“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”
A week into Linda’s visit I was finding my routine in paradise, enjoying the views of Zanzibar’s beaches, the quiet life, good company and getting started on my book. Sadly only two days after writing the following for my first chapter, Linda got the call.
“Some goodbyes were weird or painful. My relationship with my parents always just carries on where if left off, whether I come back from shopping or a year on the road. Despite that my mother was unusually worried this time round, apparently Africa is dangerous?
Linda’s father, now a good friend had prostate cancer and was going downhill. The chances of him being around on my return were almost zero. This made for a very emotional evening for everyone.”
24 hours later Linda was on her flight home and I’d gone from a $70 hotel in paradise with my best friend back to being alone in a $4 room at YWCA on one of Dar es Salaams noisiest streets. The culture shock for both of us was immense to say the least.
I’d planned to leave Dar quickly but had found a cafe with great coffee, awesome food and the fastest internet I’ve experienced in Africa. Four days later and a lot fatter, I was done with my new website www.wintercycletouring.com , had sent out the first tentative emails about work next year and had had enough of trying to prostitute myself out to potential sponsors. Luckily by being occupied in the cafe I was oblivious to the riots and tear gas just 2 blocks away and outside the YWCA. It’s a little sad that a naive bet between two children can turn into a religious battle, but so is the twisted world we live in!
The road works on the road to Bagamoyo were as bad as ever so the following day I was happy to hit the quiet dirt roads North of Bagamoyo. By lunch time I found myself at the gate of the Saadani National park expecting to be turned back.
It’s quite amusing that what is a fairly featureless sand track all of a sudden gets very interesting just by paying $20. I guess the hint of adrenaline at the prospect of spotting one of the park’s Lions or many Elephants and Buffalos makes any bicycle safari more interesting. The looks on the faces of “Safari Tourists” when they saw me having a break was prices less though.
20km later I found myself in the village of Saadani and hadn’t seen any wildlife of great interest. The “Saadani tourist center” offers a tourist campsite at $30 and rooms from $40. I was a little offended but not surprise at this typically African tourist milking. I didn’t see the point in paying $30 just to sleep behind a fence in a featureless, uninteresting campsite so had about set myself on wild camping just outside of town. As I walked away the park ranger had taken the hint that I wasn’t going for the tourist option and pointed out that there was a local guest house in the village for $10. Five minutes later Mr Hyde was parked in the room and I was enjoying an ice cold beer at local prices.
The following morning I attempted an early start in the hope of spotting the still illusive Lions ( I have seen Leopards, Cheetahs, Elephants and thousands of various kinds of Boks in Africa, but the lions still are hiding from my socks). Two hours later I was leaving the park disappointed at only seeing one giraffe, some heart beast, Warthogs and a few other things that should be on the BBQ).
The following two days were a pleasant but almost uneventful ride along the coast on a fairly poor road to Tanga. About 20km before Tanga the combination of being tired from yet another 4am wake up call from a mosque next door, heat, humidity, a moments lack of concentration and a pothole meant I came to a grinding halt with my shoulder. As my shoulder hit the ground I heard a loud crack and thought bugger, that’s my collar bone, game over. I waiting for a few seconds for the pain to start but nothing came, so I stood up dusted myself off and checked Mr Hyde out, the only damage he had was that the lowest bottle cage had broken off.
Once in Tanga I was forced to take four days off to let me knee recover from the crash. But with a nice view and a cool sea breeze it wasn’t the end of the world to stay put for a few days. Tanga is another great example of colonial collapse with a yacht club and a few other small institutions desperately still trying to keep up appearances.
I had originally planned to take the back roads through the mountains to Moshi and Kilimanjaro, but with my knee not being 100% I decided to take the easier route on the main road. The road from Dar/Tanga to Moshi though beautiful is horrible to ride, its narrow and the main bus/truck route heading north. I’m now regretting taking this route but I wasn’t in the mood to rest my knee for another week in Tanga, such is life.
Anyone know what these pineapple on steroids are? It seems that the leaves are harvested for something.
From day one I said I wouldn’t climb Kilimanjaro, but as I get closer it becomes tempting, but I get that if I get close to any mountain. For me it’s equally tempting to climb Mount Meru or Mount Kenya, these two being a lot cheaper and less busy, making them much more attractive.
Not the detract from the achievement of others or their wish to climb Kili. For me it would go against pretty much every principle I have about Travel, Tourism, Self supported adventure, box ticking, tourist tax and environment raping. Not to mentions I’m cheap and would rather see the $1000 invested in my next tent and sleeping bag for future adventures rather than a 5 day hike.
All easily said 120km from Kili, let’s see if I still have my resolve in a couple of days once I see it….For now I’m using my knee as a convenient reason not to even consider it, the last thing I need right now is a long term injury.
And that’s that, just another couple of days and Shane Cycles Africa is one year old, and a couple of weeks after that Shane Cycles Africa will be over. My knee’s recovery in Moshi will dictate if I take the boring and busy main road to Nairobi which will take 3 days, or a more interesting route that will take two weeks, I know which I want to do………