On 21st August, we rode into the Old bridge backpackers in Okavango, Botswana. The last stretch of about 1.5 kms was deep sand. This region can be hot and it was on this day. The whole day mileage was over 300 kms in the scotching sun, long straight roads, so many fumigation stops along the way. In Botswana, vehicle and people are fumigated while crossing from one region (county) to another. We were tired and that last stretch was just the climax of the day. No bike dropped thankfully.
We got a tent space and decided to also hire two mattresses from the backpackers to make our beds more comfortable. The camping area is so beautiful overlooking the Okavango marsh land. We had just finished setting up and looking for a cold drink when two Triumph scramblers 900 rode in. Yeeeees you got that right, our eyes lit up and we followed the sound and later the riders. It was these two friends, Evan and Naj traveling around the world for two year. Turned out that they got the tent right next to our.
AND THE GIST OF THE STORY BEGINS
We spent the evening exchanging notes. We had come from Zambia and they were coming from South Africa through Namibia. While taking notes, we also decided to exchange SIM cards for the countries we had left. We handed over our Zambia and Malawian SIM cards and we got their Namibian and South African SIM cards. The following day we said goodbye and stayed in touch through social media. Once in a while we asked each other for recommendations of places to stay. One of the highly recommended Airbnb was Jill’s place in South Africa. They showed us pictures of them at this place and playing with Jill’s grand kids. They told us how homely it is to be there that it is hard to leave. “If you go to Jo’burg, make sure to stay here”. We left it at that.
While riding in Namibia, we were contacted about an Airbnb travel summit that would be happening in Cape Town. We were in Windhoek at the time and it really did not look like we would make it for two reasons. Registration had closed and the dates meant we rush through Namibia. Once we got to Swakompund, we got a call that we have been listed as honourable guests alongside guests such as Hon. Najib Balala and one of the top journalists Larry Madowo. We were not given an option of declining. We had one week to get there, exactly one week. We had to make adjustments on the route, accommodation, and ride down 1,800 kms to get to the summit on time. It was still winter in Namibia all the way down to Cape Town. With an average of 257kms a day, we set off. We had quite some desert riding left and therefore we rode everyday with no rest for one week.
We got to the summit and were recognised as one of the first Airbnb hosts for both experiences and accommodation and now the first to travel the world on motorcycles. We were also allocated a travel group to moderate and answer questions from the guests. In our group, there was this charming lady called Jill. We had forgotten Jill from Evan and Naj . Jill was excited to meet us. She talked about hosting other bikers but never mentioned their names. She must have thought, what is the use. Not all bikers know each other. She left us with her business card and said, “if you come to Jo’burg, I would love to host you”. The summit was over and we bid each other goodbye.
Two and a half months later after riding through the most beautiful Garden route, Drakensberg, Sani pass, Lesotho, Clarens (Oooh this town stole our hearts) and finally speaking at the Horizon Unlimited event,(scroll down to find us) we were in Jo’burg looking for accommodation, BMW service centre and a shipper. We had been using our South African SIM card from Evan and Naj. We remembered Jill’s offer from the Airbnb Summit and called her up. What followed was like a comedy. It was Dos who made the call and the first thing Jill asked was, “you are back in Africa?”, Dos was confused. For a minute there were questions and answers that did not make any sense to both of us. She called Dos a number of other peoples names. We were so confused we hand up and called her again later. During the second time, still confused, we were able to introduce ourselves better and boom. We were now all on the same page.
THE STORY OF THE SIM CARD
It turns out she had bought the SIM card herself for her Airbnb guests. She had this one couple that stayed so long that she gave them the SIM card to use it while traveling in South Africa. This couple met Evan and Naj when they got into South Africa and the couple was leaving. They gave them the SIM card on condition they would stay with Jill. Evan and Naj had their experience when they called Jill using her number the SIM card. Jill told us she had wanted to get back the number as it was for her guests but she let Evan and Naj have it as they were too spending sometime in South Africa. We stayed with Jill and just like we were told, it was difficult to leave. She eventually almost adopted us. She would not let us cook, she fed us. We had meals with her and her husband Rob. We loved swimming at their pool. The discounted our rates and eventually gave us some free nights. When it was time for us to leave, she said she would call a taxi for us but instead, she got us in her car and drove us to the Airport.
After almost 9 months, we delivered the SIM card back home safely. We are so happy that the SIM card connected us to some of the most wonderful people and we made such great friends. We hope to meet again one day.
We would love to hear your amazing stories from your travel. Tell us in the comment below. These are the stories that make the world so beautiful.