Its Eastern Sunday and I write this from the terrace of the
GM’s lodge in Gisenyi on the Lake Kivu.
This is really Paradise, the quietness,its nature, the birds , absolutely fantastic
and I enjoy every moment of it.
I am very thankfullto those of the brewery that made it possible for me.
Yesterday, Saturday I visited the brewery here and it
recalled many memories from the time in 1991 that I worked there.Since than I visited he brewery once a year
when I was the Accountmanager of the region.
Of course, some things have changed but not too many since
competition is there now and margins are smaller than before.
Riding over these roads is a treat.From Kigali I had 155 km through the
mountains with continuous bends and hairpins.Fantastic for a bike rider.This
is the ultimate.No potholes and hardly
The scenery is often breathtaking with the high hills and very
deep valleys, banana and tea plantations.
It is all so perfect without the usual rubbish ,dirt and
plastic that one meets in the other countries, here none of it.Even the villages and cities are clean like
it must be.
Plastic bags are forbidden since a few years and it seems to
help.Kenia has just started the ban.
There is not much to report since all goes smooth and I
enjoy doing nothing.
There is a new road to Kibuye , a 85 km south from here
along the Lake and so tomorrow I will do a tour to there.Seems a perfect road.
When I worked here we
went there with the brewery boat to waterrski in the bay of Kibuye.
Yesterday I cleaned my airfilter for the first time since
Cairo and that was very neccessary.The
desert sand from Egypt and Sudan was there , fieis and other debris.I should have cleaned it earlier but was too lazy
Fortunately I installed another washable type, a K&N
filter.Expensive but worth the
investment since I did not spot that anything had leakedinto the engine.
I cleaned it all out and washed the filter with Dreft, dieid
it and resprayed it with a special sealant
that I brought along.
I leave here on Tuesday 3rd April and will park the bike at
the TD ’s house in Kigali and go from there to the airport and head for home
.Will return on the 7th of May and hope
the rains will have reduced so to face the bad stretch of road again going to
Dodoma in Tanzania .
From there it will be Zambia, Botwana and finally South
Africa.Wiil , possibly, be in SA around 20th of
May.Goes all too fast.
Because everything is so good and perfect here I have nothing further to
report and will be back again around the 7th May.Will let you know by mail so you can pick up
First of all I have to mention something that I should have
Since the blog is a public site and anyone can read it I
sustain from making statements or opinions on politics, economics, environment
etc and I do not put in anybody’s name to avoid offending someone or a local
body and end up being accused of it .
On Mondaymorning I took off to Kigali and the roads were
very good so did a 650km till Ushirombo, a hole in the countryside with a
Kigali Hotel but no services.Beer was
there so one worry less but no restaurant. Asked the girl that was there to
cook for me, just a chicken with rice and she did.Gave her money and she took off to somewhere,
possibly a market if any.After some
time she was back and I heard a loud chicken noise in the kitchen so she went
for a life one since frozenBrazilian
hormone chickens have not yet arrived in this place.The noise was quickly done and an hour or so
later I had my chicken with rice and Beer.
I slept reasonably well and had no mosquitos since I sprayed
the room intensively.
Next morning I took off at 7 AM for another 400 km to Kigali
of which still 230 in Tanzania.
The road was perfect and I saw signs of STRABAG who are road
builders in Africa and I thought this can be a good or a bad sign.They have either finished the whole stretch
or only partly.
Unfortiunately it was the latter.
Had 130 km perfect road, 20 km of road works and 80 km of
horrendous damaged road that I could not go faster than 10 to 20 km /hr and the
bike almost died on the way.Potholes in
all sizes and shapes and after 10AM one
does not see them anymore since the sun goes straight up and there are no
You just hit them and wonder whats wrong with my eyes, I
just do not see them.
After 4 gruelling hours with pain in my left arm due to
constant use of the cluthch I arrived in Rusumu, the border with Rwanda.
All went well apart from the fact that my East African visa
for 3 countries had expired, they said, since I went from a member state =
Keniato Tanzania, thats not and on to
Rwanda.Had to buy a new one for 100
dollars. So what , on such a trip spending money for what you need muust be the
least of ones worries.
The road to Kigali started off quite well and I felt a happy
man after the road I had previously.
However it did not take 30 km and there were the roadworks again
but , fortunately it was dry and thus no mud.
This lasted to entrance Akagera park where Bralirwa grows
maize and that I visited twice , also with Linda.
They have nice tented lodges where you are woken up by
fisheagles in the morning when they start greeting eachother or they might have
a quarrel like we also do sometimes.
So that was another 30 km of difficult road and I wondered
if I had not locked up myself in Kigali since the heavy rain month will be
April till half May.Of course it can
vary and also in intensity.
I have to ride these same roads back again , a 1000km stretch
to Dodoma to get to Zambia.No other
road for me.
To let the rains pass by I extended my stay at home and thus
Iwill fly home on Tuesday 3rd April and come back only on Monday 7th May.Ample time to revamp my cooking skills and
might do a stroll with the Morgan to France / Spain to see some friends and
watch nature waking up after the winter.
Hope rains will have lessened and roads are not too muddy
when I return here.
Unfortunately it is also the road from where all goods to Rwanda
go over.I saw hundreds of lorries and
especially all fuel for Rwanda comes from Tanzania over that road.They damage the roads and make them worse
when it rains.
Anyway I will see what happens and go from there.
Arriving Kigali was like homecoming cause I always liked it
since I was here in 1990 as DT of Gisenyi brewery.That placeat Lake Kivu is like paradise but rather lonely. We were 3 expats in the brewery and there were some
sisters and fathers + 5 Belgian paratroopersin Gisenyi.Also had a curfue
from 6PM to 6 AMand 200 soldiers around the brewery to protect it froma possible rebel attack who lived on the
slopes of the vulcanos and killed so many gorillas in that time.
The brewery wasa
strategic object since it generates a large portion of the internal revenu
through the excise duties.When the
government was short of money they undiscriminately increased these taxes.
The GM always had a lot of work to settle such problems.
So I got to Kigali and it was very hot and I did not feel
like running in dense traffic with a fire under my butt.I had identified a hotel downtown .In fact, I wanted to stay in the Mille Collines where I
Aaways used to stay for the brewery visits but is now above budget.
However I could not find the intended hotel and drove up and
downthe streets and while doing that I
saw the Mille Collines.Said, what the
heck, I do one night there and will see from there what to do.
Got to the counter and they offered a promotion for almost
half price hence it is not just 1 night, No, I stay here till I go.Like the place as ever.
Have not yet been in contact with the brewery so do not yet
know if they could store the bike during my absence.Since it rains evreyday I prefer it to be
Tomorrow I will see a former collegue who I know from
I have another option and that is a underground carpark next
to the hotel.Went threre and they will
charge just 80 Euros for 33 days.Is dry
and guarded , a good alternative if need be.
A visit to Rwanda cannot go without a vist to Giseny and the
brewery.Hope the rains can allow me to
go on Friday and return Monday.Although
rains are not the problem.Have had
enough of that in Europe and when I lived in Africa.A good rainsuit keeps you entirely dry but
for me its the state of the road that counts.I will check tomorrow.
Its now Wednesday so I might texst again when in Giseny on
the shores of Lake Kivu with a nice grilled chicken and a beer.Eating such chicken at the beach ( yes there
are sand beaches ) used to be a challenge since there are big birds ( like
Hawks ) flying around and they will snatch your meat from the plate if you
loose a bit of attention by turning your head. They dive and bye bye chicken.
Giseny is on the border with the DRC and on the other
sideis the town Goma that was not so
long ago ( approx 15 years ) almost completely covered in lava from the nearby
vulcanos.I thought from the
Nyiragongo.The lava covered the airport
and ran through the mainstreet to the lake where it started cooling down which
It is a magestic sight when you sit on the veranda of the
house ( all along the shore ) with the vieuw on the vulcanos = Virunga park and
they are working , lightening up the sky when they spit.
On these vulcanoes are the famous mountain gorillas and I
visited them with Linda in 2012.Fantastic experience but nowadays rather pricy.
May be I will stay in my former house, now a guesthouse like
Linda and I did in 2012 and 2014.
Also there in the trees there were , or maybe still are,
fish eagles.However during my time in
1990 I was warned not to go into the garden without a cap or hat since the male
of the couple would attack me and seriously scartch my bold head.Only for bold men since one of my former
collegues, also bold and thus called Kojak, was an amateur photographer and when the eagles had offspring
he went up a ladder to the nest to photograph the small ones.You can imagine that papa did not like that
and did not allow him by attacking him.From that moment all bold men be warned.Do not know if they are still
there and alive since I talk of 1990.
I now go to cover my bike with its pyjama that I brought along.Did not cover yesterday with the hope that
the rains would clean the bike a bit from
the worst mud but I think the mud is stronger than the rain.Its the red mud that is used for brickmaking
so gets hardwhen it dries.
Now Sundayevening I write this from a hotel in Dodoma, the
capital of Tanzania.
Yes, I have done some miles so I will start at the beginning
of Saturday 24th.
After 2 days in that beautiful lodge I had to pack and go
again.Unfortunately the 2 days had
rains in the afternoon and the road to the lodge from the main road is only a
dirt road so there was some mud when I left.I almost crwled back to the road for about one km since I had no urge to go
rubbers up again and get more damage.
Anyway , I made it safely but the clean boots were like
before, totally covered in mud.
I headed for Nakuru since I had planned that and to go
further to Uganda from there.But,
since I had cancelled the Uganda/Rwanda trip I decided to drop Nakuru and head
for Nairobi and onwards to the border.
All went well till Nairobi which is not a tiny village but a
city that starts at 45 km before reaching the centre.Luckily It was Saturday so all civil servants
do not show up and its a bit more quiet on the road.Sunday is even better.
But badluck struck again by choosing th wrong road and ended
up in the melee of downtown Nairobi.Nice to experience but to ride a hot bike in that heat makes your helmet
slip off your head with all the sweat that runs down.But I got through with the help of some
traffic policemen who are very friendly and helpfull.Got out of Nairobi on the road to the
border with Tanzania.at Namanga.
Soon the road was for
me alone and I flew on.In the whole of
Kenia I have seen hardly any pothole.
Fine roads and that helps for the confidence.Of course, I hate these bad stretches as in
I reached the border by 2 PM and its a super modern border
with all-in 1 building , both Kenia and
Tanzania together. So it went all very fast and within 1 hr I was
on the road again.I wanted to take a
hotel at the border but the customs officers said to go to Arusha at another
Did so and it was a good thing. On the way along Kilimanjaro through the Serengeti I met a herd of approx
20 Girafs and a large herd of zebras.All next to the road and it was as if you could touch them.
Those 100 km were quickly done this way and very
pleasantly.Arriving Arusha I had no
idea for a hotel but the tourist lodges can be very pricy so I was carefull.Found a big hotel and I was the only
Wonder how they survive.So I got all the attention of the personnel and enjoyed the beer, the
super mixed grill and the SA wine.What
more do you want after a good 400 kms ?
All was not that clean and on the way to the toilet in the night
I met some crawling creatures that we call cockroaches and I greated them since
they reminded me of my yearsliving in
Africa and sometimes battling with large cockroach families that invaded the
house at nightwith a favour for the towels
and hence they jumped out and ran down my back when I used the towel.Funny feeling but women do not really appreciate
that and so I always fought with these animals that hide during the day in the
septic tanks of the houses.
Did not sleep that great but felt fine so I took off at 8 AM
to Dodoma at 400 kms and I was there before 2 PM.Plenty hotels and chose a simple one but it
has good wifi, a restaurant, looks clean and has cold Heineken.
The trip went that fast since I rode one of th nicest roads
I ever travelled in Africa.A brandnew
road through the hills and valleys of the Riftand not a soul or animal to be seen.I enjoyed every second of it and it was a pity I ended up so quick in
Reaching Dodoma I wondered what to do.
2 options I have and thats to continue to Zambia and on to
SA but I will do that within 10 days and that was not my plan.
With these nice roads here in Tanzania I can also bend to
Rwanda and return to the Original plan but not coming from Uganda but from
Tanzania to Rwanda.
Took the decision and so I will take off tomorrow to Kigali which
is good for a 1000 kms.
If the road is good It will take me 2 days, but rain and
traffic can prolonge that.No hurry.
Hope the food is good tonight and that I sleep well.
Marsabit in the morning of Thursday 22nd
was really depressive with heavy clouds into town and drizzle.
Wondered if that was for the day.
Took off at 8 AM and an hour later going
downhill into very flat but rocky land I dove into the Sunshine and warmed up
lke a coldblooded animal.
For 250 km there seemed to be nothing
although when one looks well there is more than the eye can see.
STill everywhere are people and in this
cae I saw huts of nomads that wonder around with their camels, cattle , sheep
and goats.Such herds can be quite
numerous and they areoften the rich
The women wear golden shells in their
ears and have amber necklaces as well as silver armbands.
Wonder where they get their water from
since its as dry as St Nicholas a….!
The riding was great, brandnew road and
not a soul tosee.Saw one bus and 2 landcruisers passing by so
I enjoyed myself.Still when its quiet
like that one should never loose attention as always since animals can dive up
from behind rocks and potholes can always occur or oil on the road from an
accident.Yes, even on a deserted
straight road one sees vehicles turned over as if it was put there on purpose.
After that arid area till Isiolo It
became more like Kenia and it became more beautifull by the km.
I ended up right on the equator in
Nanyuki and drove another 6 km to a lodge that I had booked.Marvelous place with new lodges, fine
cuisine, cold beer, huge bed etc, so I enjoy myself after the ….holes in
Ethiopia nad Northern Kenia.
I am now here for the second day and it
just rained cats and dogs or more elephants and hippos.Heavy rain coming from Mount Kenia.Also yesterday It rained heavily.
I must realise that it becomes the heavy
rainy season and I will enter right in the middle of it in Uganda and Rwanda.
Seen the problems with the bike , the
possible bad roads in Uganda, the heavy rains everywhereI decided to-day not to make the detour to
Uganda and Rwanda but go straight to Tanzania via Nairobi, Arusha on to Dodoma,
To morrow I still go to Nakuru and Sunday
around Nairobi towards the border with Tanzania.
Will see how far I get since the rains
might come up and I do not want to ride in such heavy showers and on slippery
roads.Have all the time in the world.
My homegoing from Kigali is thus also
cancelled and I will see when I hit Lusaka and possibly fly home for 2 weeks
In that time rains start to disappear in
the Southern part and on return I will have no more of that till after the
winter in October , a time that I should have left SA either home or elsewhere.
Depends on the state of thebike , although it can be repaired in SA or I
buy another one and ship it out to the next continent that I want to explore.
Hope it all works out well and that the
bike will hold .I turn thumbs for that.
But it took a few days for various reasons that you will read
Its now Thursdayafternoon and I am actually in a beautiful
lodge at the feet ofMount Kenia near
Nanyuki right on the equator.Yes, done some miles since Sunday and it almost all
went well .
Let’s start Monday 19th.
Took off from Awasa where I had that nice Godolias hotel
with a very good bed so slept ok.
Soon outside Awasa roadworks began and they did not stop for
160 km’s.It was a gruelling day with a
road without tarmac but stones on the slopes of the hills and mud in the lower
parts.And it was sticky red mud from
which the locals make bricks to build walls and houses.
Of course after several hours of struggling with the bike I
fell in the mud. The tyres were full and turned into slicks without any
grip.So I lay there with the bike on
the right hand side and I could feel to be covered by the mud.Onlookers were plentfull and after I crawled
up they helped me to get the bike straight after which I took off again and
fullfilled the 160 km’s.It seemed never
Than suddenly I had a brandnew road in front of me all the
way to Yabelo for another 150 km’s.
It was a super treat and I rode like a madman.
Unfortunately the fall has damaged the bike further. Already
In Egypt the footboard plate broke off from the frame but it also holds the
rearbrake and the lower attachment of the engine guard.Now the latter has no more stenght on the lower
end so when I fell the E guard bent backwards and is out of line.
Brake still works but I fear for another time “ rubbers up “and it could be end of journey.
Again that day i was amazed with the huge number of young
people just roaming along the road, doing nothing apart from jelling at
me.Seems none have work and I wonder
what they are gonna do with the doubling of numbers within the next 30 yrs.
I foresee disaster.Millions of them will run North so better prepare.
Actually there were problems in Ethiopia with the Oromia
people.Not just a smal tribe but a
total of 36 million people who live south of Addis.They are not happy with the government who seems
unwilling to take them seriously so they strike and paralyse the country by
blocking the roads.This happenedon the 5th, 6th and 7th March.Luckily this was noticed by my travelagent
who switched those days to the North iso Harar and that was a good decision
otherwise we would have been stuck in Harar for 3 days.
The government says all is under control but further actions
might come including setting the petroltankers coming from Sudan to Gondar
ablaze.May be you remember I noticed so
many burned out tankers on that road but could not know the cause.Now it seems it happened before .
Also the government blocked the internet in the Oromia area and
so I had none for several days.
In Yabelo I went to the only motel around but it was no
luxury for 44 dollars.Dirty and
infested with mosquitos, holes in the mosquito net and windows that cannot be
clssed.I sprayed alomost a whole can
but was still attacked in the night while it does not favour a good night rest.
Ok, the omelet and the coffee in the morning were ok so I
took off at 8 AM to Moyale , the bordertown between ETH and Kenia.The town is real Oromia area so the guide we
had kept me uptodate by Phone on the political situation since last week 10 Oromia people were shot down in Moyale by security
forces that are sent there to do the job.They are from another ethic and do not speak the same language.
You always see that when troubles arise in Africa and their
own brothers must stop them and shoot them.Always another tribe.
In Moyale I set myself up in the Koket Borena hotel.Again very basic , bit cleaner than the previous
one and the food was good and the beer was cold so what else do you want.Yes, a good night sleep, but again the airforce was around and the net
very porous with holes as big as tennisballs.
Of course, I survived but did not feel really fresh on
Wednesdaymorning and it was not the beer !!
Drove to the border and there all went smooth both on ETH
and Kenia side.
It all took approx 1,5 hours so by 10 AM I hit the road to
Marsabit, once one of the most notorious roads in the world and that’s only 2
years ago.See Youtube for horrible
movies about that road from Moyale to Marsabit or reverse.
Now it is a highway and there was nobody on that road apart
from the animals.
I flew to Marsabit in 3 hrs for 250 km’s.Great riding in a beautiful landscape.
Arrived Marsabit at 13.30 hrs and found a place to
sleep.Did not want to continue since
rain was on the way and the next hotel too far in Isiolo.
I booked into the Imperial hotel but I wonder why its called
that way.Nothing Imperial was to be
noticed or seen.
But it was clean and the food was good.Had a favourite and that’s fried goat
meat.Very tasty and you must chew that
meat, not suck like the saltwater injected meat in Europe.
All was available in town, money from an ATM ( flappetap )
and fuel from Shell.
The town is surrounded by big vulcano craters and they are
so well intact that it looks as if they still worked recently.
The wheather was cold and wet so I did not walk far and
hallelujah,a deception. NO BEER !!
The hotel had also a mosque so beer is not allowed.
Since I am not a muslim I crossed the road to Jim’s liquor store
and bought some Tusker’s that I gulped happily away in my room.Of course the cans were wrapped in newspaper
like you see in all Muslim countries like Algeria and Egypt.
Fell asleepby 08.30
PMsince there was nothing to see, experience
or to talk to, just nothing.
As mailed to you I took off on Saturday 17th to the brewery to collect the bike.All was in order in spite of finding rat
droppings on the saddle.I know from
experience that they like the wiring since I found once an earlier HD version in 1986 in Lusaka, after my leave,
with bitten plastics on the ground and a tail hanging from the headlamp.I found a whole nest in it and was not happy
to have to rewire all that was consumed.
Now I tried the electrics and all was working, so no damage.
Changed the oil which after only 5000 km was as black as
coal.Normally the change is at 8000 km
but I thought it better to do that now since I am going to hit the hight temps
in Southern Ethiopia, Kenia and Uganda.I bring the oil from Belgium in my luggage which is not allowed but I
think its not a crime in itself. The bike was even allowed to have some fuel in
it when flying to Cairo.
When I removed the oilfilter with a special wreng cause it
is in a horrible place I slipped and cut my little left finger.It looked as if , after a while,there was more
blood than oil splasihing around.The
bleeding is a good thing since it prevents bacreria from coming in.Went to the clinic to have it cleaned and
treated and after that it was fine.Needless to say that I have to watch it everyday in this climate but the
wound is now already closed.Thanks for
After the service I drove with a taxi as navigator to the
west of Addis to a hotel to take off on Sunday early to Awasa via the old road
that was said to be better than the usual Modjio road.We drove the latter back from the Bale
Mountains and it was not great and had a mile of road works with so much dust
that on a bike this can be very dangerous.The dust does not go well with the eyes.
Therefore the old road choice over Tuya and on to Ziway
where it joins the Modjo road to Shashemene.
The recommneded hotel was a disaster and the worst of all
hotels I had in Ethiopia.A bed as hard
as a plank so my hips are not happy with me.They get already battered everyday in the saddle from the bumpy roads
and they do their work since 1949.
Food a disaster, bathroom
a dirty, smelly hole and no light to be able to read anything.
Hence I thanked Booking , in my own way, for the
This morning I took off at 7.00 to find first fuel because
the further you get away from the capital the less fuel is available.
I have 3 extra cans , total, 14 liters so in grand total 33
literswhich is good for 650 km and if I
do not speed as a fool it goes over 700 km.
In fact 2 are cans and one is a water bag made from strong
canvas that is known among overlanders as usuable for fuel also.So far no leaks and its not yet dissolved.Handy to store since its partly pliable with
the fuel inside.
Took off to the old road and only after 2 km hit a road work
of a mile while it had rained the evening before.Helleluyah, mud all over the place and this
red laterite clay sticks like the best glue or comparable to starch.A HD weighing 500 kg with round profile road
tyres is not the handiest machine to get through that mud.I feared for gettting stuck or just slipping
away which happens at too low speed.So
put a bit speed up and it all becomes even more dangerous since braking is a no
go.I have to hold my feet almost on the
ground , in case off, and have only the front brake that one should nerver use
in these circumstances.I almost fell
when my right foot hit a large rock but I could balance it out.
At a moment I saw that the other most left side of the road was drier and I managed to
cross but met directly another threat.The upcomng traffic has no mercy since II am on the wrong side.They will never slow down or give way so you
better watch it wich I did and finally got out.
Thanks to the one who recommended this road.
After this thrilling start whereby I took quite some mud on
the bike and myself along it was not a good road but few traffic and that helps
to avoid the potholes, donkeys, cows and goats.They are predictable for me but certainly not people who cross only when
they see me coming.
After 5 hours for 280 km (not bad ) I hit my target Awasa at
12.30 hrs and found a very, very good hotel for the same price as the bad one.
Just 30 dollars.Super clean hotel and
well maintaned and a super nice soft bed so my hips get a treat coming night
and can rest to be ready for some bumping again tomorrow.Plan to reach Yabelo at 310 km and just 200
km from the border town of Moyale which is for Tuesday.
Forecast for tomorrow is thunderstorms but, generally, these come in
the afternoon and I might reach Yabelo before 14.00 hrs.I have rain gear but it all becomes more
I informed you that I would not have Internet for the
remaining days in Southern Ethiopia.Reason be that it is disconnected for reasons that I will not explain in
e-mail.Only Awasa is a different zone
and hence I have Internet here.Certainly not in Yabelo and Moyale.Will come back on this once having internet across the border into
Hope to have a good night sleep and a good dinner which is
almost dueso good bye for now and will
be back in cyberspace when possible.
Yes, I am home in the metropole of Bost and its a good
Although on Monday I was still riding in the heat to the
brewery and yesterday I did already some shopping at AH since I certainly needed
a haring, pindakaas and stroop wafels + ingredients for my favourite Indonesian
dishes and all within 18 hours from eachother.
So I was allowed to parc the bike in the brewery where they
emptied a container for me which, of course, I appreciate enormously.If you parc it somewhere and still have your
doubts about its safety it is a source for sleepless nights.
What would I do without it on this trip ? The bike is the axle where it all turns
around so I have to treat it like a baby with utmost care.
For that reason I went this morning to my HD dealer in Geel
( 60 km from here ) to tell tham that the bike had performed to utmost
satisfaction and about the ailments with the broken plate and loose windscreen.Also I had questions about how to clean the
special K&N airfilter, oil change in the bush and the making of the skidplate for underneath
( anti stone protection for the sump and oiltank ).
Bought 4 liters of HD engine oil , 20W50. To be take nto Addis and change the oil before
Already its better to do that while still in the brewery for
when something goes wrong or in need for a tool or something else.Safer
than doimg it in the bush.
Normally one changes the oil at 8000km but now after 5300 km
it looks like tar because of the hard conditions it went through, so better to
change it now. The wheather ahead is
going to be hot in Kenia, Uganda and Rwanda so I am cautious about it.
My time here till 2nd march is filled with usual activities
like everyday shopping, cooking, going to the dentist,new reading glasses, meeting friends and family but on top of that
my birthday on the 21st, Linda’s 60 thbirthday on the 26 and the awaiting of the birth of Linda’s
granddaugther due for around the 15th Feb.
From the 2nd of March
till 16th Linda and I will tour Ethiopia in the northern part.Doing both N and S is too much for 12
days.May be we also visit Harar, the old walled city with the hyenas in the streets
I have requested a travel bureau in Addis to put an
itinerary together for those 12 days and it will come end of this week.Curious to see what they will propose.
Linda flies back on the 17th march early morning and I will
go to the bike to do the service , load up and do my first leg to Asela at only
160 km from Addis.Will
tell why once I go.
The next part of the trip is to Rwanda from where I will,,again,
go home for a good 2 weeks.Its only
approxx 3000 km but it will be the wet part.
When you do Africa from North to South you will always meet
the Tropical Conversion Zone wich is the rainbelt that goes up and down Africa
with the changing seasons.It is approxx
1000 km in width from N to S and the
lenght is the width of Africa from W to East or in reverse.
It goes up from below the equator from approx March to October and down to under the
equator from approx Oct to March.
It now starts to move from Southern Africa ( = SA, Zim,
Zambia, Angola) up to DRC, Tanzania , Rwanda, Uganda, Kenia, Ethiopia.
Thus ,I go south from Ethiopia in mid March to Kenia, Uganda
and Rwanda and I will meet the rain belt , TCZ, in those countries.In general the rains fall in the afternoon so
I will adjust the daytrips to early morning till around 2 pm.Enough anyway .The roads might not be so good with those rains .
After my next stop in Rwanda and going back on the road to
Tanzania on the 1st May the TCZ has moved so far up that Tanzania will be dry
again.Same for the whole of Southern
Africathat will enjoy winter from that
moment.The riding will than move to
midday to avoid the cold mornings and the riding in the dark after 5pm.
During the 4 weeks that I crossed Egypt, Sudan and half
Ethiopia I had my dark moments due to difficult conditions like the horrible
accommodation in the dirty lakandas but I went on by saying , Paul, this is
what you wanted so you got it now and have to deal with all you meet.I did and got where I wanted to be, in fact,
10 days earlier than expected.
But now that it’s all behind me you start to remember the pleasant
moments and forget about the difficult ones and that’ s good.Keep up the morale for the next challenge.
Sjaak Lucassen ( www.sjaaklucassen.nl
) told me that problems do not exist on such a trip, only challenges.Look what he did and is planning for
As stated before the blogs will now reduce to very low
levels till 18th March.May be one per
week for the Sundaymorning when Linda is still asleep andI have collected the pistolekes from the
bakery and have time left befor e the late breakfast.
Yes, regarding Linda.The weekend after I left she went to see one of her sisters in Antwerp
and stayedovernight cause I was not
there to keep her warm anyway.
As usual at home she went for her 10 km run in the morning
but , of course, in unknown terrain.
At one moment she got stuck in a large rope hidden in fallen
leaves and fell hitting her elbow on the hard surface.In the beginning she thought it was not so
bad but the next day she had a big operation here in Tienen to rebuild her arm
with steel plates and half a hardware store in srews.
That store earns good money on her since last year she had
the same thing with her collarbone that broke in pieces after falling with the
course bike and now has 13 SS screws.You can see the heads from outside.
During my trip she never told me about it which I must
appreciate since I do not know what I would have done.It was also during my darkest moments in the
South of Egypt so I , possibly, would have gone home and than you do not know
what will you do next.Go back or call
So, I amnow grateful
she did not mention.Of course, other
super good people helped her where and when they could so she was in good hands.Thanks for that !!
Have hit already Addis Abeba and have ,
finally, found a good, normal hotel as I am used to. Hopefully the
wifi works ok so I can upload the blog to-day being Thursday 1st Feb.
Last one was Sunday 28th Jan at the Mayleko lodge
in Gondar. It was reasonable and my opinion was different from the
halleluja remarks in the guestbook. Often made by rather ignorent
tourists who like anything different from home even if it is as unpleasant as can
Those tourisst see a country from a bus (
cocon ) , surrounded by a whole group of peers and protected by an
organisation and guides. They meet only people who know that the tourists
will drop money and thus they are all friendly.
For me that is totally different.
Travelling on my own I have to mix with the locals and do what they do, look
for shelter, look for food, look for fuel etc hence I am very much vulnerable
and they know that. Than you notice that the locals are not always that
friendly ,especially the teeners and twentiers. The elderly show
respect but not the young ones. Than the very young ones, they roam the
streets in gangs and appoach you agressively for money. Ones you do
not give anything, they throw stones, even while riding. I have read and
heard of overlanders, travelling by bike, car or bicycle and being harrassed
and stoned on many occasions while the parents were laughing at a
distance. Therefore I meet overlanders who love Ethiopia and others who
hate it. Yesterday I got a stone against my arm but the thick
leather jacket protects me , same for the helmet and front screen.
It is amazing to see the number of youth
gangs hanging around everywhere and doing nothing just looking for an
opportunity to go into, like an old overlander on a big bike stopping in front
of them and being vulnerable. Once I was tempted to give one a proper
knock in the face since he was very agressive but , fortunately , the traffic
moved on and problem solved.
Therefore I hate riding in these
traffic jams in a large city like Addis Abeba or the larger towns where traffic
often comes to a standstill at markets and busstations, both at the official
ones but more at those famous unofficial stops which can be anywhere.
I wonder what the future will bring for
these youngsters. I think that sooner or later these gangs will turn
violent against any possible money source. Let’ s watch it , I am
sure to be right.
Anyway, nothing thrilling happened in
Gondar. Went to buy an SIM card and looked for an Insurance company for a
Yellow card but they did not speak English and all failed. Tomorrow I go
here in Addis to get one, if they understand what I want.
From Gondar I wanted to go slow to Addis
in 3 days for 800 km. First to Bahir Dar at 188 km. I
hit BD by 10.30 after a beauty of a road. Super steering through the
bends over the hills and mountains up to 3500 m high on a perfect new
tarmac. Can’t be better !
So I hit the throttle and went 200 km
further at Debre Markos and found a grumpy hotel but manageable.
Slow wifi but was able to change my
return flight to Brussels and pay the company.
That road was also good but older so
watch for the occasional bad holes and sudden disastrious speed humps, too high
to go over but they are in sections so I can drive in between , but only when
you see them in time and I almost failed. Hitting one means flying
off the bike and hoping that all will turn out well but I doubt that.
Therefore I tell myself constantly not to
ride as in Europe but this is Africa. Slow down and survive or else….!
Yesterday , Tuesday I took off by
07.30 for 300 km to Addis. The first 100 km were fine but than hell
broke loose. I came to the edge of a plateau and looked down where I
could not see the bottom of the valley. At least a km in height to go
down by mountain roads, steep and only dirty hairpins. But that’s no
trouble for me, the Stelvio is my friend, but here the tarmac was transformed
into a lunapark. Deep cuts by the lorries and tarmac pushed up in the bends,
broken tarnac, big stones to fill the holes , etc. It was
unbelieveable. Of course the heat in summer breaks a new road up
immediately with overloaded lorries going up and down.
So I went slowly down and it was
steep, I put the bike in neutral, why, to safe fuel, I was
low on fuel and nowhere a fuelstation and I did not foresee anyone soon.
Also I did not know once being in the valley what would be next, a nice flat
road out of the vallley or grimping up the mountain on the other side
with the same height, bends and bad, very bad road. I had to guess
but did not dare.
I just concentrated on the going down job
and that was enough. Felt sorry again for the bike and had to be carefull
not to hit a high stone with my engine sump or low lying oilpan which are
unprotected.. My 1980 HD had an engine guard underneath since not all roads in
the US were tarred but now they do not have it anymore. Stupid of
me not to make one. I will do now when I am in Holland after
measuring the bike here. I will have a alu plate cut with some slots to
fix it with hoseclamps to the frame tubes. Better that than
nothing. Sure I will meet more stones on the way.
Anyway, I was coming down the mountain
with lorries going very slow so no problem but those damned busses fly
anywhere. Carefull Paul !!
Once I hit the bottom of the valley there
was nothing, no village no fuel , just nothing.
Soon I noticed that I did not go
out of the valley the low way but again , as feared , straight up the other
side with the same conditions, but now also lorries at standstill which cannot
make it and block everything. In that case a bike is an advantage since I
only need one track.
I also feared for my fuel since going up
a mountain with more than half a ton in weight takes some fuel so I did it very
carefully and not to many revs to keep the consumption under control. Also the altitude will consume more fuel.
I got up the mountain meeting monkeys and
, halleluja, a bit better road donated by the Japaneese.
Thanks them for that !!
Now I was on a high plateau again and
hoped for no more valleys but only for fuel.
No station I met had benzin so I had to
find it the African way. I stopped by a Tuk Tuk and asked the driver for
fuel. He said nothing, no fuel in town. Than I asked him for the
jerrycan fuel station and he asked if I had money. After confrirmation he
took off and I followed. He brought me to the end of the village to an
unfinished building as you see all over Afica and he shouted whereafter a man
came out with a jerrycan and sold me 5 liters of clean fuel for one dollar a
liter. 3X the price but still just a dollar for one.
I took off and through good and bad roads
I approached Addis and found fuel at 25 km before Addis having left about a
quater of a litre , not enough to reach Addis but again I was saved by the
On the way I had one problem that I
wanted to pee but you get no chance to find a lonely spot to do it.
There is just no 10 meters without a
person along the road and that for 300 km. The moment you stop
immediately they come out from the woodwork and start staring at you or like
the very young ones asking for money. Bad sign !!
I think those stupid tourists in
those buses give these nice little brown eyed kids what they look for and
spoii them all along.
For Addis I had planned to set me up in
the Taitu hotel, See their site which looks better than reality.
Its the oldest in town and it shows
Must have been a pleasant Majestic place once but not anymore.
Now derelict and run down
completely. I feared for many cockroaches but did not see one.
I took a room since the bad roads had
worn me out , especially the left arm that controls the non hydraulic
clutch, just an oldfashioned cable to pull on.. Makes you Biceps like in
the gym !!
I had some geaorgeous Wahlias and an
undercooked pizza and no tele or proper wifi and the place was deserted by
20.00 hrs so I hit the sack at 20.30 and slept well until some noisemakers woke
me up at 04.30 AM.. Still did almost 8 hrs of sleep and that’s a lot for me.
I told the reception woman that I would
stay if it was nice but go if it was nio and so I went.
Booked with the smartphone another hotel
closer to the airport and more expensive at 65 dollars a day. Must be
And it is. Nice hotel with good
wifi that needed VPN and was installed by the porter, a young lad, who was
willing to help the old helpless baba . Works great.
I had planned to fly home on the 15th
Feb and return 2nd March with Linda for a 2 weeks holiday here , not with
the bike but car, plane or other.
Now I am here already the 1st. I
changed my flight to next week iso the 15th straight to Brussels with ETH.
Nice 9 hrs flight direct.
But I have to parc the bike
somewhere. I contacted my former collegue who has built
this brewery while I was Account Manager also for Ethiopia.
He has built it and now continues
enlarging it since sales seem to boom.
He said he would ask the brewery manager
who I know quite well since I had to interview him for this job.
But all works out well and they allow me
to parc the bike in the brewery, possibly, in a containerr. I will Phone
the Installation manager tonight to work out when and where.
So I will rest here to go home
Mondaynight and come back only on the 2nd with Linda.
She flies back home the 17th and I will
continu my journey as from that moment to Kenia and so on.
May be one more blog and than I stop it
till second half of March.
I find it sometimes a pity to write in
English since it is not my motherlanguage. In Dutch I can express myself
much better to make statements, jokes or other wise. But , of
course, I do it for my English spaeking friends who are not fluent in Dutch.
I also need some new reading glasses
. These HEMA ones I use now are too old and overdue.
On the other hand glasses must be cheap
since i eat them, sit on them, loose them etc.
Am now very thursty but I have a little
fridge on my right hand side and without getting up I have a Wahlia at hand, no
glass please and prosit and till the next one.
It is now Sunday and I am sitting in the MaylekoLodge in Gondar,Ethiopia.Yes, a bit further than anticipated but, you know, once I go its hard to
stop.Only tiredness is a killer and
will stop me.
Also I was curious how it would be at the border.Hopefully no horrible procedural nonsens
again.Have had enough of that.
On Friday I still wanted to stay resting in Khartoum but on
that morning I looked out of the window at 7 and saw no traffic.Hey, its week end here. They go to the
mosque.A good day to ride with less
traffic and so I took off at 8.30 to Wad Madani at 188.That was my plan, nice short 3 hr drive
.No I get there and it was onky 11.30.
Decision was fast, PULL the throttle and go for the next 236
Road was ok, enough fuel and no troubles.I arrived there at 15.30 hrs.Search for the “ BEST “ hotel in town and
found the El Watemaliki.Big old east
european style block .Hardly any
guests and only chicken to eat again.Nicely charcoaled so no stomach problems.
The next day Saturday I took of for the 160 km to the
border.70 km was excellent, next 50 km
was horrendous and I felt so sorry for the bike everytime I did not see a
bloody pothole.It wears you out also
but you cannot get careless.The bike
might break in 2 if you hit a big one at speed.
I arrive at the very busy border not with people crossing
but just hanging around, possibly looking for a stupid like me and ripp me
off.But they do not know me and very
quickly notice that there’s no chance for that.Also all my valuables are packed on my body so they should cut me up to
get to it.
Another rule is to have , at least, your CC and cash +
passport on your body so you can go anywhere if and when neccessary. More important
than your underwear , I say.
On the Sudanese side I was directed to a hut for the
customs.They checked chassis nr and
engine nr, looked a bit in the luggage and signed the Carnet de Passage.15 minutes and off to Immigration and
security.No problems , all-in order and
15 min later I had a stamped PP and off to the Ethiopian side.
Directed first to immigration.Also in a shed you do not want to keep your
pigs in and just as dirty.
2 young chaps helped me and stamped the PP within 5 minutes.
Holland and football always works.Van
Basten and Gullit for the elderly and Robin van P.and Robbe for the yoiung ones
.Off to the other side of the road with
even more gruelling accommodations for customs.Nice young lady helped me to fill the Carnet while she said that it is
not really required in ETH.I checked
that later in the list of countries and she was right.Now I have to have it stamped again at the
exit in Moyale.
She checked all bike numbers, luggage and after 15 minites I
took off into Ethipia. I can tell you I
was happy that the border s… t. as at
Wadi Halfa was over.Both sides within
an hour.Super !!
Had planned to go to Gondar since there is no hotel before
that.Was rather worn out , because of
some border stress and the road to G seemed endless.But the riding was great, nice mountain roads
like in the heart of Spain.The winding
roads and with good tarmac.Hardly any
traffic but many fuel lorries.I saw six
fuel combinations, that is lorry + trailer completely burned out and not long
Wonder wich side they carry the fuel, to or from Sudan or
just for the border town.
Approaching the town you get the usual increase of people on
the road but more than that are the animals roaming on the road.You must be very carefull not to hit a cow,
goat, dog or sheep.The people seem to
live all along such road.Going to Addis
this might be confirmed.You just ride
all the way through towns.In fact in
Belgium is the same .Houses are built
there all along a Steenweg.
I had booked a lodge that, I thought , was on the entrance
to town.Could not find it, traffic was
horrible with all those tuk tuks that jump like flies. I asked a student for a good hotel with
wifi.He directed me up a hill to the
Goha hotel and I put me up there.Good
choice but wifi mediocre .Beautifullview over the city.
I decided to move to the lodge that I had booked for 1st Feb
and drove to the road back to the border.Google Maps showed as if it was there.Went for 30 km on that beautifull road and did not find it.Rode back to the junction south of Gondar and
asked a police woman who directed me nicely on the parallel road to the airport
and 2 km further foundthe lodge.Less impressive than they show it on the
Wifi was off since there was no power.They asked for 90 dollars while B. com
indicated 45 dollars for a standard room.
They called the woman owner in Addis and she agreed for me
to have a luxury room for 70 and I agreed.Wifi is back now so I can enjoy myself with the laptop.
Tomorrow I go for an insurance card, so called yellow card
like our green card for all the coming countries up to SA.Handy but no value since an accident is a
matter of cash. But I must have an Insurance to avoid hassle at a police
Also needed a local SIM card and biscuits cause the ones
from AH are finished.Stll a pot of
Calve but the Kanjer stroopwafels ended today.Pity, I love them and give plenty energy together with a real coca cola.
Plan is to ride on as from Tuesday for the 750 km to Addis
in 3 days, maybe.
To be continued.
One other thing that has really struck me all along from
Cairo to the Sudanese border with
Ethiopia is the plastics everywhere , hanging in huge quantities on anything it
can cling to.Every bush, tree, fence,
pole, grass is litered with plastic hanging on it.Most towns dumb their refuse outside the
town somewhere in the desert and put it on fire.That smell
you meet at every town and city depending on the wind and I hate it.
Wonder what the future will bring because this is not going
to stop. It will get worse.
Let’s see how Ethiopia deals with this refuse and the other
countries to follow.
It is 16.05 hrs, itsnice and warm and my mouth is dry like sandpaper.High time for a Wahlia.
It’s now Thursday 25th Jan and I am in Khartoum since
yesterday.In my earlier blog I had
stated that I would be staying in Atbarah for an extra day but in the evening
ofTuesday I looked around and got the
creeps of that hotel and dirty room with another horrible bathroom smelling
after all that goes through.
it.Told myself , if
I can get holsd of petrol wednesdaymorning I am off to Shendi = hafway to Khartoum.
Indeed, I found petrol before 9 and took off to Shendi.The road was no comparison to the desert
roads, much more traffic, mainly lorries and long disatnce busses and therefore
a much more bumpy one with the occasional bad stretches and dangerous
potholes.However I flew through since
with a bike one can avoid a pothole while with a car you avoid one on the left
side but hit one on the right side.
The lorries did behave reasonably correct sine they are
heavily loaded and can’t go fast and manouvre quickly.On the contrary those busses you must watch
out for.They drive like mad and do not
see any other road user.As a bike I try
to stay away from them since I am no match except for speed.
They are just ludicrous as many bus drivers around the
world, even those from “ De Lijn” in
Belgium drive like mad with , often, no passengers inside so why the hurry ?
I arrived at Shendi at 11 AM already and felt good so I
pulled the throttle and continued to Khartoum that I reached by 14.00 hrs.It was 30 C and the bike did not like the
slow traffic.while my underworld was also cooked or fired.Quicly went to the area where i had seen
hotels on a map and found The Regency, an old English heritage where , since
that time, not much has changed or was maintained.
I do not disloke such old hotels provided its clean and not
smelling after wet and rotten carpets and leaking bathrooms. Not the case, quite acceptable so I dove
in.Rather tired from those 4 days of suffering.I ate like a dockworker , nice veggie sprigrolls, lambcutlets and
fruitsalad.Was nicely filled up.Went to bed by 10 Pm but had problems to
catch sleep since my room was next to the disco of the neighbours.Noise till 1 Am and after that I slept irregularly.Could also be from the withdrawelsymptoms of
no alc in Sudan.Who knows ?
Khartoum is the usual big, dusty, hectic city with traffic
jams all day through so I have the bike parked in front of the hotel entrance
because the manager wants to show it off and I will not move it until I leave
on a nice cool morning which is good for the bike.The town reminds me of Kaduna in Nigeria.
I was told in Wadi Hakfa, only on my 2nd visit for the lost
paper, that In Khartoum I had to
register again at theairport.So this morning I took off with a completely
rotten taxi to the airport.Once there
I found some officials and asked about the registration.They brought me to an office with a man in
uniform with lots of gold stars on it.He and also the others looked as if I was from outer space and as if I
was the first one to do this while I know that all overlanders do this.Strange feeling and agian I was told there
was a problem.I belivee its the word
they know best or is their only Engllish one.My reply was for them to solve it since I
KNOW NOTHING, QUE ?!!
I had to go to other offices at another airport and an
office in town. Told them I would not do this without somebody from them to come
with me.It is theircooked up nonsens, right ?
And yes a big guy in uniform without stras or stripes went
with me to a building at about 100 meters .Witioin 15 minutes all was done, I paid 535 SDG = 40 dollars and I had
another stamp and sticker in my PP.But
before that they had produced again 5 papers and 4 copies of , God knows what,
before the sticker was issued.Fortunately
I did not get all those papers to carry again.Where did they learn this absolute useless way of administration.I think its to keep people at work otherwise
they roam the streets.
Now back in the hotel I do this blog and look out for lunch
( without a nice cold beer ).
For the rest I chill, make coipies of the papers I need for
the Sudan / Ethipian border and enjoy my crackers with pindakaas, yes , all
still from Belgium same as my dutch stroopwafels.Trick is to take enough to your liking and
not eat them all at once.
Ihad the plan to stay till Monday but I am now already
down to leaving Saturday but to cut the km’s to the border in 3 piececs of
approx 250 each.Hope the hotels are
not of the sort that I had before geting here.
One thing that has struck me since the border with Egypt and
that is the high number of cow skeletons along the road in various stages of
decay, from fresh to real skeleton. This
is because Egypt has almost a continues supply throughWadi Halfa from within Sudan.I met a cattle trader in Abu Simbel who had
just struck a deal for a 1000 cows in one go.That is approx 25 full trailers with 40 cows each on it , standing loose
so they fight, fall over and die on the long journey in the scoring heat.Quite a number do not survive and they are
thrown out of the lorries on the raod side so one gets a constant rotten smel anddeath aroma in the mouth.Do not eat your lunch along the road side cause
the flieis will also come for you.
The cows are not allowed to enter Egypt alive so they are
slaughteredon arrival in Abu Simbel.I have seen many ways of slautering cows,
sheep and horses in Africa and one must have a steel stomage to watch
that.I would not like to see that place
of carnage in Abu Simbel.Not one of
those cows want to die while they smell the blood of those already gone.They have never felt a rope so will fight
like hell and they are big with very dangerous horns that cut you open when theyattack you.I know theAfrican solution for
thisbut will not explain that in this
blog.In fact, I should forget that I
have ever seen it.
One more remark to make is that I am surprised about the
fact that nobody has asked me for money or bribe since i landed in Cairo till
now.Not at the borders, not on the road
, not in towns and even not at roadblocks.Surprising.There must be stern instructions from above.
At the roadblocks they ask often for my PP. However the guys
are mostly in civil clothes.I have now
learned not to accept that.I ask for
their ID before showing my PP.No ID no
PP and it works.I had 2 occasions
yesterday that the guy let me go without seeing my PP.
Also I tell them that I am a tourist and not terrorist or
criminal sio they should be nice to me.That also works, ceatinly for the elderly ones amongst them.
It’s now 13.00 hrs and I go for lunch.
Than a nappy , if I can andoff to the copier for my document copies.