Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Giving Up, the mad German, and a breakdown

Giving Up, the mad German, and a breakdown

 It happened while I shopping for oats.I decided to give up on going to Angola and jsut cycle around Zambia for a month.  What a great decision.  Zambia is such a beautiful and diverse country.  Plus speaking on of its languages and knowing a bit about it's culture makes it so much easier to really explore. 

I while I was looking for the oats and changing my travel plans I kept noticing a tall, dreadlocked white dude in the store.  Every aisle I walked down he seemed to be there.  Was he stalking me?   I avoid this stranger and head out to get my bike.  When I get there there is a note on it and before I can open and read it the this same dreadlocked guy runs up and with a strong Bavarian Accent (think Arnold Schwarzenegger) he says "you don't have to read that, its from me".  Turns out he cycled to Zambia from Munich (that's in Germany).  He's been cycling for 14 months and by the looks of my bike and tires he figured I'd been cycling for a while as well.  His name is Adrian, he's 22 years old, and he's an anarchist (who isn't when their 22 right?) He's on his way to Cape Town but when he finds out my plans to cycle up into the NW province to find the source of the Zambezi River and then to cycle along the river down to Mongu he asks if he can join me and I somewhat reluctantly agree. 

In case you were wondering, everything made in Germany is vastly superior anything made anywhere else in the world.  I know this because Adrian told me so, several times a day for the 15 or so days we traveled together.  I liked riding with Adrian, he is nice guy and smart.  And he has some crazy stories from his trip (he cycled thru the sahara in the Summer - 55 degrees celsius in the shade, that's 131 degrees Fahrenheit!; he got a free ride out of the Congo on a UN tank; he was attacked by a guy with a machete in Ethiopia and woke up to find a baboon sitting on him, in his tent, in Kenya).  Even allowing for the usual amount of exaggeration you can expect from a 22 year old guy who aspires to be a "cycling nomad", he's had some pretty interesting experiences.  We rode west from Lusaka to Kafue National Park then turned north thru the park to Kasempa and up into Solwezi and Eventually Mwinilunga and the Zambezi Source.

  I almost lost Adrian in the Kafue National Park to tsetse flies.  When tsetse flies bite it hurts, a lot.  They draw blood and leave big welts  and they're almost impossible to kill unless you decapitate them.  We rode into the park at about 8 am, within a few kms we had hundreds of tsetse flies chasing us, in our draft.  With the sun still rising over teh horizon I could look over my shoulder and see the shadow of me and my bike and all these flies zipping around behind me.  we had to constantly brush them off our arms, legs and back.  If figured out that 30km/hr was the critical speed.  Faster than that and most of teh flies couldn't keep up.  Kafue National Park is the second biggest in Africa, we had about 160 km of hilly dirt road to go, it was gonn abe a tough ride.  About 30 minutes in to our tsetse fly time trial adrian came flying by me, frantic, and yelled "I can't... we have to stop!"  "no way" was my reply and he continued ahead.  You could tell he was really having a hard time and another 200m down the road he screached to a halt, thew his bike down and and started running back towards me:  arms flailing, dreadlocks flying and he screamed "I can't..., I can't..." 

"I'm not stopping!" I yelled  "OK, see you anywhere" was his response and I continued down the road alone. 

After an hour I reach teh Kafue River, where I'd have to take a pontoon across.  Thankfully, someone had set fire to the bush and this seemed to have driven the flies away.  I sat waiting for the pontoon operator to show up, relatively fly free.  After about 30 minutes Adrian shows up, wearing a fleece head scarf and long trousers and collapses next to me, hot and dehydrated.  It was funny, but I really felt for teh guy.  We decided to hit out of teh park and luckily after about 45 minutes a truck from the road crew (who were repairing the road thru teh park) showed up and gave us a lift.  Probably teh scariest ride of my life... but it got us out of the park.  It was like a game drive, but at 120km per hour.

The rest of the bike ride (600kms or so) up to Mwinulunga was uneventful by comparison but still really fun.  Met soem volunteers up there, hung out for a a few days, went to the Zambezi Source, Kalene Hill, found out that 2 people have recently been killed travelling thru eastern Angola along the route I was going take, and started riding south on a rocky dirt track towards Kabompo when I broke my rim.  I limped back to Mwininlunga and rode back to Ndola (about 500km) on my broken rim until I got my phone stolen and said the heck with it and hitched in to Lusaka. 

Found a guy to build me a new wheel, not the quality I would like but I think it will work.  So now I'm off to cycle to teh Wonder Gorge! 

MOre later...


1 comment:

Human Wrecking Ball said...

The stories are so great, and as I read them I wonder how long I would last under such conditions. I am afraid I am a pathetic, pampered, American. Thanks for the great blog, I am glad you are out there doing it Paulie!