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Author Topic: Mzungo Moto - ZA:Uganda:ZA - 17,400 km, 45 days, 12 countries, 15 months late  (Read 844 times)

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Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 32 – ERRANDS IN DAR – 0 kms (12,283 kms total)

A local tour operator decides to help me out with errands and recommends the MTEI express for a few thousand TSH cheaper than the other one. I go along with the idea.

I also track down 11 mm and 24 mm spanners and a set of long torx wrenches. It’s not too difficult to find motor oil that will work. Then I make my way to print instructions and tips from Adventurer for the job I’d need to do on my bike.

After brunch, I still need an oil pan, coolant, grease and a few other odds and ends to do the job properly. Somewhere between India and Libya streets I find most of what I need from the local spares shops.

After checking that I could find the Southern Sun during the daylight, I return there in the evening and meet Barry. Again, can’t thank you enough Barry for helping me continue my trip.

Back at the YMCA I end up having a couple of beers with some Israelis traveling through Tanzania. They seemed to believe I wasn’t seeing anything on my trip given the pace. I decided that was a good signal to stop drinking with the Israelis and out myself to bed early.
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 33 – DAR TO MOSHI VIA BUS – 0 kms (12,283 kms total)

I depart early at 05h00 from the YMCA for the bus terminal. It is total chaos there and I am forced to use a local with a hand truck to find my bus.

I am the only Mzungu on the bus and the locals don’t appear to like me for it. Someone tries to write over my ticket and give me one farther away from the luggage. I refuse and keep my vantage point.

Some other guy tries to sell me “security” for my package. When I asked why he didn’t charge anyone else and if it was Mzungu money he was trying to charge me, he laughed and slinked away embarrassed.

The bus smelled of vomit and several days sweat on too many bodies. I try to sleep for most of the way until the 11h00 stop for food. I also struggle to explain to the driver where I want to be dropped. After countless weigh stations and police check points, I finally get dropped around 14h30.

I am anxious to get to work on the bike, but Joey informs me that I left my parking lights on when I left. Knowing how special the battery is (I had a friend bring me a sealed one for my bike back from the US in his checked luggage), I am really concerned.

Dao, the lodge’s electrician, spends most of the afternoon with me trying to see if we can charge the battery. First with the generator, then with the solar system they have at the lodge. Eventually we get the bike started at 17h00, but the true test will be if it holds the charge still by morning.

With that in mind, I delay cracking open the engine case until the morning and enjoy dinner with Jenny, Joey and some new guests. The Honey Badger has a great vibe to it with these communal dinners.
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 34 – ELECTIONS IN MOSHI – 0 kms (12,283 kms total)

Cloudy weather slows my excitement to get started in the garage. I enjoy a leisurely breakfast with Nick, who is here learning Swahili while teaching English in one of the local schools.

I start on the bike around 09h00. The battery hadn’t taken the charge, so I jumped it to get the fluids flowing. By 10h00, I realized that the sump plug was going to be an issue.

I head into town for a smaller wrench (23 mm) and hope to be able to hammer it on to get the plug off. I really needed a 6-sided socket that was the right size, but couldn’t find one. After a lot of trial and frustration, I decided to just train the oil through the clutch housing. I don’t begin the real job until 14h00 or so.

Around 15h00 I realize I haven’t had lunch and walk across the street to a local store for a snack and a coke. I could hear the PA system from a nearby political rally. I was exhausted, covered in dirt and oil and wearing only shorts. I must have looked pretty odd to some of these folks.

The next thing I new, a crowd of five young locals came marching up to one of the lodge staff. One started hitting a female worker at the lodge repeatedly. Several of the lodge staff (including Sampson) intervened, but the crowd continued to shout and attack.

I kept thinking back to a scene in Shantaram and the same thoughts swirled in my head: “This isn’t my country. This isn’t my language.” But I couldn’t just watch. Before I knew it I was in the middle of the two groups with my knife out and pointed down in a clenched fist. I instructed the young activists to “go” as I pointed up the road from where they had come. Slowly, and carefully, they slinked away while picking up rocks in case I tried to follow them up the dirt road.

Everyone seemed to be okay, although the girl was pretty shaken up. I informed Joey of the situation, but there wasn’t a lot that could be done. I later learned that this young woman had mistakenly given this group the wrong directions to the political rally. They had assumed it was on purpose and returned for vengeance. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but so it is around election time.

I get back to work on the bike, but it is rough going. I finally get the clutch housing on around 19h30 and stop for dinner with the full intention of going back to work afterwards.  

Good discussion and food mixed with a few too many cold beers by the small hours of the next morning made that impossible.

I went to bed hoping for the best with my battery trickle charging overnight.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 01:17:50 am by Johnny-B-Good »
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 35 – MORE MAINTENANCE IN MOSHI – 0 kms (12,283 kms total)

The battery is not holding it’s charge now that it is back on the bike. Not a good sign, but I still needed to finish up the mechanics before I sorted out the electrical issue.

In my haste and inexperience the day before, I had put the clutch cover back on without putting the oil pipe in place. I vow to replace this piece with something more flexible if I ever buy another Dakar.

By 11h00 I am still putting things back on. I wrestle with the pipe for 2 more hours before breaking for lunch and asking for help to muscle it in place. With the pipe back in place, the clutch is no longer mated, so now more iteration. Finally by 15h00, the cover and pipe are back in place.

I fill the bike up with oil and coolant. Next, I bleed the coolant system. As I top off the oil, I notice a bit of milky foam and check with Adventurer about it. Seems to be okay.

Checking the bike once over, I notice the LHS indicators aren’t functioning. Dao and I trace the problem over the bike with a multi meter. Eventually we find the short in the front left turn signal, where two writes were shorting together. I hope this also explains the death of my battery – I could swear I didn’t leave the parking lights on.

It has been a long slog. It took me 3 days to do what would have taken Adventurer 3 hours. Sure, I didn’t have the right tools and there were some new issues that came up. Even still, I knew I was a bit exhausted and the extra time off the bike was likely a good thing.

I enjoy my last dinner that evening with Joey, Jenny, Nick and others. It dawned on me that motorcycle maintenance was a bit like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” when played correctly. I had done a lot of 50/50, asking the audience and phoning a friend in the past few days.

Still a long ways from Jo’burg, I hope for the best.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 01:21:33 am by Johnny-B-Good »
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 36 – MOSHI TO MIKUMI – 660 kms (12,943 kms total)

The battery is too low to start the bike. I jump it with an extra battery and go for a 20 minute test ride before heading out.

I fix a few rattles and pack up most of my gear. I take the clear view of the summit of Kili as a good sign (see pics) and grab breakfast quickly and then finishing packing up. I say goodbye to Joey, Jenny and Nick – all great friends to have met along the way and who made the last few days a lot more enjoyable than they could have been.

Finally I depart around 10h30. It feels great to be on the road again, but I am constantly worried about the bike. There are new rattles I hadn’t noticed before. The power output seems a bit shallower. I get 10 kph lower for the same RPMs that what I recall getting before.

I stop after nearly 300 kms on the B1 for petrol. The battery still has no charge, so I have to beg for a jump from some American tourists with two young kids. The guy recommends I try Veta in Mikumi if I am making my way towards Iringa. Will be tough to get to Iringa before it is dark.

The next 380 kms are some of the most beautiful in my entire trip. Perhaps I am just happy to not be on a bus as I retraced the A14 before Chalinze. But the A7 is truly stunning, especially once inside Mikumi National Park.

The contrast between the mountains, African plains and shrub growth is beautiful – like riding through a post card. I count antelope, zebra, buffalo, giraffe, monkeys, baboons and many others as I continue on. The sunset is gorgeous - just spectacular shades of orange, red and yellow contrasting with a fading blue sky.

I make it to Veta before 19h00 and parked the bike in front. With a quick bit of maintenance and tending to the chain, I wash up before grabbing some food and drink at their restaurant.

I really hope to find a battery in Iringa tomorrow and head to bed early.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 01:10:15 am by Johnny-B-Good »
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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...
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 01:11:02 am by Johnny-B-Good »
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 37 – MIKUMI TO IRINGA – 213 kms (13,156 kms total)

I slept almost 12 hours the night before. I must have needed it.

After packing up quickly, I push the bike over across the street for a jump from a local garage. Some of the guys offer to buy my bike, as usual…

I make my way towards Iringa on the A7. The first 30 kms are just as good as the best from the evening before. It’s like riding through the Lion King. Then the road works start for 100 km or so. It gets better outside of Iringa.

Once in Iringa, I realize I need cash, petrol and a battery. First thing is first: I go in search of cash. Given the location, I leave the bike running in front of the ATM so I don’t have to remove the skins and grab a jump only to do the same thing again at a petrol shop.

I ride from shop to shop along the road inquiring about a battery for my bike. Nothing seems to be big enough, have the right shape, and have the terminals on the correct side. All of that plus being a sealed battery would be a dream!

At one point I turn off the bike at a petrol station and a local named Aaron begins to help me look for a battery. We try using an inverter from a diesel generator, but I know how this story is going to end. Then we move onto the “battery specialist” up the road.

With Aaron’s Swahili and being able to understand my English pretty well, the owner of the electronics shop basically tells me my battery is screwed. I leave it as a sample and go back to fetch the bike.  For 5,000 TSH I am able to get a cab driver to tow me up the road on the bike to the electronics shop.

When I arrive, somehow they have found a battery. It’s the right voltage, but lower amp hours than the original. It’s smaller shape makes me believe I can cross the wires to get it to hook up. Miraculously, it starts the bike, even with its lower rating. A bit of Styrofoam on top and we are good to go!

I tip Aaron and thank him for his help. Then I make my way to Riverside Camp, where my Uncle had recommend I try to stay if I can. It’s a lovely spot outside of town. Very quite and next to a river. I enjoy the opportunity to set up camp in the daylight and fix my camp stove that had given me grief so many days before when I first pulled into Moshi.

I began to think I would make it back to South Africa after all.
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 38 – IRINGA TO LIVINGSTONIA, MALAWI – 582 kms (13,738 kms total)

My stomach has hated me for the last few days and I wake up at 06h00 needing to run to the toilet. I’m up for real again and finished with breakfast by 08h30. After packing everything up I move on from Riverside Camp around 09h30.

I make my way towards the Malawi border and meet the junction with the M1 around 13h30. The landscape changes around then. There is more of a jungle, and banana plantations are common. It reminds me of the border area surrounding and just inside Rwanda. The twisty roads are just as enjoyable.

After a petrol station lunch (not the wisest thing to do with a bad stomach, but I don’t want to skip anymore meals), I get to the border near Kyela by 15h00. I cross into Malawi just before 16h00 and enjoy the fact that time has changed back an hour.

It’s another 45 kms or so to Karonga, but I am especially excited to learn they have fuel. I heard chatter near the border that fuel can be an issue and note to myself to fuel up wherever I can.

I make my way another 90 kms down the road to the turnoff for Livingstonia. Along the way I can’t help but notice a lot of young peope, a few older folks and not a lot of folks in the middle. Also, it appears the only industry around is drying fish from the lake. Not the best smelling industry, but people look relatively well fed here at least.

The road to Livingstonia is the hardest technically of any on the trip. I couldn’t do it in anything but first gear and wasn’t quite sure how I would ever make it back down with the fat rear end of the Dakar skidding along behind me. Still, it was a fun ride and gorgeous views above lake Malawi.

I stayed the night a Lukwe Eco Camp. The Challets are cheap and had such a gorgeous view I couldn’t bother to pitch my tent. The whole place runs on solar and each chalet had a kerosene lamp. A spring near by offers great tasting and clean drinking water.

I ate dinner and a few beers with a South African named Jonathan touring around. We shared some interesting stories from our respective journeys.

I knocked off early to read my book by kerosene and listen to the nearby waterfall. We seemed to be high enough here the mosquitoes weren’t that bad.
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 39 – LIVINGSTONIA TO SENGA BAY – 495 kms (14,233 kms total)

In the morning I could really appreciate what the Lukwe Eco Camp had to offer.

The views from the chalet, breakfast table and even the outdoor shower are amazing. The solid composting toilets work really well and are extremely clean.

After getting some advice from the owner, I decide to go the long way to get back to the M1. There is no glory in falling off the steep trail I came up the evening before. After 60 km of beautiful dirt and sand back roads I found tar again.

I make my way to the coast near Nkhata bay. It appears Malawi doesn’t have 1 km of straight road, which is fine by me. It’s generally a gorgeous ride. As I ride on through Kande Bay, Chinteche and Nkhotakota I don’t see anything I need to stop for. Still, the “coastal road” is quite far from the shore so I will be the first to admit I might have missed something.

The whole country appears to live along the side of the road. From people going about their day, to children playing in the road, the odd bicycle with too many people loaded onto it, goats, pigs and piglets, cows, etc. The most disturbing was the frequency of coffin shops – the most heavily advertised institution in the country.

Another odd thing was that police check points seem to not apply to motorcycles. The police almost appear frustrated when I try to queue in line and they hurriedly wave me through.

I make it to Senga Bay and try to locate Cool Runnings. Unimpressed by the road that gets me there, I was pleasantly surprised when I finally arrived and pitched my tent around 17h30.

The place is owned by a fascinating women from Zimbabwe named Sam. She’s had an interesting life and has some great stories to tell. She helped me understand a little of what I saw along the road that day, explaining some of the statistics she has seen in helping out in local clinics.

The official HIV/AIDS infection rate in Malawi is somewhere around 30%. Based on the clinic work Sam does, she estimates it is closer to 60%. There is a whole generation missing because of the disease.

A Canadian couple staying there told their story about donating computer systems to the local hospital a year or so ago only to return and find none of it functioning and much of the equipment missing. Sam piped in with a far worse story of a woman from a local charity who ran an HIV/AIDS orphanage and essentially siphoned off donations to run around with her local boy toy. Now, I have no idea how true all of it is, but Malawi sure seems like a hard place to help.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 06:09:35 am by Johnny-B-Good »
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 40 – SENGA BAY TO CAPE MACLEAR – 166 kms (14,399 kms total)

I wake up just after 05h00 with the sun as it rises over Lake Malawi. By 06h00, I am being baked alive inside my tent and there is no longer any use pretending I can sleep longer.

I enjoy the morning while taking a few pictures and adjusting the chain on my bike. At breakfast I meet a young Dutch woman staying at the same lodge. I mentioned wanting to take a canoe out, perhaps to “bird turd island” a couple miles out in the lake. She asks to join me.

By 09h00 we’re in the canoe and paddling along. Some 20 minutes later we’re about half way to the island. Just as we notice this fact, be both look around a bit. Before we know it, we had lost our balance and over we went in the canoe.

We sped the next couple hours swimming the rest of the way to the island with the canoe in tow. I think that is the farthest I have ever swam in my life. Once there, the smell reaffirms the name and we flip the canoe over to empty out the water. As soon as we catch our breath, we hop in and paddle far enough away so as to not linger in the smell.

We carefully paddle back to shore in time for lunch. I then pack up and settle up with Sam before heading out.

It was a relatively short day to ride to Cape Maclear, but after the morning even less than 200 kms seemed like a lot. For the most part the road was good, but there were short patches of dirt every so often.

The last 20 kms are dirt tracks, but a good bit of fun if you can avoid the corrugations. I checked into Fat Monkeys around 16h30 and Carin (the owner) hands me a green (Carlsberg) as I set up my tent.  Nice place!

There are a lot of travelers, especially young students here. Many of them are passing through, others are teaching English nearby.

After too much fun and a long day, I make it to bed around midnight.
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 41 – CAPE MACLEAR TO BEIRA, MOZAMBIQUE – 1002 kms (15,401 kms total)

I’m up with the sun again, but the tree over my tent provides a bit more shade and I stay until the ten until almost 08h00. I clean up and feed myself before packing up and I’m finally off by 09h00. Later than I had wanted (especially since this would be the longest single day of my trip).

I hadn’t seen any fuel south of Nkhotakota and hear it isn’t much better for a while. I press on and hope for the best.

I get lost somehow making my way to the Dedza border crossing. What should have been 130 kms became 160 kms. It was a mix of dirt and road, so who knows what happens – maybe I was flinging that much gravel behind me the whole way?

The Dedza road is beautiful as Sam had promised. Just gorgeous mountain roads and twisties the whole way and well tarred. By 12h30 I clear the border.

The road that connects Dedza to the 103 and onto Tete remained great. There just was nothing around. Every once in a while I’d see a few people, a cow or a goat, but that was it. Just me and some beautiful mountain roads to ride through.

About 160 kms outside of Tete, the fuel light comes on. There hadn’t been any fuel since I had entered Moz and I doubt there would be any before Tete. I had seen the black market stuff being sold on the side of the road here and again, but didn’t want to use it if I didn’t have to. I just don’t trust it won’t have water or something else in it.

I push on towards Tete. 5 km before fuel (according to my GPS), the engine begins to sputter and lose power. I pull over.

Within a few minutes I was able to flag down a bakkie. With my Spanish and his Portuguese, we were able to understand each other. He towed me a couple kilometers down the road to an intersection where I could purchase two liters of black market fuel. Somehow, I had managed to change a little money at the border and could pay the 3x markup.

There is no petrol before the Zambeizi bridge, so I move on to cross it. This bridge is perhaps the largest infrastructure mess I had seen in my entire trip. It was pure chaos. They had never finished building the thing before opening it, but instead opened one side at a time. Now, they switch from one side of traffic going and then the other. But the heavy loads do so much damage, that they are constantly repairing the bridge. Also, this is Africa, so when traffic switches it is quite often a matter of who is bigger, cares about their vehicle less and more fearless than the other. If I hadn’t run out of fuel 2 kms before, I shutter to think what would have happened to me if I had run out while on that bridge. Oh, and did I mention it was over 40 degrees Celsius? Yup!

I am able to grab fuel shortly after crossing to the other side. It is now 16h30 and I have no interest in staying in this place.

I push on for another few hours and fumble with my sun glasses as it gets dark. I end up popping out one of the lenses at 120 kph. Despite retracing the road, no luck finding the lens.

With a few more hours riding in the dark (bad idea, but it was a full moon) I made it to Beira. My GPS didn’t seem to notice the difference between tar and sand roads as I searched for a place to stay.

Eventually I find Biques, which is little more than a sand lot on the beach with a restaurant next to it where they let me camp. They were closing up, but offered me a few slices of pizza and a beer before they were off.

I am extremely happy to put head to pillow that night.
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 42 – BEIRA TO VILANKULO – 544 kms (15,945 kms total)

I wake up in good spirits. The late food an rest had made the world a lot better after a 1000 km day the day before. Still, I find it hard to leave the beach and don’t depart until 10h30.

I spend an hour in search of fuel and sunglasses. They weren’t my favorite, but for ~16 ZAR, I got what I paid for.

I had planned to make it to Maxixe or Inhambane by the end of the day, but I don’t think daylight is on my side. Also, I didn’t want to push my luck with night riding after such a long day yesterday.

On the hot tar roads inland, it feels like being baked to death. I have to stop to cool off once and refuel with coke, carbo junk food and chocolate. There I decide to aim for Vilankulo instead. I have no idea what the place means in Portuguese, but I snickered to myself at the very rough Spanglish translation of “Evil Ass” inside my helmet.

The roads can be a bit bumpy, but for the most part are well paved until you get into town. Then it appears the locals forgot how to use tar as the roads are inevitable made of sand for the last 2 km bordering the beaches.

My GPS is having some sort of brain failure (perhaps left over from the crash on day 2 where it became a projectile). Instead of following it I follow signs to a decent place called Bilbao Backpackers.

They had a clean dorm available for 20 ZAR more than camping and I take it. I enjoy the rest of the evening outside while sipping beers and reading and writing about the trip.

The power shutting off at 8 pm was a convenient excuse to get a bit of rest and fall asleep with my headlamp on.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 06:09:58 am by Johnny-B-Good »
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 43 – VILANKULO TO TOFO – 334 kms (16,279 kms total)

I wake up to a strange noise at 06h30. Fearing rain, I am happy to learn it is just wind, but a storm is coming in.

After a walk to the beach for a swim, getting cleaned up properly, my go-to English breakfast and packing up, I decided I’d try to get to Tofo beach today. I depart the backpackers by 10h30.

As I head up the sand roads, I see a kiosk selling sunglasses on the side of the road and pull up next to it. I don’t like the pair I picked up the day before and I haggle over a pair of $5 Oakley’s. Although less than a meter away from my bike, someone unzips my tank bag and grabs what they can before I turn around.

Once I do, I quickly look at what is there and isn’t and realize my headlamp is gone. It’s not the end of the world, but it was a gift and had been with me on some good trips. I wanted it back.

I think about options – I have a knife on my side as usual, but there are at least 15 people standing around and I have no idea who to point it at. Even if I did, that sounds like a good number one item on things not to do when in rural Mozambique. Besides, I am not sure how it will help me get what I want.

Then I recall Jonathan’s trick. He was the South African I had dinner with in Livingstonia. He used to be big into hang gliding and he said he’d always get crowds of people in the bush surrounding him where he would land and he’d need to clear them away to pack up the glider. The easiest way was to put one in charge of helping you do just that.

So, what the hell. Worth a try. I went up to the guy who sold me the sunglasses and told him what was missing. I explained that he had sold me the sunglasses and he really needed to sort it out. He started speaking to the crowd, within seconds several people were pointing at one guy. The next thing I new he was being held up against a wall and the mob emptied his pockets.  They quickly handed it back to me, apologized and asked me to come back again soon.

I still don’t know why this works, but it does.

After grabbing petrol, I make my way towards Massinga. The road is pretty new, with only two deviations for road works.

The road all the way from Massinga to Inhambane is filled with coconut plantations. I had never seen anything like it.

I arrive at Bamboozi around 16h30 after heeding warnings about Fatimas down the road. Off the bike, by quick inspection revels some coolant weeping out of the weep hole and that the bike was a bit low on oil. I topped up the fluids and planned to check again more frequently tomorrow.
 

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DAY 44 – TOFO TO MAPUTO – 453 kms (16,732 kms total)

My starts continue to be slower than I’d like, but I go with it and depart around 10h00.

I am worried about the coolant weeping. I get lost in Inhambane and stop in the first major town I can for coolant. Then I ride a bit outside of town to get away from people and strip down the bike to add coolant. Seriously, BMW, I love this bike, but could you fix this MAJOR design flaw?

On the side of the road in the middle of no where I am soon joined by a few kids. Five becomes 10. Ten becomes 20 and soon there are 50 kids around me watching everything I do.

I have no leverage and Jonathan’s trick doesn’t seem to be working. The kids are getting more adventurous and starting to touch pieces of the bike, spare bolts and tools. All I need is for something to walk off and really crap on my day. SO I grab a big stick and beat it on the ground and yell until most of them scamper off – no, it wasn’t nice, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. Now I had to put everything back and get out of there quickly!

I push on. The EN1 keeps dipping inland and it is hot, perhaps 35-40 degrees Celsius. It is a long way to Maputo and I am thankful I stopped the day before where I did.

About 50 km outside of Casa Lisa (the guest lodge I planned to stay at outside of Maputo), I see clouds on the horizon. Soon there is a bit of rain, which is actually very refreshing. The hail is less enjoyable.

When I pull off the main road, the recent rain has covered up all texture on the dirt path. I found my way into some soft sand and had my last little spill with the bike. I even took a picture of this one as I felt like a grown man that had fallen in a child’s sandbox!

I brush myself off and check into Casa Lisa’s. There I join a couple of Americans and a South African for dinner and a few drinks before heading to bed.
 

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deleted a duplicate post - sorry
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 01:11:58 am by Johnny-B-Good »
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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DAY 45 – MAPUTO TO JOHANNESBURG – 647 kms (17,379 kms total)

I wake up rested from the best night’s sleep in a while.

After a quick breakfast, I tend to the chain a bit and notice coolant has been weeping out of the bike all night. I top it up as well and just hope to get the bike home.

I run a couple errands (including shopping for a beer T-shirt to add to my collection). Around 11h00 I leave Casa Lisa and head towards Maputo.

I know some people rave about Maputo and love the place. For me, it was a bit of a dreary day and everything was wet and dirty within a 30 km radius of the city. The people choked off transit and it was difficult to navigate on a bike.

There are a lot of police check points and traffic stops. Most of them wave me on as I have become accustomed. One looks pretty serious about stopping to harass me, but I pretend not to notice and speed on my way out of town. It was another 30 km out of town before I felt I could breath normally. Perhaps I had become too accustomed to open roads and few people for my own health!

I fill up with fuel once more before heading across the border. No issues at the crossing, except for the normal need to change money for some road tax or other I didn’t understand.

Riding through Swaziland makes me thing of a road trip Siru and I had taken with the dog. We had almost got thrown out of a nature reserve for smuggling the puppy in. Really starting to miss home now and I press on quickly, but enjoying the ride.

It’s starting to get cold, but no rain yet. I arrive at Hwane lodge before 16h00 and take a look around. It’s a lovely place and I am sure I would have stayed there, but I just felt the need to get home. I checked my guide book for when the border would closed and decided to make a go for it.

Funny enough, the border crossing back into South Africa is the worst of any on the trip. The queue was a disaster, everyone was pissed off at each other, no one knew where to go, etc. After negotiating an extra couple weeks on my visa (I’d need it to pack up my stuff and move out of Jo’burg), they finally let me clear the border around 17h00.

Now 340 kms from home, I have to fight the urge to fly through the roads as fast as possible. I know the home stretch is where most people get hurt, and I’ve felt why. You’re so close; you start to relax before you’re finished. I stop in Carolina for Wimpys and remind myself of these facts.

The last 200 km are all will power. I just want to be home.

It was a great thing to finally make it and see smiling faces I loved.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 06:10:48 am by Johnny-B-Good »
 

Offline Johnny-B-Good

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REFLECTIONS SINCE IT HAS TAKEN ME 18 MONTHS TO WRITE THIS ALL UP

I promised myself I’d never do another trip longer than 30 days or 10,000 km solo at the end of this trip. Yet, I still have the itch and it ebbs and flows all the time. I had to write this up as I bought myself a 2005 Dakar here in the US in January that I’d like to ride between Argentina and Alaska. I just couldn’t start thinking about that journey without repaying my debts and learning from this one.

So, there were three reasons to write it all down now:
1). Again, to thank everyone who was part of my trip and especially the riders of this Forum.
2). To re-live all of it, and see if I am really in the state of mind to do another big trip again.
3). Having achieved #1, give myself “permission” to order parts and fix up the new Dakar.

I sincerely mean it when I say I couldn’t have done this trip without the Forum. Some day I hope to live in RSA again and really look forward to riding with many of you when the time comes. In particular, Adventurer: there are countless times I may have given up on my dream without your help and support.

I’m not quite ready to do another long trip. I think I’ll know in the next 6 months if I need to get my head straight about life and the timing is right. But at this moment, I’m not ready to do it again. Perhaps I’ll take it in segments and get friends to join me along the way. I may be able to convince my dad to join me to go up to Alaska and back from the bay area if it were quick enough. Not yet sure if I know anyone crazy AND trustworthy enough for the down leg. I had what could only be described as PTSD for a couple weeks after this trip (read: I woke up with nightmares being stuck in deepest darkest Africa with a broken motorcycle and a knife). It is non trivial to go through that with someone else. My father isn’t even sure he’d want to see me that way.

One thing is certain – I am ordering parts. We’ll see how well the bike gets used in the next couple years, but I’d like to get her 80% ready to do an Americas trip and see if life puts the pieces in the right places to make it happen, or not.

Thanks to everyone for reading – ride safe, cheers and keep well.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 01:05:39 am by Johnny-B-Good »
 

Offline White Rhino

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JBG, you covered some serious turf on this adventure ride. Thanks for sharing.

I sensed that at time it seemed more about the destination than the journey. Maybe that's because you were on your own. Doing it with someone might change the dynamics. Just a thought.

Anyway the bug's bitten, the next one's on its way :biggrin:
I'd rather have a full bottle in front of me than a full frontal lobotomy
Nothing clears the head like a throttle twisted and the fresh air on the tip of the nose

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Offline Johnny-B-Good

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JBG, you covered some serious turf on this adventure ride. Thanks for sharing.

I sensed that at time it seemed more about the destination than the journey. Maybe that's because you were on your own. Doing it with someone might change the dynamics. Just a thought.

Anyway the bug's bitten, the next one's on its way :biggrin:

WR - it's a good point, and one I've thought a lot about. The pace I made was pretty hectic. I am glad I did it given the circumstances, but I'd do the next one differently.

I'd love to do a trip without an end date. That would be the dream - all journey! We'll see if I can pull it off.

Thanks for reading!
 

Offline wildside

An amazing ride and well done. Spending time with the gorillas is such a special experience and  worth every penny. You have clocked up some wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing them. :thumleft:
"Heading out to where pavement turns to sand"
                                                         Neil Young

RIDE REPORTS:
*Namibian Meander 2009 * Botswana 09 *A(nother) Sani Sunday * Saturday Ride Fever * Welcome to the Wildcoast * Riding the Rift ~ East Africa 2011 * In and out of Snow Valley * Wildsides ride to the Bash 'n back *  Bali with my Baby~2013  * Unwrapping the Cape for Christmas~2015 * Back to Bots~Kubu Island @ High Tide 2016 * A Piece of Pondoland~2018 *Squaring the Circle