|From Tour d Afrique 2009|
The hotel is much nicer than I expected. It's big, 500 rooms arranged as a bunch of 8 room town houses. Cable TV, internet ($20 per day), beautiful pool area and great breakfast buffet. The grand lobby even has a faux sky painted on it's 30 foot tall ceiling. Little wag tails fly in from the courtyard and perch on a ledge up near the ceiling and tweet/wag/tweet/wag. I've made friends with one of the hotel staff, Muhamed. He likes cars (esp mercedes) and likes correcting my bad arabic.
Prep for the tour is as expected. Not as hectic as RAAM (yet) but lots of bike building meet and greet, protcol review etc... The TdA veterans seem to have everything dialed in. Not too stressful.
I've met all the TdA staff, they seem like a good bunch. 12 in all: 4 from Indaba (the overlander company) 2 TdA Veterans, and 6 newbies.
Randy and Miles, the vets are great. They're confident and have obviously done this a few times before. Miles is a bit more quiet than Randy, who does most of the talking during meetings, bu they are both friendly and helpful. Randy has a large purple birthmark on the right side of his face. I first met him at 5 am the day I arrived. He introduced himself, I looked at him and I said "what happened to your face?" Smooth.
The indaba staff are led by a South African named Vimpie. Probably the most experience guy on the tour. He's very charismatic, likes to joke around but when he needs to tell you something important he is very direct and clear. The rest of the indaba staff are made up of two other S.Afr. women and a Kenyan named George. George speaks Arabic, Ethiopian, Swahili and English!
The rest of the newbies are cool people. TdA obviously knows what to look for when it comes to staff. I'm off to breakfast right now, I'll dish some dirt on my fellow newbies later today.