Happy Birthday to Me!!

“Please boss, dont steal the bottle”

“I won’t steal it. I don’t even want it. I’ll bring it back in two minutes!”

I’m sitting up in bed in a small room, the floor is painted a dark red colour, the walls are pale yellow with lots of red stains that we originally thought were blood (quite concerning), but later realised were just bits of the red from the floor that the painter got on the walls.  It’s all falling apart.

There are bits of either mud or shit about the size of a tennis ball stuck to the warped ceiling in random places, there’s a cracked pale blue door that doesn’t shut properly, and a curtain in stained but bright green chiffon, strung from a piece of matching green electrical wire.  Our gear is spread out across the small bit of floor that the bed doesn’t take up.

Betsy is parked in a room without a door across the yard, she has a badly dented rear rim, more on that later.

There’s music pounding into the room from several ‘clubs’ across the unlit dusty street.  These clubs consist of a some old speakers, some neon coloured led lights, and a counter where alcohol is served.  Further down the road there are a few stalls selling the same hand woven baskets, a few stalls selling the same local food (goat or fish or chicken with cassava) and a few stalls selling the same collection of soap powder, salt, oil and rice.

This bit of road is only about 100m long, and for around another 200km in either direction there’s nothing but tiny african villages with mud houses and stick roofs, people, goats, bicycles and trucks… and potholes, really fucking big potholes.

So i guess you could say it’s quite remote.  Actually it is remote, it’s so remote that we didn’t think there would be anything here at all, and we were genuinely excited when we saw lights off in the distance because that means electricity, which is a prerequisite for cold beer, which at the end of a day like today is very important.

And yes it was dark when we arrived, which is breaking the no 1 Commandment in Africa “Thoust shall not ride at night time”

We’re here because it’s halfway to where we want to be tomorrow, and there was a waypoint marked on the gps called “Kent Guesthouse”, which seemed like something to aim for.

This morning started out with a 75km ride down a bad dirt road, that turned into a worse dirt track, that ended (for us) at a near vertical off camber ascent that i might have made it up one in ten attempts.

We really hate turning back.  In our last trip we turned back once in India due to a landslide, the trip before that I turned back once in Argentina after breaking a brake line trying to ride up a river bed, and the trip before that we turned around once in Mongolia after submerging Betsy, and once in Siberia on a remote mountain pass that was iced over.  Not that I’m counting or anything.

So we turned back, which turned a 250km day into a 550km day, and hence we arrived here in the dark, shortly after almost being swallowed by a pothole about a foot deep and 4 feet wide which left the afore mentioned dent in Betsy’s rear rim.  We hit it so hard that I thought something must have broken off the bike, but no, just a badly dented rear rim. Poor old girl.

Sally improved things by buying me a cupcake and singing me happy birthday which was very sweet :))  And anyway, the rim will get us home, we’re both alive, and there was a cold beer and food here, which makes it all ok at the end of the day.

Strangely, all the “clubs” here (all three), REALLY want their empty bottles back.  So much so that a guy followed us down that road and had a go at us while we were eating goat and rice in once of the road side stalls.  He seemed to think I was going to steal the bottle. We returned it a minute later and it was smiles all around.

I’ve just hit a wall so will wrap it up.  We’re in a town called Luangwa Bridge, it’s my birthday, I’m 44.  The music is still going, sounds like an african version of Enrique Eglasius.  I cant keep my eyes open. It’s only 9:30pm. Poor betsy.

Goodnight xxoo


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