Meeting straight from the tarmac with our publisher Bridget Impey from Jacana, with our PR Thando Nkosi and the marketing manager of Hi-Tec South Africa, Shayne Vervoort who will join us for most of our tour.

Because at the beginning of our story there was Francis Thackeray and Mrs Ples, we gave our first lecture, on the evening of our arrival in Joburg, at the Origin Center, the splendid anthropological museum of the Wits University. Room packed with people and emotion. Standing ovation. first tears. We're off for a good start !

Evening that we finished by drawing the big picture with our dear friend around a nice bottle of wine, talking about his father astronomist, the stars and the latests discoveries in the Chauvet cave, he was lucky enough to visit.

The day after we drive the kids to a farm owned by a south african cousin of mine near Wolmaranstadt. Here, climbing a car has a meaning !

Simon (or Ulysse !) drives us through the farm and that's the beginning of the adventure ! This farm is a location for film shooting with a typical tanzanian savannah landscape that has the advantage to be malaria free. The Lion from Joseph Kessel with Alain Delon was recently shot there.

Philaé goes back to her favourite friends (cf : the post on our SA trip last year. cf. émotions sud africaines) One day it'll turn into a Prince !

While Ulysse is mezmerised by a giant moth.

An anthill is our first bush training, Philaé starts calling the Massaïs at the bottom because she's a fan of Arthur on DVD ( animation from Luc Besson)

Then a social weaver nest. You shouldn't stay too long underneath, first because it's so heavy that it can break, second because it's also squatted by lethal snakes that are attracted by the eggs.

We pay our tribute to our distant aunt Gladys Yorke Saint Leger, buried under the african sun. Old cousinage that dates back the time when our forefather Robert de Saint Léger alongside William, conquered England !

Isn't it the nicest graveyard in the world ?

Philae is the horsy one in the family.

But she must learn to share her passions ! training for the next trip with our kids ?..

Back in Pretoria, whilst the Jacarandas bloom.

Where we are hosted by Claire and Cédric Tournebize and their kids, dear readers of Africatrek and Potential big travelers aboard their Unimog...

We give in Menlyn Park, a kind of huge mall like we don't have any in France, our first lecture in a Barnyard Theatre.

And our first signature in Bookstores.

These are our first confrontations with our south african public who receives our story with a lot of enthusiam. It's thanks to the mirror effect : they see themselves in our story. "A kind of impassionated modern days Voortrekkers venture" .... as quoted once a lady

Our first vists in the exclusive Books shops where our book is often located close to Madiba's "Long Walk to Freedom". What an honor ! What else do you want in life ? After our shoes reunited in the Hi-Tec lobby in London, here are our steps and pages side by side.

Then, we have our first reunions with hosts and friends : here is Jean More from Whiteriver (cf T.1 chap 11, p.160)

And her little tribe : the boys Jonathan, Matthew, Anthony and Jack-Alexandre

Ann and Stuart Thorne our horticulturist friends who came from Barberton to attend our lecture at Casterbridge in Whiteriver. cf. émotions sud africaines)

Raymond and Shirley Emmerich, the Spar manager of Graskop. (cf p.174)

But time has come to gather with the magnificent bush of Lion Sands. Good omen, our first game drive is granted with this hieratic vision : lady leopard on her rock !

While the darkness is haunted by hyena calls which trigger in me the memory of Nighmarish nights...

The following day we follow this beautiful specimen hunting... sureal feeling of beeing invisible. The funny feeling that leopard integrates the car in his stalking strategies, knowing that his approach can be covered by the rumble of the engine and that it can hide behind it to jump at the last second on the poor legged snacks (impalas). Vicious effect (or vertuous depending who you are !) of bush tourism. He really was waiting for the car to start to initiate is walk again and was stopping when we stopped ! But that day hunting with a car didn't prove very successfull.

Never once during our walk, even in Masai country where they are not hunted, could we get that close to wild zebras on foot. Here again the feeling is surreal...

It's in such a sleepy pride that we bumped into in the Kruger with our game ranger Robby Bryden. Not quite eager to try to charge them again ...

For Philaé and Flat Stanley, it's also nap time... when the beasts sleep, it's the truce for the parents and the preys...

Lady girafe meets this funny little figure, who is in fact the reporter of Philaé school : back home we'll have to organize a lecture to tell all her friends all his adventures !

While discovering this stunning rock I remember having asked the driver : "have you ever seen a leopard posted on this scenic outcrop ?" - " No! " he replied " but it's the first time I see such a big lion at its foot !" And why not a sunset at the same time ? Leaving the scene I nodded to the driver " well done ! perfect timing ! They are very well trained your lions..."

A bit further a buffalo...

who also found the meeting striking...

Flat Stanley enjoys very much the big five

hours to look at the elephants..

The day after, nothing much is left. Anyway, the lions wouldn't leave the carcass to the Hyenas.

Reunion in Nelspruit with Naeem Omar (left on the picture. cf p.159) who came to rescue us from an empty tank. It's true this huge blue thing we were lend was a real gaz guzzler ! But what a great fun to drive when you know only littel french cars !) When one's a gardian angel, one remains so forever ! And the little thing in the middle ? it's my Mother.

With whom we go back to Ardmore in Howick

to introduce her with its treasures... (Now she's so intoxicated with it she wants to import them to France !)

Reunion with Fee Halstead, the drover of the place, and her daughters Megan and Catherine. ( cf. p.128)

Ulysse's turn to try the big pots...

before seeing how the small ones are made...

Philaé starts a crash course in clay modeling under Victor's patronage

Then remembers Punch Shabalala, who we had seen last year with Wonderboy Nxumalo, who seemed in a much better shape than her... because she takes scrupulously her treatment, while our friend didn't...

Still so much colors in so much drama.

The modeling team : Victor, Petros and Lovemore the potter

In Durban, a fan of our series on the Travel Channel recognises us and gets a hot signature on the spot in the airport bookstore.

In Cape Town, we are welcomed by our hostess of the second day, Andie Pycroft. We had seen her again with her husband Anthony in Harare where they lived before being evicted. He was managing the Bread factory and was under great pressure because of the rise of production costs. They had taken us trout fishing in the Nyanga mountains to flee from that scum. Here they are now in Cape Town offering a bright future for their children Cory and Amy . ( p. 18 and 233)

First lecture in the Cape. Through the window we can see the footpath by which we entered the city Bowl almost nine years earlier...

Fernoldt et Priscilla Galant are part of the crowd all the way from Riversdale where they make sure that the laws of affirmative action are implemented in the schooling system. ( cf.p.35)

In the evening we walk again the entrance way of the famous gate we had rang (remember at the beginning of our movie ? :"Hello we are two french people, we walked 38 km today and we are exhausted, can we ask for your hospitality tonight ? Ok Come in..."

Sean Morris et Morgan Day are still the same jolly good funny fellows. (cf p.20)

But they have a much bigger dog now : the biggest in the world : an Irish Wolfhound, adopted straight away by Philae.

Their villa still has more than ever this dream touch...

And this dog is definitely gigantic...

As big as the sorrow at the time to depart...

Sorrow quickly washed away on the first trampoline.

Little pilgrimage at the Cape of Good Hope

Where we remember our first step on our starting line...

and the incription of our destination as a crow flies. Double or quit : on foot is took us twice longer to reach.

Here is the end of the world that lit the dawn of or journey the first day of the third millenium.

Back in the bunker of our night's vigil, but this time with two little rats !

View forever ingraved in our memories, behind Simon's Town in the distance, Africa awaited us !

We are this time granted by the passage of a whale and calf.

When you consider the spot, no wonder why the cape penguins stranded in Simon's Town in the 70's after this horrible black tide... (cf.p 17)

And two extra chicks !

Who will take sea only when their down will be gone.

And still no way to spray your towel on the beach !

Moving reunion with Kevin and Belinda Forrest, the invaded farmer from Zimbabwe, who drove us through their farm to show us the waste it was for the country. They hold firm for three years, they had three days to leave, losing everything behind. Three generations of family history. Their staff is still struggling to stick to their land and many of them have been killed in the struggle. They are the first victims in all that ethnic cleansing, and they have nowhere else to go unlike our friends. Prosperity gone with the wind (cf p.239)

Regarding their kids, they were swinging over there, they are flipping here... (cf film and interview)

Despite the langage barrier, Philaé keeps making new friends.

While we keep lecturing all over the place.

During which lectures our little ones swallow the whole Disney range...

Visit of Peter and Desiree Kingwill, our mohair aficiaonado from Caledon, (cf p.36)

Ernt Grundling who had signed our first article in Die Burger while we were leaving the Nanaga Farm Stall near Port Elizabeth.( cf.p56)

Wicus and Hanlei Leeuwnar. Remember ! ( cf p.27) Our first farmers : the Blue crane saviour and World class Photographer. His wife has been attacked on the farm while he was away. A neighbour and his foreman were wounded by bullets through the chest, and the commandos killed two of the robbers. The other two are still in jail for good. Two years later they couldn't turn this sad page, sold the farm and settled in Hermanus to look at the whales passing by. Hanlei cooked for us her fantastic Babootie before Wicus escorted us to the whale watching boats.

(/blog/public/billets/2009/afrique_du_sud/.SA_09_922w_m.jpg| || , déc. 2009))

Look dad ! A floating rock !

No my dear it's not a shark attacking the whale ! It's the tip of its tail on the side !

Goodbye children !

Bye bye miss whale !

Thanks to the sea the driving that followed was very quiet...

It's in front of that petrol station booth that Pauline du Plessis litteraly hijacked us for a Braai. We've just called her and she just shouted loudly in the phone : apparently she's coming ! (cf p.36)

We gather again around the fire were we stirr memories and songs. They are now entitled providers of arab horses for the Bahrein emirs.

O SArie Marais belle amie d'autrefois, ek voup om arvir tasin, daronder by die mielies und die grunen durenbaum...

This time we sleep in a little historical cottage of the Du Plessis Family.

Ulysse always wakes up first and wait for dawn like a french rooster to sing !

Visit of the Du Plessis's ground

and hilarious demonstration of the plentiful ressource these people have : Pauline has started the exploitation of her Aloe ferox that grows like a pest on the dry farm slopes, for the entire benefit of her staff.

They cut and let the sap seep in a rubber pouch.

Sap that will be crystallized by evaporation. seven euros per kilo. A good tip !

Lynn and Obie Oberholzer, the photographic genious inventor of the concept of Africa being a Happy-sad land (cf p56) We reunite in Plettenberg Bay for a signature in a bookstore where Obie introduces us. He recently published a photo album that we can only advise you "Long Ago Way" in which the writing reaches the level of his photography.

In Plett we revive warm memories in the house of Mike Wells and Jill Kirland with it's fabulous view on the Bitou valley, but they are not there : they are travelling in France !

Shelley, Mike's daughter, nonetheless welcomes us with her two kids. She is no longer married and no longer has her Art Gallery Small Miracles where she had initiated us to the beauties of Ardmore.... (cf p.51) But here again, ressource, resilience and joy ! Shelley embodies the power of this country ! It's rebuilding itseft and turns pain into joy. She now is having admin work in a nearby school.

God how quick they grow these little things ! Time is flicking...

In the meantime they take any opportunity to play the fool... here in "Monkeyland"

Or to make new friends in "Birds of Heaven"

But with this one I'm not sure I'll try the sandwich trick...

and this naughty one, who pulled my hair, I wish I could pull it's tail !

Little dance steps with a blue crane.

Dad ! Dad ! Come here there's a four floating ! I'm thinking "What again is she trying take me into ?" while coming to the water. A good teaching. For me. Indeed she saw a four floating.

Warm reunion with Esther and Isaac Wildeman, both of them have lost their jobs, her in a fabric shop, him as a driver, but not their smiles and hopes. (cf p. 46)

We go back to their place in the township of Greenvalley. The room where we slept (cf : Sonia wondering :"You mean this palace ?") is now turned the other way round. Their daughter has grown up and has a child of Philae's age now.

"Dad, Can you ask Esther if she has a doll for me... ?"

Ulysse on his side plays shy...

So funny ! I look at my toes when she looks at her fingertips. An angel passes by...

and Noah's Ark unites them shortly.

Same kisses and hugs, same emotion at the time to split, nine years later...people don't change.

In South Africa, to step on eggs is not risky nor delicate... here at highgate safari farm in Oudtshoorn.

The fantasm for a french chick ? A giant covee !

Or a crazy ride...

Our dream on our side, is at the end of the leash.... in Tenikwa conservation

And for the Cheetahs lovers we are happy to announce you that Savannah the Virgin from Tshukudu has given birth to 4 little ones! (cf

Idea's for next trip ? (Elephant Park)

                               Last evening, last lectures at the french Alliance in Johannesburg, one in french, one in english. And a nice celebration : our book is out of stock, sold out, gone in town ! Our PR Thando Nkosi is delighted as well as the marketing manager of Hi-Tec who both built up, organized and funded the whole tour.

Tour that we end up in company of our friends from the Alexandra Brass Band that came to play their tunes and that discovered themselves in our film. (cf p 152)

My left arm is on Musi's shoulder, the band leader. He managed to keep it united, and renewed by the coming of youngsters. Remember, Luther, the one who wanted to become a lutherian priest... Guess what ? He made it ! He is now preaching in the north of the country : " I hope that they will not take me for who I was, but for who I am now..."