The little part of our trip between Jinja (Uganda) and somewhere in the middle of Tanzania on a derailed train did not involve too much cycling. It began eventfully when the bus from Jinja to Nairobi left with Mom and Carla and the food and bags while Dad and I, who had been loading our things in the bus, were left with three bicycles, all the passports and means of communication, and the bus tickets. Luckily we managed to get another bus and caught up to them at the border, changed buses in the middle of the night in Nairobi and finally all made it to Mombasa alive. Mombasa was spectacular, there were beaches and fancy Indian restaurants and a place called Fort Jesus that is quite famous, I don’t really know why. It seems like pretty much every colonial power spent some time in Mombasa and left something cultural behind, which made it extra interesting. From there we cycled to Diani beach and Carla and Mom, who were riding behind us, had the little bicycle attack incident. We think the attackers were on drugs, because they looked a bit out of it and because you would have to be on drugs to try and get in a fight with Mom. In Diani we stayed with Sue and Vaughn, friends of Dad’s Aunty Paula and the kindest couple you can imagine. They treated us like royalty instead of smelly cycle-tourists and we were sad to have to leave them and cycle to Zanzibar. Not that we actually cycled to Zanzibar. We cycled down to Pangani (including a 140km day) and caught a little fishing boat across to Nungwe (top of Zanzibar). Nobody was seasick, especially not Mom, who enjoyed the boat ride more than anybody else.
Zanzibar was especially fun because two of our best South African friends, Helen and Rich, flew up especially to come and visit us. We all spent a few days in historical Stonetown where Freddie Mercury was born (Stonetown has been rather industrious about capitalising on this fact). Stonetown is actually quite a phenomenal place, it is so African and so Eastern and local and touristy all at the same time. In the evenings we would go for a swim on the beach and watch a big group of ladies wearing full Burkas do aerobics on the beach. We also did one of the famous ‘spice tours’ where you visit a demonstration plantation and get to see how all of the spices are grown and what they look like before they go in the nice colour-coded bottles in the shops. Surprisingly, they look quite different in the still-on-tree stage. Our ultimate relaxation place was Paje, on the East (?) side of Zanzibar. I don’t know how far it was because we didn’t cycle there. It is one of the best places to go kitesurfing in the world. It is also well-known for kite-surfer spectating, which is what we mostly did.
Leaving Zanzibar was strange because for many months we had referred to it as our ‘turnaround point’. So leaving means we’ve started going home. According to Mom, it’s basically downhill all the way now, but I have my doubts. After a few nights in Dar Es Salaam, we set off for Lusaka on the Tazara train. We had been looking forward to the two day train journey for quite a while, not remotely put off by stories that it was ‘probably too old to be functioning’. As it happened, at about the halfway mark the train was derailed when it was supposed to change directions but didn’t quite manage. Miraculously, nobody was hurt. In the end we managed to get on the train that was originally heading to Dar but had to turn around because our naughty derailed train had blocked the tracks. So we were happy, but the passengers coming from Lusaka going back to Lusaka were less happy.
In terms of other things I would like to mention; I got an email while I was in Dar from a very cool lady telling me about the Tanzanian women’s hockey team. They are incredible. There probably shouldn’t even be a women’s hockey team but a lot of crazy people have worked their butts off and now there is one, and they’re raising money to go to Egypt. So here is a link to their story, check it out if you’re interested. Also, there is a very amazing person called Chaeli who is pretty much world famous and has achieved more in her 21 years than most of us hope to in our whole miserable existence. But last week she became the first quadraplegic woman to summit Kilimanjaro. And you can watch her story here.
And that’s all for now. We’re safely in Zambia, about to start heading to Namibia. Tomorrow we begin a big cycle with a stretch through an ellie-filled game park so, as I like to say, if the next blog is never posted, expect the worst.
Happy adventures everyone!