*In the background a lone wolf howls at the moon*
I can do this, I have stopped wishing the road will end or become magically tarred overnight. I am surviving and wading through the sand like a swimmer at the Olympics. I am also still falling a lot and leaving squiggly tracks in the sand as I wave from side to side looking for solid ground to cycle on.
Another ‘fun’ part of this wild place is the little residents – the bugs. I stop every time I find a tree on the side of the road I can fit under to hide from the sun for a bit. These shady spots are also, unfortunately, the home of many, many flies and bugs. It is like a singles bar for flies. They are everywhere. And they buzz around my head relentlessly. I am hot, sweaty, tired and very near a mental breakdown, and I am waving my hands and arms like a lunatic swatting at flies that easily evade my weak attempts at killing them – which makes me more angry and frustrated. I cannot even kill one of them to hang as a warning from my helmet to scare off the others. I really think I might be coming close to a mental meltdown…
So to add to my schedule of agony please see below:
Pedal fifty meters
Hit kidney bruising corrugations and rocks in the road
Go slowly over above mentioned section for about fifty meters
Side-wind to opposite side of road because it looks smooth
Get stuck with wheels buried twenty centimetres into the sand facing the side of the road
Dig the bike out and walk through sand for twenty meters
Find relatively solid piece of road and climb back on bike
Stupid bike with extra weight veers off into sand bank on side of road
Fall off bike and throw rocks at other rocks
Pick up bike, dignity and resolve and attempt to pedal 50 meters
Swat at flies buzzing around my face and veer off course
Veer into sandy patch on road and step off bike to regain balance
Scream and swat at flies and various other bugs
Drop head onto handle bars and wish for the end of all flying bugs to happen swiftly
Regain some composure and start at the top again
Does anyone want to join me for a leisurely cycle through the desert? It will be fun…
Another long day and only 35km farther and I pull into a farm without really checking the name on the sign, or if there were dogs. I was too tired to care about a mastiff chewing on my leg…
I was welcomed a bit too eagerly, almost as if they were expecting me… but it was soon revealed they knew about me on the road and someone had mentioned I might stop there to ask for a place to rest. What are the odds of this happening? I was told to ask at this particular place for a place to rest, but I did not even see the sign or name of the farm when I came in, I just cycled in and it was the right place after all.
Networking and having a support group and contacts have an amazing way to influence your life. I have always been a bit of a loner. I prefer doing my own thing, but I have learnt the valuable lesson of networking and building up contacts that can help in times of need.
A few days ago I posted about a 2000 year old Mopipi tree, if you do not know this, you should go back and read all my posts again. For this species of tree it was massive, I could stretch my arms around the trunk, fingers almost touching. Botanists had told the owners it was close to if not two thousand years old. At the lodge I am staying in tonight, is a Mopipi tree that I estimate will need three or four men to encircle. It is massive, grotesquely beautiful with skeletal arms for branches and tiny leaves on the crown.
There are steel cables spanning from branch to branch that I thought served as supports for the overly heavy branches. But at breakfast in the morning I was told these cables were hung on the tree in 1956 to hang meat on for drying. The cables where hung sixty years ago at, what I guess was a reachable height. I can still reach the cables easily, which shows how slow these trees grow.
I have been told about a shop about 35km down the road that I could spend a night. It is halfway to Askham from the farm I spent the night under the giant tree. My planned two day trek from Van Zylsrus to Askham has turned into a four day endeavour. And to make it interesting, about 20km down the road, my suspension broke again. This time it has come apart and damaged the thread on the housing, so I cannot fix it on the side of the road…
I have to walk about 15km pushing the bike. It was a slow and tiresome walk, I did have an audio book to keep me company, which was nice. Five hours later I pulled up to Loch Broom.
Loch Broom is a lodge, camp site and a little shop in the middle of nowhere in the Kalahari. It is a beautiful place and so peaceful. The farm foreman helped fix the bike, actually I helped by holding things and passing tools, he did all the work. The housing was now been heat-shrunk around the shaft and we tested it with a hammer – it is not coming loose again.
I was taken down the dunes to the camp grounds to set up camp and I decided to go exploring a bit. I climbed over a different dune and went to the lodge, which is beautiful – I poked my head in to investigate. There is a pool that overlooks the dunes and wildlife that wander about. I ran down another dune and ended up with the Kalahari Desert in my shoes. It was fun to goof around a bit, but I did have to get my tent pitched and myself cleaned up before I was collected for dinner.
I ended up staying up at the house and in the morning we went to fetch my things, after which I helped build a farm gate. At about midday I was offered a lift into Askham to avoid the last stretch of the terrible road.
Askham is another story of amazing networking. I met a guy in Brits that gave me his number because his aunt lives in Askham. I have his first name and his telephone number and no signal… And I know he farms with vegetables.
Along the way the last three days, when people ask where I am staying in Askham, I tell them about this guy I will phone as soon as I have signal. And each time the person tells me it must be this lady they know. I would have dismissed this, but every person mentioned the same lady in Askham. And to crown off the saga, the managers of Loch Broom are related to the guy in Brits AND the lady in Askham.
They called her and just like that I find myself in a hunting lodge in Askham, with the sun setting over the dunes to the east and the sound of night critters waking up to roam meagre lands for something to eat. And I still do not have signal to phone the guy from Brits.