September 26, 2022 – The Third World As Seen From The Saddle

My eye doctor thinks the retina is now too tatty to reattach, but I will search out a second opinion in South Africa this week. Fingers crossed it is fixable but thank God for my good right eye if it isn’t.

My view on the world is rather half at the moment, on account of my bloody retina falling off again last Thursday, for the third time, leaving me 100 % blind in my left eye. Bugger, bugger, bugger. I’ve enjoyed peripheral vision in that eye for the last 2 years, but now have nothing. And the difference between not a lot and nothing is shocking, like night and day. I am now able to take clumsy to the next level. And woe betide anyone who expects me to reverse park in their carpark.

My eye doctor thinks the retina is now too tatty to reattach, but I will search out a second opinion in South Africa this week. Fingers crossed it is fixable but thank God for my good right eye if it isn’t.

I am constantly reminded that the world is full of people who have done big things with only one headlamp working, like Nelson, who fought Waterloo with one eye, and came a credible second. But apart from my eye, all is good in my world. We have just spent the weekend in Juliasdale enjoying the tail end of msasa season, and I enjoyed the trees and the views twice as much with my good eye. And I even went geocaching for the first time, and found 2 out of 3, which is better than Nelson did at Waterloo.

For any parents who worry that their children are spending too much on their cell phones, get them geocaching on their phones, and in the bush, doing epic. Geocaching is the best thing ever.
If my blind eye allows me to only see half of the crap going on in this messed up world, that’s also not a bad thing. Alas. The world is just getting over Covid, fittingly apart from China where it all started, and already the media the politicians looks to be in a hurry to embrace the next pandemic, monkeypox, but not before they come up with a more woke name for the virus.

True story, the WHO has had 180 scientists busy for months, scrambling to find a new name for the pox that was first discovered in the Congo in 1970, a name that is non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing. Who’d have thought the WHO were that sensitive to the feelings of monkeys.

Meanwhile in China, a day after they recorded their first monkeypox infection, a top Chinese health official warned locals against touching foreigners. Clearly, he never got the memo about do not discriminate or stigmatize.

For the record before moving on to other bad news, Wikipedia is telling me the smallpox vaccine is around 85% protective in preventing monkeypox.
In other bad news, Putin continues to monger war in Ukraine, but with embarrassingly little success. He has now emptied his prisons and has sent all his rapists and murderers off to the Ukraine to rape and murder. But that still won’t be enough to plug the gap left by 80,000 dead, so he has started national call ups, unless all his brave conscripts run away, like Monty Python. Apparently, the cost of plane tickets out of Moscow have bounced through the roof.

Good news for Putin, but bad for Ukraine, the far right is set to celebrate victories in Italy and Sweden. I can’t get my head around an upside-down world in which the far-right is closely aligned to Russia. I yearn for the black and white simplicity of the Cold War.

Meanwhile Donald Trump continues to trample all over every law ever written, still seemingly gaining in popularity, while Joe Biden continues to bumble. Anxious to show American voters that he multitasks better than he rides bicycles, Joe is sabre rattling at the Russians, and also the Chinese, but he might have achieved more impact if he’d chosen someone else other than a visibly doddery 82-year-old Nancy Pelosi to stride the world stage.

I do worry about America. They say that difficult times make strong men, easy times make soft men, and soft men make stupid decisions. If Donald Trump and Joe Biden are the best they can come up with, then clearly America has enjoyed soft times for a long time.

As evidenced by the Texas Board of Pardons, who after lengthy and expensive legal wrangling, finally reversed its decision to posthumously pardon George Floyd for a 2004 drug conviction. I don’t understand why you would waste time and money arguing about clearing a dead guy’s name, when the same dead guy had 8 other convictions for more drugs, armed robbery, blah, blah, blah?

The best thing that happened out there as far as I could see was Queen Elizabeth dying. The Queen was a gracious lady who performed her duty selflessly for 70 years, but aged 96, she was tired and wanted to be with her Phillip. No one puts on a funeral like the British and I loved the pomp and pageantry. I watched for 10 days non-stop, on all channels, and now know the Queen’s first corgi was called Dookie. It was like watching The Crown in real life, with that girl from Suits, and certainly better than watching the All Blacks getting beaten by Argentina and South Africa, but not Australia.

I was briefly heartened by flags flying at half-mast in Harare, and thought we were joining the rest of the world in mourning the Queen, but apparently some General also died last week. Alas. Also sad, is the price of cornflakes in Zimbabwe, now on special at just $3200. In 2018, the same box of cornflakes will have cost just $4. How are poor pensioners trapped in their worthless Zim dollar pensions expected to cope? But not to worry, our finance minister told us things are set to get better and he expects inflation to drop down to just 100% towards the end of next year. I think I’ll root for yellow in next year’s elections.

Back on the subject of eyes, Patrick Millar had both eyes shut tight when he rode the Victoria Falls gorge swing on his bicycle yesterday, the first ever to do so. Patrick is now officially a crazy bastard guy. Patrick launched himself and his bicycle into the chasm that is the Vic Falls gorge to raise money for Zimbabwe’s pensioners. The only thing bigger than Patrick’s heart is his sense of adventure.

Conned by Al Watermeyer, Patrick was the only person to ride the first leg of the Old Legs Tour Great African Divide Ride. Al told Patrick the first leg would be a doddle, and mostly all downhill. After Patrick finished almost plunging to his death 100 meters below, and after he’d finished poncing about upside down and above the raging torrent below for 15 minutes, they hauled Patrick and his bicycle back up so that he and Al and Paul Taylor, all aged 73, could continue with the rest of their 3000-kilometre ride through Kazungula, through Botswana, through Gauteng and over the Drakensburg to the tiny village of Rhodes in the Eastern Cape, tracking southern Africa’s main watersheds.

I’ve posted Al’s Day One blog below, complete with photos of Patrick’s death-defying stunt. Please follow and support Al, Patrick and Paul on the Old Legs Facebook page and on They are riding to raise money for the Old Legs Medical Fund. Surgery in Zimbabwe is even more expensive than cornflakes. The costs of new hips and knees are simply unaffordable for most pensioners, leaving them stuck in wheelchairs and in a world of unimaginable pain. The Old Legs Medical Fund is determined to make a difference.

Last week we helped Lillian Chard walk again and without pain for the first time in years. And in the weeks ahead, we will likewise help Beverley Cockcroft and Cheryl Byrne. But our waiting list is almost as long as one of our bike tours, and we need your help.

If you live in Toowoomba, please help Sally Gordon-Brander and Allana Chicksen-Smith help the pensioners on our waiting list. Sally and Allana bake the most delicious chicken and beef samoosas in Australia and they will be taking pre-orders to sell over the weekend of 8th and 9th October and will be selling at 11 Shamrock Court, Middle Ridge, Toowoomba on Saturday 15th October from 10.00 a.m. You can also buy Sally and Allana’s stunning Wall and Desk calendars with photos of wild Africa that will tug at your home heart strings for just $15.00 each, plus postage, with all funds going to the Old Legs Medical Fund. In 2020, Sally and Allana raised $8500. This year they want to smash that target.

You can also help the pensioners by buying my audiobook, Cape Town To Kilimanjaro. Brilliantly narrated by Kevin Hanssen, Cape Town to Kilimanjaro captures our slow, laboured and at times amusing progress up through Africa on our bikes. It started out as a commercial project, and Kevin spent months in the sound studio, but when he finished recording the last chapter, Kevin decided that all the proceeds will go to the Old Legs Medical Fund. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Kevin

The book is available on, on, on, on, and will also soon be available on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.
And please be invited to join the Old Legs when we fly the flag at the Cape Town Cycle Tour on March 12th, 2023. We are assembling a stellar cast including Donald Bomber Campbell, Rob Fisher, Andrew Chadwick, Andy Louw-Evans, Al Rheeder, plus an impressive array of Moss brothers and others, but we still have room for many more in our peloton.

The Cape Town ride will be good training for our main event in June 2023 when we will pedal and paddle from Harare to Zanzibar on bicycles and in kayaks. Watch this space.
Until my next blog, wish me luck in Joburg – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

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