Apologies for getting this blog out late but I’ve been laid low by work and by a gastro tummy bug from hell. Because I live in Zimbabwe and because I have a penchant for drama, first up I thought i had cholera and started planning which kid gets the debt and which kid gets my bike in my will. But as it turns out it’s just a fast like Usain Bolt runny tummy.
There are no shortage of things to stress about in Zim. Cholera, stolen elections, fuel queues, no cash in any banks, no cokes in the supermarkets, the list goes on. But rather than find a low building to leap off, thankfully I’m scared of heights, better to either go to Kariba or Mana Pools, or down town to where the street vendors pedal their wares.
With 95 % formal unemployment, street vendors are about the only thing we’re not short of in Zimbabwe. Despite 8 hour plus days in the hot sun, cholera and a cash crisis, they are mostly happy polite people. We can all learn from them. Last week I pulled up at an intersection and a chap offered up a punnet of fresh strawberries. I played my stock Get Out Of Jail card -‘Sorry, bud, but I’ve got no cash.’ With a grin from ear to ear, he told me ‘No problem, boss, I’ve now got a swipe machine. Master Card, Visa Card, no problem.’ Suffice to say, strawberries featured prominently on our menu. I’m too happy with that vendor. In amongst the doom and gloom, he is a beacon of positivity.
Ditto the just ended Annual Garden Show. It was a massive gathering of feel good, full of positive people looking to make a plan to get on with things, despite. Well done to all exhibitors, including my corporate sponsors Running Dog Nursery and Compost, and especially well done to Lindsey Charters and Robyn Whaley for a good job well done.
Our Old Legs Tour preparations are finally under way.
We’ve sort of finalized our route for next year. I’m rather glad we are riding up to Mt Kilimanjaro by way of Mozambique and Malawi and not Zambia. This week at the Chirundu border post, in response to our ongoing cholera crisis, Zambian immigration officials were demanding stool samples of all travelers, issuing laxatives at no extra charge where there were compliance issues. Apparently this caused huge congestion. I’m thinking maybe they should have gone with a better quality laxative.
Elsewhere in the world, Hong Kong was smashed by the world’s biggest storm ever and Donald’s willy looks like a mushroom, apparently. Although that could be fake news, because it happened on CNN.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to another one of our imported riders.
Jaap van Staaveren – Aged 57, Jaap is married with 2 daughters and lives in the Netherlands. But he is that good a guy, I’ve bestowed upon him honorary Zimbabwe status. Jaap lives and works with flowers, travelling the world, working with flower growers, supplying them with inputs.
Being Dutch, Jaap is vertically challenged. When he looks out his window at home, there is not a hill or mountain to be seen. Although he says there is a dike not
too far from his home that is just like Mt Kilimanjaro in that the top is
higher than the bottom. Jaap’s sporting interests include speed skating on ice, chess, cycling and kayaking. His hobbies include old cars and bikes, music, travelling, friends and work. He is so looking forward to next year’s Old Legs adventure, having fun camping and riding a bike through Africa, meeting new people, making new friends and raising funds for a great
Most of us have started training in earnest. To get to grips with going up hill, Jaap was in Ecuador and Columbia, pumping up his red blood cells at 3300 m high. Not to be outdone, Al Watermeyer pedaled the Rockies in Canada but regretfully did not bump into any performance enhancing bears or mooses i.e. more than one moose. And our man from Switzerland, Nik Bellwald rode a 10 day charity ride over 1700 KM and +/- 25’000 m of climb.
When he read about Nik’s exploits, rather than train, Dave Whitehead put his bike up for sale. Adam Selby says he rode up the pyramids in Egypt but I don’t believe him. Because of the four letter word work and my runny tummy, I did not do a lot of training last week. And more of the same in the week ahead, because me, Jenny and my tummy are going to Mana Pools first thing tomorrow. But don’t worry. The ‘Boskak 2000’ fully collapsible toilet set which comes complete with armrests and a view- provided you point it in the right direction, was the first thing to be packed.
In closing, below our Swahili phrases for this week.
Janya wewe kununua baiskeli? – Do you want to buy my bicycle?
Donald’s uume inaonekana kame a uyoga – Donald’s willy is like a mushroom.
Next week we’ll launch our fund raising platforms. Until then, enjoy and pedal if you can.
Eric Chicken Legs de Jong