Today we rode from Migoli to Chiona. Put another way, we rode from somewhere just past the middle of nowhere to another place also in the middle of nowhere. After 22 days on Tour we are now about 2400 km away from home.
It sounds crazy but for the first time on Tour, today felt properly foreign. On all other previous days, there’s been something similar to back home; sights or scenery, the vegetation or the people, something. But on today’s ride there was nothing similar, other than the
baobabs , and even those were different. The baobabs that we rode through all day, thousands and thousands of them, are shorter, stumpier, somehow stunted as compared to baobabs back home. And the fruit pods are smaller and more slender. Maybe it’s a sub-species.
I saw different kind of birds today and was able to deploy my binoculars for the first time. First up, I saw some small yellow and black faced parrots, slightly bigger than a lovebird and with red beaks. Then I saw two different types of starling, a long tailed one but dirty grey in color and the other had a glossy head and tail but with a russet colored body. For the record, I didn’t see any shoebills, or crows. I did see a dead genet cat, squashed on the road. Predictably Alastair tried to forage it’s tail, but failed.
We rode alongside the Mtera Dam for most of the day, either we rode especially slow or it is a bloody big dam. Mtera is a hydroelectric dam.
From what I could see, they certainly don’t use the dam for irrigation. I don’t know what the people around here do for a living. Inside the 130 km that we rode today, there was zero sign of any farming, bar a very few small herds of cows and or goats. Having said that, Adam was able to forage bunches of small, black grapes to supplement the dinner table.
I guess it’s the people and their complete lack of English that make the place seem so much more foreign. Only the very odd person is able to speak English, I think. Their accents are very strong and hard to understand. Mostly we’ve had to resort to sign language. Alastair is especially crap at sign language and very quickly drags every conversation to his beard. If we were playing charades, I’d bust him for cheating.
We are less of a curiosity here than we were in Malawi and Mozambique and the people give us more space. As I write, the chap in the mosque across the road has just called everyone in earshot to prayers, even though it is still pitch dark outside.
We’re staying in another of Ryan’s funny little guest houses. I have no idea how he is able to find them, but he does, so far without fail. Normally we give Ryan a target distance for the day at lunchtime, depending upon how knackered we are, and he and Bill rush off to find us accommodation for the night. Tonight’s guesthouse is called Madalha’s, so most of us are able to feel a real sense of belonging. Madalha’s costs the equivalent of US 3.00 a night per person so as you can imagine it is quite swanky., apart from the toilet, which is of the hole in the floor variety. I am seriously considering constipation. Unlike the mosquitoes who are also staying here, of which there are many, we’ve gone with the bed only option.
For the second time on Tour, viva antibiotics. My finger is much, much better and the knuckles on my left hand are back.
Even though we’re technically in the middle of winter, it is bloody hot. We were at 700 m a.s.l. for most of the day, climbing up to 930 m after lunch. We’ll carry on climbing today and after reaching our target distance of 130 km, should finish up at about 1200 m a.s.l. We’ll pass through the town city of Dodoma late morning which should be interesting. I love riding through new places and almost put my neck out, gawking at all the sights and sounds.
The support guys are putting in some serious late challenges for Dick of the Day honors. With great reluctance, Bill handed over the DOD necklace last night to John MacDonald who was found guilty on trumped up charges. For fear of wee in my coffee, let it be known that I never voted for either of them. I’ll never vote for any member of the support team, especially Jenny.
We are riding to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s beleaguered pensioners. And with the economically stupid fully in the driving seat back home, they need help more than ever. Help us to help them. 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.
Until tomorrow’s blog from the metropolis of Chimene, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong