The African Continent Successfully Crossed.

After fussing about and trying to find starter pack SIM cards for our telephones, Ronnie and I headed toward Dar es Salaam. It’d be another long day but we’d be treated to a great road to ride passing through two or three national parks until resting our bodies at the busiest city in Tanzania – Dar es Salaam.

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Goodbye Iringa. These guys were pushing what must be a ton of flour, rice and vegetables. The man pulled cart. It is a fact of life in Tanzania.

As we made our way east the carnage of trucks we encountered on the side of the road was proof we weren’t the only ones who were challenged with last night’s horrible weather and the slick slippery roads. We saw no less than six bad accidents. Most were haul trucks. Some jackknifed, others slid off the road and others collided. H appy we made it safe to Iringa.

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Making his way to Dar, Ronnie cruises through the gorge.

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Movin steer.

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As we climbed out of the mountains into a valley from Iringa we passed through a valley of massive Baobab trees. Baboons scattered across the road and scurried as our bikes approached which they watched sometimes perched on bridge abutments.IMG_4040_2.jpg

Stopping along the road to just outside of Udzungwa National Park to photograph one of these massive squatty trees, a family selling rocks watched curiously as I wielded my camera making sure to avoid the direction of its protruding lens. They explained the rocks were for decoration or for making driveways and for keeping dust down. I couldn’t convince any of them to allow me to take a portrait, but as I stood their a speeding bus blazed by throwing a handful of nutrition bars that scattered across the road. I figured this was kinda like a toll that the drivers sometimes must offer the villagers who must put up with the noise and speed of traffic on what would otherwise be a peaceful valley setting.

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Baobab trees everywhere. Sorry, I’m too loaded no need for any rocks today.

Signs warned of game and animals as we entered Mikumi National Park. The what has become ubiquitous signage pleading people not to feed the baboons were also posted regularly as we rode through this park. At one point a herd of fifteen or twenty elephants crossed the road ahead of us. I tried to signal to Ronnie to move up a bit so I could capture a shot of him with the bike and elephants but my cries fell on deaf ears as he fumbled to grab his camera. Shit. I’ve got a hundred elephant pictures but not one with a motorcycle. Next time. I had turned the engine off to quite the bike while the elephants crossed. Soon they passed as did a couple busses which Ronnie quickly followed. Just then I tried to start Doc and the battery just waned. I had my PIAA lights on and forgot to turn the ignition off. Not able to find 35w bulbs in Africa I had put 50w units in thinking I’d remember to monitor the voltage. Bad idea. There I was in a valley with potentially hundreds of elephants, lions, hyenas, giraffes and who knows what else. I had jumped off the bike waving my arms frantically trying to capture Ronnie’s attention but no avail.

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Damn baboons. What ever you do… don’t feed them!!!

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Challenges of the winding road to Dar – it’s a major truck route and it’s tough when caught behind a big rig.

I was stuck. Trying to flag down passersby my waves were just greeted with waves back. Finally after 20 minutes a Coca-Cola truck stopped. Though only one person in the cab, I thought there’d be no way he could push me to enough speed to jump-start Doc. But before I could start counting a team of guys popped up from behind plastic bottle cases in the rear of the truck. I was jump started in seconds. Nearly two hours later I finally caught up with Ronnie. A bit peeved that he hadn’t wondered where I was. But a cold Orange Fanta and a laugh we continued our way toward Dar winding along a river and through a gorge until we passed through 30 kilometers of busy villages outside of the big city where corrugated warning bumps and bigger speed bumps slowed the progress. Traffic also was challenging. It was rush hour and that’s when i showed Ronnie how you just gotta drive like them in order to gain position.

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Elephants casually cross in front of us.

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This giraffe checks out WorldRider.

We were to connect with Steve Luker, a fellow ADVrider who’s been living in Tanzania for five or six years. Rob Gush of South Africa whom I never met but has been an avid follower and providing me tons of information, maps, tips and tricks via email connected me with the former South African now ex-pat in Dar es Salaam. After a celebratory beer once in Dar to mark Ronnie’s success of riding across the African continent from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, we followed Steve’s impeccable directions to his place just off Kawe beach on the Indian Ocean just outside of the big city.

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Cracking the celebratory brewsky in Dar es Salaam.

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