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Old 01-25-2012, 11:00 PM   #121
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Malaria

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwilightZone View Post
>"Our host is Madame Poulet, the wife of a local motherfucker"

Eh ???? !!!!!!!!!!
Local motherfucker = Ex. County Deputy

DRC 19/12 - 23/12


We were aware of the risks associated with crossing over 2000 km of extreme tracks through some of the most remote areas of DRC. Most importantly, we were slap in the middle of rainy season, when chances to become ill with malaria are peaking. We have been taking prophylactic Doxycicline for the last 4 months, hoping that we had not been poisoning our liver and whole immune system with this large spectrum antibiotic for nothing. Doxy is the poor man's Malarone, but with quite unpleasant side effects: extreme sensitivity to sun exposure, interference with the menstrual cycle etc. We gambled, and we lost.



The day before the last day on Doxy, Ana started to have a fever and to feel generally weak. After 2 days of paranoia, the self test for malaria turned inconclusive, so we head to a private hospital, for a blood test. A few hours later the verdict was implacable: malaria!

We had to accept the fact that we had been taking drugs in vain and that Ana was sick, but at least she was in a country where malaria is curable and almost a banality. We were bitter, but we were no longer scared, and Ana prepared calmly for 24 hours of shock treatment with Falcidox and Doliprane. She felt completely drained, hardly slept while sitting up, trying to cope with the non-stop nausea that made her unable to eat and vomit even the water. The emphatic gang was feasting on the most gourmet meals in Matadi: grilled kafta and beef steaks from the Lebanese butchery, with pantagruelic tomato salads, juicy pineapple and fragrant aubergine couscous. We felt sorry that Ana couldn't eat with us, and we forget about the uneventful Congolese staples altogether. No more manioc leaves stew, beans and manioc & maize fufu for us!



Slowly, our bike and gear were being prepared for the toughest roads ever: I changed the rear and front sprockets, cleaned the chain and mechanical parts (suspension, brakes + engine), I did my best to hammer back into shape the luggage frame, badly bent after the tumbles on the soapy laterite of Congo.



Alper meticulously cleaned his KTM and Toyo and serviced the car at a local garage, so did Jacques. We had our HQ at Bienvenu's place, a young Congolese who lived in Limosges but was visiting the family for a week, and whom Alper met in the street. We pitched our tents at his sisters, on the veranda of an unfinished house, where we scrubbed and tooled for a few days, getting ready for the adventure and dealing with Ana's malaria.



This time our we had something new in our luggage: a box of Falcidox, knowing that eventually malaria will be back, and that we would not take Doxy again!

P.S. The unusual levels of white cells indicated an infection of the blood, so the doctor also prescribed Ana 2 other antibiotics. Knowing that we all had superficial wounds, that due to extreme humidity and poor hygiene while on the road were infected and not healing properly, we chose not to buy the drugs and to allow the body to recover naturally.
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Old 01-25-2012, 11:46 PM   #122
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Great pictures as usual....

How many Kms on the moto now ?

:)
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:51 AM   #123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrwwwhite View Post
We have been taking prophylactic Doxycicline for the last 4 months, hoping that we had not been poisoning our liver and whole immune system with this large spectrum antibiotic for nothing. Doxy is the poor man's Malarone, but with quite unpleasant side effects: extreme sensitivity to sun exposure, interference with the menstrual cycle etc. We gambled, and we lost.
We had the same experience - it seems to me that by taking prophylactic you mask the Malaria's symptoms when they come. Our quick-test turned out to be negative as well while in hospital it was positive. My symptoms weren't normal Malaria symptoms as well - I didn't feel cold or shiver, fever didn't rise rapidy etc. I just felt like shete overall, worse than a bad hangover for days, unwilling to live.

Next time I'm not sure if I'll take prophylactic - at least I know when Malaria strikes with normal symptoms and I don't confuse it with something else. But yet during the wet season - maybe it's better to take !? Tough call!

Take it easy, net everything up around you and heal up. I know it's not easy in the wet tropics when every bacteria wants to eat you alive any they tend to have a perverse habit of enjoying "warm beer" from your own stinkin sweat! :P

Safe sand-mudracing in DRC,
Margus

tsiklonaut screwed with this post 01-26-2012 at 01:57 AM
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:04 AM   #124
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Indeed Doxy does mask the malaria symptoms and supports your body in coping with the disease, which fools into thinking you may be dealing with something else. Ana had a mild fever (38.5) but I was feeling very weak overall, which made her suspect for two days that it was bloody malaria.
For sure we will not take Doxy again, maybe malarone, which is 100% sure and will not fuck up you liver and immune system. Anyways, taking pills for months is doomed to have side effects that may be worse than malaria itself. We have been riding in wet season since Burkina and in DRC it was the worst. Long sleeves, long trousers, repellant, but hey, this is Africa.
Now we are dealing with the nasty effect of long term antibiotics: all in our 6 people group suffer from minor wounds that take ages to heal, puss coming out of every scratch, even the kids who were on Malarone.
Cheers for the support and stay tuned for crazy stuff straight from the DRC bush.

Calm winter and a happy new year to you!

John & Ana

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsiklonaut View Post
We had the same experience - it seems to me that by taking prophylactic you mask the Malaria's symptoms when they come. Our quick-test turned out to be negative as well while in hospital it was positive. My symptoms weren't normal Malaria symptoms as well - I didn't feel cold or shiver, fever didn't rise rapidy etc. I just felt like shete overall, worse than a bad hangover for days, unwilling to live.

Next time I'm not sure if I'll take prophylactic - at least I know when Malaria strikes with normal symptoms and I don't confuse it with something else. But yet during the wet season - maybe it's better to take !? Tough call!

Take it easy, net everything up around you and heal up. I know it's not easy in the wet tropics when every bacteria wants to eat you alive any they tend to have a perverse habit of enjoying "warm beer" from your own stinkin sweat! :P

Safe sand-mudracing in DRC,
Margus
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:01 AM   #125
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>"Local motherfucker = Ex. County Deputy"

Heh... we call our county departments the same way... (well at least close).

Glad to hear you're doing ok... (aside from Malaria). Was kinda worried about your lack of posts.
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Old 01-26-2012, 11:49 AM   #126
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Dear Ionut and Ana,






I wish you a speedy recovery and be healthy to do it to finish your journey.



Michalis.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:13 PM   #127
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DR Congo Rally - Kinshasa to Lubumbashi

Etapa 1/ Stage 1: Kinshasa - Tchikapa


Ziua/ Day 1 - 23/12
Km: 530
Traseu/ Route: Kinshasa - Kikwit
Starea drumului/ Road: asfalt/ good tarmac
Vremea/ Weather: 36°C, insorit/ sunny & hot


Last day in Kishasa was day of shopping for the road ahead in the scruffy central market, watching the inauguration of Joseph Kabila on TV while the capital was in freeze mode under the watchful eye of heavily armed forces. By night though we were enjoying our Congo Kiese moment, with barbecued meats and bear and music and Congolese friends.


Time to leave our camp in the catholic mission. Our German friends, Alper & Esther, had left 2 days earlier.

We were hoping for an easy drive on the tarmac, but we were slowed down by the village crossings and many police checkpoints, even if the bike riding in front of the jeep helped a lot with the ever inquisitive officials and non-officials. There seems to be a general conviction that tourists are being sponsored by their governments to travel, I don't' think we were able to clear people mind on that matter! As African domestic animals are roaming the streets unattended for, just like their kids, eventually a cock, two chickens, a duck and a bat ended up under the wheels of the Land Rover.
Just as we had done in Cameroon, we were rolling on the kids' schedule, so we would be stopping for lunch and to allow them regular play and nap time. Soon though, we would realize that we had underestimated the duration of our trip and the availability of food along the piste, so we would face hunger and thirst, while our supplies quickly finished.



50 km before Kikwit - where the tarmac ends - my front tyre gave up. Luckily Alper had agreed to sell me his spare Pirelli MT21 in Matadi, so one hour later I had mounted the new rubber, confident that this will make the offroad drive ahead much easier. But Congo had a different plan for us...





It was almost midnight when we rolled in the catholic mission of Kikwit. While we started to set up the camp, Jacques went on a scooter with a priest to register our passports with the police. Just like in Congo Brazzaville, here tourists cannot just show up and go, people would inform the officials of our presence then we would have to submit our papers for registration. Sometimes they would just write down our data on pieces of paper or into handbooks, another reminder of the communist era in Romania.
With the tent pitched we were about to cook dinner, when Jacques returned with bleak news: we had to pack everything up and go, the mayor had given us an ultimatum; sleep at his place or leave town. Jacques had tried to explain that we had children sleeping, we were too tired to move and it was late, offering to visit in the morning, but we either accepted to be "supervised" or took off. It was like an army drill: completely burned off we dismantled and packed up everything, then set them up again on a football field at the outskirts of Kikwit. Some Indomie instant noodles for the men - the girls opted out - and off to sleep.



It was our most violent morning yet: at 5.30 a.m. we heard people screaming and by 6 we were dressed, we had packed our stuff inside the tent and were ready to unzip and face the crowds. They were shouting at us to come out and show ourselves, and at some point someone stepped on the tent and almost tumbled on it. So we got out. We were surrounded by more than 100 people standing where the tent ended, not even a centimeter left. We had to push them away to get to the bike and like a wave they opened then shut behind us. We tried to be as fast as we could, in the frantic madness someone pulled Ana's hair to see if it was real and we lost it. There was no room for smiles and friendly handshakes, we left pissed, stressed and hungry, worried about what this part of Africa had in store for us.







For the first time in six months we were not excited. What were we doing there? Would we be able to cope with everything while crossing some of the most remote regions of the continent?
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:23 PM   #128
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Thanx ,it is fantastic ride and photos;i like say to yours safe ride and good lucks
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:30 PM   #129
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Ziua/ Day 2 - 24/12 Ajunul Craciunului/ Christmas Eve
Km: 94
Traseu/ Route: Kikwit towards Idiofa
Starea drumului/ Road: nisip umed, adanc/ deep wet sand
Vremea/ Weather: 37°C, insorit/ sunny & hot


The truck drivers from Kinshasa advised us to take the Kikwit - Idiofa - Ilebo - Kananga route, much faster and better than the treacherous N1 via Tchikapa. So 40 km outside Kikwit we turned left, finally exiting on the wet sandy piste, the beginning of our offroad escape to Zambia. Soon I was struggling to find the perfect line, no way I could cut through the deep sand, forced to balance the hefty load of the bike on the narrow sides where no vehicle had passed yet. Hot savannah landscape was punctuated by palm trees and the eventual village where we shopped for pineapple, welcomed by some villager and his strangely beautiful handcrafted sort of guitar. As the road turned uphill, we met with a truck that had been unloaded, so that it could drive up. The merchandise is then back-carried to the top and re-loaded on the truck. This painstaking maneuver is standard routine for these heavily loaded vehicles that carry manioc, crisps and palm oil to the next towns and villages from KIN.


At some point Ana climbed the roof of the Landie, you can see her boots in the photo :)





It was Xmas Eve, an incentive to quickly set up camp and cook our cabbage for dinner. We had promised the kids a big fire to help Santa find us in the middle of nowhere. We lit a glorious pile of wood and waited for the flying sleigh to magically show up on the tropical sky.
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Old 01-27-2012, 02:27 PM   #130
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Wow

Wow, you guys certainly rode the tread right off those tires...... impressive.

Excellent reports!

Stay safe and God speed!
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:15 PM   #131
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Ziua/ Day 3 - 25/12 Craciunul/ Christmas Day
Km: 82
Starea drumului/ Road: nisip negru adanc/ deep wet black sand
Vremea/ Weather: 37°C, insorit/ sunny & hot


In the morning the kids had plenty of gifts to unwrap: Barbies, books, candy, sunglasses. We gave Jacques a Brie and Camembert to Delphine, and Cadbury toffees to the kiddies. We got almond candy for ourselves. :) Happy days!






Elisa with her new doll



As we were packing up, an unsettling SMS from Alper arrived: we had 2 ferry crossing ahead of us and the first required 15000 francs, 10 liters of diesel and a 24V battery to start up the engine. We had researched before departure and were aware of the epic story of a Belgian couple who struggled on the route from Lubumbashi to KIN a couple of years back. They had done it in dry season and still had barely made it with the car in one piece. They had mentioned this dreaded ferry crossing, when they got stuck in the middle of the river, battery dead, having to push start the jeep on the ferry to recharge the battery and be able to keep going. A horror story and we were dead sure we were not on the same route, but w e were wrong. So we wondered: are we prepared to face such a situation or should be try to go back and follow the alternate route via N1? After much deliberation, we opted against the ferry gamble and we spend the rest of the day going back to the tarmac, which 20 km off the junction became un-passable due to a broken bridge. The new piste was here: a narrow path hardly visible from the main road, but this was the path that we had chosen to follow 2000 km east to Lubumbashi.

Ziua/ Day 4 - 26/12
Km: 113
Starea drumului/ Road: nisip negru adanc/ deep wet black sand
Vremea/ Weather: 38°C, furtuna matinala urmata de soare/ morning storm followed by sun


Rainy season is in full swing, but luckily we are spared from the impressive storm!


The moist sand is not so bad, but soon the sun dries up the road and I am reminded of the Mali to Burkina day of hell.




Elisa doesn't miss a single chance to walk barefoot on the warm soft sand, a true free spirit!


At lunch we have a new birthday celebration in our little group: Lea is turning 5 and Delphine had improvised a yummy cake, breakfast cereals and chocolate truffles. Lea gets the classic French "1000 Bornes" and Cadbury chocolate from us. Happy B-Day, Lea!





The unsealed National 1 is routinely crossed by surreally charged trucks and lorries. The scarred body of sand, mud and water could be more accurately described as a piece of land art, rather than a national road. Torrential downpours transform the pits dug by the truck people into massive craters. Green murky waters fill them, rotting, smelling, glistening like puss on a corpse. This unimaginable road is where hundreds of bike-people spend their lives. They push their modified bikes, loaded with over 100 liters of fuel, for days and days under the scorching sun, through the deep muddy sand, supplying petrol and diesel throughout the region. This in turn yields record prices for fuel: 2600 francs/liter!!!!!


In this difficult terrain even finding a bush camp can be tricky…
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Old 01-29-2012, 08:22 AM   #132
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Hi Both.

Very much enjoying reading your RR and even more so your excelent photos; they bring the story of your adventure to life.

As a friend of mine has recently bought a Tenere like yours and has intentions I'm sure of taking 2up trips on it, can I ask how your bike has performed as a two up machine. Have you any advice for him and other Tenere riders on modifications you've made, would've liked to have made or shouldn't have made?

BTW, coincidentally, I live theses days not to far from Toulouse where your French Land Rover driving friends live.

Cheers
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Old 01-29-2012, 12:04 PM   #133
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:01 AM   #134
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The new Tenere is an amazing machine!!! It does not excel in any areas but that's an advantage when you want reliability. The bike has now 37000 km, 25000km of 2up africa adventure and is still in a really good shape. Ok I had the clutch fried in Cameroon but that was part my mistake part extra wear because of the crazy weight (sometimes we pass 400kg and the recommended max weight is 390kg).

I changed some parts (the full list is on our blog and here at the start of the thread) and probably the most important mod for 2up riding is changing the rear spring with a progressive one (this way you limit the risk of blowing up the shock). I choose HYPERPRO (they were between the few who really helped us from the beginning) for the front and the rear and you can feel the difference. I really should have changed the rear rim and spokes for 18" from EXCEL (more tough and a lot more offroad tires to choose from... there's a kit available at OFF THE ROAD). Although I thought that I would never ride at night it happens so 2 LED projectors is a really cool feature (9 LED chinese projectors are available on ebay and are really cheap at ~40$). There is a great community at xt660.com and you can find a lot of info about the Tenere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by potski View Post
Hi Both.

Very much enjoying reading your RR and even more so your excelent photos; they bring the story of your adventure to life.

As a friend of mine has recently bought a Tenere like yours and has intentions I'm sure of taking 2up trips on it, can I ask how your bike has performed as a two up machine. Have you any advice for him and other Tenere riders on modifications you've made, would've liked to have made or shouldn't have made?

BTW, coincidentally, I live theses days not to far from Toulouse where your French Land Rover driving friends live.

Cheers
Potski

Ziua/ Day 5 - 27/12
Km: 30
Starea drumului/ Road: nisip adanc/ deep sand
Vremea/ Weather: 38°C, soare/ hot


Some 50 people arrive in the early hours to see the strangers who slept in the bush. They were hoping we can give them some jobs, but they had to settle with an ordinary session of white watching...


…followed by a hoot shoot.


Our day was to be remembered for 3 crucial moments when the Landie got badly stuck. We were becoming experts at lifting, cabling, digging, but we were still novices in tracing the hidden water under the sandy tracks, the moving sand patches, the traps. In Congo you are never alone, even in the apparent middle of nowhere people would start pouring in from the bush, asking for money to help or even to just watch us struggle. We discovered that communication was difficult, and that people's minds are sometimes fogged by confusion and lack of correlation with the real world.







Then we hit rock bottom: it was my turn to get stuck, and it was to be the most spectacular moto event of the whole trip. If you have seen what happened to Cyril Despres during Dakar 2012, you get the idea. I tried to avoid the murky parts and I knew I could not balance the bike on the slender path for bicycles, so I took my chances and rev it up through what appeared to be a puddle. And I got stuck waist deep in mud, like in wet cement.




We got help from the 2 truck people we were helping to reach the next village. I was out, but I was also sure that I had to take some more load of the bike if we were to continue.

Ziua/ Day 6 - 28/12
Km: 40
Starea drumului/ Road: nisip adanc/ deep sand
Vremea/ Weather: 38°C, soare/ hot


Wild orchids in the bush where we slept over night. A good sign for the new day ahead of us!



But it was a deceitful one: this road was tougher than us, curving our every attempt to play it. The Defender got stock over and over again and the rescue tools started to get jammed with sand.





In the extreme heat the right front tyre was loose from the rim, so sand got in, and the tyre deflated. We soon leart that the air conditioning compressor from the car, that Jacques also used to power some handy tools, was no longer working. We would investigate that later at the bivouac. My chain was also looking bad… I was worried that we were heading for disaster. 3 km before the bridge in Luange we got stopped by the police again: we were crossing from one county to another, so they wanted to write down on their notebooks our passport and visa info. But they could hardly read or write, so after we beard with them 30 min., we just left. But after the bridge the others were waiting. One more hour of lame chatter, while Ana and Jacques were buying food and water from the villagers. Then we got the bad news: the trucks were stuck, blocking the deviation for the small vehicles, so we had to go through the enormous mud trenches. I got out through some villager's yard, but of course the car got stuck and the riot began: people gone berserk at the situation, and we struggled to cope with the stress, noise, heat and difficult operation. We somehow managed to get out of that madness and find a calm bush camp for our worn out souls.
But the night didn't spare us: a huge storm started, with massive thunders and lightenings that struck so close they made us cuddle in fear. Our tent was leaking water, we folded our mattresses, laid towels and t-shirts on the puddles that dribbled in, and tried to get some sleep.


Ziua/ Day 7 - 29/12
Km: 0
Vremea/ Weather: 36°C, soare/ hot

We knew we had to try to fix the compressor and inflate the tires, so got to work.


We oiled it and tried many things, but it was too late.


So we greased the elevator and inflated the tires with my small compressor.




In the meantime the girls did the laundry with rain water from last night.




Ziua/ Day 8 - 30/12
Km: 37
Starea drumului/ Road: nisip foarte adanc/ bad deep sand
Vremea/ Weather: 34°C innorat/ cloudy

Our most difficult moment will remain unphotographed. In the morning of our 200th day on African adventure, we had our toughest climb: a hilly, muddy track with huge holes dug by downpours. The kids and girls climbed on foot, but the car was inevitably stuck and later dug out. We had to dug away to cut our way, because the road was too narrow ahead to continue.

Before noon I was stuck in deep sand and I had to put the bike on one side and pull it away into the right track. Jacques jumped in to give me a hand, but slipped and fell onto his back, hitting the hardened roadside. For a few seconds he could not breathe: we knew we had to stop and lay the mat for him to rest. He took some anti-inflammatory drug and a pain killer, but we were all shaken by the event. After lunch he was not feeling any better and was too tired and too stressed to cope with the innumerable people that chased the car like hyenas a wounded elephant.



After another breakdown we knew the day should come to an end: we got out of the mud and searched for a place. Unfortunately we ended up in a fly infested plane, the bloody beast were biting really badly so we wasted no time to look for shelter in our tents.
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:48 AM   #135
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awesome report.

You guys might consider getting an adapter for one of your spark plug ports to use as an air compressor. Essentially the engine is an air compressor; pull one of the spark plugs, and install a Cylinder Leak Down tester, adapt an air chuck to the other end and you have a compressor now.....

Harbor Freight (I know they don't have a Harbor Freight down there, but you get the idea) has a cheap kit....

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