I hope things are well with you all. Here the adventures
are seemingly over; East and Southern Africa (south of Mount Kenya,
that is) should be relatively easy. I, of course, still manage to
add a little spice to things....
I'm presently reading Robert M Pirsig's 'Zen and
the Art if Motorcycle Maintenance.' I tried it a few years ago and
it was very hard going, mainly because I wasn't sure what planet
RMP was from. Now it is much clearer.
The more I ride the wife, the more I'm impressed.
I hope, I'm not speaking too soon, but with all the abuse I'm putting
her through, she just keeps on truckin' (Editor's Note: Was
he speaking too soon!). Babe, we've still got a long way to
Before moving onto the report, more ramblings...
Turgut, a Turkish friend from Istanbul, wants to do a cartoon of
my adventure... In the mean time, here's a plot for an, I believe,
I star as myself, a Basil Fawlty/ Victor Meldrew
type character, dressed as Baron von Blixen in a pizza deliverer's
uniform, in a new vastly improved version of 'Out of Africa', to
be called 'Out of Egypt'. The final scene sees me riding into the
sunset with a huge dust cloud behind... Shouting "I'm outta
here' and 'Zis iz ze real Afrika'. The curtain falls and the audience
is left with a rap of Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' and Steppenwolf's
'Born to be Wild'. What do you think???
She is now a 'collector's item'
The 'road' from the Ethiopian border at Moyale to Isiolo (about
50 clicks north of Mount Kenya) can be described as 'challenging'.
It took me 5 days to ride 500km. After the first day, I spent the
next one in a hamlet called Marsabit, reassembling the wife. She
is now a 'collector's item'... bits fall off and I collect them.
The 'nice' corrugations caused my sub frame to snap again, the bashplate
to fall off, the spotlight on my crash bars to fall off, I stuck
a hole in the right-hand rocker cover, causing a little bit of pollution
involving engine oil to spill onto the road (3 cheers for metal
cement - kindly supplied by a German couple in an Iveco truck) etc
etc. After dropping the bike for the 5th time in rather large bolder
strewn ruts (the wide Boxer engine and inadequate rubber, as well
as my tiredness didn't help matters) meant that I was not the happiest
Then (not the same day!)... 4 hours to travel 2
km through some top mud. With 2 local lads pushing and stopping
every 10 or so metres to remove the cement-like clay/ mud that was
jamming both wheels (they build houses from it here!!!!) from the
wheel arches. I know what the smell of burning asbestos (the clutch)
African Nativity Play
This, by the way, was Christmas Eve and as fate
would have it, I ended up at a Catholic mission station in Laisamis,
where they did an excellent welding job on the frame and I saw an
African Nativity Play with two hundred locals in their best dress
and tribal costumes with simulatious translations from Italian to
English to Kiswahili to Samburu as well as a satellite telephone
linkup with a Church in Bari, Italy! Not bad really. Christmas Day
was spent on the road and in the evening in Isiolo repairing a puncture
and talking to a French rose-seller/ drug-dealer from Ibiza.
The few days up to New Year's were spent sorting
out rubber, servicing the wife and chilling. I got lots of help
from Rick of Rick's Bikes and Vic Preston's with repairs and sub-frame
strengthening. Thanks guys.
New Year's at Upper Hill Campsite and in a dubious
nightclub in Nairobbery was a bit of a non-event, but hey, I could
have been at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich!
People say about Africa 'Life is cheap'. Slightly
adapted, if you say it with a German accent: 'Life is sheep', or
possible 'death is sheep' or whatever... In the last report I spoke
of gormless goats and docile donkies. I didn't mention suicidal
sheep. The problem with sheep is that they have absolutely no brain
whatsoever and are quite large, but still very mobile. Goats are
small (ish) and if you hit one, it's probably like driving over
a pothole. Donkeys tend to be quite immobile and are unlikely to
be able to do a swift u-turn and try to take you with them on their
You've guessed it... I belted a sheep while doing
about 80km/h, high-sided it and did a bungyless bungy jump 20 metres
down the road and the wife slid upside down for about 15 metres.
Luckily there were no handy cars, trees, walls to cause my deceleration.
The sheep was as dead as a 'did parrot'. As well as shock, my only
injury was where my Psion (now broken) palmtop computer buried itself
into my left hip. I was wearing the full gear with Kevlar reinforced
cordura clothing and army boots and a good helmet. If you see any
idiots in just jeans and a tee shirt, please tell them my story!
I was very lucky to be travelling with Dirk, Kiki
and Rocca from Germany in an Unimog. They appeared on the scene
and were my saviours. Rick and Vic in Nairobi checked the bike out
and did necessary (very minor) repairs. With the cosmetic scaring,
the second hand value of the wife is now about the US$1100/750 squids
declared on the Carnet de Passage. As she's not for sale, who cares
anyway. So children: If you want to collide with a sheep, do it
in at least a 10 ton truck and not on a motorcycle!
Ted Simon suggested that if things were going well,
you could always run out of fuel deliberately. Things were going
well, but I recon my sheep stunt was taking this train of thought
a little too far!
Protect you family, use a condom
I saw a couple of amusing signs in Kenya:
'Protect you family, use a condom' and another 'Beware: workers
working on the road'...
After my little adventure avec le mouton and generally
realising how low in the pecking order I come in the minds of the
crazed Kenyan demons that drive matatus (minibuses) and buses, I
decided to increase my life expectancy dramatically by leaving Kenya
The border crossing from Kenya to Tanzania was as
uneventful as the crossing from Ethiopia. As it was a public holiday,
the Kenyan customs woman wanted some 'overtime money'. I told her
I had none (as I had genuinely spent the last of it on fuel) and
she let me off!
After passing through Arusha the excellent tar sealed
road led to the nicest piste (since the last time I had a nice piste
in Ethiopia) to Karatu where I managed to hitch a lift with a very
pleasant couple from Holland called Maik and Maaike, in their rented
Landcruiser into Ngorogoro Crater. Many nelliefants, hippipottimice,
simbas at a kill, a mum and baby rhino and the usual zebras, flamingos,
wildebeest etc etc were seen. A top day out, particularly as I now
(since my robbery in Jordan) only have a 35-135 lense and so could
enjoy the views for what they were without constantly trying to
The Tanzanians seem to be better drivers than the
Kenyans or maybe it has something to do with the police actually
doing their job. There were police every 10 or so km on the road
to Dar es Salaam. They generally seem to be more relaxed than the
Kenyans. It is still, however, a constant pain to have to get the
price of everything down from 10 times the market rate to something
within the realms of credibility.
In Moshi I camped in the garden of the 'Golden Shower'
restaurant and had a great view if Mt Kilimanjaro from the tent
door in the morning. I am slowly getting used to rising (on travel
days) at dawn (6am), because if you're only on the move at ten it's
an absolute killer. Being in bed my ten pm helps here too!
In Lushoto, a former German colonial hill station,
I stayed (or rather camped) on the ex-golf course at the Lawn's
Hotel, allegedly the oldest hotel in Tanzania. On the petrol generator
powered satellite TV, I watched Arsenal vs. Sunderland and also
the South African version of CNN/BBC News24. The presenter was having
a hard time as his producers were pulling a few stunts. He clearly,
on prime time TV, mouthed the well know 4-letter f-word. The next
night he was still at work!
That night, I felt very safe, or maybe not. The
hotel filled with 2 MPs and a Government Minister, plus flunkies
and guards. Guns everywhere. They had been ceremoniously opening
a dirt track, errrr sorry, I mean ‘road’, and had many
of the traits of western politicians: lots of wind and naff jokes.
For the first time in 4 months I walked more than 10 km, to a viewpoint
called ‘Carter's Place’. Mr Carter was apparently a
Peace Corp volunteer who stayed and went hang gliding (and book
writing) from a cliff edge overlooking the Massai plain 1000 metres
below. He tried to befriend a hawk (?) to teach him where the thermals
were. Neither Carter, nor the hawk, were there to verify this story.
The 350km on excellent tar to Dar es Salaam were
easily covered. At the ferry across the estuary I nearly asked somebody
what altitude we were at (only kidding!). Dar es Salaam has changed
a lot in the past 12 years when I was last here. To the better,
Zansibar was also negatively different in some ways
and in many others timelessly pleasant, enchanting and intriguing.
Mass tourism has arrived and with it the money-berserk touts, sellers
and drug dealers. Drinking an ice cold Kilimanjaro beer at sunset
at the Africa House Hotel made the trip there worthwhile. Before
I left England, I visited a creative writing course, at which I
wrote a Hemingwayesque short story set just here at the Africa House.
I think I described it well, but I'm not sure, as the only copy
I had with me, was on the hard disk of the Psion, which is, as I
As an epilogue to this little ditty, I think it's
quite useful to make a synopsis of the journey so far and where
the road is leading.
So, being the teacher I am here are my marks out
of 10 for each country visited ref. bikeability and friendliness
Greece: 7 and 7, Turkey: 8 and 8, Syria: 8 and 10,
Jordan: 8 and 5, Israel ??? (I was there sans moto) and 4, Sinai:
8 and 7, Egypt (the rest): 5 and 0, Ethiopia: 9 and 7, Kenya: 6
and 6, Tanzania: 8 and 7.
The route from Dar es Salaam: I have 2 options I
think: either Malawi, Mozambique, southern coast of RSA to Cape
Town (pick up some things left there by my parents) and then north
again to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe and back to Cape Town OR
Malawi and the traditional route trough Zim, Bots, Nam and RSA to
Cape Town. Any suggestions?
After Cape Town: After my little adventures with bureaucracy and
the pleasant, helpful, kind-hearted people in of Egypt, I ain't
touching India with a bargepole, well at least, I have no intention
of shipping into or out of there. Also cash (or lack of it) means
all the shipping connections to India to Australia to the Americas
etc etc are out of the question. I can however do one more move
and this is very likely to be either to S America and ride north
or N America and head south. If I can achieve London to Cape Town
and Alaska to Argentina (or vice versa), I recon that would be pretty
good. I have heard from everybody how wonderful Latin America and
its people are; I'll have to check it out myself. Where's the Berlitz
be writing for a while as Malawi (and Mozambique) are emailially
challenged, but I will be in touch when the facilities are there
and the rate per hour is affordable.
Hang loose and rubber side down, shiny side up.... as the sheep