Dodoma stirs as the day of rest arrives , I dance around the lady mopping around the breakfast buffet , comprising of many new , unseen or experienced dishes. Coffee , eggs and a West African sampler and I was on the road to Singida , my final stop before meeting up with my good friend Tim in Arusha for some social , safari and a service for Victoria .
The road takes you through a boulder filled landscape that surprises , as initially these random rocks look so out of place scattered all about and then after a while you start enjoying the different shapes , colours and formations . The natural beauty of Tanzania is really the stuff that brochures are made from . All was going well , the drivers much the same as the day before but I only had a 250 km day ahead so would be in town by lunch time and I was thinking to myself , yes I will find a barber for a trim and a hair cut , then find a nice spot to enjoy the town and have a good cup of coffee .
As we rode my mind wondered to warm water and soap in my hair , to a slightly elevated veranda naturally shaded by green vines with a superb view of life in the streets of Singida , a French press , warm milk , the aroma of Tanzanian beans and that first sip of delicious coffee after a day on the road . Ah the power of the mind . Then it happened that heart stopping , daydream destroyer , the mechanical scream of metal grinding metal , of the undisputed sound of mechanical failure. Please I heard myself say , not here , not now , not today , what is happening Vic ?
I was on a blind rise no space to pull over , traffic flying by , I turned the volume down , jumped off Vic pulled her up onto her stand , had a quick look around , tyres fine , no oil , no flames , all looked fine , had I Imagined that horrific scream ? The road was too narrow to have a proper look so Victoria and I limped up the hill with this terrible sound our partner and collaborator confirming engine trouble .
We screamed and grinded into a petrol station , to find that the workshop was closed , as it was Sunday , but I was told that in town about a kilometre away was a mechanic that might be around to help , so we pushed forward , stopping and asking for directions to the mechanic , my Swahili extremely limited , my potential answers lost in the language barrier . I found a small shop selling motorcycle accessories , tried to explain my situation , all I got was a smile as he passed me a can of oil . So the game of charades started , sounds like , turn wheel grinding , mechanic to fix , can you help ? By this time I was swamped with eager spectators , as this strange man in reflective gear , with an equally strange ride at his side , using sign language , gestures and strange words carried on trying to communicate . Finally a young guy pushed his way through the ever growing crowd , English on his lips we started the process to find a mechanic .
First mechanic arrives , inspects , touches , turns his head to Godfrey my interpreter , big problems Diski I am told , I must follow to his workshop , which I do . As I follow the expression on his face tells of a more serious problem. The workshop comprised of a wooden bench and a small tin structure the size of a cupboard on a square of hardened earth demarcated by some neatly placed stones .
So the crowed got bigger as did the problems with Victoria , once again through Godfrey I learned it was not Diski , but the main bearing was gone and he could not do the job alone , additional recruits with more mechanical know how had to be sourced. So my band of merry men grew. 5 in total , me being the fifth the work started , shaking of heads , finding of tools , phoning Louw in SA , my tool bag spread over the entire workshop , so the three hour repair kicked off to a very jovial , high spirited crowd chatting , laughing , cheering and growing .
And so time marched on , old bearing out , casing in hand and off two of the team went to find a new bearing , suddenly back , old casing hammered out , new bearing in and then the reassembly . Out of the conversational crowds murmurings I heard it , I heard that sweet , sweet sound of Victoria been fired up , her motor alive , the scream of horror gone , the crowd erupt with jubilation , my heart soars , my face beams , my smile wide and grateful .
All I heard from my non English speaking mechanic , was test ride and he was off , the next thing I saw Victoria flying down the main road and she was gone . I started packing up to get back on the road , expecting the scooter back in a few minutes , I saw her flash by again in the opposite direction , and all packed waited . 5 minutes , then 10 , then 20 now the crowd started to chat a little nervously , cell phones started calling and other bikes where stopped and questions asked , by 30 minutes bikes where now been sent out to find Victoria , my jubilation had now turned to fear and trepidation , had the scooter been crashed or written off ? what was going on ? Godfrey’s English had got a little worse since the disappearance . The crowd uneasy , me pacing like a caged tiger , relief flashes across my face as she appears around the corner unscathed the mechanic beaming , passenger hanging on for dear life and Victoria was back to a very relieved owner and seemingly the crowd as well. Where he went what happened I will never know , but half an hour later , after shaking of hands , exchanging money , smiles and gratitude we left for Singida.
A few hours later we arrived at the Stanley motel for the night , before my usual routine of shower , change and relax , I got the tool box out just to confirm to my mind that all was back , safe and tight . And so it was .
Thank you Manyoni a small , small town with a big , big heart for getting us back on the road , I loved my time with all of you , even though our verbal communication was limited your body language made me feel welcome , your smiles and laughter gave me joy , your enthusiasm was infectious , your kindness overwhelming and of course your mechanical and technical expertise helped . I was touched that all in the crowd came to shake my hand , that as I rode off I was followed with smiles and laughter .
I ride to rest , friends and the town of Arusha.
Until we meet again.