Tour D’Afrique Update: Africa is Not Easy

Our CEO, Gerald Corniel is participating in the Tour D’Afrique this year. He’s travelled more than 60% of the 12,000 km already. He’s come a long way since leaving Egypt early in 2010. You can read more about Gerald Corniel’s journey on his blog.

This is an update from Gerald about his time in Zambia (the country the tour is currently moving through):

“We were told that once you pass the equator, things start to improve, camps and food get better, conditions are nicer and you should look forward for this part of the trip… Well, who ever told this obviously did not ride north east Zambia… The last 5 days have been rather depressing. The only thing that has changed is the length of the stages, we have even done 200 km one day, but as for comfort, we have gone back to Ethiopia levels with one horrible camp after another. It has almost become a standard joke amongst us, how does TDA manage to find such horrible camp sites… I suppose we are all very tired and 3 months of camping across Africa going from shit hole to shit hole makes you depressed, or is it the the Lariam?.. They say Lariam (the anti malaria pills we take) makes you depress… Well, I am usually a very positive person, but right now, I am depressed. I need civilisation… urgently…. please… A burger on a clean plate with chips and no flies on it…

Zambia

We have just done something between 700 and 800 km of hard core mountainous humid, super hot road across some boring country side (except for yesterday) with thinly populated areas. Thanks God, it is thinly populated because the few inhabitants here are either drunk or looking so poor and dirty that it adds to the depression feeling… I guess, we were all thinking that the worst was over a bit too early. 5 days in north east Zambia is a good reminder that crossing Africa on a bicycle is not a walk in the park…

Zambia is poor, very poor. It makes more than half of its foreign income on only one commodity: copper. So Zambia depends on the price of copper. Right now, copper is expensive and the country’s empty coffers can be refilled slowly but it would need a lot more that that to take it out of its current poverty levels. There also seems to be a high level of alcoholism here as we have seen plenty of drunk people (mostly men). So far the places we have stopped at, along the great Eastern highway (that is just the name of the road, don’t get too exited…) have been dirty and messy. Nothing is being maintained, buildings are left to fall apart and people live in conditions that feel like middle ages to us. Just about every coke stop we have done in the last five days sums it up, dirty and smelly places, kids wearing filthy rags and drunk young men sitting in the shade of a tree drinking local home made beer. Not a very positive picture, I am afraid. We have also met plenty of nice Zambians of course, but it has been a bit of a shock to many of us how dirty and filthy everything is here. They have some of the highest infant mortality rate in the world and I am not surprised.

Zambia

Camps have also been really depressing since we entered Zambia, hot humid and full of bugs. No commodities of course, no water, no toilets; so we have been looking for village water pumps to at least wash and get a sense of dignity back. This has been the highlight of the day, when we have poured this could bucket of water over our heads, giving us a fresh and clean feeling. But of course it is under the scrutiny of entire swamps of children and if you like privacy, you will be frustrated… The other thing is that you are permanently attacked by flies, mosquitoes, ants and spiders. Your nerves eventually start to give up and you hate being here. You cannot imagine how lucky you are when reading this in a sealed room with no flies on your face and ants climbing up your ankles. By now, many riders have very strange insect bites all over their bodies. Gabriele has been beaten by a spider on his stomach and it looks pretty bad, but there is not much one can do about it. We all have bites that are struggling to heal in this humid environment. Even a simple mosquito bite can turn into a nasty infection, so camp looks like a war hospital with many people walking with bandages on their ankles, arms and other strange body parts… ”

 

Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Campaign Coordinator at Junk Mail Publishing.

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