Great African Divide Ride Day 8: Monday 3rd October

Kanye to Zeerust

Distance: 110kms
Altitude gain: 690
Altitude loss: 510
Difficulty: Apart from a couple of slopes that got the heart pumping, it was pretty easy
Temp: 37
Max heart rate: Not measured
Average ride speed: 17.4
Riding out of Kanye is a REAL pleasure as there is a great downhill. I managed to get up to 64kph. Apart from that initial thrill of the downhill, there wasn’t much of interest; we rode into the town of Lobatse and had pizza at Debonairs … not quite as nice as the one in Serowe. We tried to find a bike shop to buy tyres but failed. Very few people seem to ride bikes in Botswana. Of course, in Gaberone, there are several, but that’s because of the ex-pat population. I think it’s the aggressive thorns that make it unattractive to ride a bike. And did I mention the heat and headwinds?
From Lobatse, we went to the border at Pioneer Gate. Exiting Botswana was quick and simple, and friendly. We did notice that we were the only people at the border, but failed to pick up on the significance.
On the SA side, the “friendly” part was tremendous. The Home Affairs man at the Immigration desk was full of jokes. I asked if he would please put in for a transfer to Beit Bridge, as some humour at that border post is required. We told him we would happily leave Paul behind and take him (the official) with us. His colleague thought this was a great idea. Paul disagreed. Then we had to do the temporary import permit of the Isuzu with SARS (customs). The customs man was very pleasant but said he did not know how to process a TIP. He had never processed a Zim-registered vehicle. He showed us how to go to the buildings where they process trucks and said a lady there would do it. She was also pleasant and friendly, but she wasn’t sure what to do. I know the procedure – having been through Beit Bridge many times. The SARS official logs onto the system, enters all the vehicle details (engine number, chassis number, capacity, number of wheels, etc.), and 5 minutes later wanders over to the printer and gives you a computer-generated TIP. This was not happening at Pioneer Gate. Eventually, after consulting several other colleagues, we were presented with a form filled in by hand. I suspect that when we leave SA, there will be some problems. Sigh
Anyway, while Diana and I spent half an hour with the customs lady, Paul, Chris and Patrick chatted with the immigration guy and his colleagues. They said that the road to Zeerust (our destination) was closed by demonstrators. Tyres had been placed across the road and set alight .. no cars could pass, which explained why no other people were being processed. Obviously, we were a bit concerned. Should we go back into Botswana and use a different border? Should we just camp at the border? In the end, off we drove, bikes uplifted, aware that there were no other vehicles on the road. Then, we saw a convoy of trucks and cars not too far from Zeerust. And sure enough, the police finally cleared the demonstrators’ road, and we could proceed.
In the town, we found a place to camp at one of those wedding/function venues called Sha-Hennies. Pleasant and safe, welcome hot showers.
Hello everyone, Jaime here again..infiltrating Ali’s posts… This weekend I was away in Chimanimani. It’s wonderful there, but sadly fires had taken hold thanks to the extreme heat and wind. I watched as the local community did their best against the raging fires; let’s just say fighting against the fury of the fires was a task that seemed impossible. By the time I left, thanks to back burning and some real dedication, they seemed to be taking control of the uncontrollable. I wish them all the best. I was in Chimanimnai working on a mental health program aimed at helping children and adults deal with the trauma of Cyclone Idai; with the start of mental health week yesterday, I’d like us to reflect on the mental health of our Zimbabwean Pensioners. I’ve volunteered with Old Legs Tour for 2 years now, and during my time, despite the resilience of our pensioners, sometimes their mental health takes a knock. This is often due to loneliness. We at Old Legs Tour want you to donate towards the medical fund that will give pensioners some much-needed relief from pain and suffering, but we would also like to encourage you to spend time with our pensioners and give them something to look forward to! A cup of tea once a month or a visit to somewhere special. During that time, not only will you provide some much-needed love and support to our old folk, but you’ll probably learn something new. Thank you for your continued support!

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