Just a quick update here, since internet time in Swaziland is a bit more dear. Continuing the stream of consciousness from my last post:
After putting on a show for the students of Univ. of Botswana, and logging over 35km on my unicycle, the next day I hung out in Mokolodi Nature Reserve. I met some Israelis who had rented bikes for two weeks and were on the last day of their trip–and played them some Israeli music (Soliko & MC Karolina – Lo Tzipiti — a Hebrew version of Tanya Stephen’s reggae hit, It’s A Pity) which blew them away. Then after spending a couple of hours working on my motorcycle (air filter was so dirty), I went riding in the bush with the backpacker owner’s son, who is 15 and has a 150cc. Let me tell you, when I say the bush, I mean crazy-thick thorn bushes tearing my pants and jacket, lumpy mud from the cattle that are everywhere, followed by mud and sand! I my arms were pumped and exhausted by the end of the ride. (Like most things, I have video, but it won’t be up for a while).
The next day, I rode from Gaborone to Johannesburg, South Africa. The border crossing involved a ferry which could fit exactly on big rig and then whatever else would fit. I did manage to put up a video.
It was a brilliant ride, but like virtually every day of travel, there is always a snag or two! First, when I stopped to eat about 150km from Jo’Berg, when I got back on my bike, my turn signals had stopped working — not good. Next, I needed to go to a friend’s house to pick up my camera which I left in Kitwe, Zambia (long story). Note: I’m high tech, but the one thing I don’t use is a GPS unit — I don’t know, I just like maps–and having to figure out routes and talk to people is a better experience and I learn more.
Anyway, I got great directions from a guy in Magiliasdorp. It started to rain a bit, and then I hit Jo’Berg — during rush hour! Hectic driving to say the least — I came upon an accident right after it happened. (Yes, there will be more video!)
From my friend’s house (which is technically in Sandton), I needed to ride about 25km to the new friend with whom I would be staying in Kempton Park. The new friend is Ray Haney, one of the lead players with the King Charles Troupe, unicycle basketball and circus performers — truly one of the greatest unicycle acts ever. Ray is from Chicago and his wife is South African.
So, I used Google Maps to guide my way to Ray’s. Unfortunately, Google Maps came up short. Add to that: my turn signals didn’t work; it was getting dark; and are you ready for this–Jo’Berg had its worst storm in YEARS. I’m not kidding — rain, wind, HAIL, thunder, LIGHTNING, and darkness; all things I try to avoid when riding. Have I painted a clear picture yet. OK, then I get LOST and wander into the hood (township) — although that really wasn’t a risk because people were scambling to get out of the rain, and sadly, some shacks were having the roofs blown off.
Below is a video I took while I was lost in the storm. I usually don’t have the presence of mind to capture such moments, but this time I managed. NOTE: I was a bit frustrated and started cursing, so you may want to turn down the volume during the first 45 seconds 🙂 Also, around 0:59 into the video, and the left you will see a shack’s roof blow off.
So, I finally pulled over at a gas station and called Ray — he came and got me. We made it safely to his place, had a pizza, and I passed out on the couch watching a really cool documentary about the King Charles Troupe.
The next day I found a really great motorcycle shop — Silver Spokes — where they let me use their tools and we we tore my bike down (gas tank off and all) and managed to sort out the turn-signal issue.
I had a great time hanging out with Ray and Tracy — Ray is pitching the South African schools on the unicycle basketball thing 🙂 Sadly (for me) they were heading to Mauritius that weekend. Luckily, another new friend I hadn’t met personally, Julian Wills, invited me to stay with him in Sandton.
Julian arranged a MUni (mountain unicycle) ride in a game reserve in Pretoria — yes, I was riding where I could see ostriches and zebra! It was a good 20km ride and I welcomed it: not just for the beauty of the ride and the new friends, but also because I really have to get in shape!
Did I mention that we (5 unicyclists) have been sponsored in the Cape Argus ride? First, the Cape Argus ride is the biggest cycling event in the world (in terms of number of participants). It is the second weekend of March every year, and it is 110km (about 68 miles). So, I decided to do it (on my geared 24″ unicycle). That’s why I’m hustling back to Cape Town. Four other riders in Cape Town are also doing it, and one of them managed to get us sponsored by this great pasta restaurant, Primi Piatti–we get a carbo-loading dinner the night before!
OK, where was I — my internet time is running out here. Oh yeah, so did a lekker MUni ride in Pretoria followed by a braai, of course. Did not shoot any MUni video 🙁 because I don’t have my own helmet with the camera mounts.
Next morning Wendy (Julian’s wife) made me a fantastic breakfast, and I was off to Swaziland, or I should say “The Kingdom of Swaziland”. Left at 10am and by 5pm i had checked into my backpacker and was riding my unicycle to the local pub for a Sibebe (the local beer) and causing the usual fuss as most were seeing a unicycle for the first time.
I’m writing this in an internet cafe in Mbabane (the capital), and about to head up to Pigg’s Peak. The highways here are terrific and wind through steep mountain passes (thus, Swaziland has something else in common with Switzerland besides the first two letters of its name). So there are all kinds of crazy fast motorcyclists buzzing around–certainly blowing my doors off!