The Odyssey
Base Camp
Trek Connect
Time Machine
Multimedia and Special Guests

Monica Dispatch

A Typical Day in the Life of a Trekker

Click image for larger view
That's me in front of a typical African street market.
We are often asked about our daily lives and how we organize all the multiple tasks that we face in the day. Since I'm running a slight fever and have a bit of a "flu", as they call bad colds here, I've decided to not write a "heavy" dispatch and instead let you in on a typical day. Right now, I'm travelling with Kavitha: usually the group splits off into pairs to cover the longer distances. In Kevin's case, he took the bus alone to Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. Abeja and Shawn are travelling together through Swaziland and Mozambique.

Click image for larger view
Sleeping beauty greets the day with a half-smile!
We usually wake up in the morning (see me in my sleeping bag?) and have a breakfast of granola and oranges, apples, or whatever fruit we picked up the night before in the market. We try and save on restaurant bills by buying local produce: besides, it's fun to try out new foods. We found out that "pawpaw," an ingredient in some of the juices we've been tasting, is another name for "papaya."

Click image
for larger view
Kavitha plans the route for the day. Avoid all thieves please!
Using our guidebooks, which have much of the information about hostels, banks, landmarks, and "must-see" sites, we decide who should do what, when, and where. Kavitha is carrying a Zimbabwe book as well as a general Africa book, and does a good job of figuring out the basics. Our stateside coordinator emails us a list of general site visits-- an itinerary, if you will -- that provides a guideline for what we should cover during our stay in a country. That's posted on the Internet for your teachers, or for you if you'd like some general background, click here: Odyssey Travel Plans.

If we have to travel a long distance, like Kavitha and I just did, on the bus from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, we then decide how to do it: minibus, bus, or train? Next, we calculate how much it should cost. Shawn has figured out the amount of time we've spent on different modes of transportation--by land, by sea, by air--and it works out to hundreds of hours. Remember, we're trying to visit the entire African continent by land. Check out the map to see how big that really is!

When we do arrive in a new city after some tiring travel, we have to negotiate with taxi drivers, or walk, to get to the place we'll stay. Sometimes that's a hostel or hotel, or a family's house or the organization with which we'll be working. Yesterday, when we arrived in Bulawayo, we had all our heavy packs, duffel bags, and groceries, so we took a taxi to a hostel called "Shaka's Spear," where we crashed out for a day. I took advantage of the bed and slept almost 20 hours, probably the best thing for when you're feeling sick.

Click image for larger view
Thanks to my laptop computer, I can connect to you straight from my hostel room!
One good thing about travelling with computers and digital cameras (you know by now all the bad things: theft, damage, and weight) is the work we can do with them. At our previous hostel, the Eastgate Backpackers in Johannesburg, I was able to trade my skills for our lodging: I developed their website, and they gave us a nice double room with a private bathroom and transportation--for four days, FREE! It works out well for both parties. Check out how I did a similar exchange in Guatemala. Check out the Eastgate website.

Today our plan is to get Zimbabwean currency (we've exchanged all our South African Rand and will now be using the Zimbabwean Dollar), stock up on supplies, visit the National History Museum, and make reservations for a train we'll be taking later in the week. Thanks for your questions, encouragement and support, and make sure to visit us on the web every Wednesday and Saturday for more dispatches! To e-mail me, click here: I really appreciate hearing from you!


Abeja - Immersion in Zulu Culture
Abeja - Abeja Meets the Great King Shaka Zulu
Abeja - Get Off My Turf
Kevin - Harare: a Capital City that feels like a Village
Kevin - Somebody Stole my House!
Kavitha - Soweto: Young Lives Lost in Battle

Meet Monica | Monica's Archive

Base Camp | Trek Connect
Time Machine | Multimedia and Special Guests

Home | Search | Teacher Zone | Odyssey Info

Meet Monica