Since Zoe has done such a sterling job writing our web journal entries I thought I should make some sort of contribution. I started a poem about our trip while we were waiting for our Angolan visas in Libreville and have now completed it. Although it is rough round the edges as I have the writing skills of a gorilla (no offence to gorillas), I think it captures some of the things we experienced and learnt on our trip.
ODE TO AFRICA TRIP 2004
I remember how they started this rather daring trip,
Their confident walk betrayed by that shaky bottom lip;
“We’re going to travel Africa, to be one with the land!”
They exclaimed with shiny white faces and guidebook in hand.
They began by riding 500 kilometres per day,
“Well we have to you know, South Africa’s so far away!”;
But riding like this meant there was much they didn’t see,
So soon they chilled out and lost that sense of urgency.
Raging rivers, sinking sands and razor-sharp rocks,
With their faithful steeds, all these obstacles were crossed;
“Oh yay, it’s like the Dakar Rally, it’s going to be such fun!”
Oh no, it’s not so easy when your bike weighs a quarter ton!
“Look at them farming and hunting, aren’t their ways amazing!”
“With big families, village life and animals out grazing”
Don’t be a fool you naďve tourist; their lives aren’t that carefree!
All they want is a pair of Nike’s and stuff like you and me.
“Hello and welcome white man, I have a special price for you”,
“Of course it’s not a tourist price, I’d never do that to you!”;
“Oh I’m really not that rich you know, you must understand!”
“All I have is this bike and equipment worth 50 000 rand!”.
“Relax white man, I don’t want anything, just to be your friend”,
“But I see you have some money, is there any spare that you could lend?”
Who are we supposed to trust, it’s a difficult thing to decide?
When money and our nice things could be their grand prize.
In a place of such hardship it’s also the animals that suffer,
Skinny dogs with haunted eyes, trussed up pigs that know they’re supper;
“It’s so awful how they treat these animals, so cruel and without feeling!”
“Excuse me waiter please bring me my steak, I’m absolutely starving”.
Where’s all the money go and why’s there so much poverty?
You only need to look at the size of the president’s property;
“Let them do it their way, why should they be part of our charade?”
But it seems that doing it their way, has to rely on foreign aid.
In this wild land of adventure and discovery,
With all its corruption and its tragic poverty;
There are some good things just let us remind,
Like kindness, beer and laughter, were never hard to find.
And now after all that riding is there anything you can advise?
“The honest answer has to be, you must just try and stay alive!”
“Potholes, children and donkeys are just some of the obstacles”,
You must be alert to stay out of those African hospitals!”
So they arrive in South Africa with their tans and sun-bleached hair,
An altogether more experienced and worldly-wise pair;
Where are they going next, is it Nairobi or Tripoli?
Or is it time to settle down? Well we’ll just have to see.
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