Thursday, February 2, 2012

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.

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