Wednesday, September 23, 2009

San Afrisco

The rest day in Maun was a nice one. I missed out on doing the paddle tour of the Okavanga Delta. I was too wiped from the previous day’s ride. I just wanted a day of vegetation, and to get some errands done. When people miss things on the tour, the common thing is to say to them: “Well, you need something to come back for.” I like that. I know that I will come back to Africa some day.
The joy in Maun was that the ATM worked. I took out a large sum, even though we would be in Namibia in a couple of days. I just wanted to be sure that I at least had something to exchange.
The next day I started my ride with Evelijn. We chatted the whole way, keeping our minds off of the repetitive scenery. As we approached lunch, I realized that Eric was on sweep. I started to gripe about him – I have no idea why, but the man hates me. He is always making racist comments about natives to me, he makes fun of my riding, and every day he says to me “Are you going on the truck today? Why aren’t you on the truck today? Wow, you’re not crying today. You should toughen up. You should get in shape!” I’m not the only one he’s said this stuff to. The shitty thing is he’s staff. I’m actually paying him to treat me like shit. After venting to Evelijn, I rode in, made up my sandwich, and as I was eating, Eric turned to me and said “Are you going to get on the truck today?” I told him to f___ off, and we proceeded to gat into a heated discussion. I realized this was ridiculous, jumped on my bike and sped off.
I was so angry, and then I saw the turn-off for the San museum. Eric, the hurtin’ Albertan, disappeared from my thoughts, and I was brought back to first year university, where my big dream was to go into Linguistic Anthropology and study the San people. Said to be the oldest tribe in Africa, the San look incredibly Asian, only with very large bottoms – the kind you could set a drink on. The people’s faces reminded me of Vietnamese people. The museum told that Asian groups moved into Africa and populated the continent from there. Interesting. Everyone I talk to has a different story on what is the currently accepted “Cradle of Humanity”. I would tend to believe Asia over Africa, but then again, I’m just another voice.
John was at the museum, and as we sat about having a cold juice and looking at the corn crickets (absolutely THE ugliest insect on the planet), he turned to me and said: “You know who I can’t stand? Eric. I just had this big argument at lunch with him again because he once again started telling me how shit Americans are.”
Well, at least it wasn’t just me.
I rode the rest of the way with Mara, the Lonely Planet writer for Russia. It’s been fun practicing my Russian with her. I ditched her at the end to go into town and get myself strawberry shortcake though. By the end of the trip, new friendships come second to food. And everything comes second to strawberry shortcake. The funny thing was, coming into town, every building had a solar panel on it. Solar panels are everywhere in Africa, but nothing compares to how many are in Botswana.
At dinner they announced that the time trial the next day would be a World Team time trial. Because there are so many Canadians on the race, we were split into seniors and juniors, and because some countries are so much stronger than the rest (South Africa, and then a tie between Britain and Holland), there would be handicaps. There were a ton of additional tasks that had to be done so that even the slow riders didn’t feel left out.
The next morning was a flurry of entertainment, with people having to swap clothes, sing national anthems, pick wildflowers, race, and take funny pictures. For our group shot we staged an accident. It had a double benefit in that team Canada senior stopped to help us! heh heh. The best picture contest was won by the senior canucks, for a photo titled “Three Asses.” Two donkeys and Ernest’s full moon! (Ernest is our resident 69 year-old, and one of my favourite riders).
The one casualty of the contest was Peter (the young)… he lost his EFI because his drive train seized during the race. The lunch truck passed, but since everyone was riding there was no one to give him a bike. He missed out on 10km of the whole trip. Poor guy.
I rode with him in the afternoon. We played road games to keep our minds off of how boring the ride was. We named every country beginning with every letter in the alphabet, and promptly discovered just how poor our African geography was.
The following day we were to do the 207km. It also ended in the Namibian border. No one was sure if the border had a closing time, though rumours were circulating, since the only maps we had said the border closed at 6pm. I decided to get a room so that I wouldn’t have to deal with my tent or my locker. We would be hitting the road an hour earlier the next day. Imagine riding your bike for 200km starting at 5am. It didn’t even sound pleasant to me.

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