Greetings from Zambia
Laying in bed, it’s ten to seven, under my mosquito net, glad this day is over. It’s been two tough days, not only because of the riding, but because Africa is Africa. Don’t expect anything to work, if it does it’s a bonus. Don’t expect things to come easy and without delay, because they won’t. And don’t expect Africans to give you correct information or directions.
It all started yesterday, a border crossing day from Malawi to Zambia. It was a 152 km ride, that because of my own stupidity, turned into a 182 km, (113 mile) jaunt. I missed a turn and kept thinking I had gone to far, but asked at least six people, at different times, “is this the way to Chipata” and all six confirmed I was headed in the right direction. Little did I know, I passed the town and was just getting further and further from my destination. Finally, I stopped a couple of elderly guys on bikes and asked my question for the day, “is this the way to Chipata?” They both kind of chuckled and said, ” NO” and pointed me back the way I came. So, I switched directions and pedaled about 5 km back to a small village and in desperation asked a guy dressed in a tie, (I figured, I could believe a guy in a tie), how far it was back to Chipata and he said 28 km. Ouch, I had run out of water and had no local currency because we had changed countries. So, plan “B” was in order. Jump a ride in a vehicle. The first car that stopped, were two young guys, with bloodshot eyes and most likely high on the local hooch, or smoking some mean Zambian weed. I loaded my bike in the trunk and then they announced they wanted an outrageous $30 (likely a month’s wages), for the lift. I just said, we’ll work it when we get there. The driver proceeded to start coasting along an elevated brick sidewalk that was about six ft wide and two feet high. (A perfectly good highway, ran alongside the walkway.) It didn’t take long for the car to slide off the side and bottom out on the cement side wall. We were stuck. Was this a Cheech and Chong movie, gone bad? We all got out of the car and the first two tries to lift the car, back on to four wheels, were unsuccessful. Then the havoc started and about 50 locals, started yelling at my new found friends. All I could think about was the “mob justice” that happens in these remote African villages. Exit stage left, I didn’t want to stay around and see the end of this story, so I grabbed my bike and headed down the highway. “Let’s try that again,” I thought, and flagged down a truck. The driver was a South African, working in the area. He was more then happy to give a helping hand, so I piled the bike in the back and sat on the wheel cover in the truck bed. He most graciously took me to our camp and I bought him a beer for his good deed. A far cry from the huge sum of “kwatchas” (Zambian currency), that I would have had to pay the two young burn-outs that I first encountered. (Note: my Garmin hasn’t worked in over a month and my GoPro is in he same shape. By the way I hate GoPro).
Then today, another 176 km, (110 mile) ride was smooth sailing, until I decided I better get a local SIM card, so I could wish my Mother a happy 88th birthday and tell Mary all was good. Let’s make this story short…. Much shorter than my day. I spent over four hours in two different towns trying to get a SIM card to work. Four Hours added to my endless time in the saddle. SHOOT ME.
I started the ride at about 6:10 am and finished in camp at about 6:00 pm, (that’s just under 12 hours, if anyone cares) and still didn’t have any minutes loaded on to my phone. Sorry Mom and Mary.
Tomorrow is another 171 km (106 mile) day. Let’s hope it goes without incident.