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South Africa
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02/14 -7:00 P.M. We've arrived in Buenos Aires.

-Watching the ground during the approach, we could have been flying into Fresno. There were miles of checkerboard squares of fields of agriculture. Then we passed scattering of residential neighborhoods. Blocks of houses bounded by local streets -- just like suburban neighborhoods back in the states.

-The plane stopped and shut down quite a ways from the terminal and we were towed in. It appears we won't be able to leave the plane -- or even our seats while it's being serviced.

-9:43 P.M. After a standard takeoff, we're off on our 8 hour and 50 minute flight to Johannesburg. This is a BIG city. We've flown for eight minutes and we're just now passing over the edge where the city meets the ocean.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/15 -11:30 A.M., Tuesday, 2-15. Five time zones from Argentina, ten time zones from California, we're landing in Johannesburg, South Africa. Coming in I noticed both rain and sun. The landscape is very green. At the airport, the pavement's wet, but it's not raining now.

-2:15. We're still waiting for our luggage to offload.

-Good news! We get the gear trailers (with the lockers) back. I think I talked about the gear lockers vs the gear trucks. With the trucks, we load and unload every bag every day -- whether we need it all or not. For instance, we have to handle our camping bag even on hotel days. Whereas, with the lockers, we only have to unload what we need. We can leave the rest in the lockers.

-Leaving the airport, we noticed cars drive on the left side of the street. That was hard. But the hardest by far was TURNING INTO THE LEFT LANE.

-City Lodge Hotel tonight. Very nice. Hard to find from the DRG, though. Hope the directions get better.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

2/16 -Riding on the left side of the road on the left side of the lane, and turning into the left lane is STILL very challenging.

-Saw an ostrich by the side of the road today. Took a picture. I'm told it's a baby -- only 6-feet tall.

-Riding along the highway today, we twice had school children run along with us. The second time, a group of about 25 barefoot boys and girls ran along with us (in the street) for about half a mile.

-As we were pedaling along, we noticed a small white car parked on the left side of the road and a photographer on the right. It looked like she was taking our picture. Then we noticed she passed us. Then, there she was again, on the right, taking our picture again.

-We met her at the checkpoint. She was a reporter for the local newspaper, the Springs Advertiser. She interviewed us at length and took another picture -- said she'd send us a copy of the article. Look for it on the website in the future.

-The check point was at a place called American Cafe. It's owned by a married couple. Their security guard gave out free coke to everyone. He's quite a character. Says he's been shot twice while on the job there. Then he asked a TK&A staffer for a loan of $20.

-We bought a fish sandwich and "chips" (french fries) and a sport drink. We also tried an African dish called samoosa. It's a kind-of turnover filled with chicken and vegetables and seasoned with curry.

-We passed all classes of housing -- from the single, custom-built house to the middle class tract homes to a cluster of corrugated metal, scrap wood and cardboard shanties.
-We passed a large nuclear power plant. We have no info about it though.

-It's totally overcast today. It has been raining here off and on for over a month so we expect more.

-We have a reservation for a safari into the national park. The south end of it is closed due to flooding so our safari reservations have been moved to a place farther north. It's still on though.

-A group of 25 has made reservations for a four-day visit to the park. (We would have liked to take a three day safari, but . . .)

-When we got to camp, there were lots of dark clouds overhead -- so we rode into town to check on a motel. Found a bed and breakfast inn but they were booked. They called around and found room at a bed and breakfast hotel. We rode over, checked them out, and booked rooms -- one for us, one for Larry and Joan. (Larry had a long, hard day today. Two tire blowouts, one tube flat, and a lost computer.) I negotiated a R190 rate (without breakfast) from the standard rate of R240. (The currency here is called the Rand. They exchange at about 6 to the dollar.)

-Love to all, David and Lisa

-We called a cab but it never came, so we hitched a ride with some locals.

02/17 -This was quite an eventful day. 106 Km's into the teeth of fierce headwind for the second day in a row.

-We saw two, long distance railroads today. Both were electric with overhead lines.

-We didn't get very far today when Lisa's back "went out". She kept trying to ride through it but finally gave up. (She laid down to stretch her back during one of our breaks and couldn't get back up. I flagged down a SAG. They had room for her but not for the bike and me. So Lisa rode the van in while I rode the tandem in.

-I rode on a freeway today. Speed limit 120 kph -- with a sign admonishing "Speed Kills". One lane in each direction plus a 6-foot shoulder. Slower cars and trucks drive on the shoulder -- yes, the same one that we ride on.

-Occasionally, while a fast car is passing a slower car, an even faster car would pass the fast car. Of course, they all squeeze together, so then we have one car or truck on the shoulder being squeezed by a car trying to pass, while a third car is straddling the centerline while squeezing past the other two. It's interesting to watch this happening on your right with oncoming traffic. It's pretty exciting to watch this taking place in your rear view mirror.

-While riding I saw: An African family riding along the shoulder in a cart; a flock of gazelle grazing; a black bird with tail feathers about three times longer than it's body (it seemed that it could hardly fly with that long, heavy tail); and a small, bright yellow bird that looked like a sparrow.

-I passed the family in the cart, then stopped and took a picture. The senior woman in the cart hopped out, ran up to me in her long, colorful dress and gnarled feet and asked for a handout "to feed the donkeys" she said. Of course, I crossed her palm with silver.

-We ended the day at Dullstroom. They were quick to point out that the name does not describe the towns activities, but rather is taken from the name of the founder, a Dutchman, Andrew Dull

-Shortly after we arrived, at about 3 o'clock, a truckload of school children stopped about a block away. The children all jumped off, then sang and danced their way up the street to greet us. They carried banners that said, 'Siyhunie Students Welcome the Bicycle Athletes Traveling Around the World."

-They performed many songs and dances, told stories and performed skits about their lives in South Africa, and generally gave us a fantastic welcome to their town. They went until about 7.

-The Dullstroom Inn was joined by the other restaurants in town to host our dinner -- and a fantastic dinner it was. There were about 15 different items included. No one went hungry.

-The Mayor of Dullstroom greeted us and conferred an "honorary citizenship of Dullstroom" on all of the riders.

-The local newspaper, the Gazelle Nuus (News) took pictures and interviewed us. They said the article would be posted on their website. Perhaps someone can find it? It's primarily a Dutch newspaper serving the many Dutch communities around here. The largest seems to be Lydenburg.

-While the day was windy and overcast all day, by late afternoon it had turned cold and drizzly. Lisa checked and found that all the rooms at the inn were taken, so she was calling other hotels in town. She must have sounded a bit desperate, because the innkeeper overheard her and offered a room in his home.

-The innkeeper and his wife were VERY nice and friendly people, as were their daughters. The gave us hot tea and cookies. They even gave us extra pillows and muscle rub to help Lisa's back. Their daughter, 13 year old Phillipa, told us about her grand trip to the United States last year in support of their father's run in the Boston Marathon. We took her photo with Dave

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/18 -173 Km's with the detour. A beautiful ride but LOTS of climbing.

-The road to Sabie is very mountainous. We saw many waterfalls and grand views along the way. We passed over Long Tom Pass, elev. 2150m, and through Long Tom Canyon, site of the historic Anglo-Boer War.

-We saw many, many tree farms. The trees look like a type of Eucalyptus -- very tall, very straight and quite skinny. Looks like 6 to 8 inch diameter max. We're told they are used to make furniture. We saw tables and chairs at Tammy's Restaurant in Hazyview that were made from this wood.

-The road from Sabie to Hazyview was not open. The road and bridge were washed out by the recent floods. We had to detour through Graskop, over more mountains.

-There is a lot of flood damage in the area. We're told these are the worst rains since the late sixties. Actually, the hotel manager told us that the last flood was just last week. Several cottages and a few rooms were flooded when the waters came through.

-The "town" of Hazy view is very small. Actually it's three shopping centers. One fairly small, higher class center (that's where we found Tammy's Restaurant and Lisa bought a good looking, cool and comfortable dress for about $5), one fairly large middle class center, and one very sprawling area that looks something like the worst of an East Palo Alto open air flea and produce market.

-In the latter area, it looked like many of the venders in, behind, or with their display area. I couldn't bring myself to take any pictures of what, to me, appeared to be abject poverty. I know if I lived there, I wouldn't want people taking pictures of me as though I were freak in a side show.

-Lisa's back is still out so we didn't bicycle today. Instead we rode in a "combi" as the folks here call the VW minibuses. Larry arranged for this van along with a trailer to carry our bikes.

-In the places in South Africa that we've been so far, apartheid appears to be alive and well. All the owners and managers we've seen so far appear to be whites -- all the workers appear to blacks. In Johannesburg and it's suburbs, we saw many people walking, apparently to work -- all black.

-We go on an overnight safari tomorrow. Exciting!

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/19 -10:00 A.M. It's raining off and on. -We're on a bus headed for Satara, the base camp in Kruger National Park for our safari's. We have to go to Satara (a 3 hour drive) because the road and bridge into Skukuzu (a 30 minute drive) is washed out.

-We've passed many "subdivisions" of native housing. Looks-like 40 to 100 homes in a group. Most look to be about 8'x16', one window or door in the short side, two in the long. Most appear to be constructed of blocks made from native soil. Very simple living.

-We've passed three funeral processions on the road, consisting of a hearse, truck or cart (carrying the body?) followed by a group jogging (the family?) followed by a large group (well-wishers?). All appear to be dressed very well.

-We've crossed over several swollen rivers and we've seen much flooding and flood damage. Many sections of road are washed out or under water. It's particularly sad to see places where homes used to be and now there is only signs of the flood.

-Tammy (from the restaurant yesterday) said this area, as well as Mozambique, has be declared a disaster area due to the record rains and flooding. We asked if that meant there would be help from the government for the locals. She said no, the government has no money. She thought the declaration was to try to get international assistance.

-3:30 P.M. We've entered Kruger National Park. We're driving slowly on the road. (Hey Andrew and Daniel -- you asked if we've seen any wild animals yet. WELL, WE'RE SEEING 'EM NOW!) First there were herds of gazelle, impala and antelope.


-(back to our drive in.) Then we saw herds of wildebeasts and zebras (including babies). Then we saw a giraffe snacking on some high leaves. Then we saw flocks of a colorful Helmuted Guinneys.

-THEN WE CAME UPON AN ELEPHANT CROSSING THE ROAD. The elephant was harrassing (or being harrassed by) a small van. Every time the van made a move to get closer, the elephant made a move toward the van. Then the van would move away, and the elephant would proceed on it's road crossing mission. This happened a few times then the van pulled away.

-Then it was our turn to try to pass. The same things happened. If we pulled closer trying to pass, the elephant would threaten us. Our driver would back the bus away, and the elephant would return to its mission. The whole thing was like a dance, with us trying to get as close as we can, then the elephant letting us know when we were too close.

-10 P.M. We just returned from a "night drive" safari. We rode in an open-sided truck through the bush looking for wild animals. (I was in charge of the spot light and the animal spotting for the left side of the truck.)

-We saw dozens, including giraffes, hyenas, wildcats, baboons, several types of owls, wildebeasts, gazelle, antelope, AND TWO PRIDE IF LIONS. We drove along behind them for a ways, then we slowly passed them. While we were following them, the head male lion started roaring. The guide said he (the head lion) was letting other lions around know that he is here and he is boss.

-Tomorrow morning at 4:45 we will go on a "morning drive" safari.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/20 -10 A.M. We just returned from a morning drive safari. We had light rain, but we added to the list of wild animals that we've seen. We saw an eagle, more giraffes and wildebeests, more Impala and other antelope, more baboons; another large, bull elephant, a few hippopotami and A LEOPARD. Sighting a leopard was a real coupe -- there are only 90 of them in this whole 20,000 square kilometer park. That's about the size of Maryland.

- Noon. We just spent a frantic half hour looking for Larry's waist pack. (He has EVERYTHING of value in it.) He thought he gave it to Joan. She didn't have it nor remember it. We checked the office, the store, the restaurant, the cafeteria, the bathrooms, the waste cans -- everywhere.

-Finally, I went to the bus and asked if anyone found a waist pack. "What color?" came the reply. "Black," I said. There was no response. Then, as I was walking away, Hewes yelled, "Is this it?" It was. End of search. Larry was VERY relieved.

-7:30 P.M. We got a room for 4 in the hotel for tonight, though the skies look clearer than they ever have since we've been in S.Africa.

-I (David) have been watching African tribal (Zulu) dancing for the past hour. Eight people, probably ranging in age from 8 to 40, have been doing a dance depicting their prowess at hunting. All of the dances end with the dancer(s) jumping into the air and crashing to the ground in various stages of jumble. The jumping and crashing symbolizes their strength.

-Lisa has been on the phone and in the room waiting for a return phone call.

-Larry is fixing a flat.

-Joan is checking the map and the itinerary while she and Lisa plan our time in Durban and Capetown.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/21 -NOON. 110 Km's, today. Lots of long, steep hills and HOT! We ran out of water once already. Not a problem, though. A SAG van showed up, Shirley (a TK&A staffer) was driving, and she gave us the water out of her two water bottles.

-We're both back in reasonably good health. Lisa's back cramp has subsided and my knee is up to 80% or so.

-We've seen lots of banana farms. The banana clusters have blue plastic bags around them, open on the bottom. They keep birds away and keep the sun from burning the fruit.

-EVENING. We had lunch at a place called BJ's. Had a good Hawaiian hamburger (that's a hamburger with a slice of pineapple) and chips (that's fries to you.) Many people approached us there to hear about the trip. All were astonished. All said the ride into Swaziland (tomorrow) was very steep and mountainous.

-We had local kids pacing us again. This time they set up a relay. About every quarter mile a new kid would take up the run. One of them told us he wanted to be in the Boston Marathon -- and that he was going to win it.

-The hills just kept coming today. Up, and up, and up -- then a little bit down -- then up some more -- with one exception. That's the downhill described next.

-Had another injury today. Steve from Oregon crashed on a super steep, windy downhill with lots of potholes and broke his pelvis or hip. There are now 233 official riders on the trip. Down from 247 on January 1.

-We were challenged on that same super steep, windy downhill. To keep our speed down and have better control, I kept the disc brake on most of the way.

-When we got to a flatter slope and tried to pedal, the bike wouldn't go. We stopped to see why. The brake pads and cylinder had gotten so hot, it caused the brake fluid to expand far beyond normal. That caused the brakes to lock up on the disc. I sprayed water from our water bottle on the cylinder to cool it down. After quite a bit of sizzling, the brake cooled, the brake shoes released and we were on the road again.

-We ran low on water two more times. Then we got in about 6 P.M. The ride was actually 119 KM's and STILL took us all day.


Lots and lots of hills. And tomorrow is planned to be 169 KM's with major mountains go over and a border crossing. For most of the riders, that's just not doable.

-The trip seems to be designed for the 20-something athlete who primarily wants to ride 29,000 this year and the world happens to be the venue.

-We (and lots of other folks) are saying this is not what we had in mind for a trip around the world. We'd like to see more than just pavement.

-We are not sure how, but we know we'll figure out how to redesign the trip to more clossly fit our needs.

-This evening we had dinner at a local hotel. They were upset because they couldn't find out from TK&A when we would be arriving. The food was good, though they ran out twice.

-We were greeted and given a welcome speech by the mayor, then a City Councilwoman told us some things about the area. One big thing is that this was the first, and still is the primary, gold mining area of South Africa.

-Some other observations about the country. *The cold water faucet is usually on the left. *Every public sign (and most private) are, not surprisingly, printed in two languages -- English and Afrikan.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/22 -169 Km's. Three passes to go over. One at 4900 ft, one at 5100 ft and one at 5900 feet.

-We're SAGing again. My knee is swelling again. Lisa's back is not quite right plus she has a sore throat.

-We were quite late getting out this morning because the gear trucks had a hard time turning around to get out. They simply followed the one way road in yesterday, but couldn't follow it out because it took a sharp dip through a stream and the gear trailers would hang up.

-The gear trailers are about 8' high, 6' wide and 60' long so they are hard to maneuver.

-The border crossing into Swaziland went pretty easily. The most prominent thing at the crossing was a large box providing free condoms to help control the aids epidemic. The second most prominent was free brochures which told lots of other things in Swaziland. One that we all took particular note of is, no picture taking of the royal family, the police, the military or the aircraft.

-We went through the capital, Mbabane. Unfortunately, we're camped some 15 Km's outside of town, so there was no time to stop and take in the sights.

-The campground, Timbali Caravan Park, is nice. It's normally a vacation trailer park. It has a picnic area, a pool and laundry and shower facilities. We could camp anywhere there was not already a trailer.

-We had entertainment again. This time it was native Swaziland dancing in full costume. The dancers were teenagers from a local school. We're told these dances and costumes are becoming more rare as the people -- and their dress -- get more westernized.

-So far, all of the native dancing involves a drum (with a drummer of course) and a lead dancer with a whistle. The drummer keeps a basic beat. The whistler is the leader for that particular dance. He or she sets the pace for the steps of that dance.

-Also, so far, most dances involve stomping, kicking and high-stepping.

-Rain, very heavy at times, has started. Cyclone Eileen is expected to hit the area tonight or tomorrow.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/23 -This is scheduled to be a 134 KM day. Lisa is sick and it's storming outside. Looks like we'll SAG again. The CNN weather forecast says the cyclone is headed north and should miss us. However, the forecast is for continued scattered thunderstorms throughout the area we'll be in for the next three days.

-I went to the campground office to call ahead for room reservations in the limited huts available at our next campground. Nothing available. TK&A has all of the available lodging tied up.

-While I was at the office I discussed the situation (weather and lodging) with Gary (another rider, pediatrician and one time photographer) {Scott and Susan - This is the guy who took your picture at the new years eve party}. He suggested that we shortcut the TK&A route and go directly to Durban. I agreed and we set out to get some alternate transportation.

-We started with a guess of twenty people with bikes and luggage. To get an accurate count, we started a list. Before we finished, we had 73 sign-ups.

-Robin, the campground owner, started calling around to help us line busses and trucks or something. She came up with two 65 passenger busses and got us the price. Gary collected the money and got the costs covered. I got on the phone and arranged for rooms in Durban (approx. R160 per room for doubles) for the next three nights.

-The first bus came. Peter (a rider from England/Canada/&California) and I organized the loading of most of the bikes and all of the baggage on that bus. The second bus took most of the people and the rest of the bikes.

-Along the route we passed many, many young school children walking along the highway -- all waving and giving the victory signal. We also passed many, many cattle roaming the highway. With the fences along both sides of the highway, it appears that they have been fenced ON the highway rather than off.

-Before we left, we heard of three more riders injured. Fortunately, the only serious one was a woman rider who did a face plant yesterday while maneuvering through a construction area in the rain. A man following went down also, but only received minor scratches. The third was a woman who was sideswiped by a truck this morning in the rain. She, also, had only minor injuries.

-With 73 people on these buses and at least three vans with six each doing the same thing, we realize we have 40% of the riders accounted for. We've joked about billing TK&A to cover some of our expenses with the money they are saving. HA HA -- FAT CHANCE.

-As we traveled through Zululand (as the area of South Africa below Swaziland is called) we had several stops along the road due to construction. Only one direction at a time was allowed through. At every stoppage we were assailed by local woman selling pineapple, bananas and coke. They were real entrepreneurs.

-The bus is taking us through miles and miles of beautiful South African countryside. (It reminds me very much of the west coast of Oregon. Many beautiful green mountains, and miles of second growth tree plantations.)

-We are skipping the Odyssey riding on the main highways to Nsoko, Swaziland (83 mi), and Hiuhkune (91 mi), Mtunzini (80 mi), and Durban, South Africa (89 mi). (We'll miss the riding experience and a few poignant experiences with the people along the road, but we won't miss the 343 miles of pavement, nor the hazardous construction detours, nor the riding and camping in the rain. While the scenery is sometimes beautiful, it is also monotonous when we're moving at 10 to 20 mph. We also won't miss the R&R time nor the city experiences in the beautiful resort town of Durban.

- 9:00 P.M. We've arrived in Durban. It's storming. We're in a Holiday Inn (the other places were seedy) and we're happy -- all 73 of us.

02/24 -We just returned from the best fish restaurant in Durban -- The Famous Fish Company. (Randy and Marlene - It would be a great place for one of our social dinners.) Lisa had the Famous Fish Platter. It consisted of lobster, crab, crayfish, mussels, two kinds of fried fish, rice, chips and three kinds of sauces.

-"It was the best seafood platter I've ever had," Lisa said.

-The restaurant is located right on the waterfront where ocean going vessels have to pass as they come into the harbor. Someone in the restaurant rings a ship's bell whenever a ship passes. We had a window table and closely inspected each ship that passed by (since they were only about 100 feet away.)

-Today we kind of "caught up" on stuff. While Lisa caught up on her sleep, I caught up with our FedEx package, (It cost about $50 to get the one photo disc through customs.) got money from a bank, found a laundry for our clothes, and bought a South African phone card. (That's not as easy as you would think. Only a few stores carry them. I had to go yo five different stores to find one.) I also found a bike shop (for some maintenance needs), found an "Indian Marketplace' for a later visit, located a computer store and found an Internet connection site. Finally, I walked along the beach on the Indian Ocean (it is right across the street), and then around the HUGE community pool that is in the park between us and the ocean.

-Our hotel is one of many high class hotels that border the beach, but just one block away, behind the hotel, id the "tenderloin" area of Durbin. Very seedy. Full of homeless, panhandlers, pickpockets, skin shops and by-the-hour hotels. Very unsafe after dark, we are told. Actually, we've been told that most areas of the city are unsafe for tourists to walk after dark.

-I tried to send two photo discs and some DRG's back to Doug by FEDEX or DHL, but the shipping cost for under .5kg was going to be about $100. As an alternative, I am having the photo discs transferred to computer floppies. Tomorrow I'll pick them up and try to email them to Doug for adding to the website. We'll send the DRG's by South African Postal Service, tomorrow.

-Today, it was quite hot and humid. Tonight, it's very pleasant. Very much like the weather at the Santa Cruz boardwalk area on a warm summer night -- except more humid.

-Some more trivia --

-Traffic signals are called "robots" by everyone here.

-"Sorry" means "excuse me."

-If you take a picture (of almost anyone) here, you are expected to pay the subject R2 to R5 for the privilege.

-The commercial and tourist areas of big cities are in the "first world" class, while outside those areas, this is definitely a "third world" country -- especially as it relates to blacks and whites.

-There is a group of women riders on the tour who like to call themselves "The Poodles." Why? Because "they like to be pampered" they say. That means: they seldom, if ever, set up tents; they don't ride very many miles; they don't ride in the rain or in traffic, if they can avoid it -- in other words, they're about as "spoiled" as an adult can be.

-More sights to report tomorrow.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/25 -9 a.m. What a beautiful day! Bright sunshine. No storm clouds. Hope it holds for the whole day.

-Lisa is talking with her sister on a too-often-missed phone call. I'm getting the bike ready to take to a local bike shop for minor repairs. (Yes, I agree. Bike repair and maintenance is something that is supposed to be included in our payment for this trip. But -- you do what you have to do.)

-After the bike repairs we picked up our laundry and brought it back to the hotel. Then we got a taxi to pick up a computer disk onto which we had copies of about a hundred photos transferred from digital photo discs so we can email them to Doug for the website. (This is in lieu of sending the discs by FedEx or DHL. We paid about 30 bucks duty to pick up the disc Doug sent by FedEx. We found that it will cost about a hundred dollars to ship the new ones back.)

-Then we went to a place called the Victoria Market. It's an Indian-goods (East Indian) flea market type of indoor marketplace. We walked around the Victorian Market for a few hours.

-Then we walked through the down town area. That was another experience. The sidewalks throughout town are lined with street vendors. We noticed many vendors were selling Vaseline, and many were selling miniature bottles (like the airlines serve) of vodka and whiskey. Of course, there was almost everything you could imagine for sale on the streets.

-Then we went to a place called The Workshop. It's a big, indoor mall -- and it's air conditioned, thank goodness. (It's really hot and humid here.) We had lunch, then went to an Internet cafe where we were able to send some photos to Doug.

-This evening we attended a play titled War Cry in the city's huge live theater complex. What a powerful play. It mocked the many times we are faced with the choice between doing the right thing and doing the expedient thing -- and the choice that is so often made. It also showed how a powerful, scheming person can influence society and the "expedient" choices often made by "the powers that be."

-Tomorrow the riding group will arrive and we will move to the City Lodge.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/26 -This morning we took a ride North along the beach about 12 miles. We passed amusement parks, vendors, public pools and many parks -- all along the beach of the Indian Ocean. Beautiful!

-I stopped a local bicyclist and asked about a recommendation for breakfast. Bottom line, he invited us to his house for breakfast. At breakfast we found out that he has been the bicycle champion of South Africa, Rhodesia and Portugal. He had two tandems and a dozen single bikes in his garage. He and his wife have run marathons, canoed and bicycled all over.

-As a local bicycler, we sought his advice on the upcoming route across South Africa. He told us of the good parts, the not-so-good parts, and the to-be-avoided parts. In the last category is the stretch from Kokstad to East London -- which includes a 114 mile stretch through a mountainous area on pot-holed roads. He said this is the wildest and most unruly area in South Africa. (Lisa and I and Larry and Joan are of the mind not to ride that area.)

-Today we have heard of several riders who have been accosted while walking around town. It's a bit disconcerting, but we keep reminding ourselves that there is crime in every big city in the world. It's no different here. You have to be alert wherever you walk, and don't flaunt money, jewelry, cameras, etc.

-We moved from the Holiday Inn, that was right across the street from the beach, to the City Lodge, that is two blocks from the beach. City lodge is really nice, though. Good food, really nice rooms, and very supportive of the Odyssey group.

-Our room is very nice. We have a queen bed, a TV, a large desk and a sofa in the living area. The bathroom has a glass walled stall shower and a large separate tub. The wall over the tub is a slide-up screen, so you can sit in the tub and watch TV, look out the window or talk to your spouse in the living area if you want.

-City Lodge put out a newsletter for the Odyssey group. It tells such things as when meals will be, when and where to get you laundry done (and at a 40% discount), and what to do in town.

-The Mayor of Durban greeted us tonight. Then we had kids from the special olympics dancing for us, followed by native Africans doing Zulu tribal dances for us.

-After dinner tonight, a large group of riders (about 100) got together for an "unofficial" meeting to figure out how to deal with the couple of days of riding that we all hear are so dangerous. Tim seems to have his head in the sand, and thinks people are just being paranoid. So it's up to us to take care of ourselves. Looks like we'll be chartering another bus. We felt kind of uneasy about this meeting --maybe Tim WOULD do something if people presented the problem to him, and didn't treat him like the enemy all the time. I (Lisa) have pretty much stayed on his good side, so I talked to him one-on-one, in a way that would not put him on the defensive. But to no avail, so far. We are having an "official" meeting tomorrow, so we'll see if he comes up with any ideas.

-We're thinking that this latest approach of large groups of riders making their own arrangements might actually be counter-productive. Why should Tim do anything for us when we're all spending OUR money and time doing it for ourselves? But of course we do want to stay safe. So kind of a catch 22.

-Tomorrow, for sure, we're going swimming in the Indian Ocean, and we'll try to get to an internet cafe and send some more pictures to Doug for the website.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/27 -Went to the BAT Center. Don't know what BAT stands for, but it's a South African Native Cultural Center. We looked at many curios and art objects done by natives. Primarily, we went to the cyber-cafe and sent photos by email to Doug.

-After that, we went back to the hotel, gathered some friends, and walked to lunch down by the beach. On the way, we (Lisa and I) went into the Indian Ocean and had our picture taken. The water was quite warm -- and crowded.

-After lunch we went to our room and read and napped.

-At dinner, Tim had a rider meeting where he told us "not to worry. The stories about violence in the Transkei region are just exaggerated rumors." None the less, we choose not to risk it. We have joined a group of 43 riders who will take a bus from Port Shepstone to East London -- thus bypassing the mountainous, narrow, pot holed and dangerous roads of the Transkei region.

-We passed an email message on to Elbert. He was happy to hear from his kids, but riding 12 hours and sleeping 12 hours did not leave him time to call, write or email.

-We told Fred Drewes about his connection with Lisa's uncle Dan Hensen who lives in Long Island. They both belong to a group from Stoney Brook University called The Round Table.

-We'll be up early tomorrow for the ride to Port Shepstone.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/28 -This was a beautiful day. 90 some miles, along the coast of, and mostly in sight of, the Indian Ocean. Every so often the trees would part to reveal the deep blue of the deep water of the ocean, bordered by the turquoise of the shallower water, edged by the white foam on top of the waves as they break onto the miles and miles of sandy beaches. A truly beautiful sight! It reminded us of Highway One along the coast of California.

-We stopped at a bank in the center of a small town and had half a dozen people curious about our ride. Then, on the way out of town, a single rider chased us and called for us to stop. He was curious about us since he was a cyclist too. (He had just finished a triathlon and was headed home.) We rode together for awhile while we talked.

-Unfortunately, it was hot, Hot, HOT -- and as the day got longer, it got even hotter. At our stop at about 2:30, Lisa sat down in the shade. Her face looked very red, so I got some water to pour on her head. When I returned, her face had turned white (a sign that her cooling system was shutting down) so we cut our ride short and took the SAG.

-Our stay tonight is at Rest Haven Resort, just outside of Port Shepstone. It sort of looks like a scout camp. Our lodging is a two-room bunk house. Each room has four bunk beds. We also have a semi-private bathroom, a refrigerator and a sink. Dinner and breakfast is in, you guessed it, the dining hall.

-An unusual aspect of the camp is the monkeys -- there are monkeys on the ground and in the trees all around the camp. Apparantly they get into things that are left out, just like raccoons do in the states.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

02/29 -Well, between my knee acting up, Lisa's heat problem, and the reports of possible dangerous conditions, we decided to take a bus, along with 45-50 other riders, to East London, thus avoiding riding through the Transkei area.

-With so many riders off-route, it makes it better for those that are on-route because the lines are shorter, the SAG is better due to the low number of riders. (There are many more off-route in addition to those on our bus. Lots of people have rented cars and vans.)

-We stopped to view and hike the Oribi Gorge on the Umzimkulwana River. A winding river in a very deep gorge. I hiked to the water fall. (It was too hot for Lisa.)

-The route for the riders is really tough. Many, many long climbs as we go inland into the mountains. Also, there's a lot of construction. The old road is very rough and pot-holed. The construction areas create many delays due to single-direction traffic in one lane. And, of course, it's HOT.

-There is a lot of sugar cane being raised on the hillsides. Also, a lot of tree farms (as I have described before).

-Every so often, there's a scattering of residences. The homes are a little larger than they were in the Natal-Zulu region. Most look to be no larger than 10' x 30' with stucco or adobe-brick walls, corrugated metal roofs, a few windows and a door. Most also seem to have a traditional-looking, round, adobe-brick building with a peaked, thatched roof, three square windows and a door on either side -- often connected by what looks like an electrical wire.

-We've passed quite a few lone riders, even though safety calls for riding in groups. We've found it's very hard to stick together on routes with big hills due to the different climbing styles and riding speeds of the riders.

-We passed through Nelson Mandella's home town, Umtata. There is a big, beautiful modern university campus there, the University of Transkei. It's quite a contrast to the apparent poverty all around.

-Much of the city and most of the surrounding suburban and rural areas are made up, again, of the tiny, tiny houses -- some without window glass, most without electricity. It's eerie to travel along the highway and see all the dark homes.

-The Transkei Region is very, very black. (In the cities of South Africa, most violent crime is committed by blacks. That's probably why white South Africans in urban areas are leery of going into the Transkei area.) Our experience there, albeit very, very short, has been no different than in other areas.

-We pulled into East London at 9 o'clock. The bus dropped us of at the Odyssey 2000 base hotel, the Regent.

-The Regent is a very elegant hotel. Mahogany doors, fancy furniture, marble in the bathrooms. Kind of like the Saint Francis Hotel in San Francisco. For convenience, most of us checked in there. Then we found out that the rooms were VERY small (about 8' x 10'), very stuffy, and have NO WINDOWS. When we inquired at the desk about ventilation, we were told that each room has a ceiling fan.

-WE decided to stay there for the night and find a room with windows in the morning.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

03/01 -First thing this morning we pursued getting a room with a window. (Who'd think this would ever be an issue!?) There was nothing available at the Regent so we went next door to the Kenneway Hotel to check their rooms. They are larger, and nicer, so we booked one.

-Then we walked to the center of town to find a pharmacy (for ibuprofen, vitamin C and Glucosamin/Chondroitin complex), check on alternative transportation options, and just to see the town. It turns out the city is quite a bit larger than we expected. Still, we had to go to three pharmacies to find the three items that we wanted.

-The "alternative transportation" search is because we realize we have 10 straight days of cycling coming up before Capetown. That kind of schedule is proving to be too much for everyone, without exception. Even the 18-25 year-old racers are starting to get all kinds of injuries, or are just plain exhausted. Also, we've heard that Capetown is beautiful, and we'd like to spend a couple of extra days there.

-We are constantly being told by TK&A that everyplace in South Africa is safe, that stories we hear are overblown, and that white South Africans are just paranoid about blacks.

-However, one thing that we consistently see throughout South Africa is very high levels of security. Middle class and higher homes are not only almost always walled (like in California) but also usually have razor-wire on top and locked gates. Most stores have metal detectors and an armed security guard at their door. Even public offices, like the tourism bureau, have metal-barred secondary doors through which you have to be buzzed. It's a bit disconcerting.

-A funny thing happened today. Since we came into East London a day earlier then Joan and Larry, they asked us to reserve a room for them. Since we didn't know in advance where we would be staying, we agreed that we would leave a note for Joan and Larry at the TK&A headquarters hotel, the Regent.

-Well, Lisa left a note telling of our displeasure with the rooms there. She left it in an envelope adressed to the Dolinskys, thinking, of course, only they would read it. But, surprise, Larry and Joan did not pick up the note in person. They called the Regent and had the note read over the phone. Was Lisa embarrased when she heard that!

-It started raining late this afternoon. Too bad for us. But it should be sunny farther north where the riders are. Hope so. Riding and camping in the rain is not fun.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

03/02 -This was a kickback day. It was drizzling outside when we woke up, so we didn't go out until noon.

-Then we went to Wimpy's (the Burger King of South Africa) for brunch. Afterward we went for a walk along the Indian Ocean for an hour or so.

-I have a tooth that suddenly became very heat sensitive last week. Larry got a dentist recommendation from the hotel clerk and has an appointment today. I tried to get in to be seen at the same time, but the dentist couldn't squeeze me in, so I went on their "cancellation" list.

-When Larry got back from the bike shop he was very excited about a big bike race coming up in Capetown next week. It's the Cape Argus 105 KM Cycle Tour on Sunday March 12. ( It's limited to the first 35,000 entries. Larry was told that we could replace a cancellation if we show up on Saturday. So, that's what we plan to do.

-We realized that in order to do that, we have to 'organize' a car. (That means to "arrange for" a car rental.) We also had to plan our days ahead.

-We met a man by the name of Ilias Santorini in the deli next door to our hotel. He was, of course, very interested in our ride. After talking awhile, he recommended a Greek restaurant to us by the name of "Santorini's". Sound familiar? It belongs to his son.

-Well, we "organized" a group of eight (Larry, Joan, Anita, Elizabeth, Joan Erwin, Gudryn, Lisa and I) and went to dinner at Santorini's. We had a wonderful time and a wonderful meal.

-Joan Irwin convinced us to try the Greek wine, "Retsin". Joan said it was very good, with a "piney" taste. To me, it tasted like good quality turpentine.

-We checked out a movie theater in the neighborhood. We 'might' go to a movie tomorrow night.

-The dentist office called. They have a cancellation for 3 o'clock tomorrow. I will have my heat sensitive tooth checked out then.

-Love to all, David and Lisa

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