Run away to Africa – Start

Start

I left home at Settlers Limpopo province South Africa on 3 December 2012. Next stop was at my parents in Johannesburg. My parents and I went shopping for a telescope fishing rod to take with. We found a fishing rod at a fishing shop in Edenval.

That night I had a big shock when they took me to Park station. I had not been down town Johannesburg for about eighteen years. Talk of inner city decay. There were piles of rubbish on the side of the roads and in the road. Urine and other liquids running down the streets. Lots of shady looking characters hanging around on the streets. Taxies, run down vehicles and broken things lying around. We were afraid to park the car as it might not be there when we come back, that is if you come back alive.

Bus was supposed to leave at 20H00. Bicycle and bag weighed in at 36 kg. Not counting my carry on. Had to pay an extra R 150 for the bicycle even though it was on the ticket. There was a man in front of me that needed to pay extra money for his overweight luggage. He had changed all his money into US$ and did not have Rands. Nobody had change for his US$. Eventually he gave me US$100 as security that he would pay me back my R 100.

Bus left at 20H50 on the 3rd December 2012. On route it stopped at Midrand where it took on more passengers. Much better option if you do not want to lose your life at Park Station Johannesburg. Bus made stops at Pietersburg for passengers then at Mesina to take on petrol.

Stopped at Beightbridge South African side at about 5 am. Disembarked and made long line into Emigration office. In about three quarters of an hour we were in no man’s land.

On the Zimbabwe side, the driver did some trick to get use through. First he stopped in the middle of the road and made as if he had to speak to an official. Then organised an assistant to off load all the luggage in the middle of the road. Where he got a customs official to check the luggage. I had to declare my bicycle as second hand and that it was valued at under R 2000 or there would have been lots of red tape. Then the driver got the same assistant to pack everything back as quick as possible. He then called all passengers together and told us the following. If somebody asks us if we have had our passports stamped then we must say yes. Or they will send us to the back of the line which is about 15 busses long. He will park on the other side of the immigration office and we must stand around the bus and go to the toilets. Then we must break off and go in groups of five to get our passports stamped. If the customs official ask us how did we come, we must say with our own transport. That was not needed as there was such a mass of people they did not even know what was going on in the office. Then we all got in the bus and away we went. Border crossing was about two hours. Not bad for Christmas holidays. Heard later in the day there was a person’s friend that arrived just after us, which spend nine hours there.

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Zimbabwe was very dry. The first rain had not come. The bus stopped near Musivingo for lunch. The man I lend money to could not get change for me. Not that he didn’t try getting the money. Every time we got off the bus he went around trying to get money from people. When we got to the lunch stop. I knew he was getting off at the next stop. So I said he must pay for lunch for me. That covered most of what he owed me so I said that it was ok.

Bus was little small to sleep properly. Little word of advice always travel with a neck pillow. I started to get a little stiff in the bus. I was the only white on the bus. Most passengers were students at university or business people. They were on their blackberry cell phones texting nearly all the way. Few had their laptops or tablets out doing some work or social media.

Here are a few photos that go with this post but not in book.

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Run away to Africa – Pre-trip

Please note there will be photos in the blogs after this.

Pre-trip

Back in 1992 I met a Swedish man riding at Kokstad South Africa. He had travelled from his home country on a thick wheel bicycle that had one gear. In the late 1990’s I found a Chines man at Kaserne Botswana who had rented a bicycle in Bloemfontein South Africa. Last time I saw a traveller on a bicycle was in December 2011 cycling on the EN1 in Mozambique.

In October 2012 I decided to follow my dreams to take a trip.

The holiday begins when you start planning.

So the planning started. Night after night surfing the web. Downloading the latest Lonely planet guide. Looking at Google maps and then zooming in and out to see road conditions. Looking at routes and plotting distances. Only things that were not so clear from all the maps were the elevations of roads. Then there was a problem finding out if the Mukumbura border post was open and I would be able to cross. As I had read that the bridge had been washed away.

Next I phoned Bokkie (Casper Badenhorst) my brother in law. He is a mountain bike racer from his youth. He gave me some good tips. Things like all body parts that touch the bicycle should be thought of.  For example: Hands – gloves, feet – cleats fitted and chamois cream for the tender parts. He then put me on to his bicycle shop and gave them a call, to let them know I was coming in.

I arrived at Cycle house before opening time. The owner Anton gave me some help. However things started to heat up in the shop as client’s started to roll in. So his assistants had to go on to help me. I finally left the shop at closing time. I had to return two weeks later too pick up a pannier and tyres. They fitted the tubeless Maxis cross marks tyres and pumped them very hard. They said I should deflate them a little. However I found it made ridding easier, so I left them just like that. Well I never had to pump them again until a month after I arrived home from my trip.

I then had to make sure the trip could be done in three weeks. So planned each days distance as best I could. Once this was done I went ahead and purchased a bus ticket on the Greyhound bus over the internet. Then an air ticket from Biera to Johannesburg on the internet. Actually it is amazing I sat in my house on my laptop. I was not even connected by a wire to anything. Planned and purchased tickets without even leaving my house. My house is 140 km from Pretoria, South Africa.

My mother and father agreed to take me to Park station Johannesburg and pick me up from the OR Tambo airport when I came back.

I had to purchase a few odds and ends at camping shops. Things like: Solar panel to charge cell phone for communication, air mat to sleep well and compass for direction.