Into the Heart of Western Tanzania

To Mpanda Ndogo Mpanda

When I set out on this odyssey, numerous friends prayed for the success of my trip.  I knew it was blessed by the Devine and that it was meant to be.  There are many reasons for saying this but an outstanding reason was that this trip was initially planned for December 2008, it simply failed.  Although everything had been taken care of, it seems certain mental preparations had not been met adequately.  I subsequently realised this in retrospect.  I supplied a bona fide but incomplete explanation to explain this state of affair on the Wilddog Forum.

Saint Ireneus once said that God works through nature.  I am not a theologian and will not give treaties on this subject, but my simple faith demonstrated this in a very ordinary manner.  I did everything as far as it was humanly possibly to prepare for the initial trip but it simply failed.  How many times does something fail to work in your favour but you are hard-headed and insistent that it must go on as planned?  How many times do you ever listen to yourself and the circumstances surrounding you?  In the subsequent preparations, which preparations were even better including trying to arrange for Travel Insurance from a reputable firm, one day after a long delay and on the eve of my departure, I was inconveniently informed that my trip was too risky and could not be insured.  In short, I departed without this facility.  I had done lots of travel preparations by trying to cover every conceivable contingency.  My Wilddog Forum colleagues were instrumental to this end either by way of advice, such as from the late Ibele Kruger, supplies from Kurt Beine among others, actual work on the bike, from my buddy Andy.  Among others, TravelGravel, for instance, sent her phone number saying that if ever I wanted to communicate she would provide this avenue.  It is not possible to enumerate every act of kindness that was offered but suffice to say that God works in mysterious ways.  Of all the preparations I did, neither my friends nor I remembered to think about the appropriate tyres for the trip – knobblies.  I had discussed every detail for most of the trip but hardly anything about tyres and even where I did it was more out of curiosity.  For some reason I assumed that Anakees would do.  As I pointed out previously they are good tyres but only to a certain point.  At this point of the trip these tyres were a none-issue. This oversight would result into many tumbles so that after  the fifteenth event, I stopped counting.

Just passed Mpanda Ndogo Mpanda

I did not spend much time in Sumbawanga.  I rode down its main street – the only tarmac portion of the road – filled up on petrol and headed for Mpanda Ndogo Mpanda about 250km to the north.  A full tank would cover this distance.  I wish to alert the reader that petrol in this part of the world was approximately two dollars a litre. As I left that town behind me, the sun was beginning to go over the horizon; I was anxious to reach Mpanda before it was dark.  On tarmac this was an easy trip, but on dirt road my first real test of my riding skills on this sort of terrain was an ordeal.  As I gathered speed, I realised that the road was not as firm as the one I had just ridden on into Sumbawanga.  A close look determined that a grader had recently levelled this road.  This had many implications such as lots of sand collected together but disguised.  I could tell from the way Scorpion was dancing on the road that there was a lot of loose earth beneath my tyres.  In addition, if it were to rain as it did that night, the entire road become one big pool of mud that would make it very treacherous  to ride on.  Towards the equator the sun sets quickly.  I decided to maintain a decent speed to cover good ground before it was dark.  I was also worried by the fact that Katavi National Park was between me and Mpanda.  I decided that the first town I came across, I would call it a day.  

A Land Cruiser was in front of me and the amount of dust it was raising was blinding me, and some of it was entering my air vents in the helmet and obviously my mouth. When I had a chance to pass it, they never saw me again.  It was not until 7:45 that I arrived at small town called Mitumba; by then it was pitch black; I could not see my hand in front of my face. I was tired, hungry but glad that I had enjoyed this portion of the trip although it had started in the morning with a tumbled. 

To be continued…

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