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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA



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  #46  
Old 23 Apr 2014
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Malawi & Mozambique:

My camera (Nikon Coolpix – such a cool little camera!) unfortunately broke in the crash, so from hereon out I had to mainly take photos on my phone.

When I got up the next morning my body was one huge ache. Especially my left arm. I suspected it just to be some bad bruising. Breathing also hurt so I suspected some bruised ribs to go along with my other bruised muscles. But nothing was broken, which meant I could carry on!

I made my way to the Songwe border crossing between Tanzania and Malawi which is about 115 kilometers from Mbeya. Arriving at the border I firstly went about changing money. Usually I wait until I’m actually ‘in’ the border to change money, but for some reason I decided to stop and change money before the border on this day. Mistake number one. Mistake number two was remaining seated on the bike whilst attempting to change money.

I always count out how much I want to change before reaching a border, then I’d usually put that away in a pocket and only take the money out at the border…as opposed to taking out my wallet. On this day I also didn’t do that. So the ‘gentleman’ that was assisting me asked me how much I wanted to change? I told him and he handed me a pack of notes. The pack was divided into smaller packs with denominations of tens in the pack. Though he counted it as hundreds. This is an old trick!

So I started arguing with him, saying that he didn’t give me enough money. As the argument started heating up, more and more ‘gentlemen’ started joining in and before I knew it I had half a dozen hands grabbing at my wallet! They got away with about US$150!

To brighten my day a little more, I was pulled over after I’d crossed the border. Routine checks. It was then discovered that my ‘COMESA’ third party insurance that I had bought in Tanzania wasn’t COMESA insurance after all! And so I had to pay a fine. (I paid $100 for my fake COMESA insurance! Haha)

I was not in the best of moods by this time. Though as I made my way further south I came across a very pleasant surprise. A man had contacted me sometime back on a riding forum, asking me for advice and info as him and his son would be riding up to Egypt at some point. ‘Them’ being Jan-Lukas and Bas de Vos. (Amsterdam on the forum) And then I ran into them in Malawi! Yay. It was not too far from the border and just after I had been pulled over, I remember passing these two bikes and it was like we all had the same thought instantaneously, thinking: “Hang on a minute, isn’t that…”. I pulled over and the guys turned back. We spent about half an hour on the side of the road quickly catching up as I gave them information and contacts for the road leading up to Cairo.



After a long chat and some photos, they were off to Tanzania (I warned them about the scammers) and I was off to find a place to stay next to the Lake. I had dreamt about what it would be like to get to Lake Malawi one day. It’s just one of those mysteriously amazing locations! Nothing could’ve prepared me for actually being there though. It really is just beautiful.



I spent a night at Mayoka Village (www.mayokavillagebeachlodge.com) . I decided to spoil myself after the last few mishaps I’d had and booked myself into a room, overlooking the lake. I was in heaven and didn’t want to leave! I decided I’d take a rest day when I reached the southern tip of the lake the next day. I didn’t want to leave Mayoka. It’s a magical place and I’d go back in a heartbeat to just spend a few weeks next to the Lake.



Next day would see me riding down to the southern region of the Lake where I would stay at the Fat Monkey Lodge in Cape Maclear. (Fat Monkeys (Cape Maclear, Malawi) - B&B Reviews - TripAdvisor )
Friends and fellow adventure riders who I’ve mentioned before, Michnus and Elsabie Olivier from ATG (www.atgear.co.za) (Their blog: Piki-Piki) had referred me to Fat Monkeys. And what a cool place! I opted to camp this time round. I hadn’t camped since Sudan and felt it time.

The road to Fat Monkeys






I came across a weird phenomenon on my way riding down south though. I approached what looked like a smoke cloud. I even held my breath just before I entered said ‘smoke cloud’. It turned out to be a humungous swarm of tiny little bugs! I had to stop as soon as I’d passed through the swarm as my goggles were just packed with a layer of bugs! Strange!







I spent two blissful days relaxing next to the lake and met a whole bunch of overlanders ranging from a Dutch couple who’d been riding all over Southern Africa for a few months. A bunch of guys from London who were doing a trip from South Africa up to Tanzania. And Yves, a French cyclist with a very American English accent (he’d spent quite a few years as a rickshaw rider in New York) who’d cycled down the East Coast of Africa and would be making his way down to South Africa before heading back up the west coast again. We hit it off immediately and became camp buddies!



My rest day was spent sleeping in, having Dax washed, and generally just lazing around either on the beach or at the bar in the shade. It was heavenly! I witnessed an amazing sunset that greeted my on my last evening in Malawi before I’d be leaving for Mozambique. Thought here were still a few ‘kinks in the cable’ to deal with on route before I could make it to South Africa.









First kink came the next morning when I had to pay for my accommodation. The entire area’s electricity was out and my visa card didn’t want to work for some reason. Yves offered to pay for me and I could pay him back when he got to South Africa. I politely refused though and asked the lodge whether they’d accept some dollars. I only had singles left though. Well it’s not like they had much of a choice. I was out of Malawian Kwacha and my card didn’t want to work. They did accept the hand-full of single dollar notes though and I was on my way.

Next I had to fill up with fuel! But of course the ATM in town wasn’t working as a result of the electricity being out, and there was only this single ATM in a fifty kilometer radius! So I hung around for a while until the electricity came back on. It did come back on eventually but my card still didn’t want to work! I phoned my friend Hanret back home to please phone my bank and find out why my card wouldn’t work. In the meantime I tried to find out where the nearest next ATM was. The other little problem I had was that I only had about 40 kilometers worth of fuel left!

The bank confirmed that there was nothing wrong with my card and I had sufficient funds, so I had no choice other than to chance it to the next town to find a different ATM. I rode along at no more than 80 kilometers per hour as to try and preserve whatever fuel I had left. I did make it in the end and when I filled up I had less than half a liter’s worth of fuel left in my tank. Main thing is it all worked out fine though and I could continue to Mozambique! I was about 250 kilometers from the border and still wanted to make it to Tete, about 370 kilometers away! Best I got a move on!

I would cross the border into Mozambique just beyond a town called Mwanza in Malawi. It’s a fairly quiet border crossing and I was stamped through both sides in no time flat!

The first 60 – 80 kilometers of road towards Tete is being worked on though so I faced a number of diversions that slowed me down. Normally this would not really bother me all that much but I had entered Mozambique just as the Renamo (Mozambican National Resistance) unrest broke out and I didn’t want to ride around at night.

By the time I reached Tete and crossed the Zambezi river into town the sun was just setting. I started searching for a place to spend the night. The first motel I pulled into was obviously under construction and they referred me to a guesthouse just after the bridge. I found it easily enough as it was just down the road back a few hundred meters. There I met a South African guy who was working in Tete at the time and helped me book into the guesthouse. After I’d done offloading my bike and had a shower the gentleman accompanied me down the road to a local restaurant where I ordered some food. It was nice to catch up with a fellow South African. I was now really getting close to home!
I can’t remember the name of the guesthouse but it’s ‘Casa’ something. Right on the Zambesi river, on your left hand side, just as you exit the bridge over the river.

From Tete I would make my way to Chimoio where I would spend the night before braving the ‘red zone’ between Inchope and the Rio Save (River) region. In all honesty I had no idea how big the ‘red zone’ was or where it ended. I knew there were two armed convoys riding up and down each day. Though I had no idea where they were leaving from or what time. So in the end I decided to just gun it in my convoy of one. How bad could it possibly be right?

Well it was one of the most uncomfortable stretches on my entire trip, let me tell you that. At first it was awesome. No traffic, so quiet. Just me on my Dax enjoying the Mozambican bush. But then it just started to become a little eerie. After 300 kilometers of not seeing a single soul I simply had to stop for a break. I had pictures in my mind of armed rebel forces groups lying in wait in the bush, looking on at me taking a break right in their attack zone and thinking…WTF?



After I got back on the road an armed convoy passed me by and pushed me off the road. Thanks guys!
I eventually made it to a checkpoint where I was stopped and a very confused officer kept checking for ‘more of me’ to arrive. He asked me why I rode alone and I explained to him that I didn’t know where or when to meet the convoy riding from the north. He radioed his superior officer who radioed on ahead and after they’d cleared it with the checkpoint further ahead I was allowed to proceed. I was advised not to stop anywhere though as a convoy had been shot to pieces the previous day. Just the reassurance I needed!

After I made it past the next checkpoint at Rio Save I started noticing people going about their daily business on the side of the road again and sighed a sigh of relief. I had now made it through the final hurdle on the trip!

Bridge over Rio Save:



That night I stayed at Sunset Lodge near Inhambane. A beautiful lodge right on the beach! Though it seemed that my body had, had enough. The fall in Tanzania and the last few days’ physical, mental and emotional fatigue had caught up with me and that evening my body broke out in a fever. I spent most of the night with fighting a fever and my body aching. Then a thought hit me…’Malaria’!





The next day I’d meet up with a South African friend in Matola and told myself I just have to make it there, then I’d have myself tested. I felt a bit better the next morning though and had a really pleasant ride down towards Maputo/Matola.

I was stopped a few times by police. I did’t infringe on any traffic laws, so they just stopped me because they could. Sometimes not even saying anything…just stopping me and then waving me on again. Strange.

Then, about halfway down to Matola, the sub frame bolts on my bike broke!! I immediately knew what had happened when I felt it go. It felt like the bike simply snapped in half! I pulled over and remembered that I still had some spare bolts and then found a spare nut I’d been carrying in my handbag for over a year! Haha. Now I finally got to use it! I fixed up my bike on the side of the road (how far I’ve come, mechanically!) and carried with a smile.





Fellow South African and rider, Ken Vaughan, met up with me just outside of Matola and rode in with me. He arranged for me to stay at The Courtyard Guesthouse in town. (www.thecourtyardmoz.com) When they got to learn about my journey they offered to let me stay for free! I told Ken that I wasn’t feeling well and he took me to a clinic so I could have myself tested for malaria. The test came back negative, and I was convinced it was just pure fatigue!

That evening I was spoilt to dinner along with a group of South Africans living in Matola. On the menu? Prawns of course!!! We had a fantastic evening at a local restaurant famous for the best prawns in town and I regaled the guys with my travel stories whilst sitting with butterflies in my stomach as it was my last night before re-entering South Africa!



This was it! The final push to the finish line!
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  #47  
Old 24 Apr 2014
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THE FINALE!

The final stretch to the border was filled with a mix of emotions. Ken would ride with me to the South African border through Swaziland. On the other side, a group of friends and fellow riders were waiting to welcome me back onto home soil!!

We made our way to the border and crossed into Swaziland at the Mhlumeni border post. It is probably the quietest border I’ve ever crossed. We were the only two people there at the time, apart from customs and immigration officers. As a result we were stamped through in no time flat!



We then made our way to the Oshoek border where I would cross back into South Africa. When we arrived at the border, I took my time. I didn’t go into the customs and immigration offices straight away to get myself stamped out of Swaziland. I wanted to savor the moment. Ken stayed with me until I indicated that I was ready and went in to have my paperwork stamped. He wouldn’t cross with me and so wished me good luck, congratulated me and then started heading back to Mozambique.

I slowly rolled over to the South African side of the border and could see the group of bikers standing right at the entrance. I went about having my paperwork stamp for the very last time. The very last stamp in my passport and the very last stamp in my carnet de passage. Back outside the office I handed my passport over for the very final check before I could enter back into my homeland. The officers took my passport, checked that everything was in order then handed my passport back to me and said: “Welcome home Jo.” The bunch awaiting my arrival had obviously told them who I was and what I had done.



That line hit me in the pit of my stomach and tears started welling up in my eyes. I thanked them, put my passport away and received a very warm welcome from my friends. I very nearly started ululating!

I worked out my route and itinerary whilst I was still in Kenya so everyone back home would know when I’d be where. The response I received over the week and a half it took me to get from Kenya to South Africa was absolutely staggering! I received so many offers from friends, followers and fellow riders for a place to stay on route and plans were being made in every town where I’d be staying over for a social get-together where people could come say hello.

The celebrations started the second I crossed the border back into South Africa and continued, pretty much non-stop, all the way to the finish line - Cape Agulhas. The most southern point in Africa!

My route back down to Cape Agulhas would take me through:
Piet Retief, Durban, Port St Johns, East London, Port Elizabeth, Jeffreys Bay, George, and finally Robertson where I’d meet up with a group of riders for the annual “Breede Bash” next to the Breede River before being accompanied by a whole pack of bikes down to Agulhas.

I became a package…collected from the border and then carefully passed on from one group of riders to the next, all the way down the coast.

Durban boys meeting me on route:


More Durbs:


East London:


East London:


Port Elizabeth:


George:


More George:


It was absolutely wonderful seeing some old friends again and making new ones as I made my way from one town to the next. Every night was a celebration in anticipation of the grand finale!

It was both awesome and slightly surreal, being back in South Africa. So much familiarity after so much exploring of the unknown. It’s like waking from a dream and not being sure whether you want to be awake or rather go back. The unfamiliar has become what you are most comfortable with and everything seems all upside down and inside out.

Alas, the last few days were too much of a blurry haze of exciting events and reunions for me to delve too deeply into the inadvertent philosophical consequences a prolonged journey of self-exploration brings with it.

I savored every single moment leading up to the conclusion of my journey, knowing how long I had dreamt of this day. The hardships and challenges faced. The ups and downs. The people who had touched my heart along the way. The places I’d seen, the moments I had experienced, the person I had become.

I got up on that final morning filled with a great range of feelings. Excitement, happiness, anticipation, sadness, love, joy, gratitude, nostalgia…you name it. Gerard's (Jupiter) tent was pitched not far from mine and he was the only person in my immediate vicinity for most of the morning. I was glad because he has this ‘zen’ energy that helped calm my nerves.

Everyone started slowly packing up. Those that wouldn’t be joining us down to Agulhas came to congratulate me and wish me good luck for the last day before they left.

And then the time came to get on with it! I had no idea what to expect. I knew that Agulhas tourism had organized a little something and would meet up with me before I headed down to the marker, but that was about it in terms of any special arrangements. When I left back in April 2012 I wasn’t allowed to take my bike down to the marker. This time round I promised myself I would ride down there no matter what!

A whole group of riders joined me for the ride down. More people joined on route and the numbers started to grow…as did my nerves!





The arrangements were that we’d stop at the Caltex fuel station as you come into Struisbaai. Here an NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) vehicle would escort me to the lighthouse where representatives from the Agulhas Tourism office would be waiting for me. And then the final moment would be when I make my way down to the marker.

I stopped at the Caltex fuel station to wait for more arrivals and to meet up with the NSRI vehicle. Then I noticed a sign outside the station: “Welkom terug Jo Rust” – Welcome back Jo Rust. This is where I started to come apart. I walked into the little curios shop and burst into tears. The owner came up to me and after I’d thanked her for the sign she was also in tears…as was the girl behind the counter.



I think everyone could see I was highly emotional and seemed to keep their distance.

More people joined and we then finally started making our way down to the most southern point in Africa. I met up with Cape Agulhas tourism representatives at the lighthouse, where I was received with huge hugs and congratulations. One of the ‘Cape Town to Dublin’ scooter boys had also come down to congratulate me! Simply awesome! After a few photos and a quick interview with the local paper, it was time.







I got onto my Dax for the very last time on this trip and started rolling down to where it all started. I was crying so hard in my helmet. It was like 29 years worth of emotions were erupting from me like a volcano. I was singing the song: “The Story” by Brandi Carlile in my helmet whilst riding down to the marker with tears streaming down my face. (Go listen to it)



The guys helped me maneuver Dax over the last obstacle and then there we were…my Dax and I. We were standing in the spot where it all started all that time ago! A friend of mine, Jan (Heimer) was the first to hug me and I wasn’t too sure who was more emotional?

All in all it was a huge moment!









We did it!! We made it all the way around the African continent!! My beloved Dax and I.



***THE END***
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  #48  
Old 24 Apr 2014
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OUTFCUKING STANDING GIRL LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT
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  #49  
Old 24 Apr 2014
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Originally Posted by PHILinFRANCE View Post
OUTFCUKING STANDING GIRL LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT
Thank you so much for all your support throughout. Really appreciate it! Now next time I'm in your vicinity, we have to go ride!
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  #50  
Old 25 Apr 2014
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Originally Posted by JoRust View Post
station: “Welkom whilst riding down to the marker with tears streaming down my face.
That happened to me too.
Thanks for this wonderful story!

Stefan


Gesendet von meinem GT-I9300 mit Tapatalk
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  #51  
Old 25 Apr 2014
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Unbelievably Wonderful.

Now you got me crying too Jo - and we've never even met!

All the best

Keith
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  #52  
Old 25 Apr 2014
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Such a fantastic job you've done of telling your story, Many Thanks!!
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  #53  
Old 25 Apr 2014
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Originally Posted by JoRust View Post
Thank you so much for all your support throughout. Really appreciate it! Now next time I'm in your vicinity, we have to go ride!
You're on Jo and why have you written "The End" at the bottom of your post ? .......it'll never end ......off through the Balkans to Georgia for 5 weeks in June myself
Phil
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  #54  
Old 15 May 2014
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Respect!

This is a very inspiring read! Great photos as well! And a real gutsy performance!
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  #55  
Old 3 Jun 2014
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Talking

Pretty pictures- thank you- but I cannot agree with your T shirt " I conquered Africa" - yeah right - really? more like Africa let you go chikita!
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  #56  
Old 3 Jun 2014
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Was that my friend Wouter Brand (Mr T4a ) I spotted in the George photo?

Margaret
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  #57  
Old 24 Jun 2014
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African Odyssey

A
May
Zing!

Marco & Ursala
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  #58  
Old 29 Nov 2014
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Jo,
Wish I could have followed your thread while you were riding. I never had an interest in riding Africa. But recently decided to see what was there. Yours was the first I looked at. It got me interested. The political environment and diseases worry me a little. You didn't seem to have any problems though. Your being robbed was certainly an adventure. Could have been an ugly mess. One of your guardian angels delivered you from evil, I think. There seems to be a lot more bikers in Africa than I imagined.

Thanks for posting. I know how much time it takes to do a ride report. But it encourages other to get out and see the world.
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  #59  
Old 7 Dec 2014
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Hi
will you come to Spain again?
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