Greetings from Johannesburg (metro area), South Africa!
When I rode a motorcycle from San Francisco to the tip of South America (1996-97) we blogged–before the word “blog” existed. I hand coded html, and my friends David and Gary edited photos from one of the earliest digital cameras. On my first Africa ride (2000-01), I was alone and did not have a digital camera — so I just wrote long descriptive emails and sent them out to my list (I subsequently posted those emails on my current blog).
Now, the game has changed. Digital cameras are ubiquitous — and the channels for updating people are varied: Email list, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc. While I love video and photos, I like doing the words only thing — it makes my life simpler, especially after a long day’s ride — and it helps me record and remember the details better. In any event, this is a very brief narrative update to get you up to speed on the past two weeks.
Let’s see, in my last post I was getting to ride up to Kitwe, Zambia in the Copperbelt (Zambia is the 8th largest producer of copper). So, I did make it up to Kitwe in yet another epic ride, that ended with me taking the “shortcut” thru a potholed section of road just as a downpour ensued–the only thing better than riding in the rain, is riding in the rain trying to avoid mud and giant holes in the road, as well as trucks and other vehicles that are weaving onto your side of the road as they try to avoid the potholes. I arrived on a Sat. evening where I met a Zambian* named George who took me for a drink and then over to Rob and Aly’s place where they had a place for me to stay. It was “lekker”. The next morning, which was the day that the Chipolopolo, Zambian’s soccer team, was going to play Ivory Coast in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations….
I’m running out of internet time here. Going to give the bullet-item summary:
Met some Zambians in a pub – drove to Ndola to watch the game in which Zambia won in a thrilling sudden-death penalty shoot-out! Sheer pandamonium for the next 24 hours.
Left Zambia to head to Zimbabwe. Stayed in Siavonga (right next to Kariba Bridge/Damn) after the rainiest ride I’ve ever made. Next day the corrupt Zimbabweans wouldn’t let me into Zim, at least not without a bribe–homey don’t play that–so instead, I rode my unicycle onto the Kariba bridge, took some photos, entertained the immigration folks on the Zambian side who treated me awesomely. Then rode 580km to Livingstone — starting at 2pm! Finished the ride in rain & darkness on unmarked roads as I cursed myself!
Next day, made last minute decision to go river rafting. It was awesome! Video of my capsizes (plural!) to follow.
Then rode from Livingstone to Francistown, Botswana (had to take ferry to cross border). In Francistown I meet a Zambian who is an engineering grad from my alma mater–Cal Poly Pomona! In my life, I’ve met maybe 5 Cal Poly grads. We were instant friends and he showed me a great time (which involved perhaps a bit too much alcohol).
Rode from Francistown to Gaborone, Botswana — saw more elephants on the road! Stayed in a Nature Reserve 15km from town. Then rode my uni into town (put in 35km that day). Fantastic reaction. Some students at University of Botswana showed me around (and showed me off — they kept making me perform for the other students).
Shucks… out of time. Sorry, more good stories to come. I’m in Johannesburg now, leaving for Swaziland!