Put the kettle on its going to be a long one. Really. You might need two cups.
I am going to try and write up the final month, running from Tanzania all the way through Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. I will try and keep it as brief as possible but as it is a full 30 days of action, might be tricky! Then you will have the emotional whirlwind of days 89 and 90. The two possibly hardest, most emotionally difficult, testing and hellish days of my trip. (possibly life). For those of you who don’t know, I was short by 77 kilometers. Whoever said “it’s how we deal with failure in this life that defines us” (did anyone ever say that??). I hate you. I’d much rather succeed first time.
Then to finish off I guess I will give a rambling retrospective, introspective, profound, waffly paragraph on the trip as a whole... I'm nervous! A tiny quick bit of admin, I have been COMPLETELY locked out of my Hotmail for at least the last ten days, I can’t see your emails, nor can I see the ones sent over the last few months. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, if you have emailed me over the last 3 months and I haven’t replied, forward it immediately to firstname.lastname@example.org. I WANT to reply.
I've had a good time inTanzania
As I mentioned in my last post, I loved Tanzania. It was so unbelievably refreshing not to be the Mzungu the whole time. The people didn't beg from me, they actually barely even looked at me. You might expect that this is because there are many more white people in Tanzania than Malawi, nope, there are much fewer. In the 2 or 3 weeks I was in Tanzania I saw 3 other Mzungus, two of which were in the only tourist campsite I stayed in (or saw), none even drove past me. The lone white man in Tanzania. The language in here was Swahili only, very little English, which again was perhaps the reason I enjoyed it so much – I didn't have to stop every 3 minutes for a chat!
The first thing I noticed in Tanzania was the introduction of Muslim slogans (Ibarik Akbar etc.) on the trucks and busses to add to the Christian and football ones, and also that East Africans really are football crazy, football mad. The busses, trucks and combis managed to often combine religion, ‘commercial’ promotion and football especially if the vehicle had traded hands between a Jesus Fanatic and and Arsenal fan for instance.
Two of my favourites were “Jesus Wenger”, which I know Gunners fans will empathise with, and “Jesus loves.... Mountain Dew” (Mown Tin Doooo!), of course he does. Who doesn’t?
I also really admired one guy, who by the looks of his ancient stickers hadn't redecorated his truck in at least a few seasons – clearly he had faith. “MOURINIHO CHELSEA” all over it, he knew he’d come back.
Another interesting thing about football fans in not just Tanzania but the whole of East Africa is that the biggest club there is not one you might recognise but a team called Fly Emirates.
“Who is your team???”
“eh? Who’s is your team??”
Ivan takes off cap to show the inquisitor the Tottenham Crest.
“Whatever. My team is Fly Emirates!! Fly emirates! Fly emirates!”
“I see, Arsenal? AC Milan?”
“Eh? Fly Emirates!!”
This was not just a one off, I had bought an AC Milan shirt in a market to use cycling and made lots of other friends, often wearing Arsenal shirts, but in fact we all supported one team.... Fly Emiraaaateesss!!! Brilliant.
After a couple of days on the main truckers highway heading up to Dar Es Salaam (all the way from Namibia/Zambia) I was a bit sick of trucks, a thin hardshoulderless road and a huge amount of fairly reckless, usually pissed truck drivers, I thought it was time to hitch. I needed to make up about 200kms, to get to a campsite that I had been aiming for since Namibia and having already done about 100km that morning thought I could afford the time off.
Up I climbed into a rickety old juggernaught with two guys who spoke no English. Lady Love perched precariously on the back with a live goat, some bananas and a very small amount of whatever was being transported for such a big lorry. Off we went. After an hour or so of bribing policeman (we had a cracked windscreen) and moving pretty slowly through the southern highlands of Tanzania, I was feeling sleepy. The non driver (these guys deal with bribes, weighbridges, paperwork etc etc etc) had just had a nap on the bed in the cab. “Me sleep?” – Hands miming sleep, pointing at bed, “hmmm” - they start laughing.
As I nestled down in the bed, no longer able to see my bike in the mirror, my wallet in between the two of them in the handbrake zone, I couldn’t help thinking “what would a normal person be doing right now?”, I think, certainly not sleeping in a Tanzanian Lorry! (If anyone’s interested. Great little nap.)
I made it to Kisolanza camp site where I was treated so kindly and generously. Richard the manager, before I had told him my story had already said I could stay for free. I then revealed that I had met the owner’s nephew in a campsite in Namibia and he had told me to come and stay, not only this but that Archie B, a friend of mine from school was the previous manager. By a very happy coincidence, Barnaby – the Nephew was up at the main house, a beautiful Tanzanian farmhouse, doing some work for his Auntie. It was a pretty monumental moment when he came down to the campsite to see me. “IIIIII’ve made it!!”, he was suitably impressed. Two months later. An amazing place with kind generous staff.
The rest of Tanzania was pretty amazing, friendly people who treated me as an equal (for the most part), Richard – a charming man who had me to stay in his farm yard, many new friends, very decent Chinese built roads, stunning Masai warriors dressed in deep purple, jewellery and a pair of Nike High-tops, amazing views, good camping spots, all good. Until my injury/illness double whammy.
I managed to cope with my knee thanks to a strong tail wind (Cue: Whoops and cheers) and after two days of serious illness I remembered that I had antibiotics in my bag.... rookie. However since these two started neither ever really went back to normal. The final 3 weeks were spent with a continual jippy tummy. The rumble in the jungle. Imodium no match for Africa.
My final day in Tanzania gave me a clue as to what was about to come, a massive climb out of Kigoma, up up up Rider cup, stunning views, banana plantations, on my way to the mountains.