Thursday, February 2, 2012

Day 35 - 22.01.12 - Home sweet home!

This morning for a change IMO was awake before I was, think it was the first time on the trip and he had coffee ready for me.

We packed up and went through St Lucia on our way home and  boy it felt good to be going home.

When we were leaving South Africa and all the way through Botswana we had seen Wimpy's and we were looking forward to the time where we would not see another Wimpy, funny part was from Zambia on we had been longing to see a Wimpy.
We had long conversations about the morning where we would see the Wimpy by Richards Bay and how we would enjoy the breakfast there. Almost to the point of counting the days.

When we arrived at the Wimpy in Richards Bay, there was a minibus load of passengers mulling about in the parking lot, they all got a big fright when these people on bikes pulls in and shout for joy when they see the Wimpy and are finally at a Wimpy.

Damn that was a good breakfast!!

We rode together to Umhlanga and then we parted ways, thanking each other for the great experience.

I had kept it a secret from my parents when I would be getting home, they were under the impression that we would be back on the 30 Jan so when I got back to Amanzimtoti I pushed my bike down the street to my house and snuck in. They were pleasantly surprised!

Total distance on my odometer was 9157km
And yes, we are back a week early.
To all those who patiently waited for the next instalment, sorry for the delay.

Day 34 - 21.01.12

Today we woke up with the warm comfort that we will be getting back into South Africa!!

We knew the roads were good and the distance was not so far for us to reach St Lucia, so we decided to have breakfast and get on the road.

The route out of Maputo is quite straight forward, and the GPS was able to guide us without any problems and before we knew it we were seeing signs for the Swaziland border.

Going through those borders was a dream, took us less then 5 minutes at both the Mozambique and Swaziland sides.

The roads in Swaziland are in poor condition, but still easily rideable. About an hour or 2 later we were at the border for South Africa!

After going for so long, I let my guard down for 2 minutes at the border and almost lost my sunglasses.
I took them off to take this photo and rode off with them loose on my bike, a local picked them up and the police from Swaziland took me to his house to fetch them, very nice people, it was 36C and here I am in full riding gear running around after a pair of sunglasses, IMO was waiting for me back in South Africa.

Once we cleared the border and were on our way to St Lucia we decided that we were going to stop for petrol at the Total in Hluhluwe and have some decent food....damn it feels good to be back in South Africa!  Everything just works!

We stopped at the Black Steer after fueling up then pushed through to St Lucia and Bibs Backpackers.

We both wanted our own rooms to freshen up before we head home tomorrow!

Funny story behind the own rooms though:
IMO held out his hand with 2 keys in it, said you choose which one you want, so I did, I took the top key and we went to the rooms, he was all happy with his room, I walked into mine and it smelt like someone had left dead fish inside the room for a few days, so went back to reception and demanded another room.
IMO insisted sorry buddy, luck of the draw (Toin Coss!... I couldnt get the saying Coin Toss right at the begining of the trip and we adopted that as our saying for lets take a chance)
They gave me the key for the next room (which was also their last available room) and I went to my room and it smelled very moist inside, but still better then the dead fish smell. Anyway the funny part of the story was that the room IMO had did not have an aircon and I did have one, and it was a quite a warm evening. (so Toin Coss!!)

I spent the rest of the evening listening to my iPod and reading in the comfort of my airconditioned room.

Day 33 - 20.01.12

We had a short distance to travel today, the 200km's from Xai-Xai to Maputo. So we left a little bit later after having breakfast.
We had got some very sketchy directions to the hotel we planned on staying at, the GPS was unable to find it, only able to find the road that led to a road that this place was on.

Good news is the bike is still working fine!!

We got to Maputo and after sitting in the traffic for a long time and getting more and more agitated as we went around in circles following peoples directions and we decided to give up on the location we were originally going to go to and go to Casa Da Sol. The GPS found Casa Da Sol and took us down some dirt roads and eventually tried to take us down a foot path that was built up by sandbags. This is where we decided ask for some directions, the first set of people I asked all said No Speaka English, and then IMO found someone who was going that way and they would show us the way. I now had to back my bike up on soft sand and nobody wanted to help, eventually got the bike going backwards and I slip with the bike going down gently onto its side. Now if nobody is going to help push the bike back, then nobody is going to help pick the bike up and IMO is on soft sand as well so cant leave his bike... this is going to be interesting.

I dont know what happened, adrenaline must have kicked in or maybe I am just a lot stronger then I thought, but I managed to pick the bike up solo, all 260+kgs of it! And so we followed the guys to Casa Da Sol, IMO insists that I go inside to check the rooms, but I am buggered cos of picking the bike up and I was not feeling too well to start off with(stomach was not happy with something!!), so he went inside and the rooms are a lot better then we expected.(at this stage if you gave me a cushion in a shady spot I would be more then happy to lie down and sleep all afternoon!)

After offloading the bikes and having a shower we decided to head off to the mall to explore, We met some people who had come from Nelspruit and have opened a very interesting concept, a 6D cinema, very interesting experience! We were quite impressed with seeing a proper shopping centre and the mix in the centre (although a small centre) was very diverse, ranged from surf shops to massage parlours.

We then went back past all the street vendors back to Casa Da Sol to work on the bikes and do some maintenance.

Got to have a bit of an afternoon nap and woke up to go have supper feeling a lot better then I was earlier in the day. The seafood platter (below) and sangria went down well for me!

Day 32 - 19.01.12

The storm had passed and we left this morning with the intention of seeing how far we could get towards Maputo, we left with it raining a little bit, I decided to finally use my rain suit, a short way into the ride the regulator started giving trouble again. And instead of swapping batteries like we did the day before, IMO decided he was going to have a look. It seemed to charge after reseating again, so we carried on, a short while later, the problem occured again. This time, I decided that we were not going to reseat the whole thing and just left it where it was and pushed the plug as hard as I could down onto the unit. It is not the regulator, it is definately the plug and the contacts.

Riding down the coast give us the comforting feeling that we are headed home, as long as the beach and sea is on our left hand side, we are in the right direction.

As soon as this photo got taken I took the rain suit off as I felt like a chicken roasting inside an oven bag. The R120 rain suit worked well in the heavy rain we went through before this.

We made it to Xai-Xai at about 14:30 and decided that the 200kms to Maputo is to far to safely make it before dark. Lonley planet guided us to Complexo Touristico Hailey (Hailey's Comet Hotel)

Accomodation was comfortable, had an aircon in the room and had my first set of seafood from Mozambique.

Day 31 - 18.01.12

We left Chimoio nice and early with the intentions of possibly making it to Inhambane.

First indications that things were not going to allow us to make it that far struck even before we left town. We both needed petrol and as we got to the first Petrol station they advised us that despite the open 24 hr sign, they only sold petrol after 06:30, so they were not open yet. When we got to the next petrol station just down the road we had to join a queue as the computer was not working and hence no petrol was being pumped while they waited for the computers to come right. After 20 minutes, we pushed on to the BP garage around the corner and finally got some petrol.

About 60km out ot town, we come across a traffic jam on the main freeway and the cops do not want to allow us through, after some light-hearted discussion with the cops they allow us to go through, they have advised us that there is a truck crashed ahead and there is no way through, we insist we can maybe get through on the bikes.

We come across the first truck which is jack-knifed across the road and ride around it, without too much hassle, we go further down and on the bridge ahead of us is a smouldering truck and no viible way past it as on either side is a good 8-10m drop.

  I am convinced there must be a way past this, the other drivers have been sitting there since 8pm the night before when the accident happened and they are waiting for a bigger crane, half the truck is melted into the tar, the other half is down by the river.

After walking around the smouldering trailer a few times and being told that we have to go all the way back and go through Zimababwe, we meet some like minded South Africans who are willing to help us squeeze our bikes through the only gap there is between the truck and the concrete barrier. The railing is missing on both sides and where the pedestrians are walking there is no guard, just the 8-10m drop, so the bike is not going on the footpath.

After taking the panniers off, and with the assistance of the other South Africans I managed to get my bike through (Imo wasnt too keen on going first for some odd reason) and then loaded up my bike again on the other side. then went back to take Imo's bike through for him, his bike seemed to be fatter then mine! Must be the different bash plate, as the gap was so tight that we actually had to basically slide the crash bars along the concrete barrier (seen above) - This is one of the times I was glad I did not have the Box-Shaped engine of the GS1200!

After squeezing both bikes through and getting them all loaded up again, IMO managed to squeeze off this one last shot of the accident and what we had just squeezed past when a local policeman with a machine gun strapped across his chest came up and asked us if we were journalists and why he was taking photos if we are just tourists.

After apologising to the "policeman with the big gun", we rode about 50m and then came across the next section of the accident, the part where the small crane was still busy trying to clear, and I was determined we could get past by riding along in the drain, not knowing that there was already a car parked in the drain. Some of the crowd were saying we should wait for the crane to move the wreckage and then go that way. My bike was already down the banking of the drain and I was determined that if we take our panniers off, we can squeeze past the car. At this stage the "policeman with the big gun" was actually helping us with a big smile, think he was glad to see some people so determined!
He was quite surpised at the weight of the bike when he held it while I took the one pannier off again.Squeezed my bike through and then parked it a distance ahead of the crane and went back to take Imo's pannier.

As soon as we had made it through, we were greeted with mixed feelings, a loud cheer from the crowd, one of the guys came up with the chains hooked to the wreck and jokingly asked if we could pull the wreckage seeming the bikes were so strong, then the crane operator came out shouting at us and was upset that we had no respect for the fact that someone had actually died in the accident, we again apologised and the "policeman with the big gun" told him to get back to work. The crane driver then started dragging the wreck towards where we were and shouting we were in his way. So we swiftly moved further up the road to load the pannier box back onto my bike again,

The "policeman with the big gun" was actually quite a pleasant guy and he wished us all the best of luck on our trip as we left.

We carried on towards Inhambane and about 75kms before Beira we took the turn on the N1, still a way to go till we reach Maputo.

The final sign that we were not meant to reach Inhambane came when my regulator started giving problems again, same problem as before. So we decided that we would make it to Vilankulos instead.

We made it Vilankulos and stayed at the Vilankulos Backpackers, had the whole dorm to ourselves, we were the only guests, from the backpackers and the beach you can see the Bazaruto islands.
I had some time to work on the bike so took the regulator off again and reseated it.

We were advised by the owner of the backpackers that there was a big cyclone coming in with 85 knot winds and we might get struck, It hit further down the coast that evening and where we were in Vilankulos we had the minor tail end of it, lots of rain and heavy thunder and lightning, when I went outside it looked like a thick wall of cloud with lightning and the other side was just stars.We later learnt that 4 people lost their lives in the floods that night in Maputo and Xai-Xai.

Day 30 - 17.01.12

We woke up this morning and realised that pushing to Vulunculos would be too far, so we had a relaxed ride out of town, Imran is now using his MX goggles as he has lost hi sunglasses so whenever I look in my mirror I am reminded of the movie TopGun!

Rather a straight-forward ride today, not too much happened. A few interesting looking koppies and more people trying to sell us watermelons, live chickens, mangoes and pineapples.

We ended the day in a town called Chimoio.
We got to town and while IMO was getting some money from the ATM, I was asking around for directions to the Pink Papaya Backpackers, found a South African who gave us the directions and said it was great to see some bikes other then BMW's doing these trips.

After going around in circles trying to find the Pink Papaya we found the initial directions were quite accurate, but the sign for the Pink Papaya was very small.

Went for a walk past the local fruit market, on our quest to find some food and ended up going to the Plaza as the place suggested in the Lonely Planet had closed down.

Met with some more interesting people today. A couple on a year long trip around the world, another couple from Namibia and another guy from Europe.

We got a caravan for the evening, was actually very comfortable. Was an interesting evening cos a big storm hit and all the sounds inside the caravan are amplified.

We are now about half-way to Vilankulos.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 29 - 16.01.12

Got our dry clothes back this morning, was very impressed with the service. Packed up our stuff and settled the room in a mixture of dollars and Malawi Kwacha.
Rode a different but still muddy road out of the lodge and made our way to the border, border crossing went quite smoothly, took a little bit of time to get all the paperwork done but the ladies and gentlemen at the Mozambique border were very friendly (a far differnt experience from my last time I entered Mozambique) we rode to the the first town to try find some petrol and there was only black market and we would have to change dollars to buy as neither of our cards would work at the ATM. We decided to push on, IMO bought 5litre of the stuff on the side of the road (I did not like the look of the stuff!!) and we carried on, I still had my 10litre jerry can on the back and had last fueled up in Mzuzu. This tank of petrol was just lasting and lasting, I was very impressed, but finally it had to end!
Managed to get 576.5km off of a single 23 litre tank of petrol!!

Used up the jerry can and made it to the town just before Tete, where we found something we had both been longing for, a petrol station (if you are travelling and concerned about the long distances, the whole way, there were people selling petrol in bottles on the side of the road). Fueled up and filled the Jerry Can again and we stayed at a place called Hotel Nhungue, all the accomodation in Tete seems quite expensive and this place is on our route out of town and allows us a place to park the bikes off the road and do some much needed maintenance. Got here and after riding through pouring rain on the way here we had both dried out and while waiting for Imo to check out the rooms, the temp guage shot to 42c, got to leave some of my stuff in the sun to dry out like my camera and boots.
Went for a walk a little earlier on to Tete town and take some pics of the Tete bridge(we rode over it earlier on in the day),got to town carrying my camera (in a discreet way) and the Policia wanted to escort me around, 3 guys with machine guns, very friendly but I told them I liked to keep a low profile, so thanks, but not this time. 
Tete Bridge

Welcome to Tete

Found out this evening that there was wifi here and this is how we finally got to catch up with the blog.
Gonna try a long stretch tomorrow and push to Vilankulos and now that there is petrol readily available we can travel at normal speeds! We are both keen on getting home now.