6/06/2014 Melindi to Mtae

6/06/2014 Melindi to Mtae

“Papa Mose” opened his business on the date of his fathers death. He is the best businessman I have met. His interests include is guests houses, his farm and cattle. He is western educated and his three children are in college.

The ride was through verdant mountains today. Again, small villages and homes interrupt the sweep of verdant vegetation. The steep hills are sometimes terraced, and seem to reard the subsistence farmers in abundance.

Everywhere people are friendly, children are awestruck. When I stop they approach, cautiously, some smiling, some fearful. I kneel down and shake hands all around, play with Lisa, and kick around their soccer balls made of plastic bags bound with twine.

Then the adults approach, and I treat all with respect. Once we are all comfortable, I show them my rap star handshake, which makes everyone laugh.

The town of Mtae straddles the ridge of a mountain. The lodge has lights but not electricity, baths but no running water. Opening the wooden shutters on the paneless window reveals a 200 mile view. The sounds of children, cattle, chickens, and Swahili waft in.

The market is about a 20×20 foot area on the roadside where colorfully dressed women squat in front of plastic sheets bearing small heaps of local produce.

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Papa Mose let wasps live on the ceiling of his dining room. When the doors are opened in the morning the wasps fly out and there are birds waiting there to eat them.

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Sage riding ahead.

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An attractive communal home.

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Another African cottage for Leslie.

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Mud and sticks construction detail. The clay soil makes this possible. This would be a lot harder with Florida sands!

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Beautiful rock formations on the descent from Mtae.

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A lone store on the road. Sage was shot with a slingshot close to here. She threw her bike down and chased the kid.

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Good riding.

Lusoka to Melindi

6/05/2014 Lusoka to Melindi

First, my laptop has stopped working. I am posting this ten days late. I make notes on paper. I am writing this sitting in a guest lodge in Melindi that actually has a flush toilet.

Such a nice ride today. It started out in the rain, and there was some very long climbs over rutted muddy dirt roads with scooters and busses to dodge. The landscape is super green and sprinkled with typical African homes, mud/wattle, adobe brick and metal roofs. The road is lined with subsistence farms, ramshackle stores, and people, always people.

I enjoy singing when I am riding, it keeps my spirits up and entertains the locals. One of the reasons I travel is to work on my adaptability. In this case, adapting to a working relationship is giving me more of a challenge than Africa!

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It’s a wet muddy climb- with busses to dodge!

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So Lisa and I stopped by for a trim…

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Leslie’s African cottage. This is a very typical African home. No power or running water, mud brick walls, metal roof.

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Subsistence farming in Africa. They are way ahead of us in the back-to-the-land movement. How can we keep our level of education and comfort in a carbon footprint this green? That is what I keep asking myself.

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Villages and farms.

6/03/2014 Bagamoya to Lushota

What an interesting couple of days it has been. First, the people of Tanzania are extraordinarily polite, calm, and pleasant. They have always meade me feel welcome and safe.

I enjoy talking to the men, they love to shake hands, then hold your hand for a minute. A man lead me to a store by taking my hand. Also, men stand a lot closer to each other, and touch each others shoulders or arms more. To me, it feels natural. I am going to miss it when I return to the States.

My best moment so far was when asking if we could camp in a large area across from a small village. Of course, I first talk to the men, and the man in charge was Mr. Kissinger- no kidding. He was slightly drunk. He led me across the road to a potential camping place, and his whole village followed, maybe 20 people. It was apparent that they were going to follow us all the way to wherever we made camp, so I had to do something.

I told them that Sage was sick and needed to take a shower, with gestures of course. Sage went on ahead. I had to make sure they turned away, because they wanted to keep talking. One of the young women- and oh my, there sure are plenty of beautiful young women here- rubbed her fingers together asking for money. I thought she might be teasing, so I stepped over to her, and gave her my famous rap star handshake. She started laughing. I took her hand, and kissed it like a prince. She laughed and turned away, embarresed, then turned back and kissed her hand where I kissed it. Then, they all turned and went back across the street, laughing.

I always have such warm feelings after such connections.

I am loosing track of what the real world is like. Is it an American town or an African village? Which is the more enduring? Which is the better place to live? Why? Should I feel sorry for people living in mud and stick houses- or envious of their family connectons, and their ability to live simply. I came sure of what was better, but now I am not so.

Today we rode for a while to a major interestion, and turned towards Kilimanjaro. We only rode a kilometer, and there was no shoulder and the road roaring with busses. We changed plans, and with some help we caught a bus to anywhere north, which happened to be Lushota, which is up in the mountains. After sweltering in flat humid country, this is a relief to Sage.

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Soccer team drilling.

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Your village grocery store.

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Buying gas- for a cookstove, but it is sold this way for scooter owners.

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He makes and sells charcoal- behind him. I posed him in my sunglasses.

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Spikey bushes near the first camp.

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Beautiful tree in the sunset.

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Village life.

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Oh, the pineapples are so good. I loved this guys stand.

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It’s a big country.

What an adventure. I do feel so far away from home.

Dar Es Salaam to Bagamoya Tanzania

Tanzania overwhelms my senses. That is not always a good thing. Then everything starts becoming normal. We cycle down a small dirt road for 20km and run across a backwoods community, mud waddle houses and thatched roofs, kids sitting in the dirt playing and I am overwhelmed again. Tanzania is very complex, there is some of everything.

We met wonderful people today. George invited us into his home, and invited us to stay there. Other people went out of their way to help us find things. So many people are friendly and wave and say Jambo, Welcome. I feel safe here.

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Sunrise over the Indian Ocean as we are leaving Dar.

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Lisa By-The-Way being introduced.

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I have arrythmia in the morning and am not feeling good. It passes by the afternoon.

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Love lifts all.

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Enrico is cycling all of Africa. We are only the third touring cyclists he has met in Africa. He was very surprised and delighted to see us.

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Salt mining.

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Lovely seamstress.

5/31/2014 Around Dar Es Salaam

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Outside a supermarket

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Flower Power Guard

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Barak is very popular here.

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The Fish Market

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The Fish Market

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The Fish Market. People buy fish and bring them to him to clean.

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Beautiful fish cleaner.

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Lot’s of work bikes.

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Fishing boats at the Fish Market

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Sage seizing the picture.

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Fish on table.

Getting more used to being in a city like this. I’m doing better.

Shawn

To Dar Es Salam

My friend Andy is kind enough to drive me to the Sarasota Airport. When I show the Delta agent my reservation number he found it but said that I had no ticket, that it had been cancelled. He could not clarify who had cancelled it, and I am forced to buy a new last minute ticket. My ticket price jumps from $268 to over $1100. But what can I do?

Furthermore I can not get my orignally booked flights and so am scheduled to arrive in Philadelphia at midnight instead of 4:30PM. Thankkfully, by flying standby, I make it at 4:30pm. I find Sage, my cycling partner, repairing her damaged bike box at carousel one.

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Sage at the Philly Airport

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Shawn at the Philly Airport

The flight to Dhoa is 12 hours. Economy class has been oversold and Sage and I get bumped to business class- complete with chairs that motor into beds! It is my first time, and I am so comfortable that I do not want to get off the plane. Sage is taking Doxyclcene as a malarial propholactic, and is having minor anxiety issues.

We land in Doha, and must run many blocks to catch the fligt to Dar, which has already boarded. Will our luggage fly over with us? We clear the gate and hop into a waiting bus, and sit there for 15 minutes, because the bus is blocked in. When we land in Dar we clear immigration and confirm that our bikes and luggage have not made it.

We fill out forms and are assured that our luggage will arrive tomorrow and be shipped to our hotel. We leave to look for our cab driver, who is not there. Some negotiation gets our fare down to a fair $15. Away we go.

Impressions- Seas of African faces line the highway, walking in dust and dodging chunks of missing sidewalk. Dust coats everything. Motorscooters risk lives by slipping by in any unused space. Cabs drive as quickly as possbible, ignoring lane lines to pass.

Small shops rest in niches in dusty grey concrete buidlings. Their owners sit listlessly in the heat and wait for business.

Our hotel, the Safari Inn, is thankfully tucked into a small Cul de sac, and has a gate and guard. It is clean, and the workers friendly. Our bikes arrive the next day, but not my panniers, which have have everything in them. Hopefully today.

I must take Dar in small doses. Sage is recovering so I walk alone. The streets are filled with people, cars. The streets are muddy, broken up, the buildings old. it feels like someone tried to squeeze three times as many people as their should be into every small space. I am the only white face in my hour walks. Touts hit me up, but leave me alone after I talk with them.

I hope all my gear gets here.

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In front of my hotel is the auto repair street. It is filled with mechanics and broken cars.

I have a hard time taking pictures here, as it feels voyeuristic to take pictures of people struggling, and then there are a lot of places where I am reluctant to pull out my camera.

7/01/2013 North Cape to Mill River Provincial Park.


I awaken to the powerfull roar of the Colossus. What a thrill, to sleep in the giants shadow, to awaken to it’s voice.

But I still have arrythmia. I set off anyway. I’m working my way back south east having been to to Cape North yesterday. i’m going to follow the coast on route 12, it’s more interesting than the bicycle trail. There is almost no traffic.

At last- a ship raking for Irish Moss near Tignish. I confirm this with a strolling local.

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Again, so much beautiful water.
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The red of the island’s soil creates a surprising beach.

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The water is turbid with red soil.

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Spraying the potatoes.

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I stopped at the town of Alberton for some breakfast. I liked little Alberton, the people all said hello, and they had just stocked their little pond with fish and were having a fishing tournament. So many young people!

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But my arrythmia was really hitting hard today. I had to catch my heart by resting on hills I should have breezed up. I decided to take camp as soon as possible and made Mill River Provincial Park around 2:00PM. It is $32 for a tent site. Wifi is in the country club next door.

So I clean up and walk to the private Mill River Country Club, find a cozy spot, and enjoy the wifi. Ahhh, it is so nce to relax indoors. I feel tenson easing. Later I enjoy a rather elegant dinner in their resteraunt. I feel the tension drain, and my arrythmia leaves. Yay! So I need to treat this trip a little more like a vacation, and less like a marathon. I am used to being tough on myself, can I learn to relax? I must, or I can’t continue to cycle tour. I stopped cycling to keep from passing out, my heart in arrythmia can’t keep up with the work of cycling uphill.

6/30/2013 Chrysostome to North Cape, PEI.


I awake in the middle of the night to go pee. Wait- there’s a light just outside my tent- a flashlight- I’ve been discovered- Merde! Then the light goes away. I cautiously step outside- and am surrounded by blinking firefly fairy lights. Oh, how marvelous, it is so lovely, I jump with delight.

I awake with arrythmia, so I decide to take it easy. Fortunately there is a strong tail wind, and I can just sail along up highway 2, then cut to the bike trail in Portage.

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There are so many different wildflowers I decide I must photograph some to show you.

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I ride up to Bloomfield, and then tiring of the bike trail scenery, I cut for the coast, go sailing up lovely highway 14 and stop to visit Miminegash, the self proclaimed Irish Moss capital of the world.

But the place looks pretty dead.

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I pull over to talk to the gentlemen sitting outside the convenience store, always a good source of knoweledge. They tell me the industry has been dead for thirty years. There is another moss growing in the bay, from which carogeen can be derived, but that carogeen is green, whereas the carogeen from Irish Moss is white, which makes it a much better food aditive. They bemoan how this end of the island is emptying out, and I am sympathetic, having seen a fair percentage of empty looking homes and farms.

I decide to try and cycle to the end of the island today, North Cape, which has a large experimental wind facility.

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These guys are enormous. For me, it is like being in a cathedral to be close to such creations. Check out one blade resting on the ground:

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Another shot:

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I spend a few hours there learning all I can, soaking up the sun, and charging my laptop. When I leave, I have a hunch I can camp close to a giant, having seen a promising road. And it pans out. Can you find my tent, orange, bottom left?

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I am leaning against the base of the giant as I write this, sitting on it’s concrete pad. The tips of the blades slice the air at 70 plus mph. They sound like whips. The steel clyinder that holds up the windmill creaks and twangs and sounds like a gearbox, hums with power. This turbine is generating 330 thousand watts. The rooftop solar on my house, in comparison, generates 3 thousand watts. I am so thrilled to be on intimate terms with this most elegant expression of the good man can do.

I’ll guard it well tonight.

6/29/2013 Carlton to St-Chrysostome, PEI


I am excited to ride the Carlton Trail on Prince Edward Island. I have checked it out last night and the surface is smooth, and there are no large potholes to dodge.

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What a good trail- Good job trail builders. But like most rails to trails, the scenery is mostly uninteresting as the trail does not go through towns. It is all about potato farms.

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So I break off and ride highway 1A into Summerside after 5 miles or so. The potato industry is well, though it has a dark side. In an effort to minimize the amounts of chemicals sprayed on farmlands, the government has mandated that potatos must be rotated with other crops and can be grown only once every three years. It’s not pesticides that are sprayed, but Roundup, as the potatos don’t compete well with the amazing crush of green evident everywhere. My sourse tells me that Prince Edward Island has the highest cancer rate of Canada, and it is believed it is due to the extensive farming.

Potatoes- worth it?

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Prince Edward Island has a wonderful resource in the wind. I am heading towards the North Cape which has a wind power reseach station. Many individuals and institutions
have cast the net and wind generators are fairly common.

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Here’s another from my theme of “Churches too Big for their Community”. This is the Eglise Notre Dame, and there is an inspiring story about a mans vision.

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The minister back in 1898 had a dream of building this church, and managed to borrow seventy five thousand dollars. The church was built with all local materials, woods, bricks, labor. The loan was paid back in 30 years.

There was a blind man sitting in front as a docent. He was a wealth of information. He was Acadian, which refers to the French population that was expelled when the island became English. Later they were allowed back. His native tounge is French, and he speaks English like an Irishman. This area, north of Summerside along route 11 is the old Acadian area.

An lovely structure, an inspiring story, very cold inside.

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What can I say about the feeling here? It feels gentle, soft. The island is lushly green, very moist. The grund everywhere is hummusy. It is like a dream cycling here, mostly level, few cars, idyllic scenery. And occasionaly something odd like this pops up. Hmm, gives me an idea of what to do with all those old olive oil bottles.

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Typical landscapes

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It is hard to find a place to stealth camp. I try many spots, but the ground is too boggy. Also, there are a lot of small acreages, I think I have found a good woods, but dive in and realize it is someones yard. At last I find the right spot. I make camp, take a shower, and the sky opens up. Sigh.

6/28/2013 Borden-Carlton, PEI


Trucks roll by all night. My little nest is 300 yards off the road behind some wild rose bushes. In the morning it is still misty/rainy and I hear the slush as the trucks speed along the wet highway. But Prince Edward Island is close, and I am jazzed to get there. Besides, I have been reading Anne of Green Gables on my Kindle and am feeling perky. What would Anne do?

You can’t actually ride a bike across the bridge. You have to call for a van pickup at the visitors center. I am lucky and get a young guy who is really into a light carbon footprint, and we hit it off. I invite him to my home in Florida. I think I’ll see him again someday.

The visitors center on PEI is very helpful and I end up riding a short distance to a bonafide campground, which costs $42. I do my laundry in shifts so I have something to wear, and even wash my smelly tent. I have a little shelter to camp under, and a big piece of blue tarp provided by the manager so my tent doesn’t have to get dirty again. The game room has free wifi, so here I sit, completely comfortable, while it rains outside.

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Moose are considered to be the most dangerous animals in North America- partially because if you drive into one you hit it’s legs, causing its 1200 lb. body to crash into your windshield. I’m going to give em a wide berth.