So it seems that things are coming together. I only wish the pinky finger on my right hand would see some reduction in swelling and pain. Why is it that the smallest appendages cause the most pain? At least I will have some reprieve from throttle twisting while bouncing around in a Land Cruiser crossing the mighty Serengeti. And my eye? Well, I’ve upped the dosage and been told it will take 1-2 weeks to clear up. Squinting to try to focus, will I be able to spot an elephant?
We set sail tomorrow, Wednesday the 27th of February. I dropped Doc off at Bush2Beach headquarters, home to nearly a dozen Land Cruisers, including the one that will take me and Doc on our Safari across the endless plains. It’s also home to Chris and Ingrid and their team who are securely fitting Doc to the trailer so we’re ready to roll in the morning.
Today over breakfast and I poured over maps and guide books of Africa with Tom, the Canadian on the V-Strom. He and I exchanged travel tips, route suggestions and ideas. He’s heading south to Cape Town while I’m heading north to Cairo. It’s a legendary route that many dream about but few dare to complete. Even the celebrated travel writer Paul Theroux in his book, Cape to Cairo, admits that he couldn’t tackle the rough terrain between Nairobi and Cairo and ended up flying (first class, no doubt) to Nairobi, only to pick up his journey south from the Kenyan capital. Hate to say this Paul, but you didn’t do Cape to Cairo. So armed with information on the roads, highlights and potential pitfalls of journeying through Ethiopia and Sudan, we parted ways hoping one day to connect and ride together.
An adage of mine borrowed from somewhere during my life journey is “there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met.” There are times strangers meet and then friends part. If only a for a brief encounter or a lifetime of friendship. Meeting Tom for me was meeting a kindred spirit. Sadly we met a crossroads where each would be traveling in opposite directions. Yet I’m sure we’ll connect again. He’s hoping to get to Buenos Aires from Cape Town and travel north back to his home in Vancouver, Canada. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be in California when he’s passing through.
(l) Ingrid’s son, Mwene, which means leader in Swahili sits proudly on Doc while it was getting secured for the 4 day journey across northwestern Tanzania and the Serengeti.
This Land Cruiser would be company for me, Simon and Ben for the long cruise and safari!
(l) Chris carefully places my Jesse bags in the “boot” of the trailer while (r) Bush2Beach staff ties a tarp to reduce dust exposure for the journey.
I often think of other travelers I’ve met along the road over the past two years. On motorcycles or simply travelers and even tourists. Sure, traveling by bike sets one apart from the crowd. But we’re all travelers. And we all, for the most part, share the same passion. Our means, objectives and desires may be different. But it’s the longing to learn, live and love of what we do that binds the thread between us.
I remember the RV’er Dick Van Dyke when traveling through Alaska, the guys on Harley’s in Anchorage, the Canadian brothers who stopped me south of Jasper to share a peace pipe, so to speak. Then world traveling motorcyclists Pete from Berkely at the the border between Canada and USA. The Park Ranger from Natural Bridges. I can’t list them all. But they keep swirling around my brain. The countless legends I met while traveling through Mexico. Then the friendships made in Central and South America, and Africa: Daniel, Juan, Bruce, Guido, Ron, Andy, Ming, Karl, Pepe, Adam, Seb, Martina, Mark, Ramiro, Beto, Carlos and the Venezuelans, the Colombians, the Brazilians, Grant, Jules, Carol, Steve, Rob, Salvadore. The list is mind-boggling. In fact I just received an email from Francisco, a Colombian I shared spanish lessons and cold beers with on a coffee plantation outside Armenia, Colombia in December 2005. He’s traveling though Europe and just might be in Egypt when I’m rolling through.
I could drop pages of names. But I’ll save that for another day. And if you’re name isn’t on the short list, it means nothing. But the odd thing that perhaps bothers me most is the lack of communication from the one motorcyclist I traveled with most — Jeremiah. He was by my side when I broke my leg in Bolivia and braced it over a treacherous 4-5 hour ride during a ranging thunderstorm until we reached a hospital in Potosi. I returned to the States for surgery and recovery. Then months later we reuninted and traveled again through some of the toughest Bolivian roads and then through the wonderful colonial cities of Northern Argentina. But since we departed ways in Santiago in December 2006 the guy hasn’t returned any of the dozens of e-mails I’ve sent. This is unfortunate. For I know he’s communicated with mutual friends. But for some reason he’s incommunicado — with me. It’s sad, because in many ways we were so alike, yet in others so different but the experiences we shared and were enriched by can never be denied — the camaraderie was genuinely legendary.
Perhaps he’s disappointed that his trip ended after South America. I’m sure I don’t owe him any money and we parted on good terms. At least I think so. Granted he didn’t share my passion of a cold beer after a days ride or a fine Argentinian Malbec over dinner — though I often tried to persuade him to partake. But that’s just Allan. For me, it’s the people I’ve met and shared experiences with that have made this journey even more rewarding. I continue to communicate with dozens of people who’ve made an impression and impacted me in so many ways. Why this one motorcyclist refuses to acknowledge an e-mail is beyond me. If there’s a problem, then communicate. Traveling through Africa including Arab and Muslim influenced areas, it’s all too easy to see how lack of communication does nothing to improve situations. But I trust he’s well and hope any demons plaguing our relationship or any others in his life he might have tucked under the carpet can be one day wiped clean. Because life is too short to keep things buried inside.
So as I set my sights for the wildebeast migration and the wild endless plains of Northern Tanzania I’m grateful for those enduring friendships I’ve made and will continue to forge and build as I make my north through this wild continent of Africa.