I’m restless. I want to fly away somewhere, to some place I’ve never been before.
I’ve been thinking about when I rode my bicycle through East Africa, from Nairobi to Mombassa and down the coast to Tanzania, then Malawi. I was restless then – in a different way, not so focused. That trip used up a lot of need-to-fly energy, but it didn’t result in any sense of deep heart and soul satisfaction. In fact one day in Malawi I stopped, and threw my bike onto the ground, and had a tantrum.
Picture this. A violently hot deep in the heart of Africa day, dusty, no trees even to visually quench your thirst for shade, no water, no grass, no anything but dirt and dust. And a road that goes on and on towards nowhere, up hill down hill up hill down hill, up hill surely it will be flat from the top onwards, down hill to face the next uphill.
Tsetse flies flying as fast as you can cycle, imagine that, keeping up with you for a WHOLE DAY, wind in your eyes, hunger for good food in your belly – hunger for any food in your belly – mouth dry, temper building. And building. And building. Until you leap off your bicycle, smash it down on the road and kick it and shout and scream to the vast wild African foreverness.
The leaves of a palm tree rustle slightly, then settle to stillness.
It’s kind of tough, riding a bicycle in Africa.
Africa doesn’t care, you see. The roads go on and on and on; sometimes they’re like corrugated iron for days. Have you ever tried that, riding a bicycle for three days over a dirt-corrugated road? I don’t recommend it. Your bones get jolted to that painful point just before numbness should mercifully set in, except of course it doesn’t. There’s no escape. Or at least you think there isn’t. Which according to Henry Ford is exactly why there isn’t – you know, I am what I think, I have what I’ve settled for….
The only food you get is salt-roasted peanuts and bananas by the side of the road, sometimes a bit of meatless chicken. You get to a café, and they have huge vats of boiled tea. You’d be amazed at what deprivation makes you think you want. This boiled tea, it’s very milky and sweet. When you’ve been riding for three or four or seven hours, your throat caked with dust, and you’ve just taken the millionth midget out of your eye, boiled sweet milky tea can be very exciting. As for salt-roasted peanuts and bananas, the truth is I’m pretty much addicted to them now, but at least now I have a choice.
Well, I would if I wasn’t addicted to them….
The other thing you can get in the cafes is aspirin, and hot coca-cola. You’d be surprised how you can spend a day dreaming about a hot coca-cola. Actually, who am I kidding? you dream about a cold one, and when you first taste it hot, something inside you jumps around frantically in frustration, but pretty soon you’re gulping it down. It’s either the sugar or the marketing.
Hmm. Restless. I want adventure. I want to break out. My life is too pedestrian. Can’t say that I want to ride a bicycle through Africa again, but something’s gotta give.