Earthlings Through The Eyes Of A Wandering Biker (RTW Photos!)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by strikingviking, May 11, 2004.

  1. zorsch

    zorsch vanvandero !

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    Austria - EU
    this is awesome, ordered both books yesterday !
    #81
  2. Mizumoto

    Mizumoto n00b

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    Nov 5, 2007
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    Virginia
    I've been following your thread for about a yr. I love your approach to it all. I envy you. Perhaps I will shed this domestica soon and do the same. Your portrayal of the word is magnificent. The world wants to live rather than fight some war, according to your travels. Thanks man.
    #82
  3. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

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    Thanks. Enjoy the read.
    #83
  4. Homeslice1970

    Homeslice1970 Adventurer

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    Central Ohio
    What a fantastic journey. Just ordered both books and can not wait to read them. Great job!!
    #84
  5. Chinalee

    Chinalee my photos

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    city:Dalian Province:Liaoning CHINA
    :clap :clap :clap
    #85
  6. RForestR

    RForestR In the Woods

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    T-Burg!
    Glenn,

    Just finished "One more day everywhere"...Man, you have the gift for great storytelling, and what's cool about it is the ability to come here, to this very thread, to check out pics from the trip.

    Love your style, and your heart. If ever I find myself stuck out on the road all I need remember is a smile and a handshake and faith in humanity just might get me through.

    Awesome read bro,
    Chris
    #86
  7. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

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    FYI I'll be doing a book signing in Escondido this Saturday at North County BMW in San Diego County. If nothing else, come on out to meet the Hooters girls and chow down on some free food. Location
    #87
  8. madleemark

    madleemark Restless

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    down road awayz
    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!:clap :clap :clap ,can wait to read your books.
    #88
  9. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

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    Ali Hussein<o:p></o:p>
    December 24, 2005<o:p></o:p>
    Dar es Salaam, Tanzania<o:p></o:p>
    After visiting a few mostly white enclaves and small African towns, Dar es Salaam was my first predominately-black, major city heading north. Aside from decaying old European-era buildings, because there is not much to see, the drab capital of Tanzania serves mainly as a commercial center and transit point for tourists visiting the offshore islands of Zanzibar.

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    A small contingent of foreign aid workers and businessmen are hardly noticed alongside African born Indians busy managing hotels and stores. From dusty, congested street-markets to grimy corner cafés, Dar es Salaam has become pure African with little Western influence and no Western franchises. In matters of race, it’s a reversal of roles now being a minority judged by a suspicious majority. <o:p></o:p>

    But passive Tanzanians lead simple lives and don’t require overbearing authority to keep order. Except for scattered unarmed men in worn-out, blue polyester uniforms directing traffic, it’s hard to find a cop.

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    With rougher edges than villagers, city folk are always harder to approach, but even when idle young men stand staring from street corners, most are happy to talk if acknowledged properly. Swahili was easier to learn than I first thought and like everywhere, greeting in native language buys instant acceptance and conversation. “Jambo! Haguri gani? Jina langu ni Glen. Nimekuja kutoka amerce kuku tembelea” Hello, how are you? My name is Glen and I’ve come from America to visit you.<o:p></o:p>

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    By five o’clock, I had made my first Tanzanian friend, a tall, heavy-set motorcyclist, who, although a third generation Indian, considers himself African. Preparing to meet his family for dinner, the unshaven Ali Hussein was closing his motorcycle workshop when struck with an unexpected vagabond’s wish-list for repairs. Shiite Muslims are strict family men and staying late to work on some distressed foreigner’s faltering bike was the last thing on his mind. But once hearing my situation, he offered, “Since you are traveling such a long way, me and my men will work tonight.” But wrenching in the dark leads to errors and lost parts so we agreed to wait until sunrise.<o:p></o:p>

    In the morning, uncomfortable with his non-English speaking crew, when an overly concerned Ali Hussein suggested disassembling the entire drive section for inspection and cleaning, I argued that the rest of the motorcycle was fine and all that was necessary was to unbolt the rear swing arm to replace a worn chain and sprockets—a one-hour job with the correct tools. Fluent in Swahili, Hussein turned, yelling words to his men that made them laugh aloud.<o:p></o:p>

    Curious as to the joke, I asked, “What’s so funny?”<o:p></o:p>

    “I told them that you are afraid of their skin.”<o:p></o:p>

    Embarrassed because he was right, I tried to deny it, “No that’s not it, I just prefer not to take things apart unless absolutely necessary. You never know what can break or get misplaced in the process.”—Still, the truth was, I foolishly questioned their competency because they weren’t Germans in white smocks.<o:p></o:p>

    “You worry that they won’t remember how to put it all back together?”--more comments and more laughter.<o:p></o:p>

    But Hussein is forceful and to my dismay, wins our debate, directing two young black men with callused feet, to disassemble the suspension mechanical arms for further inspection.

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    An hour later they handed me two sets of rusted bearings—the same ones we had just replaced in Borneo.

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    After riding the washed-away coast near Banda Aceh, saltwater from low-tide beach-runs had leaked past protective rubber seals, corroding hardened steal balls and needles designed to spin free. Had this damage gone unnoticed, they would have disintegrated and left me stranded on the most rugged section ahead in Africa.<o:p></o:p>

    Hussein continued, “See, you don’t have to worry about my workers, they know their job.” Thirty minutes later, a winded errand boy returned with new bearings and fresh oil while another prepared a homemade arc welder to remove a stripped-out drain plug.

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    Annoyed at my constantly questioning each maneuver, Hussein takes me by the arm, “Come, let’s get out of their way so they can make everything new for our traveling brother. You need to see my empire”<o:p></o:p>

    Importing a dozen shipping containers a month, except for South Africa, Ali is the largest motorcycle parts distributor on the continent. This will be good news for Internet linked international riders who until now, have been unaware of his presence. In a Developing Country with limited industrial base, I am amazed to see a warehouse stocked with hundreds of tires and engine re-build kits. Yet skilled labor remained questionable.<o:p></o:p>
    A one-hour chain and sprocket swap had turned into eight with a lengthy list of replaced parts, but by the end of the day, a minor job turned major repair was complete. Preparing for the worst, my meek request for the bill was met by Hussein’s stern gaze. “There is no bill for you. My shop is absorbing the entire cost for our traveling brother.”<o:p></o:p>

    And he wasn’t listening to steady objections—even when insisting that I at least pay for parts only made him angry. “I have made up my mind, this is between Allah and me.”<o:p></o:p>

    Convinced of his determination, I made a final demand. “Okay but I’m taking you to dinner.”<o:p></o:p>

    Every big city has good restaurants but for travelers to find them unassisted requires extensive exploring with more misses than hits. Hussein knows of the best, where only black Africans go to eat. In north Dar es Salaam, an empty block normally jammed in daytime traffic becomes a nighttime bazaar of street barbeque kitchens and temporary dining rooms of uneven wooden tables and flimsy plastic chairs. Hussein is well-known among crowds of jabbering patrons—even cooks and waiters shouted back and forth as we approached. <o:p></o:p>

    At first, ordering food was awkward as he issued commands to the cook without asking me what I wanted. With fierce expressions and aggressive verbal exchanges, both men dickered as though in serious confrontation about to turn violent. Suddenly, each was laughing and clasping hands while shirtless waiters in baggy shorts set down huge platters of sizzling lamb and chicken. Hussein translates. “I told them that this is my motorcycling brother who knows Judo and if the food is not good, he will kick your ass.” When the bill arrived for far more than two men could eat and drink, the scribbled numbers on a piece of torn paper only amounted to a fraction of a tourist area price.<o:p></o:p>

    Two days accompanying Hussein on his daily rounds of slapping countertops while shouting negotiations ending in laughter, was a fascinating side-journey into the business culture of Dar es Salaam. Even the briefest glimpses into the lives of those in distant lands are the ultimate prize of adventure travel.<o:p></o:p>

    But the sourest moment of this unforeseen detour neared and after reminding Hussein of the sacred coin he promised, the time had come to say goodbye. As he closed his eyes reciting an ancient Shiite prayer, a hundred-shilling Tanzanian coin carefully folded in a printed handkerchief became a belief from the both of us that continued safety lay ahead. “When you reach Ethiopia, you must stop and give this coin to a poor man and Allah will guide you the rest of the way.” As he shuffled his feet while looking down, I noted that Hussein also disliked goodbyes. With two sets of watery eyes, we touched cheeks Muslim-style with an enormous American bear hug. Tomorrow is Christmas and a long ride toward the northern plains of Serengeti.<o:p></o:p>

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    #89
  10. kojack

    kojack AMF!

    Joined:
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    god's country, AKA. Newfoundland!
    I am truly blown away. amazing thread!

    I am going to order this book asap!

    You will have to visit newfoundland some time! its a great place here.
    #90
  11. mlkdash

    mlkdash Righteous Dude

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    Burlington, VT
    You are the man.
    #91
  12. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Jennings, Louisiana
    Heck, enjoying this as much as the original one. Keep it going. Thanks!
    #92
  13. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2003
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    Way Out There.
    How did I miss this? This is great stuff.

    :thumb :thumb
    #93
  14. timk519

    timk519 Long timer

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    Kitchener Ontario, Canada
    Apparently SV and another inmate are in the process of reconstructing the original story. :thumb
    #94
  15. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

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    Way Out There.
    Sometimes a ghost writer is just what a story needs.

    :thumb
    #95
  16. slowpoke69

    slowpoke69 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
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    734
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    So. Jersey
    Just wanted to wish you a happy one, the least I can do given how much I've enjoyed your writing! I hope it was a good day.:D :clap
    #96
  17. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

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    Thanks amigo. Some dude known only as Misery Goat is down here in Mazatlan celebrating the good life with me--even took me to dinner last night at my favorite restaurant.
    #97
  18. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

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    When it Rains, it Pours<o:p></o:p>
    January 5, 2006<o:p></o:p>
    Northern Kenya<o:p></o:p>

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    Guidebooks are correct when claiming the beaten path terminates in Northern Kenya. Since first entering South Africa, except for riding smooth graded tracks the length of Namibia and a few subsequent, intentional dirt detours, all roads have been lightly used, smooth flowing asphalt that wound through lush tropical jungles or spectacular desolate plains. As all good things come to an end, a wanderer&#8217;s pleasing dream has just concluded at the equator. <o:p></o:p>

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    In Africa, crummy food doesn&#8217;t matter, vagabonds don&#8217;t eat for pleasure or even health, only to minimize hunger. Up until now, meals and accommodation had been understandable, though unsuccessful attempts at Western standards---yet at the frontier town of Isiolo, Africa abruptly turned bare-bones-basic, reverting to a sandy meshing of old and ancient.<o:p></o:p>
    In the animated jabber of a garbage-strewn market, arriving in Isiolo was a return to Islam with colorful veil-shrouded women bartering with Masai tribes-people for withered fruits and vegetables. A sundown visit to the town center mosque yielded questioning from worshippers after prayers.

    &#8220;You don&#8217;t worry when traveling so far alone?&#8221;<o:p></o:p>

    &#8220;Why should I? Allah protects me.&#8221;<o:p></o:p>

    &#8220;Ah, so you are Muslim?&#8221;<o:p></o:p>

    &#8220;No, but Allah still blesses my journey and keeps me safe.&#8221;<o:p></o:p>

    &#8220;So if you believe in Allah, you must become Muslim.&#8221;<o:p></o:p>

    &#8220;Maybe, but I&#8217;ll hold off making decisions until returning to my home.&#8221;<o:p></o:p>

    &#8220;All right, but in the meantime remember that Allah protects us all.&#8221;<o:p></o:p>

    With a hard day ahead, just before dawn, imagining the misery of riding in a dust storm of commercial trucks in convoy, I skirted the final military checkpoint requiring foreigners to travel under guard. As the last chance for supplies and fuel drifted by in a reluctant haze, a starker image of Africa emerged.

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    Fashion statements became blade scarred faces above elaborately beaded neck disks and pierced bodies against deep midnight skin so black it was almost blue.<o:p></o:p>

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    Walking sticks morphed into bows and arrows as wary herdsman stopped to eye a trespasser traversing a parched and drought stricken land. If disregarding a long pale strip of mangled dirt track, this was an evolutionary step back into primordial survival, with nature prevailing. Everyone is thirsty. Only a single river contained enough shallow pools of trickling water to supply scattered villages for twenty miles. The rest were dried sandy creek-beds with stooping women digging barehanded in fruitless searches for traces of underground streams--and as a two-year drought continues, there was little left to find. <o:p></o:p>

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    During unpredictable bursts of desert struggles, there is no backup plan, just faltering beliefs that when masses begin to die, a world community will again, send more aid. Africa is a cruel and unrepentant provider that challenges humanity to contend with its whims. But as the newest species on the planet, only man considers himself a higher form more deserving to live. <o:p></o:p>

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    Other than indigenous natives, the empty, rocky desert is only traveled by occasional caravans of aid workers, and the odd, determined adventurer transiting from Cairo to Cape Town.

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    There is no other reason to pass through an environment so hostile to life. Armed soldiers may fend off roving bandits and murderous warlords but there is nothing to protect even the hardest tires from slices and punctures punched by razor edged volcanic rock.

    Directly after re-securing a gushing high-pressure fuel line, a dreaded rear-end sway signaled the first flat tire of the day. There may be only four hundred miles to the southern border of Ethiopia, where a paved road leads direct to Addis Ababa, but wretched conditions stretch that into a miserable three-day event. Severe washboard turning unexpected soft sand and back, to deep gullies of fist-sized stones defy even the best of suspensions--but since mine was rebuilt ten thousand miles ago, hard rubber seals should have weathered the strain. They did not. <o:p></o:p>

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    Mind-numbing jarring and bucking was so intense that more gas spilled through the tank breather-vents than was burned by the engine. Even sloshing battery water slapped high enough to drip from an overflow tube. And that was the good news. Normally when shock absorber fluid begins seeping past worn seals, lack of oil shouldn&#8217;t cause a compression lockdown. Treated liquids and pressurized gases regulate rebound action and without them, handling deteriorates into a tolerable, bouncing, pogo-stick ride. Although a blown shock should not remain compressed, mine did, resulting in zero vertical travel to relieve explosive jolting from a jagged road. And that guarded convoy so carefully avoided, was several hours ahead.<o:p></o:p>

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    Even at ten miles per hour, vertical forces generated were difficult to endure with the rear section kicking up and slamming back down. Ridges on a deep-cut washboard surface turned spine-snapping slaps equally destructive to metal frame welds. With nothing but thorn-tree desert ahead, the only solution was a ten-mile retreat to relieving shade of the last tribal outpost, with a hope that the natives were friendly.<o:p></o:p>

    Competing for resources in the midst of a drought, water is too scarce for washing. Barefoot in filthy ragged Western clothes, Muslim Kenyans coexist in détente with spear toting Masai tribesmen festooned in sparkling metal trinkets. Only a few offered greetings. Language barriers kept most from understanding each other but the message resonated, one angry woman did not want a foreigner to linger. Her reasoning was valid. In a robbery-plagued region, I could draw unwanted attention and they had no protection against marauders with guns. Absent governing authority or troops to keep order, violence and murder is the law of the land. Cattle rustling and cross-border reprisal raids have resulted in retaliatory slaughters of entire villages.<o:p></o:p>

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    And a traveler in their midst was a legitimate concern considering news of a treasure-laden American could draw roving cutthroat Somali bandits eager to pillage his precious cargo. In a heated exchange of English and Swahili, a verdict was returned that the alien be sent on his way. And who can blame them? Why should they fret for the plight of white man with more riches in his wallet than they earn in a year? Still, it was early evening and after a long hard negotiation, my desperate plea for sleep was considered. A simple bribe of four hundred shillings was sufficient incentive to conceal my bike in a straw hut and allow a four-hour rest, if promising to be gone by midnight.<o:p></o:p>
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    #98
  19. slowpoke69

    slowpoke69 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
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    734
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    So. Jersey
    I read the original awhile after posting and many photos had been deleted, I'm glad I got to see more of your GREAT trip! Thanks again, glad you are well.:1drink :1drink
    #99
  20. barefootrider

    barefootrider BMW airheads

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    STRIKINGVIKING, After staying up most of the night to read your fabulous adventure rides :clap, I bought both your books this morning.:D One day rained out in a motel or tent I know the time will pass quickly reading them.
    Having ridden a bit myself, and alone, (South America in '78-'79) I can really identify with what you had say. My father financed my Carnet de Passage back then on the condition that I fly over Colombia to cross the Darien Gap.