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The Solo Scooterist

Documenting my travels on a Vespa

Date: June 7, 2014

Farewell to a trusted companion

My day started early  leaving  Nkata Bay at first light so I could cross the border into Tanzania by midday  and then get to Mbeya for my over night stop .  The ride out of the  bay was a little sad , I really had enjoyed my time on the lake , but felt the need to experience something new.

The countryside as you go north is really beautiful and becomes less populated as you ride towards the border , the mountain passes dramatic in beauty , exciting riding , with the lake  my  trusted companion on my right . Sometimes at my side , other times in the distance just flirting with her deep blue waters.

 

Mountains of the moon

Mountains of the moon

The countryside got greener , the lake a deeper blue as I rode up to Mzuzu to re fuel and have some breakfast , winding roads up and up we went , stopping now and again to admire the beauty.

 

Mzuzu , coffee house , a must if you are in the area.

Mzuzu , coffee house , a must if you are in the area.

The Mzuzu coffee  is local to the area , rich and smooth it delights your palate , I wish we had it back home . Mzuzu is uniquely Malawi both in flavour and the décor. The service is slick , the samosas light , crispy and dense with filling . Made my day this stop did.

 

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Back on the road heading for Tanzania the mountains and the lake continue , children wave and the people of Malawi look up from their labour stained shirts to smile and champion me on , with me forever looking right to catch a glimpse of the lake . We have ridden hundreds of kilometres together enjoying each others company , her reassurance I was on the right path , her refreshing waters cleansing my weary body at every stop ,  she would wash the days sweat , tension and challenges  away with her fresh  deep waters leaving me feeling new . I knew it would be hard to say our farewells , she seems to hold the spirit of Malawi in her waters and leaving her was leaving the wonderful people of Malawi behind ,  but with each passing hour our end was getting closer.

In the mountains looking over the lake.

In the mountains looking over the lake.

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Down out of the mountains we rode back to lake shore and so then she started her graceful departure , as I looked right she ebbed and flowed from sight and by the time I got to my last fuel stop , she had gone , left me with the beauty of her and her people in my minds eye and my heart.

Thank you Malawi for welcoming this stranger , for asking his name , for being so warm and kind ,  for letting your waters  renew me , showing me all your world  , life and labour , your beauty and hardship from behind my visor and while I walked your streets , Until we meet again .

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Farewell my trusted companion.

Farewell my trusted companion.

 

 

 

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Meek and mild to Mbeya mayhem

The landscape started changing again as the crossing neared ,  roadside activity increased and I could feel  change in the air .

 

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On the way to the border farming communities line the road.

On the way to the border farming communities line the road.

Just before the border Victoria and I came across our first water obstacle , to be navigated with the help of the local cyclists who in very few words and much gesturing got us to the other side.

 

How deep , what lies beneath?

How deep , what lies beneath?

The border crossing took around 15 minutes for both sides , very easy , but the purchasing of the insurance for Vic took a little longer with the cover starting at 100 USD and finally settling on 60 USD , back on the bike comesa in hand we made our way to Mbeya .

 

Just over the border the ranges come to meet you.

Just over the border the ranges come to meet you.

Within a few kilometres you feel the difference , see the difference ,  you are transported to a very lush place full of green with deep rich red earth , you have to remind yourself you are in Africa not the Alps in summer . The roads are full of life , very busy , full of trade , commerce and colour . Like the rich red earth Tanzania feels richer , the houses change from thatch and mud to brick and sheets of shiny tin , the transport up grades from bicycles to motorbikes , the people clothed in bright colours parade along the roadside in full splendour , fashion takes the place of function , just  more of everything .

The road was smooth , the scenery like nothing to date , Victoria and I felt alive again , with a fresh new country to explore , so I settled back to enjoy both. This was very short lived and both became very irrelevant and staying alive took pole position . We had our first contact with the drivers of Tanzania . Your lane is not yours , you share it with who ever comes your way , initially it feels like you are going  up a one way , when a bus or truck decides to commandeer your piece of asphalt to pass.

By the time I reached peak hour in Mbeya my hands were fused to the grips from fear , my jaw clenched so tight , I considered a life  on liquids and I had only travelled a 100 odd kilometres .  The best way to describe the difference in environment’s ,  is arriving in Mbeya in peak hour traffic is like getting that big needle from pulp fiction thrust  into your heart , the adrenaline takes you to fight mode and so Victoria and I started our transformation from scooterist and scooter to fighter pilot and spitfire , more on this later.

All that been said the energy , the pulse and the place was electrifying and I rode the next 20 kilometres wide eyed and inspired , I was loving it .  Victoria and I made our way to Utengule lodge on a coffee plantation for the night , I had a hot shower to try and loosen the tension in my body and then enjoyed a well deserved glass of red and a sunset to match.

 

The pool at sunset

The pool at sunset

So the end of a day brings a brand new country , never touched by my eyes or Victoria’s tyres , I think we are going to love it here.

 

Victoria , the sunset from her parking place .

Victoria , the sunset from her parking place .

A good nights rest and we will be ready for anything come sunrise , tomorrow will take us to Kisolansa , to the old farmhouse  for the next leg of our journey as we make our way to Arusha .

What a day so exhilarating , now in this peaceful place Mbeya seems a world away , sleep takes me to my room and tomorrow we suit up again.

Good night , to dream in Tanzania

Good night , to dream in Tanzania

Until we meet again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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