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Author Topic: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey  (Read 11108 times)

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Offline Mzee

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The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« on: December 05, 2009, 04:37:23 pm »
I went to bed late and dog tired; it had been a busy day sorting out money issues, medicines, last minute chores. It wasn’t a laboured sleep but also one not so smooth as I drifted in and out of sleep. Among other things, this explains why I was very tired and decided to spend a day in Gaborone. The good news though: The big day had at last arrived.

I had not done all my packing when I went to bed.  I had to be awake by 4 a.m. to complete this most cumbersome task.  While I was showering, the troubling question was: How do you pack things you will need to last seven weeks, on a bike.  I read on the Wilddog Forum about what to include and exclude. The ideal is always easy to talk about but I’m afraid quite divorced from an actual trip. I had to take food and bike emergency stuff, gifts for folks, etc, yet you can only carry so much.  In the end, with the help of Fidele, my friend who is visiting and who will keep my house while I am away, this is how the loaded bike looked.

Meanwhile, Andy had agreed to accompany me to Tlokweng border (Botswana).  In all the time I have known him, if he says 7:00 it means 7:00.  I was annoyed with myself that I was only 50% ready when he   roared onto the driveway on his DL 1000 Vstrom.   The worst thing to do was to be uncharitable to a friend going this far. Let me spare you the details.

About three weeks ago, I decided to involve some form of media in my Johannesburg-Kampala Odyssey. I communicated with Udo Caralse – 702 talk show presenter.  So yesterday morning I was back on 702 radio to happily announce to ‘johannesburgers’ of my departure that morning, naturally this ate into my packing time.  

During the packing, I could not remember where I had kept my dollars.  You know how things tend to go wrong at the last moment of an event. I had the money in the morning, but now I just could not find it.  Fidele, his loving wife and I looked everywhere but all in vain. If I needed anything now it was intense focus and deep calm.  Some minutes later I remembered the money was in a side pocket of my camera bag – the relief was enormous.

Andy and I agreed that our departure was scheduled for 8:00a.m. I wanted to officially start off from Wits University. We were running late by my calculation.  I was hungry and had not eaten since the previous day, except I’d had two slices of Debonair pizza. In haste to start on time, I forfeited breakfast.  I was amazed where I derived energy to keep going.

It was clear except for some mushroom shaped clouds hugging the sky.  A hot day was in the making. Clad in my riding gear, it was a spectacle seeing my neighbours coming to bid me farewell, beginning with Grahams, then Paul, then Jennifer and finally I hugged the Fideles and slid on the saddle onto which I had tethered my Airhawk to massage my sitting apparatus during the long hours of sitting. I need to say that the Airhawk is one wise investment I made with reference to extras on the bike.

Without much ceremony we roared off and surprisingly we were on time.  We were at Wits School of Education in 20 minutes.  On arrival, I set the GPS and adjusted the odometer to count from zero.  At 8:05am. We rode-off down Empire road towards Soweto and eventually Lichhtenburg to avoid road tolls.  We cruised mostly at 120-140kms.  Then it hit me for first time that the odyssey was real.

Our first pit-stop was at Lichtenburg for petrol and a cold drink with Etienne who was to accompany us to Zeerust.  The ride to Zeerust was eventless.  Andy and Etienne bid me farewell; we parted ways. I don’t know if I felt the loneliness overwhelm me at that time because I’d always banked on Andy in case of breakdown.  One of the last things he gave me was a repair manual.  I did not want to think of it.  I kept it away and hoped I would never have to make recourse to it. Without much ado, I set off for the border post.  Cruising at a constant 120km I soon got to the Tlokweng Gate. I parted with 110 pula on the Botswana side, and my green light to Gaborone came on.  It was scorching hot.

In South Africa, I had relied on my phone for communication.  Now I was alone.  I needed a phone to call my friend.  At my first stop, I had 100 pula, the call was 1 pula for a minute.  Always carry small change; it saves a lot of discomfort. I rode to Riverwalk shopping mall.  Remember I was hungry; I knew something sugary would boost my energy levels.  Ice-cream – the joy of ordinary niceties! In that sweltering heat, it was the most desirable thing.

The Vstrom, especially a loaded one is a captivating sight. I think it is true for all bikes. They are always a spectacle to behold.  On the panniers it reads ‘Johannesburg’ – ‘Kampala’.  

 “So you are really going to Kampala?” a man asked.  
“Hmmm,” I mumbled between mouthfuls of ice-cream.

Later, I asked him if I could find a public phone.  He said I could use his cell to call my friend, Jonathan. For the complete stranger that he was, with loads of generosity for yet another stranger, I was totally humbled.  He later took me all the way to my friend’s place, where I had a cold bath, braai meal and a warm bed.  I simply passed out; ‘slept’ would be an understatement.

The trip was meant to continue on Saturday.  I woke up feeling like I had borrowed someone else’s body. Fatigue to the bone connived well with Jonathan’s encouragement for me to rest. The Livingstone leg of the trip could wait, the company of friends Jonathan and his loving girlfriend was too much to forfeit; not yet!  More important, I had time to tell this story. I had ridden 469kms and used 28 liters of petrol.

Blog: http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2009_11_29_archive.html

« Last Edit: December 05, 2009, 04:45:06 pm by Mzee »
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Online edgy

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2009, 04:39:07 pm »
Subscribed! :happy1:
www.astonesthrow.co.za

 BEER..."I drink it when I`m happy or when I`m sad. I drink it when I`m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. Trifle with it if I`m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it - unless I`m thirsty"
 

Offline Tuareg

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2009, 07:14:55 pm »
Present: Yamaha TW 200Husaberg FE 650KTM 990 Adv RHonda XR650R
Past: KTM 450 XC-WKTM 950 Adv
 

Offline BLIKSEM!!

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2009, 07:41:16 pm »
i dont want to put presure on you, but this looks like a RR for the "Roll of Honour"  ;)

 

Offline Onetime

Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2009, 08:11:01 pm »
Subscribed.
Onetime to live your life. No time to wait for someday or you will find that someday was yesterday.

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2009, 09:29:44 pm »
Subscribed! :happy1:
Me too.
Enjoy the experience and please don't forget to update this thread.
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Offline Xwagga

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2009, 09:44:02 pm »
Nice
My views on everything has changed over the past view months
 

Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2009, 03:28:14 am »
Horaay!! Youre off! Will be following this one every day!
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Offline DirtRebell

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2009, 04:59:10 am »
hier kom 'n ding!
 

Offline Griffin

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2009, 05:39:28 am »


You have a wonderfull writing style.
"I had ridden 469kms and used 28 liters of petrol."
Is that fuel consumption normal? :o
 

Online edgy

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2009, 07:16:35 am »


You have a wonderfull writing style.
"I had ridden 469kms and used 28 liters of petrol."
Is that fuel consumption normal? :o
16.75 kms/liter sounds fair with a loaded bike!
www.astonesthrow.co.za

 BEER..."I drink it when I`m happy or when I`m sad. I drink it when I`m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. Trifle with it if I`m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it - unless I`m thirsty"
 

Offline Doggone

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2009, 07:25:59 am »
Stay safe Mzee. Looking forward to following your journey on line!!  ;D
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Offline roxenz

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2009, 10:18:44 am »
Well done, you're on your way!  :thumleft: God speed and safe riding.  Looking forward to e-following you on this trip, Mzee.
 

Offline Pom

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2009, 09:35:09 am »
Best wishes Jaki, keep the chin up and make the most of a once in a lifetime experience.

All the best.

Andy
Success is a matter of hanging on, after others have let go.
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Offline Frog

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2009, 10:21:26 am »
Travel safely and appreciate every moment
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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2009, 12:34:13 pm »
Enjoy the trip Mzee!  :thumleft:
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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2009, 12:41:29 pm »
awesome  :thumleft:
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Offline Mzee

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2009, 06:44:12 pm »
 Blog with Pictures: I set off at 4:00 am heading for Kazungula border.  I was deeply grateful that the Jonathans had persuaded me to stay. I was feeling refreshed and ready to ride on. I started as is my custom with prayer and dashed to shower — a cold one.  I relished every drop of water as it rolled of my skin. It is possible this was my last bath for days.  In addition, my late mother, bless her Lord, used to say do something when you can; you never know.   As it were, in these travels bathing becomes a luxury when you are living rough.

As I cruised down the A3, I could not help thinking what a lucky man I was to have Jonathan for a friend. We had known each other for over ten years and during my visit we spoke from our hearts like good ol friends do.  We had prayed together in the morning and I had hugged them reluctantly, for parting is often heart rending.  I roared off without looking back. I knew they would abide with me in prayers.

I was grateful for my Zumo (Garmin GPS). One can almost ride blind and trust that it will take you there — the miracle of human ingenuity.  These devices work yet they can also be the joy and the cause of misery.  Well now it was working: I followed every instruction it beamed at me as I rode at a modest 80Km per hour to warm up the bike.  The sky was velvet black, the road was well lite and as the reflectors that mark the road bounced the light from my headlight, the night was turned into day.

A couple of miles, I came across a car parked with hazard lights on.  I stopped; there was a man inside. It was still dark and it was hard to tell whether he was just sleeping or something had happened to him.  Another driver stopped and we both tried to get the man to respond.  It went on for a couple of minutes and no response.  I decided to leave and asked the other man to handle the matter.

Francistown was 440kms away and was eventless.  I stopped twice.  But the beauty of this morning ride was to see the sun emerge behind the clouds on the eastern sky at exactly 5:37am: first the deep orange-red rays and then her, majestically clothed in deep orange-red colours.  I strode on arriving in Francistown by 8:30am. It was hard to find something to eat this early; I guess it was Sunday and Francistown was slow in waking up. Why the hurry. I found a quarter chicken eventually, bought some water and biscuits and was off to Kazungula.

About 200km before Kazungula, the road conditions changed — patches of tarmac and mostly ‘dirt road’ as we call it in South Africa.  I was thankful that I did the Honda dirt road training. I could ride this patches standing on the bike.  Sometimes it was scary but I guess you get used to it.   My only stops were for petrol.  I did see some elephants on the way.  I arrived at Kazungula at 2:30pm. That is when my troubles started.  

A young man came up to me and said he was willing to help me complete the process of border crossing.  I am a widely travelled man but it was a completely a different story at Kazungula.  The ferry could not take my 1 dollar bill notes.  They insisted on a bigger denomination.  My paying spree started then — 5$ first payment ferry charge. I went through customs then 10$ road tax.  This time the border official accepted my one dollar bills.  I did not mind the paying if that was how I was going to get through. The problem is everyone was trying to have a piece of me: they saw rand and dollars and not the person.  In the process, what would take you a couple of minutes to complete, took me until 5:30pm at every turn someone was trying to complicate my travel unless he can profited.  If this can happen to me, what would it be like to the rest of you?  I did not thing it was going to be smooth when I set out to this odyssey -- pains and joys are daughter and son of adventure.  To spare you the details, a young Revenue official who simply had a thing for bikes got into conversation with me – his blessed hand did the rest and I was on my way to Livingstone 60kms way having paid nothing more than the required fees and wondering whether Dr. David Livingstone had these same problems.

It appears to me that custom officials collude with all kinds of riff-raffs to get money out of unsuspecting traveler.  What also astounded me was the number of young man at the border post.  What are they all doing here?  Simple logic account for every penny you spend at the border.  Sometime it might not be that clear. Blog with Pictures now:

http://mzee-jaki.blogspot.com/2009_12_06_archive.html
« Last Edit: December 07, 2009, 06:46:15 pm by Mzee »
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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2009, 07:36:21 pm »
Enjoying! :thumleft:
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 BEER..."I drink it when I`m happy or when I`m sad. I drink it when I`m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. Trifle with it if I`m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it - unless I`m thirsty"
 

Offline Pom

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Re: The Johannesburg --Kampala Odyssey
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2009, 08:28:33 am »
At Mzee:
Are these the problems that the chap in Zeerust was talking about?
Success is a matter of hanging on, after others have let go.
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