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Old 10-25-2011, 03:26 AM   #181
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10/18 Ride to Senga Bay

Another early morning after a long, hot night, but today we were heading north. Today's ride would only be a few hours, so we weren't in a particular hurry to get on the road. We also weren't looking forward to the 12.5 miles back to the main road. We packed up the bikes, showered, and were on the road by about 9 am. We made our way back down the horrible road, again taking about an hour to go the short distance back to the paved road. I am happy to report that we both made it without incident.

The rest of the ride to Senga Bay was easy but there was no petrol along the way. We reached the town of Salima, which is the turn off for Senga Bay at around noon. We were excited to see a line of minibuses surrounding the local BP station. With high hopes, we swooped in, only to find that fuel had been expected early in the day but had not yet arrived (and there hadn't been any for 5 days now...). Low on kwacha, we continued into Salima to look for an ATM. The first one we found was not working, but fortunately the second ATM was. Though we had cash in hand, we discovered that there would be no petrol anywhere today.

We rode the final 14 miles into Senga Bay and found a very nice campground as recommended by the Green Monster people. We are staying at Cool Runnings, a campsite and guesthouse run by Sam, a very cool woman who does many good things for the community. Camping here is cheap, but the restaurant is kind of expensive. It is a beautiful place though, with the first grassy lawn we've seen since Victoria Falls. It's so much nicer to camp on grass than in sand.

We noticed a set of Trax bags outside the tent next to ours. Chatting with Sam, we found that Stefan (the DR800 rider from Harare) had just left that morning for Tanzania, but that still here was Garth, an F800GS mounted rider from Seattle. We spent the afternoon setting up camp, inquiring about the fuel situation (not good), having lunch, and chatting with our fellow travelers. Later in the afternoon, Garth returned from his ride, and we spent much of the rest of the day talking about our respective trips. Initially we were surprised at his friendliness, but later found that at home he rides a Harley... Garth flew his GS to Frankfurt many months ago and has been riding southward ever since. His trip has been very different from ours and it was fun to hear of his adventures in northern and western Africa. After dinner and a couple of beers with Garth, we retired to the tent for another sweaty night. While we've experienced warmer air temperatures in other parts of Africa, the humidity here in Malawi is much higher. I imagine this is what much of the rest of our trip is going to be like.

110 miles in about 4 hours, including 12.5 miles of bad road.
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Old 10-25-2011, 03:31 AM   #182
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10/19 Bike Maintenance and Trip Planning

Sam, the owner of Cool Runnings, is also in need of petrol, so every morning she checks on availability. The bad news is that there will be no fuel today unless we would like the privilege of paying 750 kwacha per liter on the black market. Since we need 13 liters, that means it would cost us about 57USD for a little more than 3 gallons. Maybe some day, but not today. Instead, we decided to do some bike maintenance, namely clean the air filters and wash the bikes.



While we were getting ready to start on this, we said goodbye to Garth, since he was heading south. We spent some time comparing luggage setups and looking over each other's machines. Quite a study in contrast. Two completely different solutions to the same (or similar) question. Shortly after Garth left, I made a mad dash for the bathroom. It seems that bad fuel I consumed the other evening did turn into an exhaust problem after all.

Call of the wild answered, we got to work. By luck of the draw, we started with my bike. This was when I noticed that gasoline had apparently leaked into the cylinder again. Puzzled as to why this has happened a couple of times now, I grabbed the laptop and fired up the shop manual. The petcocks on our bikes are vacuum operated, and the petcock is located between the fuel tank and the battery. I decided to pull off the leg shields and examine the vacuum system. I inspected the petcock and found nothing obviously amiss and couldn't find any other defects with the vacuum system. Of course, I do not have a vacuum gauge with me, so I was limited to a visual inspection. Next, Re and I pulled the float bowl to check the float needle and float. We found no crud in the bowl, and the needle and seat looked fine. Still confused, my thoughts turned to the air filter. This problem first occurred to Re's bike in North Carolina when it had about 5600 miles on it. I have neglected to clean the air filter, ever, and thought there was a possibility that a dirty air filter could somehow be involved? We removed the bottom of the air box, popped out the filter, and as there is no diesel in Malawi, cleaned it with gasoline. It was filthy. Clean, the filter weighed what felt like half as much as it did when dirty. We then oiled it with motor oil and put the whole works back together.

After pulling the sparkplug and clearing the cylinder of fuel, we tried to start the bike, and this is where the real mystery began. The bike would only start with the throttle cranked wide open and refused to idle. Puzzled, I looked over everything we'd touched and made sure we'd put everything back together. Finding nothing amiss, we cranked it back up again, with the same results: the bike refused to run. Maybe the bike wasn't used to having this much clean air available? So I grabbed the screwdriver and attempted to adjust the idle speed. No matter which way I turned the screw the result was the same: bike no run. Huh. Then I decided to get stupid and randomly started twiddling the A/F screw. Carburetor settings now thoroughly screwed up, I then decided to check the spark plug. When I first pulled out the spark plug and grounded it to the cylinder head to check the spark, which was strong and regular. Huh.

Suddenly, a bad feeling crept over me. I pulled the dipstick and looked in the crankcase to find the crankcase was nearly full to the dipstick opening. Well crap. We grabbed a Ziploc bag, unscrewed the oil drainbolt, and watched in disbelief as 800ccs of oil and at least 1 liter of gas came pouring out the hole. If the crank can't turn, it's kind of hard for the motor to run. I had fortunately picked up 1 liter of fresh oil a couple days before in Monkey Bay, so at least we had dino-squeezins to put in the bike. Concerned about cross-contamination, I found a straw, shoved it in the oil fill hole, sealed it with my fingers, and blew as much of the remaining gas/oil mix as I could out of the motor. After cleaning the oil screen, I refilled the motor with fresh oil, reset the carb settings to match those on Re's bike (once again, it's handy to have two identical bikes for reference), and she fired right up and purred.

By now, I was not feeling very well, so I decided to take a break and make another break for the loo. Since I was feeling warm and achy we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon researching our trip to Tanzania, and if necessary, to Mombasa. The rest of the afternoon was spent on the chaise lounges on the lawn next to the lake, books in hand. I felt somewhat better later in the day, so we went for a swim before dinner, shower, and another warm night in the tent.

0 miles, 1 liter of fuel lost to the oil. Hopefully this will be the end of it.

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Old 10-25-2011, 03:34 AM   #183
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Coming Soon!

We made it to Tanzania and the land of slow internet (but at least they have some). Coming soon - tales of 16 USD per gallon petrol, quick (hah!) getaways from shady dealings in the ghetto, and pictures from perhaps Malawi's first bikini motorcycle wash!
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Old 10-25-2011, 09:54 AM   #184
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We made it to Tanzania and the land of slow internet (but at least they have some). Coming soon - tales of 16 USD per gallon petrol, quick (hah!) getaways from shady dealings in the ghetto, and pictures from perhaps Malawi's first bikini motorcycle wash!
glad to see the update and that you guys are doing well. bikini wash!1
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Old 10-26-2011, 01:23 AM   #185
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10/20 Still No Petrol

Second verse, same as the first. After rolling out of the tent, my first stop, once again, was Sam's office. The only thing that changed since yesterday was the price of the black market fuel. It had now gone up to 1000 kwacha per liter for the final 40 liters available. That makes it 6 USD per liter, and later in the day, a couple from Israel was desperate enough to actually pay that. Considering that camping in this idyllic spot is only 1600 kwacha per night, our decision was obvious- stay another day.



As I had pooped out (literally) before getting to Re's bike yesterday, it was the job for today. Fortunately, her bike was not having the same fuel problem as mine, so it was a relatively quick and easy task to clean and oil the air filter and adjust the chain. Since we sat at eye level with the bikes, there was no escaping the fact that they were filthy. We had picked up some cleaner in Harare but hadn't yet found the opportunity to use it. As I still wasn't feeling very well, Re volunteered to find a bucket and some water and wash the little piggies. I once again headed to the chaise lounges by the water and put my time to good use playing spider solitaire on my iPhone. After a while, I returned to find that Re had decided to change into her bikini to wash the bikes. Given the conservative dress displayed by most Malawi women, this was perhaps, the first ever, bikini car wash (ok, motorcycle wash) ever in this country.

Earlier in the day I broke into the prescription meds and began a course of Cipro. It eventually makes me feel better, but when I start Cipro, I feel “off” for the first day or two. After lunch from the market, I also put on my bathing suit and we went for a lovely swim in Lake Malawi. The water here is crystal clear, and it was the perfect temperature. What I neglected to put on this morning, was any sunscreen. Due to this oversight and my British heritage, the result was inevitable.

Later in the afternoon, now safely out of the sun, Re and I found ourselves chatting with Sam and a couple of her British volunteers. While we had heard of fuel smuggling across Lake Malawi from Mozambique via the local ferry, and while swimming earlier, I couldn't help but notice Sam's speedboat with attached 40 hp Mercury engine. So later, while we were talking, I wondered aloud, about how many liters of fuel her boat could bring back across the lake. Doing a little bit of quick math, it was determined that, with the driver and guard along, it could haul approximately 800 liters back to Malawi. Fuel at the dock on the Mozambique side was going for the equivalent of 350 kwacha per liter, and if one could sell all 800 liters at 1000 kwacha per liter, that would net a tidy profit of over 3100 USD (less expenses). Of course, I would never advocate for breaking the law, but pointed out that this could be considered a mission of “mercy.” When we left them, everyone was smiling and laughing about the idea, but maybe the seed was planted. Then, we were back to being beach bums for the rest of the day.
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Old 10-26-2011, 01:28 AM   #186
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10/21 Will There Be Petrol Today?

Third verse, it's getting worse. With a strange feeling of deja vu, I walked up to Sam's office, asked the same question, and got the same answer. No petrol today, and no black market available at all. Maybe there will be black market fuel available tomorrow from the Mozambique ferry. And I was also “glad” to see that no one broke the law at my suggestion and made their own private run to Mozambique. Sigh.

Overnight, a new couple had arrived at the campground. Marc and Katie are an American couple who have been volunteering in South Africa for the past four years. Their time on the continent is almost up, and they decided to have one final hurrah and camp their way through southern and central Africa before heading back to the states in February. We spent several hours talking with them, and it was good to get their perspectives on Africa and the role of NGOs here.

We spent much of the rest of the afternoon out of the sun (@!#$% sunburn) working on RRs and blogposts in anticipation of finding internet access tomorrow. After a dinner of some things that Re found in the local market, good news arrived. Sam came and found us to say that petrol had arrived at the Caltex station in town and was also due later in the day tomorrow at the BP. Since she was going anyway and had a permit to buy (legally) 200 liters in jerrycans, she said she would pick up 13 liters for us at cost. I really do love this woman! This was the best news we'd had in days. Since tomorrow is Re's birthday, I decided to get her the gift of unleaded. The news got even better a little while later, when Sam realized she needed to empty one of her 20 liter jerrycans in order to take it with her tomorrow. I grabbed our cans and ran to the generator room, where she filled them with 13 liters of sweet, sweet love (in the form of hydrocarbons). Well, this changes everything. We've been stopped for so long that we were going to have to remember how to get back on the road. We headed to bed early in anticipation of forward movement.

0 miles but more tomorrow!
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Old 10-26-2011, 01:33 AM   #187
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10/22 Ride to Mzuzu

Since we had to repack virtually everything, we rose early and got to work. There was no repeat of my bike's fueling problem, but for some reason, the last several days we've ridden, my front tire seems to lose a bit of air and reads 25 psi every morning. In my excitement, I didn't want to get out the valve tool, but I suspect it's the valve. We hit the road around 9 am for the 250 miles or so to Mzuzu. Less than 5 miles down the road I spotted a problem: in my haste to get the jerrycans filled, I neglected to make sure that my bike was topped up. If full, the first fuel light should last approximately 25 miles, but mine only lasted for 5 miles. Oops. Considering that even with everything full, 250 miles was close to our limit, that missing liter could turn into a big problem. Consequently, today's ride would be an economy run.

As we reached Salima town, we spotted Sam, sitting on the hood of her 1980s vintage, yellow, Chevy shortbed pickup, and swung in to say hi. After again thanking her, she passed along the news that petrol had arrived about 60 miles up the road in the direction we were going. Not sure if it would still be there, we stuck to the economy run idea and cruised at 35 mph, north towards Nkhotakota and the promise of more petrol.



After nearly two hours, we reached Nkhotakota and quickly found the fuel station. In fact, we couldn't have missed it due to the near riot situation going on there. We pulled in through the out door since they allow motorcycles to jump the queue and I pulled up to the pumps while Re stayed a safe distance away. I pulled up with the other motorbikes and stopped to appreciate the scene. There was a soldier with a rifle standing next to the pumps and using said rifle to push the crush of people away, while another, much larger officer (in fact, he was the largest non-westerner I have seen in Malawi) grabbed “patrons” by their throats and physically moved them out of the way. The motorbikes kept trying to inch up in front of the cars to get to the pumps but were trumped by a pickup truck that came screeching in. The driver of the truck proceeded to push the crowd out of his way with his fenders. I thought to myself that this just isn't worth it. About this time, another uniformed police officer walked up to chat. I couldn't help but notice the chaos going on behind his back as he encouraged me to consider his friend, the black market petrol salesman. He told me the price was 500 kwacha per liter (of which, I am sure, he gets his cut) and led me to his friend. Five liters would be enough to ensure that we could make it to Mzuzu safely, and so I shelled out the cash and got the fuel.

We continued on toward Mzuzu at the same slow pace, determined to save every ounce of fuel we could. At one of the many police checkpoints, we heard there was petrol in the stations in Mzuzu. The slow ride allowed us to appreciate the scenery. Whereas southern Malawi was brown and dusty, northern Malawi was green and verdant. We passed through groves of banana trees and several rubber plantations along the way. The strangest vignette of the afternoon occurred when we stopped for lunch in some unnamed town. There was a small Cash N Carry behind the empty petrol station, and Re went in to find something cold to drink and hopefully something to eat. While she was inside, I stayed out with the bikes and entertained several of the local boys who'd shown up. Re shortly returned with some juice and digestive biscuits (which was pretty much all that was available). We had barely cracked the lid on the juice and opened the biscuits when an odd apparition appeared. I still don't know where she (he?) appeared from, but all we saw was a bony old hand reach in to snatch our juice. We turned to find a person who appeared to only be 4.5 feet tall and maybe 75 pounds after our goodies. She wouldn't take no for an answer and kept lunging for our stuff. Neither of us wanted to touch her with our bare hands and were once again, glad for our Dariens. I finally gave her some of our biscuits and she slipped away.

We made it to Mzuzu around sundown and found the recommended guesthouse. It was again, crappier than described, but it was only for one night (we hoped). Also staying there was a Canadian couple, and we spent a while comparing travel notes before we hopped back on the bikes to head out for dinner. It is Re's birthday, so I wanted to do something nice and had found that there was a good Indian restaurant in town. We had a great dinner before picking up a couple of beers and heading back for the night. The bad news is that there are lines at every petrol station and none of them seem to be moving.

246 miles in about 8.5 hours. Economy run, have approximately 5 liters for tomorrow.
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Old 10-26-2011, 01:56 AM   #188
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10/23 Time To Get The F@#$ Out Of Malawi

Somewhere, anywhere out of Malawi was our destination for today. Actually, it was Mbeya, Tanzania, which is located approximately 260 miles away. To cover that many miles and an international border crossing was an optimistic goal, so our plan was to get an early start. But once again, my plans and Africa collided. We woke to find no power. Perversely, that meant that the shower only had scalding hot water and no cold water. Huh? In Africa, it somehow makes sense. Re braved the heat and got a shower, but by the time I tried, it was too hot for me and my sunburn. Re went to inquire about the water situation and order the included breakfast while I started to pack up. She returned with the news that there might be a tiny bit of cold water soon and that they were cooking breakfast on a gas stove in the courtyard, so it might be a few minutes. I tried the shower again, and sure enough, there was a trickle of cold water, but the hot water had run out. I took a quick shower and we headed for breakfast.

We rolled out the front gate around 8:00 am and went in search of petrol. Mzuzu has at least 5 petrol stations, and every one of them had the same non-moving line as last night. We tried several stations, and at each one, the men with the huge jerrycans directed us to the next. After striking out several times, we found the BP station, where we were offered petrol for the low, low price of 1000 kwacha per liter (6 USD). Figuring there had to be cheaper fuel than 24 USD per gallon, we pressed on. We circled the central market and spied two guys carrying the ubiquitous yellow plastic jerrycan and 5 liter measuring jug. We flagged them down and found out that their rate was 700 kwacha per liter. Better, but still a lot of money. They refused to negotiate and walked away.

We were then approached by two other guys who said they had 20 liters for 11000 kwacha. They agreed to sell 10 liters for 5500 kwacha, and we had a deal. The ringleader jumped on the back of a bicycle taxi and motioned us to follow him. We turned off the main road into what can be politely described as a shanty town. The buildings that line the dirt roads are made out of corrugated metal and sticks. He led us down several streets before stopping in front of a stick building. The further we rode into this area, the more paranoid I got. He hopped off the back of the bicycle taxi and motioned for me to follow him through the fence and into the backyard, all the time, smiling broadly. My momma didn't raise no fool (Thanks, Mom!). I refused to get off the bike and told him to bring the fuel to the road. He stopped smiling and walked through the fence. I instructed Re to turn her bike around, heading from whence we came and to keep it running and in first gear. I figured that if things went pear-shaped this would give us the best chance of escape, however, given the leisurely pace with which our bikes accelerate, it would require that our pursuers either twist their ankles or step on nails while they chase us. As I watched through the gap in the fence, I saw the ringleader's head peek around the corner, followed shortly by he and another guy peeking around the corner, and then I saw a third guy peek around the corner. At this point in time, I told Re to hit it, and we “zoomed” our way back to the main road. I don't know what was going on, but I did not like it.

So we rode back to the market where yet another helpful salesman directed us to the land of 700 kwacha petrol. In the back of the BP station there is a “store” full of large jerrycans, and I was able to negotiate 10 liters for 6500 kwacha. That works out to be 16 USD per gallon! Ouch. But it should be enough to get us to Tanzania, the land of milk and petrol. Loaded with petrol and wallets lighter, we headed north.



The ride today was beautiful. Mzuzu is in a mountainous area, and we wound our way through the relatively cool air and green trees before again descending to the shores of Lake Malawi. We rode along the lake. The elevation of today's ride began around 4500 feet, descended to 1600 feet, before climbing back over 7500 feet in Tanzania. While we were wiggling our way through the mountains, I signaled for Re to pull over so we could take a picture of another milestone: the 10,000 mile mark. We reached the border sometime after 1:00 pm and breezed through the Malawi side. The Tanzania side was another story. The guides we had consulted said the visa fee would be 50 USD, but it turned out that it had changed and was now 100 USD per person. We also met the local insurance salesmen and dealt with them in time. Approximately 1.5 hours later, we left with visas, 3 months of liability insurance, and another hole in our wallets where 270 USD used to be. Double ouch. But we were through.



The scenery in Tanzania was beautiful and mountainous. We rode through pine forests, tea plantations, and rubber plantations and had plenty of time to appreciate them as we chugged slowly up the hills. The good news was that we picked up an hour of daylight crossing into Tanzania, but the bad news was that our progress was slow. Earlier at the border, we again ran into Marc and Katie, and they told us of a campground in a town approximately 40 miles shy of Mbeya. This was starting to look like a good idea, as we were tired and sore. We were sore chiefly due to the roads in Tanzania. Every small town has multiple sets of speed bumps that required us to come virtually to a stop and crawl over them. Any faster than a snail's pace, and our bikes bottomed out. If you've seen the topes in Mexico, you know what I'm talking about. The road surface was also potholed, patched, and undulating, all conspiring to jolt our spines and beat our butts.

We made it to Tukuyu, the town with the campground, where we easily found an ATM and a couple of petrol stations, WITH PETROL! After stocking up, we made for the campground, where we met Marc and Katie. As we were so high up in the mountains, it was chilly enough for Re to actually put on her polarfleece while we set up camp. Because we hadn't seen a grocery store along the way, we ordered dinner from reception, and it was eventually delivered by motorcycle. There are a lot of small bikes in Tanzania, and we've even seen a couple of CT-90s and CT-110s. We enjoyed a delicious homemade dinner before heading to bed.

220 miles in about 7.5 hours. Once again, no mid-range due to the altitude, but we're chugging along.
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Old 10-26-2011, 08:47 AM   #189
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Awesome story - thanks for the update!
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Old 10-26-2011, 10:03 AM   #190
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Awesome story - thanks for the update!
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Old 10-26-2011, 01:59 PM   #191
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Subscribed! I bought a CT90 after reading Nathan's journey and dreamed of doing exactly what you're doing now! Fantastic ride report, look forward to more adventures!!
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Old 10-26-2011, 03:46 PM   #192
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Was that the MzuzuZoo you stayed at in Mzuzu? I remember that place

I also remember the ride from there to Mbeya. Yeah-nice.
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Old 11-03-2011, 02:59 AM   #193
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10/24 Ride to Iringa

Even though Tukuyu is only at about 4200 feet above sea level, this was enough elevation to give us our first truly cool night's sleep since Swakopmund (on the coast of Namibia). We were glad we put the rainfly on the tent the night before , since it helped keep a little warmth in the tent. After I rolled out of the tent, I checked the thermometer and saw that it was 61 degrees Fahrenheit! While the morning air was certainly refreshing, we were concerned as to exactly how refreshing the shower was going to be since it was a cold water only shower. Several of the campgrounds where we've stayed have been cold water only, which is fine when it's 85 degrees in the morning, but neither of us was looking forward to the prospect of a bracing shower. Fortunately for us, our rescue came in the form of the camp security guard, who approached and asked if we wanted warm water to wash with. Why yes, we said, and he hustled off behind the reception building and returned ten minutes later with a 3-gallon bucket of warm water. He motioned for Re to follow him to the ablution block, where he left the water for her. While Re went to bathe, I started to strike camp. The guard returned shortly thereafter with another bucket for me. Having never taken a bucket shower before, I grabbed my clothes, towel, and bucket of water and slipped into Re's shower stall. Re had finished lathering by the time I arrived, so I helped her rinse off before lathering up myself. After dressing, Re returned the favor, and we both ended up smelling vaguely like a fine whiskey. The warm water smelled of wood smoke, as apparently it was heated over a wood fire and now, we also smelled smoky and peaty. Note to self: Talisker would make a fine perfume.



Clean and dressed, we headed back to the campsite, only to find that approximately ten small children had arrived for school. The Bongo Campground is also a nonprofit organization that makes documentary films about social issues in the area and is also a primary school. Most of the students were young girls, who were incredibly cute in their apparent hand-me-down school uniforms that all seemed slightly too large for them. Re was greeted by a chorus of hellos and had fun with the children as they giggled and parroted everything she said. Too soon, it was time for school to begin, and their very strict teacher ordered them inside.


After our delicious dinner the previous evening, our chef asked if we'd want breakfast in the morning, and we said yes. She first offered us omelets, and since we didn't sound too excited by that, she offered us banana porridge. We like porridge, we like bananas, so we said yes, with visions of bananas, brown sugar, and creamy porridge dancing in our heads. Since our ride to Iringa was over 250 miles, we had ordered breakfast for 7:00am. Unfortunately, it arrived about 8:15, but we'd used our waiting time wisely and were otherwise ready to go. Once again, our chef arrived on the back of a motorbike and proceeded to unwrap trays and bowls and coffee service. Marc and Katie also thought breakfast sounded good and joined us for a rather unique experience. As we sat around the table and the porridge was revealed, I did not smell anything sweet and yummy, but instead, noticed the chicken bone sticking out of the surface of the porridge. Hmmm, I thought as Re and I cautiously eyed each other. As our chef enthusiastically dished up the food, we noted a look of concern on Katie's face as she dipped into her porridge. Katie is a vegetarian, and like us, was obviously not expecting chicken in her banana porridge. Rather tentatively, we tried our porridge and found it to be tasty. It took a few bites to recalibrate our expectations, but we ended up enjoying it quite a bit. The bananas were more like plantains in that they were starchy and not sweet.

Breakfast finished, we prepared to hit the road. We donned our gear and headed for the bikes. I hit my starter button, and motor no turn. My bike had hydraulic-ed again. Sigh, it obviously wasn't the air filter. Since we were parked on the campground's lovely grass, I wheeled the bike out to the dirt road to clear the fuel. Sparkplug out, bike kicked over, cylinder cleared, plug reinstalled, and it fired right up. We put the tools away, and Re went to start her bike, only to have it hydraulic as well. Well, fuckity fuck fuck. Suddenly, a light bulb went on over my head. From my vantage point at the dirt road, I noted that Re's bike was parked facing uphill, on its center stand, with the front wheel in the air. I flashed on the first time it happened in my parents' driveway and recalled that the bikes were parked facing uphill, and with the weight of our luggage, the front wheel would have been off the ground. I also recalled that in Senga Bay, our bikes were parked, again facing uphill, on the center stands, as they were when it happened at the campground in Citrusdal. Every time the bikes were parked facing uphill on the center stands, with the front wheels in the air. Up until now, I had suspected a fault with the vacuum petcock, but now I am fairly certain it's the carburetor, and specifically the float. I suspect that the combination of angles prevents the float needle from closing fully, and consequently, this allows fuel to dribble continuously into the float bowl. Since really no one else in the Symba community has experienced this hydraulic-ing problem but both of our bikes have, it has to be due to some set of circumstances unique to our setup, and this makes the most sense so far. The plan from now on is to only park on level ground and to block the rear tire in order to keep the front tire on the ground. I hope I am right, cause this is getting old.



We rolled Re's bike over to the dirt road, cleared the fuel, started it up, and rode the couple of miles back into Tukuyu for more fuel. Gassed up, we headed north to Mbeya, yesterday's original destination. Stopping in Tukuyo last night was the right choice, as the fifty miles to Mbeya were extremely slow going. The elevation rose to over 7500 feet, and every little town along the way had four to six sets of speed bumps, for which we had to slow to a crawl. We wound our way through the mountains, again admiring the green plantations and groves of trees. In Mbeya we turned east and the scenery changed from green to brown. The altitude and steep grades already had the bikes wheezing, but progress slowed even more when we ran into our old friend, headwind, in Makmbako. Even without the headwind, going would have been slow, with the rough roads and speed bumps. After a gas station lunch eaten sitting in the saddle on the roadside, we continued the long, slow trip to Iringa. Approximately one mile shy of Iringa, we reached the turnoff for the town center. Iringa sits on a bluff above the main road at the top of a long, twisty grade. To make the final mile even more fun, the Tanzanian road department has installed severe, tooth jarring speedbumps approximately every 500 feet. These topes required us to again come nearly to a stop before bouncing over them. After one particularly rough one, I heard a thud and turned around to see Re retrieving my MSR dromedary bag that had been ejected from beneath my Rok-straps.

We finally arrived around 5:30 pm, but were happy to see that due to the time change in Tanzania, there was still sun in the sky. We found a reasonable guesthouse, and while unloading the bikes discovered that Re had lost her towel. We have been carrying our microfiber towels in their mesh bags tucked under a Rok-strap so they can dry while we ride. Apparently her towel jumped ship along the way today. This is a bigger problem than you first may think, since many of the guest houses and none of the campgrounds provide towels, and it will be difficult to replace. We grabbed some dinner before returning to the guesthouse for a nightcap or two in the form of Castle Milk Stouts.

265 miles in about 8.5 hours. If I ever meet the person who introduced speedbumps to Tanzania, I will (in my best Eric Cartman voice) kick him square in the nuts.

Underboning screwed with this post 11-03-2011 at 05:04 AM
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:08 AM   #194
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10/25 and 10/26 Catching up in Iringa

10/25

After yesterday's uncomfortable ride and the stress of our time in Malawi, we decided to take a day (or two) off from the road to rest and plan where we go from here. We spent the morning sitting on the porch, drinking coffee, and talking about a wide variety of subjects. While preparing for the trip, we considered the pros and cons of a bike to bike communication system and ultimately decided against it. While this means Re doesn't have to listen to me constantly talk about the bikes, and I don't have to listen to her singing, we do miss out on the opportunity to discuss our feelings and experiences during the day. I'm not sure that skipping the communication system was the right choice, so it's good to have times like this to sit and talk for as long as we like.



Later in the morning, we met our new best friend, Titho, a local man who recently finished high school and was curious about us and our travels. He helped us with a few basic Swahili phrases, and we answered his questions about life in the west. Around lunchtime we wandered over to the local internet cafe to check our email. After lunch we returned to the guesthouse to work on ride reports and blog posts. Around dinner time, Titho reappeared and we spent more time finding out about life in Iringa before heading to dinner.

0 miles.

10/26



Another lazy day in Iringa. We uploaded the ride reports and blog posts we wrote the previous day using the very slow internet we had. We also uploaded many photos to our smugmug account while we researched further travel in Tanzania and shipping options to India. The wifi was fast enough to allow me to Skype my parents, which was a nice treat after no internet for more than a week.

0 miles. Tomorrow we ride.
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:13 AM   #195
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