Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Warmth of the Human Heart

Sleeping Quarters

I rode from Gaborone (Botswana) to Kazungulu (Zambia) covering a distance of 1085km from a 4:00am to 2:30pm. This means that ideally I could have ridden on much further. Scorpion had won my heart without any reservations; she made me proud. As a machine, she has been flawless and consistent in her performance making my heart grow fonder each passing day I spent in her company. But I wish to speak of her on another occasion.

In my earlier post, I said that the process of crossing the border at Kazungula was a nightmare, firstly because of the numerous documents I had to complete; the many accompanying fees and taxes, which were always not clear but mandatory. At Tlakweng (Botswana) it was simple: 110 Pula for road tax. Neither did the large Zambian currency denomination make matters easier. Secondly, because of the number of officials and pseudo –officials I had to deal with — everyone vying for a piece of me. I had to go into several offices to do different things; it was all confusing. When the process was finally completed, it was 5:00pm. I still had to pay George who, I must admit, facilitating the process of documentation — running from one office to another to provide support. He was a good man who was trying to earn a decent living. He told me that the government was not helping very much with jobs. Well, he had actually gone as far as making some of the payments using his own money — he provided official receipts. The problem started when he inflated figures. It could have gone unnoticed except that in his haste to milk me of my hard earned cash he started contradicting himself either lured by greed or rather in thinking I was naive. I have a good ear for faults in someone's logic. I pointed this out and an argument ensued. In the meantime his friends started to gather around us. It was time to conclude this deal. In the end, I refunded his money 40$ and gave him another 10$ for his services. At this point he was yelling and cursing that I was being unfair. I told him he was a good man and I was grateful that he had helped me, but to try and steal from me was no virtue, and that in so doing, he had cancelled his blessings. He kept demanding for more and was increasingly becoming hysterical. I was anxious to leave for Livingstone, I simply rode off into the sunset

It was now drizzling lightly; I was very tired and hungry. The chicken I ate at Francistown was long digested. But now I just wanted to get to Livingstone. The road was paved and good. When I am tired, I ride at slower speeds. I cruised at 80km per hour and covered the 66 odd kilometers in no time. I went through the city centre and to Livingstone Falls. The receptionist, a gorgeous Zambian lady was kind to direct me to a decent money changer to change my dollars for Kwacha. I paid another 10$ entrance fees and what a sight to behold.

They said Dr. David Livingstone was the first man to discover the falls. With all due respect to him, what about the indigenous folks living in the vicinity? Since this ride report is not about the morality of this statement, a discussion will not ensue.

I still had to find a place to lay this tired body. One thing you will appreciate is that it is not always easy to find a place to pitch a tent for reasons of personal security. I rode around town checking out the lodges and hotels. In one hotel a night was 120$. The lodges went for not less than 50$. If I stayed in such places, my trip would soon come to an end. After three attempts, it was now dark; I was anxious, I came to a place where my gut feelings told me this was it. I met Rachael at the reception, who said it was 200,000 kwacha (roughly 40$) a night. I hesitated. She asked: “what I was going to offer”. I said that I would rent a place to pitch my tent. She said ok. One of the things I set out to do during this trip is to rely on human goodness. I have met with it so far. This is a major theme of this Odyssey. Rachael was a very sweet person to say the least. Bless her Lord!

I set up the tent where she indicated, nothing occupied my mind more than sleep. I didn’t care about eating; I managed a Heineken though. It was the first time I was going to sleep in the tent. It turned out to be comfortable just like it is at home. The inflatable mattress was a deluxe. Apart from the humid and stuffy night, I did not need the use of my sleeping bag until the wee hours of the morning, I slept soundly. I remember the last thing on my mind was thanking God for bringing me this far. I even dreamt of my favourite food — grilled potatoes and roast beef. Delicious!

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