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 .

 

Gina one of the faithful four who got Victoria back on the road.

Gina one of the faithful four who got Victoria back on the road.

Progress

Progress

 

More progress

More progress

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 done

All done

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 .

 

Vic at the Stanley

Vic at the Stanley

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 .

 

The Stanley

The Stanley

 

Singida cinema

Singida cinema

I ride to rest , friends and the town of Arusha.

Until we meet again.

 

 

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