Merry Christmas. Jubilee Ride updates

Day 6. 17th December 2013. Full Day of rest.

This was a full day of much needed rest. We enjoyed swimming, snorkeling and meeting new people. Many washed their clothes or had them washed by the very kind staff at the beautiful Mayoka village.
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I had been so tired that I decided that day I would not even look at my bike. We took a boat ride and were able to see two big beautiful fish eagles named Condoleezza Rice and Tony Blair! Our boat ‘driver’would just whistle for a while, then throw three small fish on a stick into the lake and the Eagles would hear him and very quickly locate and fish them out and fly with them onto a tree for a feast
We then had fun jumping off a cliff into the water, played beach football with some local kids and generally had a good time.

Day 7. 18th December 2013. Nkhata Bay, Malawi – Katete, Zambia

Malawi is a very poor country. I must say it’s the poorest country we’ve been to. Very beautiful but very poor. We did not even see a single bodaboda. From my interaction with the locals, the AIDS scourge really wiped out a large part of the working population. A lot of Malawians, once they move to the cities looking for a better life never return to their home in ‘shags’ except to be buried. I think the greatest resource is the big Lake Malawi. In fact it felt like half the country is the lake. It has beautiful hills and roads from which we caught fantastic views of the lake.
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We crossed into Zambia at a town called Mchinji. The plan was to go as far into Zambia as we could before dark. We stopped briefly to fuel at Chipata, a very modern looking small town in Zambia. Zambia is an expensive, very expensive place to live. Apparently the government has just recently revalued their currency, basically knocked off three zeroes from the Kwacha. 1 dollar was now 5.5 Kwacha.

We stopped for the night at Katete, another small sleepy town about 500km from Lusaka. I had an Airtel Malawi line that seemed to work, but it was very difficult and expensive to top up. It was very important for me to talk to Victor our last born son who was turning 11 in the 19th and I was not sure how long the Malawi line would be usable in Zambia. After quite a struggle I managed to talk to both my sons and I wished Victor happy birthday in case I didn’t manage to talk to him the following day.

Day 8. 19th December 2013. Katete to Lusaka

We set out early, around 7am for Lusaka. Zambia is clearly a richer country. Must be from the copper mining industry. Though it was a very long ride to Lusaka, the pace was good and by about 1pm we were in a town called Chongwe about 10km from the city. There we saw a very interesting delicacy on sale; caterpillars
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I tasted about 2mm of one and decided it was enough experience!
We stopped for a while to regroup so that we could avoid anyone getting lost. The support cars could not be reached so we decided to find a mall and get food while they catch up. It is amazing how God works. We set out to look for a mall and when we turned left into a smaller road which one of us thought was the way into a mall he knew, it turned out we took a wrong turn and traffic moving in the opposite direction was heavy. We decided to try and ask one of the drivers for directions. I’m not sure how the discussion went, but the driver asked “are you the Jubilee Riders? I’m from the Kenyan High Commission and I was looking for you! ”  how amazing is that?

We went with them to the High Commission and they were prepared to meet us. Though the High Commissioner and many of her staff were away on home leave in Kenya, we were very well received by the acting High Commissioner Mrs. Karugu and Sally Tanui and Mr. Kinoti. It really felt like home.
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We met a Mr. Kariuki who runs a motel in Lusaka. The embassy people were very kind and generous. They hosted a dinner reception in our honour at the motel and we spent the night there. 

Day 9. 20th December 2013. Lusaka – Harare

The embassy vehicle was at the motel at 6am. They wanted to show us the way out of the motel so that we could proceed to Harare which is just over 500km from Lusaka. We reached the border town of Chirundu into Zimbabwe. That was so far the most troublesome and complicated crossing. But even through all that, God still hooked us up with a Zimbabwean called Sean who is a biker, heading to Harare. He gave us his number and asked us to call him on arrival so that he could hook us up with a place to sleep and a garage where I could get my bike looked at. It had developed an oil leak that I needed checked. How amazing is God? That in the midst of a complicated border crossing he was still working things out for us.

We arrived in Harare around 7pm in a lot of rain. I think this was the most we’ve ever been rained on. We stopped at a deserted mall called Westgate where we had some tea and made contact with Kenyan Embassy officials. Once again they were expecting us and had prepared a dinner for us. We were so wet but had fun and lots of food. Another interesting coincidence is that in the same compound was a bikers club and there we met Sean and a group of Zimbabwe bikers. We made arrangements for the next day and decided to make it another rest day. I could then get my bike sorted out.

Day 10. 21st December 2013. Full Day rest in Harare

While the rest of the group went to the embassy, I went to me Shane who was to look at my bike. Shane is a great guy who also rides an Africa Twin. How cool is that?
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We couldn’t do very much on the bike as most spare shops were closed till January but we did a bit of diagnosis and first aid.

Day 11. 22nd December 2013. Harare – Lion & elephant lodge.

We started the day meeting with a very large group of bikers from Zimbabwe who wanted to meet us, pray with us and see us off. One of them was Danny who had an interesting t shirt
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We also just enjoyed zoobing (staring in amazement) at their bikes
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We handed them a Kenyan flag and they led us through the best route out of Harare heading out towards Bulawayo.

Remember how I said you learn a lot when you travel with John? Well, do you know why the country is called Zimbabwe? John knew and he took us to the historic site of an ancient stone city called the Great Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe means Stone House.
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After the detour to the monument we ended up doing our first night ride since we had about 200km to cover so that we could spend the night at lion and elephant lodge which was 80km away from Beitbridge, the border crossing into South Africa. We got to the lodge around 12:30am. We were so tired but felt fulfilled! It was only the 2nd full day riding with no rain since we left Nairobi.

Day 12. 23rd December 2013.  Lion and Elephant lodge – Midrand South Africa

This ended up being the longest yet the fastest ride we’ve had. We covered close to 600km. God is good and though the border crossing took long, for me, it was not troublesome. None of the problems we anticipated cropped up.

South Africa is just great. Beautiful infrastructure and the epitome of affluence.
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So many posh expensive cars all over the place. We had lunch at Polokwane about 300kms from Johannesburg and I was able to talk to my wife on phone. She had just arrived from Nairobi. I couldn’t believe that in a matter of hours we would be together. Again God hooked us up with a two bikers who took care of us all the way to Midrand where we had booked rooms at a nice inn called Sun1. We got here around 11 pm and it was wonderful to meet Carol and two other “biker wives” 

The plan is to hang around Pretoria and Joburg till 27th then head out to Cape Town

Day 13. 24th December 2013.

Felt great to sleep in. Woke up around noon. Rode around the area. Had lots of fun and later in the evening had dinner with two more “biker wives” joining us.

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I’ll upload all these pics and lots more on Facebook as soon as I find cheap (free) internet!

Tuendelee kuongea

Jubilee Ride. Updates

So where were we? Well, we met the President! Yippee. This was amazing. Who’d have thought that one day I would ride my bike in jeans and the same t shirt I was wearing the day before, into State House? Well we did.
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Day 1 – 12/12/2013. Nairobi – Arusha. 281 km

In my excitement about beginning the ride I woke up about 3am and found it was raining so so heavily. I knew it was gonna be fun! As you grow in your bike life (!), small things like heavy rain cease to be a big deal. You just put on your rain gear and just ride.

It was a big day. A lot of music and dancing at Nairobi Chapel.
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My wife was in her element. She really loves dancing.

The next stop was at the Junction. We were joined by close to 100 other bikers who in solidarity had offered to escort us to Kajiado and Namanga but not before doing a nice lap of honour around town.

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We crossed the border around 5 pm and the Tanzania portion of our ride began. We arrived in Arusha just past 7 pm and were pleasantly surprised to find that there was a dinner hosted by the Kenyan community in Arusha, to celebrate independence day. We were treated like celebs. It appears that all embassies of the countries we will pass through are aware of our visit.

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Pastor Nick spoke on our behalf and prayed. It was awesome. But we were a bit tired after spending such a long time at the border in Namanga.

Day 2. 13/12/2013. Arusha – Dodoma 561 km

We set out around 7am but we actually left Arusha around 9am. Let’s just say one thing led to another.

After about an hour of riding it became clear who the fast riders among us were. Though we were trying to stay together, our different speed preferences began to show. Soon the big bikes were clearly ahead of the others.

Here are the riders and their bikes ordered by size (engine size, not body size)

Mbeche – Yamaha FJR 1300
Nick – BMW GS 1200
Moses – BMW GS 800
Danzo – Honda Africa Twin 750
John – Yamaha Tenere 660
Mwongela – Yamaha 660
Mburu – BMW GS 650

This has pretty much been the order in which we’ve been reaching places. We have been trying to enjoy the ride as well as seeing things of interest. If all you do is just ride fast and not see anything in this trip, you might as well fly ama? Another reason to not go so fast is that all of us realised that riding fast costs a lot more in fuel. For example on my Africa twin, the consumption seems to double at 121kph.

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Mburu and I took some selfies with some interesting rocks just before Singida on our way to Dodoma.

Just after Manyoni, John got the first, and so far the only puncture on the ride.

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We then took so long to repair the puncture since the tools were all in the support vehicles which were so far behind. But eventually they came and weer proceeded to Dodoma. One of the most interesting things I saw on arrival in Dodoma was this fully dressed dog
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We really struggled to get accommodation in Dodoma but we were able to, thanks to Mbeche, Moses and Mwongela who arrived a lot earlier than the rest of us. There was a CCM (ruling party) delegates conference in town. What was a bit frustrating is that there seemed to be no water in the rooms. In fact on of the crew members referred to it as ‘indoor camping’!

Day 3 – 14/12/2013.  Dodoma to Iringa  554km

In the morning we had a briefing to avoid the problems of the previous day. Pastor Nick stated with such authority the need for us to stay together and not pull in different directions. Nick speaks in a very “Pastor Oscar” manner, firm but respectful and serious. There is a certain way he can look at you and you just have to listen, or else…  and then his bike at 1200cc just exudes authority. Anyway, we set out with new resolve to work together.

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We passed through the Tanzanian parliament, no pictures allowed but the building was beautiful. Tanzania also has very good roads. And the country is huge. We had planned to spend two nights but it became clear that we had underestimated and another night was inevitable.

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Somewhere on the way we stopped and John blacked out for a few minutes. Sleep is valuable!

This turned out to be the first full day without rain.

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Nick ‘discovered’ a nice nyama choma joint on the way.

We arrived in Iringa in the afternoon and met and interesting father/son bike duo who we touring, Cape Town to Nairobi in about two months. It was interesting and I thought hmmm, I’d like to have a trip like this with my son one day.

Day 4 – 15/12/2013 Iringa – Mbeya (Tanzania) – Karonga (Malawi) – 468km

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We set out early as we wanted to cross the border into Malawi early enough. The ride was quite nice and relaxed as we were now more realistic in our speeds and more careful not to push the bikes too much. Another reason is that Tanzania has many, very many speed guns and traffic cops.

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Mwongela and Mbeche at the first beach resort we visited in Malawi. Very very expensive, so we kept looking.

We stayed at another place which was also a beach resort but as we discovered later, there was no running water.

So we bathed in Lake Malawi in the evening and also the next day in the morning.

Day 5. 16/12/2013. Karonga – Nkhata Bay. 263 km

Riding with John is such a good thing. He notices interesting things on the way. Like this canoe in the making
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Or this bamboo bridge built in 1904

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We arrived this afternoon at Nkhata Bay. A very beautiful resort on Lake Malawi. Very very beautiful. It is such a good thing that this is where we will spend our rest day tomorrow. Another very good thing is that we have Internet. Working wifi for the first time. Yippee!

I thank God for a very safe journey so far.

Tuendelee kuongea

10 days to Jubilee Ride

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Hosea 2:14-16
New International Version (NIV)
14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor[a] a door of hope.
There she will respond[b] as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’;
    you will no longer call me ‘my master.[c]’
Footnotes:

a)Hosea 2:15 Achor means trouble.
b)Hosea 2:15 Or sing
Hosea 2:16 Hebrew baal

A friend shared this passage with me last week. I took it and decided this will be my prayer for myself during the time I’m away. That God would speak to me tenderly and restore my vineyards.

Plans continue. Here are some highlights

Program for the next 2weeks:

Wed- 4th visit to Heritage Insurance to pick a cheque for their contribution to the fund

Thursday 5th – a ride to kitui to test bikes. This started a bit like a joke when I said I wanted to ride and say bye to my parents. So far 4 out of the 7 riders have confirmed they’ll join me!

Sat 7th Nairobi Women’s Hospital will give us a full medical checkup in the morning. Then in the afternoon St. Johns Ambulance will give us some first aid training. The support vehicle drivers will also go to CMC to prepare their vehicles.

– 8th Bring the bikes to church by 8.30 prayer and dedication for the riders and thereafter a cookout for family and stakeholders

-9th financials just to make sure everyone has their money. Venue to be discussed.

-10th State House woo hoo!….meeting at engen at 12.00pm till 5pm then dinner at Pastor Faith’s house

11th- meeting at Nairobi Chapel for packing stuff

12th take off- meet 8am for flag off at church

9am junction parking. This is billed to be the largest gathering of bikers ever in Nairobi

Between 9am and 10am lap of honur within town.

Lunch in kajiado by 1pm the proceed to Namanga.

I thank God for all He has done so far.

Tuendelee kuongea