Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Lilongwe

My bike is still here! I left it with the people at St Peter's Guest House and I paid them to store it for 60 days. They stored it for an additional 71 days after that.

I was mentally preparing myself to buy a local bike.

When you're cycling through Africa, there is very little margin for things to go wrong. For example, yesterday on the bus, someone could have stolen all my stuff while I was asleep. I keep a photocopy of my passport and $20 dollars on me at all times, in case something goes wrong.

Really, though, I depend on the goodness of people around me. It's amazing to me how good people have been.

Speaking of possessions, I have some new toys for this part of the trip. A road map. Some fancy imported chain lube. An eee laptop computer. I had a Nokia 810 PDA already, but I want to do some kernel hacking. We'll see how long it survives. I also have malaria pills, premoquine to prevent malaria and some other pills to cure malaria. Earlier I had tried to buy malaria medicine and people had sold me chloroquine as a cure or taken once a week to prevent malaria. Chloroquine makes me lethargic and grumpy. It's basically useless, so I wasn't taking it.

One thing I'm missing is my towel. I left it in Kampala by mistake. It was a Mountain Safety Research quick drying, extra absorbative, light weight, compactable camping towel. Seriously, it was a good towel. Ah well...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When I was in my early teens, Mom implemented a curfew where I had to be in the house before dark. Like every teenager I was stroppy and outraged. Mom explained, “I guess a new witch doctor has moved into the area, because there have been several witchcraft related killings recently. They could tell because the hearts, livers and fingers had been removed. Your father and I are just concerned that since you and your sister are the only white kids around, that might make you a target.”

I bet, if that witchdoctor hadn't moved into town or if he had used normal, non-human ingredients for his witchcraft stew, I would have turned into a total party animal. I would probably be out late every night carousing and club hopping instead of sitting quietly at home playing computer scrabble with the blinds drawn and the doors barred and bolted.

I'm passing through Tanzania now and took a few days off in Dar. You maybe saw in the news how a bunch of albino people here have been killed for witchcraft. My understanding is that it's often in rural areas where everyone knows everyone. For one killing where they had a suspect, it was an acquaintance of the albino guy who lured him away from his house at night.

I think Tanzania has more albino people than other countries I have been to. Perhaps I just notice them more in light of the news.

So far no foreigners have been killed. Our wealth helps us some ways. The local police protect us, to protect the tourism industry. Our relatives and friends would hunt the killers down. Expats get used to operating at higher security levels because people are trying to rob us all the time. We have our walls, razor wire, security guards, burglar bars, dogs and guns.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Starting off again

I have been staying in Uganda since Christmas and tomorrow I leave. I'm taking a very fancy bus to Dar es Salaam. From there I'll travel to Lilongwe. Hopefully, my bike is still there and I can cycle on from there.

The traditional ending for this kind of bike trip is Cape Town, but I'm only planning to go as far as Durbin. The trick is that when I hit Durbin, I'm going to loop back up through Botswana and end in Zambia.

I decided to change the ending when I was cycling in Ethiopia and everyone kept telling me that most people cycle through Sudan and go the whole way by bike instead of skipping bits here and there. Once I realized that my trip was completely ruined, I just said screw it, I'm not even going to bother going to Cape Town at all.

So Malawi to Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana and finally Zambia. It will probably take around four months. My parents will be in Zambia by the time I arrive. I also want to live in Zambia, so I'm going to try figure out a way to settle down there and make a living etc etc etc. That's what I have decided.

I'm extremely nervous about this next leg for some reason. I've had nights when I wake up worrying that my bike had been stolen and I just couldn't get back to sleep. Every time I leave my bike behind, I worry a lot.

I had the flu earlier in the week. I have a sore throat and it's turned into a sore jaw and ear. I'm also a hypochondriac. Whenever I get a sore throat, I secretly worry I have rabies.

My bus leaves Kampala tomorrow at 7 AM.