Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Sun Shores and Spinning Spinning Spinning...

The journey continues and I have found out that Tanzania breeds horrible Lorries... Not only do they drive very fast alongside of you but they don’t slow down or drive ultra slow so you can jump on the back and they certainly don’t offer you a lift with waving actions from the drivers seat.  How selfish!  After many speedy annoying Lorries I later found out Tanzania have a law against heavy truck loads.  There are regular weighing bridges for the weight of the lorry to be checked before they are given permission to carry on with their journey.  So they drive fast as they are not all overloaded I presume this is to make sure they can climb the hills that Tanzania offer. 
Speaking of Lorries I made some fun and games on the bicycle.  It has got to this stage!!  I entertain myself while cycling through the countries of Africa and see how many responses honks waves toots I can accomplish by smiling, enticing and waving at Lorries.  They are on the road for a long time too which is why I have come to understand most wave back to fill their seconds into minutes making minutes into hours and so fourth.
Waving at Lorries has become such a natural habit.  While being told to hold Steves load on top of his bike as he was adjusting his panniers at mid stance a lorry drove past.  Not only did I let go of the load but I wacked Steves eye with my finger tips.

Often speaking to locals I try and explain what we do and why we are on the trip.  When we have a big stop we like to find our comfort zone; our triangle.  This triangle has a bed (rest), a restaurant (food) and the internet (communication).  After explaining the triangle to a local he came up with a great response “I guess that matches your nature”.  It made me smile his triangle is probably very different.

The Maasai tribal people are back.  I noticed the draped clothing and wrist and necklace accessories straight away.  Some still have the machete to kill any lions they happen to cross paths with.  Now I understand why the Maasai have the role of security in many establishments.  However skinny these guys look people know they have lived in the bush and fought for their lives on many occasions while hunting wild animals.  These semi-nomadic people are located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. 

While on route the reoccurring question that people have often asked is What are the differences between Africa and England.  I try and explain about the need for time punctuality and how being late is never good.  African time has another concept altogether.
I explain that people do not work hard in fields and in manual labour but most jobs are dependant and organised on computers.  The technical skills and fixing opportunities people create here in Africa is unbelievable.  Nothing is waste everything can be reused and recycled it is very interesting watching the hand craftwork delivered on the street.
Finally instead of ibis birds flying over in circles we have geese that are fly in triangular patterns on a mission south to much warmer climates as England is freezing.

They often look back at me in bewilderment.   I don’t mention the sun is bigger, the trees are bigger and the creatures are definitely double the size this would be even more confusing.
Yes I have reached central Africa.  It is a different world which I have relaxed into, continuing to learn and of course exercise.  Africa has definitely taken me back to basics in life - What a journey.
This is a nasty thought that I take it back already but hills are so much easier to climb when someone ahead is struggling with a fully loaded up the same route.  The local Chinese bikes that are imported look heavy and have no gears.  The native people carry everything / allsorts on their bicycles to sell at the local market.  This could be up to 30km away for some unfortunate guys that live in the bush.  I wish I had pictures of all of the objects I have seen transported by bicycle here are a few:

I thought I had got too relaxed; the wet seeping sides of my tent and the uncertainty of rain made us decide to sleep in a guest house.  Even with a working stove and sun burning skies at the end of the day, we were still paying pennies so there was no real decision to be made although Bear Grills would probably look down on us.  This is no survival, this is comfort.  The thing is Steve and I have struggled to predict the weather although the locals usually know (sixth sense).  A beautiful clear sunset in the sky does not mean it won’t rain.
Some say the rainy season was just ending others say it was starting whether miscommunication had anything to do with it I will never know.  What I do know is when rain falls in the tropics it heaves its way to the ground and I also know I bought my tent in Cairo which sees little rainfall.  I was not very well equipped.  My mobile home was not doing me justice.
We were very lucky on the cycling front; most occasions the rain came down heavily at night and the fresh mornings were a dream.  The mist filled my pathway; the cool temperature and mysterious outset was stunning.

Some days the rain trickled while the sun still shone.  This was a beautiful cool shower on the bikes but the pot of gold never appeared!

There was one particular storm on the bikes which I will never forget.  Bad times always bring better ones.  The rain was twisting in all directions I couldn’t see anything ahead.  It was a very lucky escapade as a german construction worker building the roads decided to pick me up and dropped me into this 5* bungalow village (like center parcs in Europe).  Determined as ever Steve cycled on but I think he appreciated me giving in to the lift when he arrived at the compound with a swimming pool.  Free food and drink, any wash please hand it to the cleaning lady.  This was all in the middle of the bush; a route we had been cycling through West from the Rwandan border to Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania.  This conveniently broke up our 10 day epic cycling mission – I think I would have been ok but at the same time this was the longest time I would have cycled (everyday for 10 days does not sound fun.)
The terrains were relatively flat and our fitness and natural speed had picked up from the Rwandan winding hills.  We arrived in Dodoma a day early.

April Fools

My way of life at the moment is making me more adaptable and laid back.  I find this is the easiest option to deal with everything that gets thrown at me.  On the 1April Steve decided to trick me in the traditional way and told me we had an extra 40km to cycle after Dodoma to reach the couch surfers apartment next to Dodoma airport.  After 5 days of straight cycling I often find myself getting very excited when reaching the destination even if it is a dirty street filled with traffic, shops, markets and people.
My comment was “Oh ok we can stay in Dodoma central tonight and finish off our cycle tomorrow morning” A very relaxed response Steve couldn’t keep up with it and shouted April Fools!!

Having cycled 9000km from Cairo looping around Uganda and Rwanda then East to Dodoma, Tanzania it was time Steve and I departed to make sure we appreciated each others company on return.  What a perfect time to do so, I took a bus straight to Dar Es Salaam and relaxed and read my book on the white beaches of Kigamboni.  The weather was overcast for one of the days so I ended up playing netball, painting and teaching English with kids at the local community centre.  This was another charity experience I walked across.  There are many small enterprises going on to help support and stabalise African communities and it is always fun to join in and see the smiles of thanks in return.
I then got a Ferry to Zanzibar / Heaven for a bit of rest and recouperation.  After months of non-stop travelling, adventure and cycling I can assure you it is still very easy and possible to relax on a beach, sunbathe and swim all day.  I was not restless as Steve suggested I might be; I enjoyed and appreciated every minute of it.

Yes it is a separate country from Tanzania like England is a separate country from Ireland and yes you do need your Yellow Fever certificate.  This is the beauty of travelling on my own as a female I managed to blag my way through the immigration office.
My couchsurfing experiences and the pure hospitality I found in Tanzania and Zanzibar made some really great memories.  I was spoilt, Thank you.

My final day in Tanzania heading to the Malawi border was astounding.  The morning was painfull – uphill and offroad so we deserved everything else to come. On the right stood miles of mountains, the green beamed off the hills and the shadows created the thick dimensions of the vegetation.  On the left I could see the infamous Lake Malawi and a horizon filled by flat plateau – our destination.  Singing and smiling to myself, scenes were stunning, cycling was perfect.  Yes you guessed it I was flying downhill for 50km all the way to the border.

On the road every day is different.  I carry on and I love it.


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