Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Epic Ride Reports
User Name
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 08-14-2013, 04:11 AM   #61
JoRust OP
JoRust's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Africa
Oddometer: 50
Spain - France - Italy

I had a wonderful time in Valencia with Carlos and his wife Alicia. They were fantastic hosts. And what’s more is that they rode with me from Valencia till about halfway to Madrid. Solidarity amongst riders/bikers, is something that I’ve come to really appreciate and cherish so much. It really is something special.

I was really looking forward to visiting Madrid as I’d be meeting up with a fellow adventurer named Alicia Sornosa. Alicia has ridden through America, from Alaska to the most southern point in South America. Through Australia and also from Egypt to Kenya. Later this year she will ride from Egypt to South Africa and we hope to meet up somewhere along the way.

I arrived in Madrid in the afternoon and met up with Alicia at her place. Unloaded the bike and had a quick shower before it was time to meet some friends and accompany Alicia to her talk at the National Geographic store in central Madrid. I met so many wonderful people and made so many new friends that evening. It was absolutely wonderful. We were a group of about 12 people, all adventure bikers, who spent the night eating tapas, drinking beers and talking bikes and adventure. Absolutely in my element!

The next day was spent doing some ‘admin’. Editing photos and uploading updates etc. And also getting my phone fixed as the screen was giving me trouble. Then we spent the night exploring the ‘old city’ of Madrid and hopping from one café to the next sampling delicious food and beer. It was then decided that Alicia and a number of friends would accompany me the next day till about halfway to Terrassa, which is about 30km from Barcelona.

Alicia and I only got home around 3am. I knew the next day would be a long one (about 600km) so headed straight for bed to get some sleep. I got up at 7:30, had a quick shower and loaded my bike. By 9:00 we were ready to hit the road. Some of the guys pulled out and we were left with only 4 riders (including myself) out of the original 6.

And then, about 200km from Zaragoza, my chain broke at 120km/h on the highway. It broke at the master link and went whizzing past the 2 riders behind me. Luckily everyone steered clear of it and I also had no trouble with the chain getting caught on anything. We pulled over and assessed the damage. I have some spare links with me but I don’t have a chain breaker. Either way the chain was too damaged to repair anyway. So my fellow riders all jumped on their phones and within minutes it was decided that Emilio would ride back to the nearest town where he would buy a new chain. Polo and I pushed Dax to the nearest station and the three of us (Polo, Alicia and I) had breakfast…and of course some beers!

Emilio returned with a new chain AND a BMW mechanic in tow! We ordered more beers and the boys went about fixing my chain problem. Within no time the problem had been resolved, I had a new chain, a full tummy and having fun with great friends.

Although this had put quite a delay on the day’s riding and I worked out that I would probably only reach Terrassa round 9/10pm that night. We were all pretty tired but I knew I could cover the distance. About 100km from Zaragoza the rest turned back as they still had to ride all the way back to Madrid, and I carried on toward Terrassa.

Another friend, Domingo, met up with me about 100km from Terrassa and rode in with me. We finally reached his place around 11:00pm. I was finished! I had a quick shower and we sat chatting a bit and sampling his father’s home-grown tomatoes and locally sourced cheese and then I hit the sack. Hard!

Next morning I got up around 8:00 and got ready to get going again. I would crossing into France and staying with some dear friends in Montpellier. Domingo took me for breakfast and much needed coffee, then I filled up with fuel, checked tyre pressure and off I went again.

There are so many countries I would like to return to one day and Spain is definitely on the top 5 list!

Seems I have a knack for timing in terms of heat-waves. Throughout Spain and in France the weather hit 35 degrees plus. Just to get me ready for what lay ahead!
I, unfortunately, mostly stuck to the highways to make up for time. Never again! Firstly, it’s helluva expensive. Secondly, you miss all the good stuff!

Initially I would’ve stayed in France for 3 or 4 days. One night in Montpellier, one night in Marseille, one night in Nice and one night in Grenoble. But this was also where I needed to make a decision on whether I’d be gunning it for Tunisia and Libya, or take the long way round and catch a boat to Egypt. I really, really wanted to visit Tunisia and so decided on taking the boat from Italy (Civitavecchia) to Tunis. I booked my ticket in Montpellier and had 4 days to get there. And with that I decided on spending an extra day in Montpellier and then head straight for Italy.

I spent two wonderful days in Montpellier with my wonderful hosts, Charles and Michele. Really exceptional people. They took me on a small tour of the city and we went to a jazz concert under the stars. It was wonderful. I really wish I could’ve stayed longer but now I had a boat waiting for me.

Next up I’d be heading for Genova where I’d meet up with the ‘Cape Town to Dublin by Scooter’ boys from South Africa. We first met up in Johannesburg when they had just set out on their journey, riding through Africa on their scooters to raise funds and awareness for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. And now we’d meet up again way up north, just about on the opposite end of the world! I was very excited to meet up with the guys!

Two things on my ride to Genova: 1. I have NEVER in my life ridden through so many tunnels in a single day. 101 tunnels from when you cross into Italy until you get to Genova. I counted them!! 2. Genova is probably the most confusing city I’ve ever been in. It took me about and hour and a half to finally find the guys. It’s a crazy, busy, noisy city operating at full steam with the hustle and bustle of people going about their business. I managed to get hold of Chris (one of the scooter boys) and he gave me a landmark to search for. “Search for the big ship with a tweety bird on it”. Well I eventually found the tweety bird and the guys. First thing was to buy some food and drinks for the evening. The boys were hosted by the Genova Vespa club and were kind enough to let me spend the night as well. So we all bought some pizza and beers and then headed back to the ‘clubhouse’ where we had beds and showers and food. What more do you need?

I spent the night catching up with the boys and we exchanged stories from our adventures. The only thing that was missing was a nice campfire!

Next day I headed off to Lucca, where I would meet up with yet another old friend of mine. Though first, I would make a new friend on route. About 20km outside of Genova I noticed a bike behind me and I could sense this was someone also touring. Maybe on holiday or so. He passed me and signaled to pull over. It turned out to be a man named Rik, from Germany. He was making use of his holiday to tour around Italy a bit. We had a quick chat and decided to ride together for the day. This was also the only day I spent not riding on the highway and exploring the smaller roads a bit. It was fabulous!! I really had a fantastic time and will definitely have to return to do a proper tour of Europe someday.

I said goodbye to Rik in Livorno and headed back towards Lucca to meet up with Federico. We first met up last year in Morocco between Laayoune and Agadir. I had stopped off on the side of the road to take a break and Federico had spotted me and stopped to find out whether I was okay. He was touring from Italy to Mauritania and back and we happened to bump into each other here, in the middle of nowhere and decided to ride together until Agadir.

And now we got to meet up again in his hometown in Italy. It was so good to see him and I spent two very relaxed, wonderful days with him and his wife Bruna, relaxing and doing washing and bike maintenance etc. During the day I was home alone, left to sleep in and do my thing. At night we spent time together eating good Italian food, drinking good Italian wine and talking adventure. Of course. *

My passport landed in the wash in Montpellier and was still wet when I got to Lucca. Oops!

From Lucca I would head towards Civitavecchia to catch the boat to Tunis. But first I had to stop in Pisa to see the famous leaning tower. Getting into Pisa is easy…finding the tower or parking for the tower, not so easy. It took me a good hour and lots of riding around before I finally found my way to the tower. I spotted a couple on a loaded Super Tenere and decided to follow them. We pulled into a paid-parking garage and were chased out immediately by a guy waving and just saying: “No bikes, no bikes”. They couple stopped a block further and so did I to chat to them. Turned out it was a couple from the UK on holiday. We promptly decided to stick together and find a place to park so we could take the obligatory photos of the tower. If need be I’d look after their bike whilst they went in and they’d do the same for me.

We eventually found parking close to the entrance and I spoke to the Senegalese parking attendant in French to make sure he’d look after our bikes. With that we headed in, snapped a few pics, and back out again.

I bid my friends farewell and off I went towards the port.

I arrived at the port around 18:00, checked in and took my place in line to wait for boarding.

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: "Holy shit!! What a ride!!"
JoRust is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-21-2013, 02:10 AM   #62
Joined: May 2011
Oddometer: 89
jorrie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-08-2013, 01:55 PM   #63
JoRust OP
JoRust's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Africa
Oddometer: 50
Magical Tunisia!

After standing in line for about 4 hours I was finally led onto the ship and parked Dax on the bottom deck with the rest of the bikes. Mine would be the only one heading for Tunis. The rest of the bikes would be disembarking at Palermo.

Tunisia is a country I have dreamed of visiting for a long time. For one, Cap Blanc in Tunisia is the most northern point in Africa, so literally the opposite side of the continent for me. (Being from South Africa). Secondly, I have friends who live in Tunisia who were very dear to me before I had even met them in real life. And lastly, it just holds some kind of magic that captures my soul.

On board I grabbed something to eat and then headed out on deck to watch as we hoisted anchor and started heading out of the port. There was a young man standing close to me and I could almost feel him burn a hole through me in the way he was staring at me. After a few minutes he approached me and said he’d seen me with my bike and wanted to know where I was from. From that point on the young man that was Bilel from Sousse didn’t leave my side until we disembarked in Tunis. He had obviously appointed himself as my personal guardian on board and we spent the next 24 hours chatting in four different languages (mainly French), drinking coffee whilst sitting outside on the deck and watching the stars overhead. He bought me food and drinks and made sure no potential unsavory characters came near me. Sweet boy.

Meanwhile in Tunis my dear, dear friends were waiting to welcome me at the port. I had told them that we’d be arriving around 21:00. I was one of the first people to disembark but with customs and all the paperwork to get through I finally made it out by 23:00. It felt good to be back on African soil!

Sahbi and Anis

Sahbi and Nawfel were standing just outside the port and waved at me as I went through the last few checks. When I was finally free to enter Tunisia I was welcomed by the rest of the group – Anis, Sahbi’s son Mehdi and daughter Ramla and Mehdi Barrak. First point of order was to get something to eat and drink and then I’d have to ride about 60km to where I’d be staying with Sahbi and his family in Nabeul. They were so kind as to let me stay with them in their beautiful home. I also had the pleasure of having dinner during Ramadan with Sahbi and his family.

Next day I spent on the beach in Hammamet (a very popular touristic area) with Mehdi and Mehdi. (Sahbi’s son and a friend of his) And later on Sahbi and some friends joined us (Including the crazy and very entertaining Jean-Baptiste). It was a day for relaxing and just soaking up the sun.

At night the guys took me out riding about town and drinking coffee at the medina in Jasmine Hammamet. I loved spending time with my friends.

From Nabeul I moved to Tunis where I stayed with Nawfel and his wife Lamia and their beautiful daughter Nadia. Such a kind family who I had a wonderful time with. Nawfel rode with me to Bizerte, about 60km from Tunis, where I finally got to visit Cap Blanc. The most northern point in Africa! And this also marked the halfway mark of my trip! A great moment and joyous occasion. I always said that: “If I can make it halfway, I can make it all the way”!

At Cap Blanc in Bizerte with Nawfel

At Cap Blanc in Bizerte with Mehdi Bachrouch

In Bizerte

Nawfel helped me as I serviced my bike back home and in return I spilt oil all over his floor! LoL. He was so kind he bought me new globes for my rear light, oil for my bike, gave me chain cleaner and new chain lube and even washed my bike! At night we’d all have dinner after breaking fast and I met so many wonderful people over wonderful meals.

Nawfel and his family also took me to visit Carthage to see the Carthaginian ruins of Phoenicians that populated the area before the Romans took over the city. I love that one can literally FEEL the history when you visit these places. I try to imagine what it looked like in ancient times. What the people looked like. The markets, the ports, the trade. Fascinating!

In the meantime I also had some admin related issues to attend to in the way of sorting my visa for Libya. Sahbi accompanied me and helped me to get my passport translated into Arabic and spoke to my Libyan friends over the phone and then relayed the information back to me. It was touch-and-go for a little while and at first it seemed that I would be refused a visa. I had to consider my options and come up with a plan B. *The only other option I’d have really is to return to Italy and then either take a boat from there to Israel or to Greece and ride through Turkey and then take a boat from there to get to Egypt. I was convinced that somehow everything would work out and I’d be granted my visa for Libya, so opted to take some time out and go on a four-day road trip to the southwest region of Tunisia with a good friend of mine, Anis, before tackling the issue with the visa again.

Before leaving for the south-west I spent a night with Anis and his family at their house. We all had a wonderful dinner together and then I had the opportunity to attend the protest in Le Bardo just west of Tunis. Although I try to refrain from getting involved in any political issues, I do have a great deal of respect for people who stand up for what they believe in and I was really excited to be part of this historical event.

Next morning Anis and I were up early, had a quick coffee and loaded our bikes. Me on my Dax and Anis on his Transalp. Direction – Tozeur, about 450/ 500km from Tunis. We had a good ride and made it to Tozeur around 4pm. We unloaded our bikes, had a quick shower and then headed to Naftah as I wanted to visit the Star Wars set. I am a die-hard Star Wars fan and had been dreaming of visiting the Star Wars sets for a long time. There’s a narrow, but good road that leads you through desert surroundings to the set. We made it just in time for the sunset, which was the absolute perfect time to visit this magnificent place. A dream come true! It was just like I imagined it! There are small markets in the ‘city’ where you can buy all kinds of souvenirs. The buildings are just as you see it in the movie and I was just waiting for a real-life Darth Vader to show up at any moment.

Next day we hit the road to do some really fun off-road riding to a lesser-known location known as Rommel Piste, near Gafsa. It is a road that was built by Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) (also known as the "Desert Fox", Wüstenfuchs), who was perhaps the most famous German Field Marshal of World War II. It’s a windy (fairly challenging) road up and over a mountain from which the view is absolutely spectacular! From what I understand this road was built to carry supplies over the mountain during the war. (My more knowledgeable Tunisian friends can help me out on this one)

We made it in a cool 52 degree dry heat and took a break at the top to just sit on top of the world and take in the sights. Then we made our way back down the other side and rode on to Mides gorge which is just a few kilometers from the Algerian border and then we also went to visit the waterfall and oasis in Tamaqzah.

Anis - chilling out

There are so many wonderful and interesting sites to visit in this magnificent country and I’ll definitely be back to explore more…on a regular basis!

Next day our route took us back to Gafsa, then through Kasserine and on to El Kef where we would spend the night and another friend Mehdi Barrak would join us from Tunis.

Part of our route took us along the Algerian border, which was both exciting and annoying as it’s the only North African country I would not travel through due to being denied a visa.

We also visited the Table de Jugurtha (which made me miss Table Mountain back in Cape Town in South Africa), before heading into El Kef. We booked into a hotel for the night, parked our bikes and headed out for dinner and to meet up with Mehdi a little later on. We walked around town a bit and got to experience a bit of the nightlife. It’s a unique and interesting experience how places come alive at night during Ramadan. I really enjoy it.

Next day Anis, Mehdi and I rode together further north to Tabarka, which is a city on the coast, again, near the Algerian border. What caught my attention in this town is it’s obvious love for music and arts. Everywhere in town you will find big sculptures of musical instruments placed at intersections. It’s lovely.

From Tabarka we then headed back ‘home’ to Tunis. By the time we got back I had received confirmation that I would be able to get my visa for Libya at the border!

Since I now received the go-ahead to enter Libya I could start planning for my trip south to the border. Nawfel was so kind as to offer to ride with me! That evening we joined some friends for dinner with their family and another fellow North African Rider, Sofiane Meddeb, also offered to join us for the ride to the border. And so it was arranged! We would ride from Tunis to Tataouine, where I would get to visit more Star Wars sites and other really interesting and beautiful places.

From Tunis we headed to Sfax, then Gabes and on to Matmata for lunch. After Matmata we stopped off in Toujene to visit local carpet makers and were kindly offered tea and locally made flatbread and olive oil. From here we visited Ksar Hadada, another famous Star Wars site. From Ksar Hadada we headed for Tataouine where we booked into a hotel for the night and all jumped into the pool for a well-deserved ‘cooling down’.

Next day we left Tataouine and visited the the town of Chenini and then the abandoned city of Douiret. A town built up on the hills by nomadic folk years ago. These cities were used as the main storage facility for their food and supplies and the reason why it’s built high up on top of the hills is to give them a vantage point so as to see when enemies approach to potentially attack the village. Very interesting.

Sofiane and Nawfel

From here we then carried on to Djerba island. First stop was a pottery visit at a local potter’s shop. Here his son gave us a demonstration as to the processes in pottery making. Nawfel bought me a very cool souvenir. (I’ll try upload a video at some point of this genial souvenir).

We then had a wonderful, freshly grilled fish lunch at Guellala.

We then stayed at Hotel Riadh in Homt Souk for the night. A wonderful hotel with a beautiful open foyer where you can sit and have coffee and just relax. They even allowed us to park our bikes inside.

Next morning we had breakfast at Café Ben Yedder and then headed for the Libyan border at Ras Ajdir via Ben Guerdane.

Nawfel and Soufiane rode with me all the way to the border and didn’t leave until I was received by the Libyan guys from the other side! At first I was told that non-Tunisian and non-Libyan vehicles were not allowed through the border. But after some waiting and negotiating and calls to the chief, I was finally allowed through.

And with that I had to say farewell to my beautiful Tunisia!
Definitely my favorite country so far. I love all the countries I’ve traveled through so far, but Tunisia has something extra special!

I met so many amazing, amazing people and am super grateful for the fantastic hospitality and support shown to me. I really hope to return again very soon!! Inchallah!
Tunisia and her beautiful people will always have a special place in my heart!!
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: "Holy shit!! What a ride!!"
JoRust is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-27-2013, 04:43 PM   #64
It's raining here
wheatwhacker's Avatar
Joined: Oct 2006
Location: Cork, Ireland
Oddometer: 2,984
Great report and pic's.
Have a safe trip.
European bike sales and storage.
wheatwhacker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2013, 06:28 AM   #65
Pickup man
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Dec 2011
Location: People's Socialist Republic of Ontario, Toronto
Oddometer: 289
One of my favourite Ride Reports just keeps geting better and better.
Fantastic stuff Jo , this is like a National Geographic Traveller episode on steroids with motorbikes. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together for us.
Pickup man is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2013, 12:08 AM   #66
Joined: Aug 2013
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Oddometer: 2
What a fantastic RR, Jo, I'm just loving seeing more of my own continent through your eyes.
mousebird is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2013, 04:56 AM   #67
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Jul 2012
Location: Austin, Texas
Oddometer: 976

Your recall of information is a great help to someone considering traveling Africa by motorcycle. Very candid, very entertaining, very informative and some great photos! Subscribed
GSF1200S is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2013, 11:27 AM   #68
JoRust OP
JoRust's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Africa
Oddometer: 50
Liberating Libya:

Not the easiest country to get into or travel through. Firstly, it’s not easy to get a visa for Libya nowadays. They don’t give tourist visas, which means you have to get a business visa or transit visa, both of which are quite pricy. Secondly, you need to arrange with a travel agency to hire a guide/escort, who will accompany you throughout. And then there are the countless checkpoints you have to negotiate your way through.

I crossed the border from Tunisia to Libya at the Ras Jdir post on the northern coast, which is also Libya’s most northern point.

Libyan Border

It had been arranged with a friend from Tripoli to meet me at the border and accompany me to the capital. What I did not expect to find is more than twenty bikers to be waiting to surprise me on the other side of the border! I was astonished. What a wonderful surprise!

The paperwork went fairly quickly and smoothly on the Libyan side. I was issued a transit visa and had to pay 100 LYD (Libyan Dinar – 1 USD = 1.2 LYD). And in no time I was introduced to the group and we headed for Tripoli. First stop would be to see the 2000-year-old ancient Roman ruins in Sabratha. But first, I would be welcomed by way of automatic gunfire before we even reach Sabratha. About halfway between the border and the ancient ruins, we pass a pickup with a man sitting on the back, holding an AK47 / Kalashnikov. He fires a few rounds as a way of ‘saluting’ us as we pass by. Immediately, all eyes shoot to me to see how I might react? I just smile and give a thumbs-up to let everyone know I’m fine and not freaking out…yet.

We stop off in Sabratha and the guys show me around, giving me an informative tour of the ancient ruins. It’s a pretty amazing place to visit. These places fascinate me as I try to imagine what it must have been like back in those days. In the time of the Phoenicians and the Great Roman Empire.

After the tour and a rest under the trees, we continued on. We stopped at a fuel station and one of the riders asked me: “Why do you smile the whole time? Do you know you’re in Libya”? I found this a bit strange. Why do I smile all the time? Because I’m happy to be alive. Because I’m on a grand adventure. I have many reasons to smile.

We arrived in Tripoli and I was checked into Hotel Thobacts on Omar Al Mokhtar street. A very nice hotel that the ministry of tourism was so kind to put me up in for four days during my stay in Tripoli. I had initially planned to spend only a few days in Libya. Maybe one night in Tripoli, one night in Misrata, one in Sirte and finally in Benghazi. But it soon became very clear that there would be no chance of that. My hosts were extremely kind and adamant that I stay on longer.

I got to meet many riders in Tripoli and the amazingly talented (and slightly crazy) stunt riders that Libya is famous for amongst the biking communities. I was received by the Minister of Tourism, Ms Ikram Bash Imam, who welcomed me to Libya and wished me well for the rest of my journey. Very kind and she also offered any assistance I may need during my stay in Libya.

I also had the opportunity to meet with the head of the Libyan motorcycling federation, Masaud Jerbi who invited me for dinner and then surprised me with a donation from the federation towards my trip! A big, huge thank you to him for his amazing kindness and generosity. And also Mr Harim Al Turki who organized to meet with Mr Jerbi and who also serviced my bike at no charge.

Whilst in Tripoli I also got to meet up with a friend whom I first met in 2011 when I was still cycling around Africa. I met up with Philip Zaayman and his wife Janine in Namibia. I was on my way North towards Angola and they had ridden up from Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa to attend a wedding in northern Namibia. And now, all this time later I got to meet up with Philip again on the other side of the continent! It’s a small world!

When the time came to finally hit the road again, I had two Honda Gold wings and four riders to accompany me all the way to Misrata. Normally, tourists are not allowed to travel alone in Libya and I was happy and grateful for the company. I had heard so many horror stories, especially when it comes to negotiating your way through checkpoints with heavily armed men who are not always interested in your long sad story.

The road from Libya to Misrata is fairly straightforward and easy to follow. Busy in places and maybe a bit broken here and there, but overall a good tar road. Before getting to Misrata we stopped off in Khoms to meet up with a group of riders and have a tour of the world famous Leptis Magna ruins. To quite from Wikipedia: “Today, the site of Leptis Magna is the site of some of the most impressive ruins of the Roman period.” It really is spectacular and well worth the visit!

Good luck with reading the sign posts

From Khoms we headed to Misrata where we would spend the night. I stayed in a hotel and the boys elsewhere with friends. I checked into my hotel and then went out with the guys to meet up with a big group of bikers who had come together to celebrate the wedding of a friend and fellow rider. It’s a custom in Libya that when a fellow rider gets married, all the riders in that city/town come together to celebrate the occasion by way of revving engines and spectacular stunts. The group comes together in a certain location and then awaits the groom’s arrival. Then the show starts. From here all the riders follow the groom’s car to the area where the rest of the wedding’s proceedings take place. The groom and bride are separate and the men don’t get to see the women as they celebrate on their own. The groom sits on a chair/sofa as his brothers, uncles, nephews, friends and rest of the men of the family come up to congratulate him. I got to congratulate both the groom and the bride. But out of respect I cannot reveal what goes on behind the curtain where the ladies celebrate. It’s a secret. It’s also become a custom nowadays in Libya for pistols and automatic rifles to be fired in celebration, especially at weddings.

Seeing as everyone and their dog have a gun in Libya, I became quite used to shots being fired around me all the time. As long as it’s not aimed at me, I don’t mind all that much.

After the celebrations I returned to my hotel and turned in for the night. Next morning I was informed that I would have to carry on, on my own as the guys would be returning to Libya. At first I was a bit shocked. As I mentioned, normally a foreigner is not allowed to travel alone. I didn’t have much of a choice and just sent out positive vibes that everything would be okay.

I rode alone from Misrata to Ajdabiya, which is a city just south of Benghazi. Just over 600 kilometers and countless checkpoints in between. First checkpoint – no problems. I was just waved through. So far so good. Second checkpoint – I get stopped and told to remove my helmet. I do as I’m ordered and the ‘officers’ (not all the checkpoints are manned by military officers, some are civilians, some are ‘other’ groups) are, understandably, taken aback to see a woman riding in Libya on her own. At first they tell me that I cannot ride on my own as it’s too dangerous. In my (very) limited Arabic, I try to explain to them that I was told that it would be no problem and the minister of tourism is aware that I am traveling through Libya. I phone my friend Ahmed Busefi in Tripoli and hand the phone to the officer. After a few minutes of incomprehensible discussion the officer hands me my phone back and indicates that I am free to proceed. He tells me not to stop for anyone and to keep going until I reach Ajdabiya. I thank them and proceed, wondering if this will be the case at every checkpoint.

I am happy to report that I do not get stopped at any of the checkpoints I pass through all the way to Ajdabiya.

On route I stop off in Sirte as I wanted to visit this city that had been nearly destroyed in the war. A friend of Ahmed receives me with a cameraman in tow. A very kind gentleman who takes me to his house and offers me dates and fresh milk. He takes me on a tour of the city and describes to me what it was like to sit in his house whilst bombs are being dropped outside and automatic weapons tore down his walls. My heart breaks as we ride through the city and I bare witness to the catastrophic consequences that war brings with it. The pain and anguish is so tangible it’s like a thick fog that hangs in the air. And for what? Visiting Sirte had an immense impact on me and it’s something I will never forget.

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: "Holy shit!! What a ride!!"
JoRust is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2013, 11:44 AM   #69
JoRust OP
JoRust's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Africa
Oddometer: 50
After my visit to Sirte I headed straight for Ajdabiya and had no hassles at any of the checkpoints. Hamdoulah. (Thanks God in Arabic)
On route I had a few cars who hung around, either with kids who waved non stop and took pictures (very sweet) or people just following me out of curiosity. There was one Ford pickup who rode behind me, then passed me and slowed down again to ride next to me. The driver opened his window and shouted to me in English: “Where are you from”? I answered him and then his next question was: “You are a woman”? I guess he could hear that I am a woman because you can’t really tell when I’m wearing all my gear on the bike. I just nodded. He then tried to persuade me to load my bike on the back of the truck saying: “It’s really not safe to be riding in Libya”. I thanked him but refused his offer and told him that I would be fine. The last time I trusted some guys in a Ford pickup was when all my belongings got stolen in Angola. Once bitten, twice shy.

I did, admittedly, stop once before Ajdabiya to take a quick break. A car pulled over next to me and the man driving asked me if I was okay? “Kolo tmam” I answered. (All good)
He invited me to stay in his house with his family for the night and to have a meal with them. I had to decline as I had people waiting for me in Ajdabiya. I thanked him for his kind offer and then set off again for the last push to the town.

I arrived and luckily found the guys that Ahmed had arranged to meet with me and take me to my hotel. I stayed in the Amal Africa hotel and I was not to pay anything as my hosts kindly made me understand that it’s against Arab culture to let your guests pay. I am astonished at the number of really nice and high-class hotels in Libya. But I wonder how they manage to survive? I was starving as I’d only eaten a few dates so kindly offered to me in Sirte and a glass of milk. The guys took me out for dinner in town and we sat chatting about my trip and my time in Libya. Then on the way back to the hotel I asked if we could please stop at a shop so I could buy some snacks and cold drinks for the next day to Benghazi. In the shop I wanted to buy a can of Sprite and a pack of cookies. The owner of the shop took out another can and a handful of chocolate bars, put it in a bag and gave it to me. When I wanted to pay he refused and said: “Welcome in Libya”.

Next morning, a good friend of mine named Nabil rode to Ajdabiya along with four other bikers to meet me and accompany me to Benghazi. I thanked my kind hosts and we hit the road. It was very windy on the way to Benghazi. The road is good, surrounded by desert-like views most of the way. We stopped off for a quick coffee halfway and here I met a Tunisian man who owned the coffee shop. He was married to an English girl so his English was really good and we had a nice long chat. I told him how much I love and miss Tunisia. He also refused to let me pay for my coffee.

In Benghazi I stayed in Hotel Juliana. Amazing hotel! I met the owner of the hotel as well. A very kind, decent man who, once again, refused to let me pay for my stay. My friend Nabil looked after me very well and took me on a tour of the town. At night I had dinner with the guys who had ridden with me from Ajdabiya and we all became good friends. One of the things I will always remember about my time in Benghazi is the sound of fireworks and gunshots at night. Every night there would be wedding celebrations taking place right near the hotel. And every night we’d bare witness to firework shows and gun shots going off in celebration of newly weds.

View at Hotel Juliana

At this point is when the proverbial paw-paw hit the fan in Egypt and I had to make a decision. Either I would have to return to Tunisia or carry on to Egypt. A very good friend and very well known fellow adventure rider in Alexandria, Omar Mansour, was advising me on the situation in Egypt on a daily basis. Although I would’ve loved to return to my beloved Tunisia, there was just no way I could skip out on visiting ‘Om Edonia’ – The mother of the world, that is Egypt.

So after three nights’ stay in Benghazi I headed for Tubruq with my new friends who accompanied me all the way. We took the quiet desert road to Tubruq which was great. I love the desert and enjoy riding through the desert. (It’s a tar road, surrounded by desert)

At a stop to refuel I had a wonderful experience that brings a smile to my face even as I think back now. I was refilling my bike and an old man came to stand next to me. The guys explained to him who I am and in no time a small crowd of men gathered around me. This old man with wisdom in his eyes and deep settled wrinkles of experience on his face took my hand and repeated a dozen times: “Ahlan wa sahlan, marhaban, ahlan wa sahlan, ahlan wa sahlan”. Which basically means: welcome, welcome, welcome.

Just outside of Tubruq, a big group of riders had come to welcome us with a television crew in tow. After greetings and quick introductions I was taken to the Tubruq Square where snacks and refreshments had been prepared for everyone and lots and lots of photos were taken. A grand welcome in my last town in Libya before I would cross to Egypt.

Tubruq Square

I spent two nights in Tubruq in a nice little hotel near the square, my room overlooking the town with a nice view over a beautiful mosque nearby. I don’t know why but I feel deeply nostalgic when I hear the Adhan (Azan) – The call to prayer.

I had a small incident in this hotel when a young man who works in the hotel came to my room the morning after my arrival. He came under the pretenses of finding out whether I wanted to have breakfast brought to my room? I had just woken up and told him I would take breakfast in the restaurant a little later. He then pushed the door open and took a step towards me, trying to kiss me. I immediately stepped back and he asked: “Are you afraid of me”. No buddy, but come any closer and I’ll give you reason to be afraid of me! I pushed him back against the wall and told him to leave. He looked surprised and said: “Please, don’t tell anyone okay”? Later in the restaurant he brought me a chocolate as to ‘buy’ my silence. It wasn’t a big deal and at first I didn’t want to mention it. But later on that day I went to the beach with my friends and Nabil asked me if everything was okay and if the people at the hotel were treating me well? I decided to tell him about what happened. I explained to him that I didn’t want a fuss made over the issue. He told me not to say anything to anyone and that it would be taken care of.

Next morning I got ready to leave for the border. The guys arranged to meet me in front of my hotel early in the morning and then they would ride with me all the way. 7 Libyan riders arrived at the hotel and the head of the Tubruq riders asked me to point out the boy to him that had come to my room. I knew then that this was not to be a pleasant start to my day. How would you feel if seven big strong Libyan bikers descended on you all of the sudden? You would crap yourself! Trust me, I almost did and I was standing outside. Suffice it to say that the boy learned a very valuable lesson, the hard way. There was no blood, I can tell you that much. But there was a lot of screaming and shouting as he was dragged outside to apologize to me. I felt really bad!

And so, with some excitement to start the day with, we hit the road to the border.

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: "Holy shit!! What a ride!!"
JoRust is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2013, 02:36 PM   #70
Gnarly Adventurer
Johnnydarock's Avatar
Joined: May 2009
Location: Redondo Beach CA
Oddometer: 308
Crap! Just saw your report and couldn't walk away. I had to keep reading. I look forward to the rest of your journey home.

I've been to all of north Africa many time (never on a bike) and experienced Arab kindness everywhere I went. I'm glad your buddies didn't kill that hotel I have similar but worse stories like that one.

Ride safe!

Johnny da Rock
Johnnydarock is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2013, 04:48 PM   #71
crowe2815's Avatar
Joined: Oct 2011
Location: andamooka South Australia
Oddometer: 294
What a great read. looking forward to the next update.
crowe2815 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2013, 07:49 PM   #72
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Oroville & Placerville, California U.S.of A.
Oddometer: 1,222

Just read your story from the start in one sitting! Thanks for sharing your story. Between you and Mark (Radioman) I have spend lots of time reading and dreaming Best wishes for a safe and fun continuing adventure.
jbcaddy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-30-2013, 09:57 AM   #73
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: SoCal
Oddometer: 82
Great Adventure!

A wonderful RR - sounds like a great adventure! Kudos to you!
2015 BMW R1200GSAW
Starstruck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-30-2013, 01:10 PM   #74
Beastly Adventurer
GiorgioXT's Avatar
Joined: Dec 2003
Oddometer: 1,406
Very lekker report !

When you want to come see Italy and Alps just tell me .
Giorgio Betteto "GiorgioXT" - Padova - Tai di Cadore -Italia
DRZ400 S '03 XT600 '90 XT550 '82 XT500 '81 - - - EchM#645
"se sei incerto tieni APERTO !
GiorgioXT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-01-2013, 01:19 PM   #75
Bike & Beer
Grouik's Avatar
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Belgium
Oddometer: 81
Thank you for this wonderful RR
One day, I will go to Tunisia as well !

commute every day on a 1150 GSA, and plan adventurous trip every night
Grouik is offline   Reply With Quote


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Times are GMT -7.   It's 02:03 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2015