 p.m.: Stop at roadside stand. Buy one pineapple and one red and black Zulu beaded necklace.
5:20 p.m.: Arrive in Durban.
5:30 p.m.: Unpack a little and check internet. Super fast internet, whoopee!
7:30 p.m.: Dinner at okay Indian restaurant with curries and garlic naan.
10:00 p.m.: Back at hostel. Hang out with college students heading toward Sodwana Bay.
11:00 p.m.: Crash. Asleep in minutes.
After drifting about southern Africa for a couple of months, Akila and Patrick are back in the United States road-tripping with Chewy and Abby, their patient and wonderful dogs, whom Akila and Patrick have missed very, very much. The four of them will be taking the Queen Mary 2 to England next July and spending a couple of years hopefully not getting too fat in Europe. You can follow their journey at The Road Forks or via Twitter @theroadforks.