The Third World as seen from the Saddle – 21 January 2021.


About lockdowns and muti good for doing battle with the worms in your cattle, and it also helps against coronavirus, maybe.

My first decision when I wake up these days is whether or not to drag my bum across the bedroom carpet. Jenny and I have been on Ivermectin for two weeks now, and so far the carpet has been spared. For those not in the know, Ivermectin is a worm remedy for use in horses, cows, sheep and goats.

We’re on worm muti for cows because Coronavirus is now rampant in Zimbabwe with confirmed cases and deaths literally doubling since Christmas. Most government hospitals haven’t even got bandages, or working nurses, let alone beds. Nurses went on strike yet again last week, because months into the Coronavirus crisis, and still they haven’t been given adequate personal protection equipment. They get masks only, but no shields, gowns, spectacles and other essentials.

Against that backdrop, our chances of a vaccine rollout in Zim anytime soon are slim like me. And when we do get the vaccine, most probably the year after the pandemic, we’ll have a choice between the Chinese vaccine which doesn’t work, and the Chinese vaccine which also doesn’t work. I don’t get how come Chinese viruses work, but their vaccines don’t? I also don’t get the antivaxxers in Europe and the US. If only our choices included the Pfizer vaccines, or Moderna, or AstraZeneca. Alas.

But they don’t, so Ivermectin it is. So far, so good. I was going to comment on Jenny being frisky and her coat glossy, but that would get me in the doghouse, so I won’t.

Completely out of character, I did research on Ivermectin before leaping and was relieved that 4 billion treatments of Ivermectin have rolled out to people in sub-Saharan Africa to combat Congo River blindness, so it can’t be too bad for you.

Because of the massive spike in cases, Zimbabwe is back under the strictest of lockdowns. The roads are full of police roadblocks, full of policemen and soldiers steadfastly guarding black and white drums, stopping vehicles before telling them to proceed, provided you’re engaged in either an essential service, or you sell fishing worms, thatching grass, fruits and vegetables, plastic swimming pools, panama hats, etcetera, etcetera at traffic lights or on the sides of the road, and provided you’re wearing a mask, even if it is only around your chin. Shame, people are more worried about trying to stay alive than they are about dying of coronavirus.

Apart from school kids and the nurses already mentioned, pretty much the only people not working are Jenny’s mechanic, even though her car has developed alarming noises underneath, the people at Econet, especially the department that is supposed answer e-mails from irate customers as to why their accounts have been closed, and the guys who fix potholes where the roads used to be. Oh, and also roadblock policemen, if it’s raining, or when it gets dark. But otherwise, we are back under the strictest of lockdown.

Coronavirus aside, the First and Third Worlds remain worlds apart. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni is still in power 36 years on, whereas Donald Trump has come and gone in just four, but not before pardoning Steve Bannon for stealing a million and for telling the world that Ivanka Trump was as dumb as a brick, and rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black for assorted gun, drug and rap music offences. It is no small coincidence that rap rhymes with crap.

And on the subject of Uganda, don’t you just love how this blog flows, the Old Legs Silverback Tour is now just 24 weeks away. I got back on to my stationary bike for the first time since pneumonia. Having lost 6 kgs in the last 4 weeks, thirty minutes of easy almost killed me, but better to almost die now, than die on the road to Uganda. We are receiving that many appeals from desperate folk needing chemo and operations, but who can’t even afford the blood tests, I wish we could start riding tomorrow.

Joining us on the Old Legs Tour this year for the first time are both the Watermeyer brothers, Al and Laurie. Which bodes seriously well, because the book on adventure was written by a Watermeyer.

Born in Mutare in 1949, Al will be the senior man on Tour. Because Allan Wilson was full, Al’s parents sent him to Prince Edward instead. Al rode a bike to school and enjoyed that so much, he never got back on a bike until just 10 years ago. Since then, he has ridden 6 or more Blue Crosses, the first part of the Old Legs 2018 Cape Town Tour, and the 2019 Kilimanjaro Tour. Al is ecstatic to be going on the Silverback tour.

Laurie Watermeyer, Al’s younger brother by 2 years, also attended Prince Edward. To compensate for the resultant dearth of technical skills, Laurie went to the University of Natal Durban to learn mechanical engineering, canoeing, spear fishing and under water hockey. After University and National Service, Laurie flirted briefly with working in South Africa, but returned to Zimbabwe in 1983. Laurie has a special passion for canoeing the Zambezi. He caught the mountain bike bug in 1986 and remembers how proud he was the first time he rode 25 km ride on tar, mostly downhill, without having to stop and rest. Since then, he has ridden more than a dozen Blue Cross rides and rode with Ant Mellon on his first Harare to Cape Town Tour in 2008. Six extensive clavicle repair jobs later, Laurie still hasn’t got the hang of riding down mountains slowly and continues to explore the limits of his MTB downhill skills. The correct technical term for someone like Laurie is a downhill nutter.

Please join us on our adventure to Uganda. It will be epic. But be warned, we ride slower than paint dries, apart from Laurie when he is going downhill.

Please also help us help those less fortunate by going to the Old Legs Fundraising page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/eric-de-jong1. In Zimbabwe you can transfer to Bulawayo Help Network to their CABS PLATINUM ACCOUNT NUMBER 1124733450, ASCOT BRANCH. Or you can transfer to their Ecocash merchant number 139149 and in South Africa, you can send your donations to OLD LEGS CYCLE TOUR ACCOUNT 9355070826, ABSA BANK, BRANCH 63200.

In closing, my prayers and best wishes to Rob Smart ill in Rusape, and also to my old boss Mike Iredale in Vic Falls, and to Iain and Kerry Kay, Alan and Lorna York, Alan and Lorna York, and Merv Burton, all in Harare, all battling Coronavirus. Hope you guys better soon.

Until my next blog, please stay safe and alive – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

Photos below – Zimbabwe in lockdown, Al Watermeyer overjoyed with fast food, Laurie Watermeyer in his happy place, and Laurie upright on his bike just before a downhill bit.