Friday, May 29, 2009

Starting; From High Africa to Cape of Good Hope.

I left Arusha 9:30am Friday 5 June. It was rain when we left the predicted point of half way from Cairo Egypt to Cape town, South Africa. I felt strong as I was shaking hands with the couple of people who came to say "GOOD LUCK ELVIS"; actually, they real energize me. I could tell from their face most of them were not sure or convinced of what I was doing, some of them accompany me for few kilometers despite the fact that it was rain and the road was mad. I humbly take this chance to say, Thank you all.
I started cycling from Northern Highland which connects Kenya and Tanzania varies from 4,500 to 6,000ft. Cycling towards southern plateaus through Maasai steppe where there are two plateaus. One rises to between 3,000 and 4,000ft while the other rises between 5,000 and 6,000ft. In the boundary of these plateaus in the edge of giant step is where I’ll be passing. From Maasai steppe will take me to Central Plateau 3,000 to 4,000ft. Then I’ll cycle through Southern Highland 4,000 to 6,000ft which will continue to Zambia.
The first Pedal of cycling around Africa project will be starting from Arusha Tanzania, East Africa. East Africa is a geological region known as “High Africa”. The region characterized by expensive plateaus between 3’000 and 10,000 feet above the see level (Gravel 1989). The other dramatic landmark feature of landscape is the Rift Valley stretching 6,000 miles from the Red Sea in the north to Malawi in the south, spanning 20 t0 60 miles in width and sheer rock faces on ether side. The Rift valley forms natural corridor for wildlife migrations and movement of livestock. The Great Rift Valley including Rift Valley itself, as well as Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya and Mt. Ruwenzori.

Thirty kilometers from clock tower the tarmac road end up and I started to cycle through rough road. I passed through few Maasai villages and comiphora-acacia bush land which covered most of the part. Half of the way was down slope and terrain. Another half was sand, escarpment and up hills such Komolo hills.
In this Savannah plains/bush land is heaven of birds. In the edge of mountains I saw baboons and a small antelope, dick dick. I enjoy the tranquil and calmness of the area as I cycle for long time before meets any one in the road. Within this calmness, the brain which have derived it security from artificial things such television, radio, noise of the crowed, et cetera started to be scared. The sense of insecurity without real reason returned to the normal condition after hearing the cow bell from the bush give me hope that I'm not alone.

I arrived at the Nabikito village 18:30hrs. Here I went to the certain boma (the clutch of several huts) I enter in the boma and said “Hodiiii!”. One have to say that before enter in someone house. The young woman I found the instead of welcome me she run in side of one hut. Few minuts later middle age woman come out from the hut, “ Subai?” the woman greet in maa language “iko”, I replayed and switch to Kiswahili. I told her what I was want. She took me to the elder man who was with other old man sat under balanite tree busy counting the huge heard of cattle returned home. After greeting by shaking the hand with all these old man, I asked the elder man for the permission to camp within his large compound with several huts which represent the number of wives he posses. The old man without too much questins which usually represent the fears inside ones. The kind of situation I come to experience later in the expedition. .

These people they have simple understanding and knowledge knew some one like me I was in such need he gave the permission. Maasai huts doe not have much different with my tent. The huge host family was very kind or over kind, after pitch my tent in the crowd of the villagers who form the crowd of about 20 t0 25 people within half anhours dispite the fact that the bomas were scatted. The news of black man on the loaded bicycle spread as the people was moving. After finishing pitch the tent the milk fresh from he cow arrived so I made milk coffee. I drank my coffee as I was toured around the boma introduced to the wives with their children then to the cattle, goats and sheep. The older son of the boma who was clever enough to be my guide on the proposed tour explain to me about each cattle their titles, “this is a mother of that and that was bough from ngorongoro form Ole Sendeu. Did you know him?” This was how the explaination went on and on. Although I was tired but the tour was real interesting. Back to the my tent I followed by flood of different food from each wives. They sent food through their sons/daughters insisting I should eat. In that way I have to be clever by inviting these young to join me the plan work out, we finished all the food, out of blame but I slept with full stomac. The fun things happen in this boma was to confused as missionary by the woman and forced to drink fresh blood by elders. After fineshed to eat I streatch my back on the confortable thermo matres the donation from Bent Nelsen, before taken with to the sleep which usual is just like to turn to the log for about 7 to 8 hours. The woman who receved me when I arrived call out of my tent she could not remember my first name so she called “my son munis”. As I unzip the tent with half aweken mind I shocked with the crowd of children and woman soon I become full awake. my mind stated work on the normal speed when the woman say “ can you please say the prayer to us”. I didn’t know real what she want but she said prayer and she is serious. Oooh! Prayer Oky. I said to give my brain brief moment of working ruther fast. I avoid to ask too much questions because I lent the explaination of these friend of mine usually tend to be more wide and somehow complicated. I give the verses which was inside of me but I don’t know how they come out “ glory to those have pure heart…….. “ Oky let say a prayer which I lent in the very early of my age at Sunday school from Math.6:9….. Our father in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread…..For thine is the kingdom, and the glory for ever. Amen” The crowd left with soften hearts. The red cross on my first aid made them thought I was probably a missionary. I made my way back to the tent, stretch myself again on mattress. I though about the need of spirit and such comfort. Isn’t to say these people didn’t have popular leading idea of sprit, they do have theoretical ideals of matter, life, the soul, and God. But clear seem it failed to meet the demands. As other human they still need some one to stimulate and pursue. Within this communities and many other I encountered there is reign of totalitarianism rather than democracy, the encouragement of obedience rather than independent thinking et cetera. They are in the need of strong believes which can raise hope and justify their existence especial for the people like these woman who stark on the barrier of culture. born grown some how malignazed (circumcision to privent her heaving sex stimulus), having numerous babies working hard to sustain them. Then get old and simply wait to die.

In the next day I left Maasai boma 7:00hrs bit late I was forced to wait for fresh milk from cow. Maasai mama (woman) told me is not unkind to let somebody who is going for such long journey leaving without some energy food such as milk. As I was waiting for milk, the elder man was preparing fresh blood drain from the bull. They do not kill the bull to have such blood instead they hold the bull then made a small hole on the certain vain at the neck. The blood bleed out with pressure, after having enough blood they stop the bleeding by applying cattle dung on the vain. The blood have to stir up to prevent it become sold. He wanted me to drink it said it was very strong. He sense that I was scared he mixed it with fresh milk. I tried to apologize but he felt like I was still scared so said I can share with other boys. This was alternative I just put the bow on my month pretend I drank then give to my fellow, the bow went about 3 round and it was finished. I thanked the whole family for the genorolosity promised to pass sometime again. The old man ask me if I’ll pass again I should brought to him cell phone.

It was nice and lovely riding through this bit high elevation bush land with some plain where i was able to see Zebras, Ostrich, Wildebeests and gazelles. I stopped the bicycle enjoying this wonderful moment but, the guards on the duty of conservation and maintainer of remain part of ecology, tsetse fly forced me to leave this wonderful sensations. It was like simply confused with a poacher or asked to pay unusually entrance fee but the sum which is to tolerate the bite of ferocious tin creature was very expensive. Thanks for them because I was still having couples of kilometers ahead. I passed Naberera village and Namalulu where I had wonderful and breath taking landscape view, typical African village. Naberera it is among of he dry dust village in Maasai Steppe. I hado stop in some time when huge heards of cattle cross the road and left behind dust clouds. At 18:00hrs I arrived at Engasumenti village after 2hours or less due to the day tiredness I cycle up quite slow. I turned left in towards direction of the sing board read “Police Post”. I the police post I found two officers sitting, relaxing and charting. The large building compare to the surrounding buildings seems absolutely useless, the lock up empty doesn’t even give the sign of last use, the toilet path covered by grass while in the long pit toilet it is home skinks, agamas and geckos lizard possibility for snake. I asked the officers of seem to lose their trained confidence over black cyclist. The grant me the permit just simply asking the id to prove the nationality, I camp under acacia tree near the building.

In the next day early in the morning i left engasumenti village which situated in the top of the hill, inhabited by Maasai pastoralists. Here the town start to show the sign as I can saw some shops and other services started in this Simanjiro district in new Manyara region. I descent the town where it was 10c very cold. cycled through the plains with the enjoyable speed of 25km/hr. In the other places road is very sand whereby I had to push my heavy loaded bicycle. The road is very long stretch as far as my eyes can see. It is very hot more than 3hrs without meet any one. I felt like bushes and birds used to talk and now they talking about this stranger with his bicycle. When i met Maasai people, they are in the group and they had spears with them here i had the sense of danger in this plains. There is Maasai stopped and start wonder about me speech less. Somewhere I found the group of maasaia they stopped me and ask the free ride for their patient who could not even stand up. I explain to them it was impossible to carry their patient but non seem to understand what I was saying, I decide to left them. About After 70km I made to Ndedo village the first village since I started to cycle in the morning. I went to the shop to re full my bottles of water, as shopkeeper offered me a drink. I saw the sign of fear in his face at last he asked me, "Where are going my friend?" I told him I'm going to Kibaya Kiteto. He said "You should be crazy!” He told me where I come from in the certain hill there is one Maasai killed by lions few days ago. He added that where I’m going it is more dangerous. As we was talking a track which was delivered drinks to Kibaya pull off out of the shop, drop the maasai I passed about 3hours ago with their patient. He talked with truck drive something which I couldn't hear but as I sow the truck looked at me. I guessed the man asked the truck drive to give me free ride. After few minutes the man come back and told me "Brother its better you cross these plains and bushes with this track, the drive is Okay. I accept the offer; we put my bicycle on the trailer and sat with it there .I drove with track for about 40 km in the plains and flood plains which form a forest with fertile land. We climbed several hills before had an aerial view of Kibaya Kiteto town ship where I reached in the late evening.
At kibaya Kiteto there are enough guest houses used by business people during the market days. As I was cycled around I saw a sign board read “ Riverine Hotel” this name capture my mind although in most areas I passed through it is ease to find some shops of guist houses named in English name but that doesn’t mean you will find it in any good quality or so. English language here tends to be like expression. The river side hotel situated in the edge of flood valley it has good quality which one can only expect on main town such Arusha. I saw tide garden so the possibly for camping. Unfortunately the middle aged woman servant didn’t understand what I meant. She gave me the cell phone number of the owner, I text the owner. Then within a minute my phone rang. The soft and gentle woman voice on other side of the phone give me instruction, she said she will be there after an hour. A confident face, shining brown skin woman shock my hand and said she was the own, after brief chatting she offered me free accommodation as part of her support.

In the next day 6:30am I start riding, climbed the up hills where I had an aerial view of the town again before decent to the plains. The recently graved with long up and down road was very nice whereby I cycled for 25 to 35km/hr. The entire landscape is characterized with hills, in the down hills there are fields of different crops. I climbed Dosidosi hills (1819m), passed through chains of villages. The road was still the same, managed to cycle for 35-40km/hr in the top speed. At 14:47hrs I met the high way from Morogoro to Dodoma. From here to Dodoma is 77km which I covered for 3hrs and half. This finishing part become more ease because of the 4 days cycling in the tough roads, the total distance in that day was 160km. I arrive at Dodoma (Legislative capital of Tanzania) 18:30hrs. I found a gentleman on the last 20km who helped me in to find accommodation as the dark was already starting to take place. After long search for affordable accommodation as everything in this governmental town seem to be expensive particular accommodations (for me). Lastly I land on CCT a Christian center, the receptionist was drunken, told me the charges will be in the next day morning and it'll be reasonable as this was my consideration. I perch my tent on the certain corner, I had shower in the flooding showers, cooked and fall a sleep just like a log. In the next day another man come and told me he is in charge, when I asked him about charges he said it is twelve thousands(Tsh) for camping. I wondered if this was reasonable (for me). After long negotiation I paid 5000Tsh without satisfactions. I left the place 10:00hrs cycling around the town and left the town 11:15hrs to Mtera .
I cycled through the semi-desert of central Tanzania passed through Wa-Gogo villages with the typical mad houses covered with red soil for the top to the bottom. The tembe rectangular, flat-roofed built around the kraal of the local Wa-gogo ethnic group, were the only feature hat distinguished Dodoma from the surrounding miles of thin soil, monotonous miombo woodland, and granite outcrops. The 19th century explore, Stanley after his observation of the area he claimed Wa-gogo to be “Masters in foxy-craft”, were widely scatted over the plain, practicing pastoralist and cultivation with sorghum, millet, and maize. The water holes were well maintained and, for a fee, could be relied upon by slavers who passed this way during the dry season. The life in this backed land seemed to be rather challenging for these people. The humanterrain situation, burning sun, dust, made the pedaling be nothing than a mere movement. Few tracks over loaded with cargo and passengers stopped for brief curious chat. Mtera village lies about 100km east of Dodoma. The village/town situated in the border between Iringa region and Dodoma. In the southern lies Mtere dam (Reservoir) which is hydro-power station. Mtera, large water body in this backed land give crucial support for life, here found the main population in this sparsely populated region in Tanzania. Fishing in the dam which receives the water from the southern highlands is a main economic activities together with the job opportunity in the hydro power station give rise to Mtera Township. There are signs of the town history to go back on the trade ages as the Swahili civilization seem to be strong.

The road from Mtera to Iringa It's not good for bicycle such as my which is heavy loaded, due to this and some roamers that further ahead in the highlands might be challenge to camp in the bush. This might not be good for sole ride, said the hydro power station worker. This was kind of irritation when people put me in their state of mind and made decision for me. From the dam is a long up climbing then bit of highland flat terrains the home of mixture ethnics including Maasai. I had ride from Electrical Company truck drive who previous wanted me to pay, he changed his mind when we arrived Iringa town. I arrive in Iringa town 19:00hrs. I overnight at the guest house. I left guest house in the morning, cycled to town where I found the internet. From here is where I'm publishing this post.

After Maasai Steppe and semi-desert of central Tanzania now I start riding through southern highlands of Tanzania which will take me to the border of Tanzania and Zambia. I will come up again when I'll hit internet.

After finish to upload the pictures and post up to date in the blog I left Iringa town which pitch in the up hill, 12:30hrs. I cycled towards south-east of the town, through Iringa-Makambako-Mbeya highway. 10km from town I had to stop after broke the bolt which holds the front panniers. I put one font pannier in the back and ride with single pannier in front up to the certain village. Luckily, I found the bolt in the village. I fixed the pannier and cycle for few kilometers before turn off left to Ismila Age Stone Museum. Here is the excavation of the remains showed the tools which have been used during the Age stone.

After having a short tour in Ismila museum I cycled 50km to Kisolansa Old Farm House. No matter how hard I tried to push my loaded bicycle avoiding to cycle in the dark. I reach at Kisolansa 21hrs,I camped here .Kisolansa Old Farm Houses lays about 50km from Iringa town in the Mbeya-Iringa highway. The farm houses which situated in the middle of planted forest of Southern Tanzania highlands, offered accommodation from camping, chalets to cartage. The place was very cold during night and morning.

I left Kisolansa next day in the morning. I cycled through southern highlands, it was pleasant cycling. Lush green of huge plantation forests such sao hill pleases the mind and made it out of pedaling concentration. Fresh oxygen goes deep into lungs and spread all over the body made it out of fatigue. Long ups and downs improve the physical being. Within 3hrs I coved 59km without being aware, the couple I left at Kisolansa stopped their car when the met me and told me I was already covered such amazing distance.
Villages are small with typical Wa-hehe people; these are indigenous people in this southern highlands of Tanzania (1,500-2,000m). They are among of famous ethnic group in Tanzania/ Tanganyika history, their bravest Chief, Chief Mkwawa the son of Mwinyigumba he declared that he will not allow to be ruled with foreigners(colonias) neither his body to be touched by white person. He gave total resistance against German colonial during 1905-07 war. These warlike people under the strong leader Mkwawa defeated German and killed among of high rank German colon represented. German responds by add more solders and fire arm. When Mkwawa realized he was defatted and this could lead to be caught by white person, he fulfills his promise by shout himself. When German found his coups they chop of the heard and took it to German for more examinations. The head was return to Tanzania after independent, now found in the museum established in his home village.
In passed Mufindi town, characterized by several sow mills, along side the road are children selling potatoes or working on bricks fabrication. Wore pull over/sweater all the time, shining brown sickens young looked to be over whelmed with weather condition. I tried to wave but few were able to wave back. I made to other sow mills town of Makambako n the late evening, the town favourished due to the timber exportation business, I overnight at Makambako town. There are plenty of hotels in Makambako town. I camped at Makambako hotel. I left Makambako next day early in the morning cycled for about 120km via Usangu valley to Mbeya town. I overnight at Penge Logde. I poped in Penge lodge ask for camp the respond was no such service. Some visitors who were in reception interested with cyclist offered to pay room for me with an invitation to diner. I accept the offers and thanks them for their kindness. They told me later in the diner charting that they passed me in certain up hill afternoon. They were worry about fast traffic on that road. Nice people, balanced diet diner, hot water shower, and comfortable bid add the day highlights. In the next day I left Mbeya, cycled through coffee plantation, descent from southern highland to Tunduma border post. Overnight at the crowded local guest houses, slept comfortable despite the half night drinkers noise. The town is crowded with vendors, hands bureau de change their main profit depend on how stupid the customers are. An aerial view of the town show the sprawling slams where is home of the people who tried to make life here; vendors, money changers, forward and clearance agents and prostitute for those who are desperate. Mention but a few.

Roughly 1,000kms cross Tanzania here with all sense of proud for the achievement, the black man on loaded bicycle capture almost every one with sense of wonder and excitement. Followed with money changers, clearance agents and curious job less I entered in Tanzania immigration office. They hardly believe I was their fellow citizen, thir main concern was how will I survive on bicycle out side of mother country. I explain to them my simple believe “This continent and earth in general belong to us, the bounders particular in Africa is a results of slave masters greed. The control of the people movement around the world for particular social rank group has interest on economy and manipulation”, having said that I star work out of the office avoiding futher questions from these officers with thirst of person realization. The good wishers follows me as I walked to where I parked my bicycle guarded with volunteer guards.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

160km bicycle test

I wake up 6:30am this is not common to me. I’m early raiser usually I wake up 5:00am. I get out and find it is raining, what is a great disappointment as I was planning to cycle to Moshi town and come back in the same day. After long internal argument I decide to cycle no matter the whether condition.

I left 800am as it was still rain but not heavy. After few kilometers from when I start to cycle the rain went off. The sun comes out when I was near to reach Moshi. This was very nice riding as the cold cool the body.

On the way I meet El Bariki doing the exercise for up coming racing completion. He told me he will participate with his club, Mount Meru Cycling Club. We didn’t know each other but he told me he used to see me in the town. I left El Bariki who was going back to Arusha town and continue with my cycling.

I found a lot of the people busy on the farm, removing the weeds and put fertilize on the middle size maize, the common food crop. The green pusure recovering and provide food to the cattle, sheep, goat and donkey. Livestock are looked healthily compare to the time before rains.

I reach Moshi town 11:30am, I use three hours and half to cover 80km. I stopped at the Central Garden which situated few meter from Moshi Bus terminal, nearby keep left and regional postal offices.

I had lunch at Moshi then start to cycle back to Arusha 3:00pm. This time was bit hot but after about 50 km the sun start to sink on the west and left the sky in the golden color. I reach Arusha town before dark.