. . . AROUND THE WORLD 2001/02
Africa 1999
Around-the-World 2001/02

The Team

Jeff Willner
1. Start: Recipe for Adventure
2. Zimbabwe: Hyperinflation
3. Namibia: Southern Circuit
4. South Africa: Circuit 2
5. Zambia/Malawi: Sketches
7. Kenya: Bandit Country
8. Ethiopia: Diary
9. Ethiopia: Border Run
10. Sudan: Across the Sahara
11. Egypt: Cape to Cairo
12. Jordan/Syria: Sept. 11th
13. Turkey: Hospitality
14. Bulgaria/Romania/ Hungary
15. Slovakia/Austria/Poland
16. The Baltics & Russia
17. Scandinavia
18. Western Europe
19. Brazil: Clearning Customs
20. Argentina: Revolution
21. Argentina: To Ushuaia
22. Patagonia Disaster
23. Buenos Aires Beautiful
24. Uruguay: Beaches
25. Chile: Expedition Life
26. Bolivia: Atacama
27. Peru: Transit
28. Galapagos: Gorgeous
29. Ecuador: Jungle Run
30. Knifepoint
31. Dubai: Lay over
32. Singapore/Malaysia
33. Thailand: Hospitality
34. Cambodia: Ankor Wat
35. Vietnam: Hanoi & Halong
36. Laos: Back to Basics
37. China: Beijing Tour
38. China: Shanxi
39. China: Western Province
40. China: Tibet
41: Nepal: Mountains
42. India: Driving Struggle
43. Pakistan: Dodging War
44. Iran: Overcharging
45. End: One Last Laugh

Sally DeFina
1. Cape Town: Robben Island
2. Zanzibar: Mike & I
3. Kenya: African Driving School
4. Sudan: Mud Crossing
5. Patagonia: Goodbye Max
6. Malaysia: Mike Update
7. Thailand: Ko Phangan
8. Cambodia: Phnom Penh
9. Vietnam: By Train
10. Laos: Vang Vieng
11. China: Meet Mr. Chen

Jody Finver
1. Start: Surreal Solipse
2. Great Zimbabwe
3. Brokedown in Kenyan Desert
4. Egypt: So Should I Hyphenate
5. Poland: Home is Where the Truck Is

Gulin Akoz
1. Start: Bits and Pieces
2. Zambia: Diaries
3. Egypt: Africa Memories
4. Turkey: For Your Information
5. The Team and The Bean
6. Somebody Else's Child
7. On My Own
8. Long Lost Memories of Childhood
9. The Tree and the Boy
10. Jealous
11. The Aftermath


Panamerican 2003
Various Trips
Planning an Expedition


Kensington Tours can help you plan your own expedition anywhere in the world.

Vic Falls



#1 - Surreal Solipse
Jody Finver - 23 June 01

(Lusaka, ZAMBIA) - "Hi, I’m Dawn. Does anyone need any acid? “
“Do you have any MDMA?”
“Naaah. But you can get that at the Smart Shop—“
“Yeah, I know. 100 mg for $US100 dollars. Too much for me.”
“Ah well… any acid?”
“Hmmmm….Sweetheart what do you think?”
“Oh, anything you want love. It’s fine with me.”
“I’ll take 2 hits. “

I watched this conversation taking place in front of me and wondered, is this Africa or a scene from Trainspotting 2? Actually, it was a little of both. Sally and I arrived early in Livingstone and decided to kill a few days by heading north to Solipse, a 10-day festival with the world’s best Trance DJ’s, celebrating the eclipse. After waiting 8 cold hours on a platform and then finally taking what goes down as bar none, hands down, the most disgusting, overnight train ride fathomable, I found myself in Chisamba, Zambia, sitting under a makeshift Bedoin camp of sarongs and throws, protecting myself from the scorching African sun. Sally was off with her camera at the main stage dancing up a storm and taking photos when Dawn noticed our Welcome sign and popped on over like she was selling Avon products.

It was surreal.

10,000 people, or something like that, trekked from across the world for this. Mostly English, Japanese and an enormous coalition of video-camera toting Israeli’s. All there to party and ‘feel’ the music. It was one of the few times I was able to dance without some cheeseball shimmying up to me to shake his groove thing and try to grind me into submission. Anyone at Solipse who came up to dance was only thinking about the music, if they were thinking at all. Solipse, for many, was just a drug-fest with an intense soundtrack.

Seriously, drugs were more readily available than toilet paper or bug spray. And they were not sold on the sly. There was advertising. Signs and posters. Barkers telling you to go to the Smart Shop or the Chai Tea Shop. All transactions made in US dollars. The Kwacha, was accepted at food stalls as a courtesy. Spiritual gathering to honor the cosmic forces aside, the vendors were looking to make a buck or two. And they racked it in. Woo doggy this was a goldmine. Malawi Gold, that is. I’m no MBA holder. I know jack about finances and exchange rates, but a sandwich-size Ziploc full of pot for $US 5 dollars? Have Mercy! This was the Costco of ganja. Buy in bulk and save! Save! Save! Malawi Gold was practically being given away. Surreal I tell you.

Sitting by one of the bonfires after dancing for four hours, I was cursing myself for not bringing more money, but I started to have this kinda Willy Wonka scene with images flashing in front of my face at hyper-speed -- Jeff making a no, no, no expression, Sally saying, “I’m not risking my career for you to try making it over the border with a backpack full of weed,” tribal images of people sitting ever-diligently deseeding their bags of gold. It was, I must admit, the images of Midnight Express that put my short-lived smuggling days to rest. Seemed bad form for the trip to kick off with one of the team members holed up in a Zambian prison.

We hooked up with a great group from England. Simon and Lynn, Rob, Emma, Kate (from Texas), Paul, Amanda, Jeremy, Claire, Shawn, Peter (who, small world, lives down the street from me in San Francisco) and Justin. The music was incredible and pounding from 6pm until 3pm. The djs, kickin’, but what made the festival was that our new-found Solipse family all did poi and I had mine with me.

Fire Jeff Poi is used by the Mauri’s of New Zealand in a ceremonial dance. Basically, they are balls covered in kite tails with a string attached that you hold in your hand. You swing the poi around, twirling ”from the wrist” as Kate would say in a Poi Clinic. If it is done correctly, it looks like you are dancing and being encircled by two swirling orbs. If it is done wrong, well the poi just smack you upside the head or in the jewels and you start over. Not only did this group master the art of poi… they did fire poi… Sally and I were water patrol and extinguished their engulfed poi as they twirled and danced. When they lit up, people just stopped dancing and turned, staring at them mouth agape. It was mesmerizing. Simon and Kate were hypnotic. I shall never forget it. Simon was even filmed by a CNN crew that was there covering the eclipse. Simon dressed in UV, was doing UV poi which all glowed under black lights. Black lights were a big hit there.

So the eclipse. Hmmmm. Picture 8,000 people on something, sitting in the middle of a field in no man’s land Zambia, Africa wearing blacked-out 3-d glasses staring up at the sky saying, “ Beautiful man.” Actually it was very spiritual and cosmic. There was a medicine wheel, Shaman and a great vibe and energy there. And what moment wouldn’t be cosmic without an acid-tripping, hippy-dippy chick dressed in white, waving a silver-starred wand around proclaiming herself the Solipse Fairy and blessing festival goers?

It was a once in a lifetime event. Something neither Sally nor I will soon dismiss as just another moment in our travels. Nor will Jeremy and Amanda who got engaged during this auspicious moment. How cool is that? I danced until 4:30am, Sally until 5:30 and then three hours later we were off to Lusaka to take the bus back to Livingstone. What a way to kick off a year-long trip.

Copyright January 1999-2011
All rights reserved - Jeff Willner
Contact: jeffwillner@yahoo.com