"Let's have some words and pictures!" I've emailed to Caroline and Beau as they depart Nairobi, around Tuesday 5th, towards the Tanzanian border and Mt Kilimanjaro.
Caroline needed new tyres front and back. The most appropriate available in Nairobi were Metzeler Enduro 3s, which cost a king's ransom in Kenya. But they should do the job and last a good while. Plus there's servicing to do, and determining the state of the rainy season which is unusually late this year. When Caroline arrived at the airport a few days ago (Beau had arrived a couple of days earlier), the rain had closed most roads, isolating the airport from Nairobi until the following day.
Earlier, she had spent a little while in Juba, South Sudan, assessing the level of teaching required by the prospective English language students for when the new term starts in September.
A six-hour, 120-mile journey by 4WD on muddy dirt roads followed, to the provincial capital town of Bor to do a similar job there.
The new independent country of South Sudan comes into being in a few days, let's hope it's successful.
Here's a different form of transport, just for a change.....
A short walk from here is what is reckoned to be the country's best-preserved Battle-of-Britain fighter airfield. Kenley.
It's still operational, used by an RAF gliding school and a private gliding club, but completely open to the public on foot. So a fairly unique and accessible monument to times past.
(Many many years ago, Caroline first started to learn to ride a motorbike on the airfield's perimeter track. Those were the days when local police would turn up, watch for while, say "We didn't see you," and drive off).
Last Sunday was the anniversary of the arrival of No 64 Spitfire Squadron at the airfield in 1940. And as they do, once a year at least, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flew in a Lancaster bomber, a Spitfire and a Hurricane, to perform a little flypast over the historic airfield.
Southern end of the airfield, with RAF memorial and glider cadets, awaiting arrival of the flypast.
First turn to line up for a second over pass.
Second turn for a third pass.
Final fly past. Banked over, I think, specially for the cameras.
News from Caroline and Beau.
After spending a little while taking their bikes out of storage at Jungle Junction and fitting new tyres, Caroline and Beau met up with an Australian group of overland riders.
That led to them dropping the idea of riding off to Tanzania and instead teamed up with the Ozzies. They rented a minibus between them and headed out to the Masai Mara to see the annual migrations.
This isn't possible on two wheels, so four wheels have to be organised one way or another.
Caroline posted home a graphic account of the river crossings, involving wildebeest, zebras and crocodiles, plus a couple of Beau's photos:
Then, not having a whole load of time before having to be back at work in Khartoum, they flew to Zanzibar to see the sights of the island and of Stone Town. Photos awaited.
Back in Nairobi they found they needed to spend a couple of days hunting down a new battery for Beau's bike, the old one having expired.
That done, and all loaded up, yesterday they departed north for Isiolo and the road to Ethiopia, expecting to be in Addis Ababa by around next weekend.
So we wish them a good journey.
By hook or by crook, Caroline and Beau are back in Addis Ababa.
There were spots of bother with both bikes, although they completed the Isiolo to Moyale road in two and a half days. An incredible time by my reckoning - must be a record of some sort. No falling off either.
Beau writes from Awassa, south of Addis Ababa: "We made it to Ethiopia, shaken by the bumps and having to do some fixing on both the bikes, but we're now in Awassa.
.......because of the drought the corrugations have not formed as big as before. We camped in a small village 50km before Moyale where a young man brought us to his house and let us set-up in his yard. It was very special, he and his family made us dinner and told us about his village and life."
But he also writes: "My bike has got white smoke and oil coming from the exhaust and takes a litre of oil every day - a couple of mechanics have told us that it's a piston ring problem. We are getting a truck to Addis tomorrow to get the bikes there quickly for inspection and repair. We've got a mechanic lined up in Addis, numbers we found on the HUBB."
The problem, I guess, is the lack of sufficient air-filtering as I've concluded earlier on my bike, resulting in excessive wear in the bore or damage of some sort.
Either way, they have work to do in Addis involving removal of the engine and the cylinder head for inspection.
Hope the repairs go well, more updates when received.
Maybe photos as well, if time allows during this busy interruption.
Caroline and Beau arrived home in Khartoum today, just in time to rush to the bank with a sackful of cash.
I don't have a full report yet, but Beau's bike must be going pretty well now for them to have made such good time.
After departing Addis Ababa early on Saturday, they crossed into Sudan at Metema on Monday, wild camped on Monday night and arrived home around midday today, Tuesday.
The rush, it turned out, was brought about by a short notice announcement that old Sudanese banknotes must be changed for new, by close of business today. Any not changed are now only good for lighting shisha pipes (hubble bubbles). It seems the end date was only recently announced.
The new banknotes were introduced last month, with designs that remove all symbols and illustrations relating to South Sudan, which now has its own currency in circulation.
So they overcame a lot of difficulties since Nairobi, and although needing a good deal of nurturing and attention, the Yamahas brought them home in the end, and in time.
But work schedules have also been turned upsidedown through the birth of the new country of South Sudan.
Consequently, Caroline flies straight back to Nairobi late tonight. Whaaaat!! After overcoming all those mechanical adversities the last couple of weeks, and two African border-crossings, to reach Khartoum???
Yes, the demand for English teaching in the south has rocketed past all expectations, so Caroline is awaited back in Juba (via Nairobi) to meet up with another teacher. They'll start a tour of South Sudan provincial capitals to assess all prospective students and assign them to appropriate classes. Then the British Council can arrange the right numbers of the right teachers to be ready for the start of term in a couple of weeks, by which time Caroline will be back home in Khartoum to start the term with her new class. Not much spare time there then.
Beau has a little more time, starting back at the University next week. But he'll have two bikes worth of stuff to unload and find space for, and I know how overwhelming it can be to unload just one bike after it's been lived on for a year or so.
Still no photos, and I suppose the dust of that lot will have to settle a bit first. There was no internet at their flat on arrival today, and as usual, no real prediction of when there will be.
So well done to them for the speedy and safe ride from Addis, on a loaded 250cc and a loaded 225cc Yamaha. And for managing the fairly major repair in the Ethiopian capital.
I'm reminded of a quotation carried in a recent edition of Bike Bits, the internet newsletter of the US Adventure Cycling Association: "All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware." Martin Buber, 1878-1965.
How true. Never forget it.
To find out if there were any significant news items on the roads while Caroline and Beau have been on their journey, I've been reading some blogs by people recently travelling through East Africa. And it's very sad.
Yes, Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt aren't easy countries to travel through by road on your own vehicle. The cultures and driving philosophies simply cannot be compared to the West in any way at all. The same with Kenya but maybe not so extreme. So it's a little depressing to read accounts that, for example, are blatantly rude and insulting to ordinary Ethiopians just for wanting to walk on their own roads with their own children/carts/cattle/farm implements. This despite the number of intelligent forums on various websites explaining the most fundamental differences that exist between East Africa and western cultures when it comes to the use of the roads. So I hope Caroline and Beau weren't following too closely behind the authors of some of those blogs - the locals wouldn't have been very welcoming towards yet more foreign travellers using their roads so soon after those earlier ones. It's no wonder that locals who are well-read enough to know what's written about their countries are so keen to remind you to tell everyone back home that it's really not like that, at all.
To anyone reading this and planning a journey through East Africa, it's easy. In rural areas where people and animals are all over the roads, with not many vehicles, well, that's why the roads are there. For people and animals to do what they need to do in a day (which will be far more important to them and their families, than for a westerner to do what he/she wants to do in a day). So you have to give way to them. And they won't like you very much if they acknowledge and wave to you, and you don't return it.
So here's another quote from the excellent Bike Bits:
"When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable."
Clifton Fadiman, 1904-1999.
How true. Never forget it.
Finally, another Youtube (there're so many of them!)
Daily Telegraph readers may have seen this already, or maybe the BBC have already carried it - I don't know I hardly watch it.
But can someone offer a clear analysis of the mechanics of this??
I don't understand it. Why didn't another dozen riders fall off just watching it?
And who'll be first to add the new lesson to the marshall's training manual?
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