Who: L U C I E, L A C H L A N, and B O W W O W.
Their occupations: Gypsy, Slick Suit in Finance, Dog
The trip: Crossing Africa by 4×4, helping communities through trade.
We’ve cut our teeth on over 25,000km of dirt roads across Southern Africa with our dog, Bow Wow, sourcing wonderful, handmade treasures… Think Summer of Love! Here are our highlights so far…
Enchanting surroundings, carefully selected talent, lovely crowd, flowing local ale & great grub – In The Woods Festival was a blast.
The Tree4Hope on tour through the eccentric Welsh village of Portmeirion.
We were on our way to Shambala, a festival promising ‘meaningful hedonism’. To be honest, we were not sure quite what that meant but we were soon to find out…
I think it’s safe to say that Bow Wow is loving life in the UK. It’s certainly a far cry from the existence that he could have had as a township stray, surviving amongst the rainbow warrens of shacks in his birthplace, Imizamo Yethu in Cape Town, South Africa.
While we were in Australia over New Year 2012, we enjoyed a week soaking up the sun with friends on the Gold Coast and then road tripping to Byron Bay and Nimbin in New South Wales.
WOMAD is a most embracing festival with all age groups and races dancing together and appreciating great world music. As we gathered hopes, we could hear diverse talent from every corner of the globe. If only our national radio stations would take note!
The Tree4Hope survived the mud at The Secret Garden Party & we have never known such an abundance of beautiful hopes. Everyone should experience the secrets of the garden!
Hop Farm festival was brimming over with great music, eccentric characters and a whole lotta fresh hope. The stand out performance came from Damien Rice who we were honoured to meet the following day. We were fascinated to hear that, despite his success, he chooses to live a gypsy life, always on the move and with few possessions, just as we do.
After a stormy ferry crossing, we reached Guernsey for a festival filled with unforgettable moments including a blessing from pop wonder, King Charles!
Leaving Zimbabwe, poor Bow Wow becomes seriously ill with biliary and Lachlan is accused of trying to murder Mugabe.
We’re back in Britain trading with our shop on wheels, Vagabond Van and launching our new project, Band4Hope. Here’s a snap shot of Vagabond Van life.
Even though Bow Wow promised not to lift his leg against the statue of David Livingstone, no dogs are allowed at the Victoria Falls. Not even adventure hounds sponsored by Hill’s pet Nutrition.
The Tonga tribe were forced to move from where they’d lived and fished for centuries so that the power of the Zambezi could be harnessed for electricity and yet 50 years on and they still go without electricity or running water. No wonder they smoke dagga.
We discover why Lake Kariba’s southern shores are less travelled and live to tell the tale.
At the Chinhoyi Caves in Zimbabwe, we visit a crystal clear pool which is home to the souls of captured travellers and some lucky gold fish.
So much of Zimbabwe’s once productive farmland lies dormant since Mugabe’s redistribution of land. (An incredible documentary to watch is Mugabe and the White African – it is a story of moral courage about a family who stand up against the Zimbabwean government, refusing to leave their farm or desert their workforce.)
However, not only has an organic farm near Harare managed to keep going, they are also employing farm workers’ wives and sisters to make beautiful jewellery by recycling old magazines and catalogues.
We visited the farm and watched the women deftly create this unusual jewellery and made an order for Vagabond Van.
East of Harare, in a pretty little agricultural town, lives a journalism graduate and Jason Bourne fan called Joseph who makes jewellery out of cow horn and bone. We came across his work at a market in Harare and arranged to visit his workshop and develop some tribal inspired earrings exclusively for Vagabond Van.
We returned to Harare and stayed with our Zimbabwean friends, Bruce and Nicola. It was fascinating to hear about how people coped during the desperate days of hyperinflation, when the enormously devalued Zimbabwean dollar was not even worth the paper that it was printed on. We joined them for extreme sundowners on a granite outcrop until a nearby lightning bolt caused our hair to stick right up on end (not a good sign!) and visited their sun filled factory called Copperwares.
The national park near Nyanga is said to have been Cecil Rhodes favourite spot and by all accounts has fabulous hikes through lush green mountains with waterfalls, breath taking views and great trout fishing. We knew that these hikes would be out of bounds for us with a dog but we hoped that as the park is not home to many animals and has no predators, the rangers may turn a blind eye and allow us to stay for one night in their campsite with Bow Wow. However, they were not to be charmed and once again we found ourselves in the stressful situation of having to find alternative accommodation with less than an hour of daylight left. Blaming himself, Bow Wow felt horrendously bad about the whole thing and increasingly worse when we were turned away from a motel in the town of Nyanga which was fully booked and did not allow camping in their grounds. On hearing us discussing our last hope, which was to ask if we might stay at the local police station, the snooty receptionist reluctantly suggested that we try a place just out of town called Angler’s Rest but she definitely did not recommend it. (Includes 3 videos)
Rusape is a real Zimbabwean town not featured in any travel guides. We camped in the grounds of an achingly retro, yet empty, motel with a swimming pool full of frogs and provoked lots of laughter as we wandered through Rusape’s bright and bustling streets. Our taste buds had a real treat when we tucked into mouthwatering sadza with local farmers, sampled some thirst quenching Zimbabwean beers and sunk our teeth into the most flavoursome fruit that we have ever tasted. At Lovely’s Hair Salon we learnt how to braid while her gogo held court and swigged Coca-Cola on the stoop.
With so few tourists for so many years, all of the official campsites in Harare closed long ago. We eventually found a safe place to set up camp at Cleveland Dam and sampled the local “brain kicking” tipple, Chimbuku. At a vibrant market we felt the true hustle of Africa but our search for Vagabond Van products continued.
During our three hour long delay, I took pictures of the chaotic Zimbabwe border crossing but was caught and asked to delete them from my camera. It was a total shambles; Bow Wow’s forms were filled out in a rotting make shift caravan with a missing floor, great chasms in parts of the pavement waited to swallow humans whole and disorderly queues seemed unformed in all directions.
Once through, we were warned by a local to not stop for anything or anyone until we reached Great Zimbabwe. On registering our concerned expressions he added “Don’t worry, it’s not like South Africa; they probably won’t kill you but they will rob you.” Off at last, we chased the setting sun past mountainous boulders muffled in lush vegetation and colourful clusters of roadside pedlars touting pyramids of golden mangoes and baking mielies in their leaves over smouldering embers.
After a break in Cape Town and with only 4 days left on Lucie’s South African visa, it was a case of pedal to the metal, past the boerewors curtain and all the way through Afrikaans country until we reached the Zimbabwe border.