June 25 2023 – Day 30 of the Old Legs Zanzibar Tour

 - from the town of Kibiti to Dar es Salaam, which is seriously far removed from Harare in every sense of the word.

June 25 stats
Distance – 89 kilometers
Total time elapsed- 4 hours 43 minutes
Total ascent – 663 m
Av heart rate – 117 bpm
Max heart rate – 145 bpm.

June 26 stats
Distance – 6037 meters.
Time elapsed – 1 hr 21 meters.
Strokes per minute – 26
Av distance per stroke – 3.87 meters.

We camped our 3rd but last night of the Zanzibar Tour in a town called Kibiti, in the grounds of a high school cut and pasted straight out of 1960’s East Germany. The buildings had a certain romance, but only in pitch darkness, other wise they were crumbling.

Because Day 29 was harder than expected, the school was a God send. That we were able to camp there was per kind favour of the Headmaster, a thoroughly delightful chap who wasted no time in rat-finking on us to the local Dept of Immigration.

Immigration swooped down upon us for the third time in a week, but the third time is a charm, and the Immigration guy turned out to be such a nice guy, as per his colleagues previously. He and I are now also bosom penpals on WhatsApp, and I’ve offered to help him with marketing ideas for his sideline baobab product buisness.

The East Germans, don’t you love how this blog flows, wrote the book on interrogation techniques, including sleep deprivation. After 30 days on Tour, I am so sleep deprived, if you came up to me demanding the truth, I’ll tell you it was Clem who led the conspiracies that put both Jenny and Gary in the Dick of the Day wig, despite the threat of reduced portions and unflattering photographs. I was horrified by the baseless and scurrilous charges against them and tried to mount legal defenses on their behalf, but alas, I am a crappy lawyer.

When eventually I have been able to sleep, I have nightmared about a boil on my bottom. True story, I wake up panicked, and gingerly explore the extent of the damage, only to find none. Incredibly and against all odds, my bottom remains in pristine condition.

Moving on from my bottom, we were able to continue to enjoy more spectacular views of Africa as we continue to blunder up more unexpected plateaus. Bummer, through my red haze, all the views look the same.
There were no shortage of Doum palms which are are my new best-ever palms. Tall and imposing with multiple trunks, Doum palms have large pear shaped fruits, apparently delicious and much loved by elephants and baboons, to the extent where the baboons throw rocks at the elephants to scare them off the fruit. Which sounds tall enough to be an Al Watermeyer story.

Also worthy of mention in dispatches was the cauldron of giant fruit bats we saw. ( NB Thank you Rowena for the correct collective noun. I was going to call them a bunch of bats.) The bats turned the sky black above a small village as we rode through, dispute broad daylight. There were tens of thousands of them. It was an incredible sight. I was glad I am both bald and not a fruit farmer.

Thank God Angus pulled the plug on the day’s ride in a small village south of Dar, and before we descended into the absolute chaos and bedlam that is Dar. The Old Legs Tour has never been to a more exotic destination.

Seven million people call Dar es Salaam home, and everyone of them was out and about in busses, cars, tuk-tuks and motorbikes, despite the gridlock. NB I saw not one single surviving cyclist. I think cyclists in Dar are extinct.

And then just when you think Dar es Salaam is one, huge Mbare Musika, like Mbare times by one thousand, but way more vibrant and less threatening, then you hit skyscrapers that are cut and pasted straight out of Dubai, and a soon-to be-open rapid bus and metro transport system, just like Joburg’s Gautrain, just like one of Nelson Chamisa’s election promises, NB, for which he was roundly cussed.

We are staying far from the chaos at Alexander’s, the most charming boutique hotel since my life, and just down the road from the Dar es Salaam Yacht Club which is where we will start our 40 kilometer paddle to Zanzibar from. NB You cannot see Zanzibar from the mainland, not even if you stand on tippy toes and squint real hard.

Paddling the Indian Ocean is the other thing giving me nightmares. 40,000 meters is further than I have ever paddled previously. NB Distances in a kayak are always recorded in meters, because the number sounds bigger.

To get us used to boats borrowed per kind favour of the Yacht Club, we went for a 6000 meter practice paddle around the bay.

I will be paddling in a grey sit-on-top sea kayak with the very apt brand name, Epic. I have never paddled in a grey boat before, or a sit-on-top one before. My pampered bottom almost revolted when it saw the seat was no more than a hollow, with no cushions, no backrest, no nothing. I worried about my hernia, but the boat was surprisingly comfortable, and my tummy survived.

I have also never paddled on the ocean before, but found it to be surprisingly flat and un-lumpy. All in all, our practice paddle went swimmingly well and I am optimistically excited about tomorrow’s adventure.

In closing, I would like to thank and acknowledge Ryan and Lise Wienand. Without their help and support, we would never have made it to Dar es Salaam, let alone to Zanzibar.NB I still can’t quite believe we have made it this far.

This Tour has hurt way more than any previous Tour. We are riding from Harare to Zanzibar to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe’s pensioners.

After 20 years of economic stupid, the generation that built our country have lost their homes, their wealth, their life savings, their everything, leaving them entirely dependent on the charity they are too proud to ask for. Please help us help them by following the donate prompts on www.oldlegstour.com.

Until my penultimate blog from Zanzibar – have fun, do good and do epic if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

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