Lately I’ve been cursed with bad luck. Though it’d be unfair to dwell on the negative when Africa, its people, landscapes and intoxicating environment has blessed me with unforgettable friendships and experiences. Those who know me will attest to my glass half-full attitude — regardless of the situation. In Dar es Salaam I’ve been fortunate to relish in the hospitality and comraderie of my hosts Steve and Klaus. When the power failed and the internet connection slow their friend Seb opened the doors to his business to let me connect. Another friend, Woody of Wild Things Safaris in Dar es Salaam has connected me with contacts in Arusha so that I may have the opportunity to explore Kiliminajaro, the Ngorogora Crater and the Serengeti.
But before I could venture out into the forests and bush of Tanzania I needed to fit the most expensive tire I’d ever purchased on Doc. Thankfully I managed to get my tire and be ready for action on a Saturday because it’s bike prep and maintenance day at the Steve & Klaus Guest House. That’s when I met Dennis. An affable and unassuming KTM owner who along with Steve helped me with my new “gold” tire.
And it wasn’t easy. Breaking the bead, that is getting the old tire off the rim, was the toughest task to date. Thankfully I didn’t suffer a puncture or other tire failure in the jungle or the bush. I don’t know what I could’ve done. But yet with three able and experienced motorcycle enthusiasts, it was virtually impossible to break the bead of my South African purchased Bridgestone Trail Wing without some heavy duty assistance. Providing support, ideas and verbal banter Steve found it hard to believe that we couldn’t crack the bead. So he threw his weight and strength into it with no avail. That’s when we decided to remove the sprocket and brake disc. And then ride over the tire with a pick=up truck. We had to do this on both sides. This experience was enlightening as I wonder what I would’ve done if I had a puncture out in the bush. Posing this question to Steve and Denny they both laughed and said it’d problaby take some time but you could always find a truck or a car to run over the tire and break the bead!
Steve and Denny working hard to break the bead joined by cold Kiliminjaro and Ndovu beers.
The only way we could break the bead was driving over it with a pick-up truck.
So as I winded down my last days in Dar I had one more package to retrieve from my WorldRider logistics legend, John Angus. With a few needed supplies and a replacement phone, Steve wondered what the Tanzanian customs would charge for the phone. When the well fed lady opened my box she took one look at the phone and said thirty-thousand shillings, or about twnty-eight dollars. This was out of the question. Explaining that this was a replacement phone and that I would be leaving the country with it, my argument was simple: the phone would not remain in Tanzania. I further explained that I was riding a motorcycle and had many items in transit that I didn’t have to pay duty. That’s when she asked for my “Carnet”. Unfortunately this was in my bags at Steve’s place. To ride back and forth would take an hour factoring in Dar es Salaam traffic. Steve piped in and soon the duty was reduced to ten-thousand shillings or a mere nine bucks. I was still peeved but the cost of petrol would probably be five bucks and the time – priceless. I threw two five-thousand shilling bills on the counter and she scratched out some scribble on a paper and handed it to me. I was free to take my package.
Extortion. Customs in Dar es Salaam providing the release for my package from Johnny A in the states.
Funny thing was that as I was leaving she asked where the ten grand was. Steve explained that I put it on the counter and the lady grabbed it. She shuffled through a drawr and found two folded up five-thousand notes. But mine were left flat. She assumed these were the notes I’d left. But later at Steve’s place I pulled out of my pants two five-thousand shilling bills. Shit. I must have grabbed them back by mistake. I guess justice prevailed — for once in Africa.
But even more, some more good luck and fortune reigned over me today. I received an email from a young woman, Martha, who lives in Malawi not far from the Zambia border. Two men showed up in her shop today with a small black book with my email and website address. They found it on the road somehwere between her shop and the Zambia border. They were looking to possibly contact me with information about their find. But that was days before she tried to contact me. Her first email to me got lost in the “mail” but when I read her note today, I had this elating feeling of joy. But there’s no word about my phone which was in the little dry bag that fell out of my pocket somewhere along that route:
This is my second mail to you. I dont know if the first one reached you. In my first mail, i wrote that there are certain men here in Mchinji-(located btwn 7 & 8 Km from Zambian boarder)keeping your goods which they think you accidentally lost. I have confirmed this when i was browsing on this worldrider website today. This is my first time to come across world rider and i even qouted the website from the small book the men brought to me when they were telling me the story. I am just a business lady providing secretarial services in Mchinji and the men came for E-mail services when they discovered that your book contains some contacts. They told me they are keeping a number of goods which they say you lost but i just saw the book because they left the other items at home. The book is small in size and has a thick, black soft cover. If am not mistaken, its pages or some of them have a yellowish colour.
If you want to talk directly to men who are keeping your goods, you can call them on these numbers: +2659210429 and +2659789838 and one of the men is called Steven Phiri.
They left me their contacts and where they stay and if you can contact me, i can always deliver the message to them. I am concerned because if you take a long time before finding out about the items, they might be misplaced or get damaged.
If you may wish to contact me through phone, then here is my mobile number; +265xxxxxxx or xxxxxxxxxx.
Lastly, I am now enjoying the worldrider website and I hope I will be discovering more through what you are writing. I have never been in Mzuzu but I now know that mzuzu has a beautiful hotel \’sunbird\’.
Waiting to hear from you and all the best in the world of discoveries.
Thank you Martha for contacting me. You have made my day!
I have e-mailed and sent SMS messages to Martha and hope that justice, humanity and luck comes way. I will keep you all informed of the latest in this continuing to develop discovery!