An African Adventure Safari

 

Not Your Usual African Safari

 

The Vuria Lodge - Voi, Kenya
Vuria Lodge - Voi, Kenya

 

 

June 1981 - After a rigorous month of patrolling with the US Navy Task Group around the Persian Gulf it was time for a visit to Mombasa, Kenya for some much deserved and needed R&R.

 

Petty Officer Yeoman 'Von' Klimpel, Leading Seaman Fire Control Gary 'Jonno' Johnson and Able Seaman Radar Plotter Paul 'Action Man' Cross managed to extract me from the Chief Petty Officer's Mess onboard the Royal Navy Frigate HMS Bacchante where I was almost unconcious from being filled with Navy Rum. The blokes poured me into the Kombi Van we had hired and after a brief stop at the Castle Hotel where the boys picked up a large quantity of Tusker Beer and a shell road map (whilst I continued to finish myself off) we sallied forth into deepest, darkest Africa.

 

After the first night, which we spent in the Police Barracks at Taveta, for we had unknowingly and illegally crossed the border into Tanzania and were escorted under arms back out, we continued on to Amboseli National Park to have a beer with the Masai whilst watching the sun set on Mt. Kilamanjaro.

 

Many days were spent motoring around the Serengetti etc having a beer with anyone who cared to join us, and there were many, for the locals were rather partial to a cool ale, or for that matter, a hot one.

 

One of our stops was at a village called Voi where we seeked out lodgings for the night. It was dusk when we pulled up at the Vuria Lodge (pictured above) and low and behold it had a bar which was full of locals from the 'Taita Tribe'. Festivities were in full swing and the locals not knowing who we were or where we came from kept their distance. Whilst obviously we were the main topic of conversation. The juke box was blaring out songs in Swahili and the locals were becoming quite intoxicated. Late into the evening when everyone was full of lunatic soup (including us) we were approached by a number of local lads who inquired, of all things, who our president was. We informed them that we were Australian and that we didn't have a president but a Prime Minister called Malcolm Fraser. We were unaware that good old Malcolm was well known and loved by the Africans. The mood suddenly changed when word spread around the bar that we were Mal's boys and the locals warmed to us in a manner that was quite humbling.

 

Next we found ourselves being made to listen to the local men and women singing their tribal songs and being instructed on how to do the Taita 'Two Step' (tribal dance). We applauded them loudly after each rendition and when they finally finished we were instructed that it was out turn to sing an Australian song.

 

We could not let them down and to keep the festive mood alive we belted out at the top of our lungs, with a drunken passion you had to hear to believe, the most stirring rendition of 'Up There Cazaly' ever sung in the history of the world.

 

As anyone who is familiar with the song it is about Australian Rules Football and contains versus about 'fighting to win', 'in there and fight', 'up there and at 'em', etc etc. The local populous went ballistic! I doubt they had ever heard such nationalistic fervour in all their lives. The standing ovation at its conclusion went on interminably, we felt like the Beatles live on stage at Carnegie Hall. There was much back slapping and accolades and even the locals continued humming the tune long after we finished.

 

 

The Original Up There Cazaly - A number one hit song in Australia

 

 

We didn't realise until the next morning, when we went shopping for more provisions (beer) in the local village square, that we were the talk of the town. We were approached by a delegation of elders who told us in Swahili that our song was Monte Bella i.e. number one - the ultimate, the very best etc etc. Not understanding the true nature of 'Up there Cazaly' they believed it was an Australian "WAR" song and reckoned we must have been the greatest warriors God ever shovelled guts into.

 

After filling our 74 Litre rubbish bin with more Tusker Beer we departed the village of Voi with the entire population turning out to give us an extremely emotional farewell - with the strains of 'Cazaly' emanating from the Kombi wagon we waved goodbye as we disappeared into the African Outback. Filled with everlasting memories of the people of Voi.

 

 

Aftermath of of the night at Vuria Lodge - Jonno (flaked) didn't quite make the final act of retiring.
Jonno just makes it to his bunk after a hard night - Vuria Lodge