The border post money changers were busy dealing with incoming travelers, changingSouth African Rands, Malawian Kwacha, Zambian Kwacha for local TZ Shillings but as soon as I offered up Zim money he rudely told me sorry no and got busy changing Meticals from Mozambique instead. “Not so fast my good man” I told him sternly, “Zimbabwe is a bonafide member of COMESA, SADACC and the AU and according to Eddie Cross, our money is the strongest in the region and better you start taking Zim currency ,either RTGS or bond dollars or even Ecocash or risk a major international incident.”
The money changer and his friends, there was a whole rugby scrum of them by now, told me no, Zimbabwe money it is shit. I was incensed. But for the fact we were already outside, I would have taken it outside. “Zimbabwe is a great and proud sovereign nation”, I told the money changer. “Impugn her currency and you impugn me” “I don’t care” he said, “Zimbabwe money, it is shit.”
I told him we had the biggest waterfalls in the world and, until last year, we boasted the world’s oldest and longest lasting President. “I still don’t care” he said, “Zimbabwe money it is still shit.”
“Once in 1957, we even famously beat the New Zealand All Blacks at rugby.”
“I don’t care, it is still shit.”
“How about I give you a special buy one RTGS and get four free deal?”
“I’m going to tell my Minister of Foreign Affairs on you and he used to be a General and he’ll most probably bomb Tanzania.”
“Still no.” Damn those money changers.
Aggrieved, we crossed into Tanzania nonetheless and started pedaling. And immediately we got a sense of the country’s vastness, not least of all because our average speed had bled off to under 10 kph on account of the hills in Tanzania, of which there are many. When I eventually climbed to the top of our first big hill, I looked out over Tanzania and as far as I could see in any direction were other hills stretching away as far as the eye could see. I think when God made Africa, he had a lot of lumpy bits leftover and he stuck them all in South Tanzania.
Whilst on the subject of lumpy, my front tyre started bulging alarmingly like it was pregnant on a downhill descent. I tried to carry on riding as best I could but it was horrible, like walking with a stone in your shoe. Dave suggested I bind the bulge tightly with duct tape, mostly so he could capture me cocking the repairs up on camera. Duct tape is a bike rider’s best friend and I wrapped my entire stock around my tyre tightly, unfortunately missing the bulge, mostly wrapping a section of perfectly good tyre. Alas. I carried on limping until the support vehicle caught up and Dave changed my front tyre quickly while I supervised.
We rode through the town of Tukuyu which was all noise and crazy bedlam. Tanzanians seem more affluent than Malawians with more motorbikes than bicycles. I saw a road sign telling road users to observe road signs.
We’re spending the night outside Tukuyu at the beautiful home of Rob and Petra Clowes, ex Chipinge now living in Tanzania. Rob and Petra are in SA attending their daughter’s university graduation but have opened up their beautiful home to us. And Rob’s friends Paul Metcalfe, ex Shamva, drove 63 km from Mbeya to cook us up a storm of giant T bone steaks, roasted chickens, boerewors and salads. We’re blown away by the hospitality. Not many would open up their homes to 16 strangers. It is great to see how Zimbabweans have been able to pick up the pieces of their lives and start afresh successfully after being booted out of homes and off farms by their government for being white Zimbabweans. But it is also sad because chances are they’ll never come home again. Alas. Tanzania’s gain, Zimbabwe’s loss.
Adam entered the Dick of the Day stakes yesterday after being nominated by Mark for riding his bike without a chain. And all along I thought Mark and Adam were friends.
I’d like to acknowledge our sponsors. Thank you to Andy, Stuart, Zelda, Dougie and all the other guys at FX Logistics. And thank you to all KFC not just for your sponsorship but for the ongoing assistance provided to Zimbabwe’s pensioners.
If you would like to follow their lead, please go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oldlegstour. In Zimbabwe, transfer to Bulawayo Help Network via their CABS Platinum Account number 1124733450 or their
Ecocash merchant number 139149.
I’d like to wish my mom back home in Zimbabwe a happy birthday. I’m sorry I can’t be there to eat all your cake.
Tomorrow we’ll climb another 2000 plus meters up on to the Kitulo Plateau. We’ll be camping on a dairy farm at high altitude. It will be very cold and I’m looking forward to renting out my thermal underwear.
Until then, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can- Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.