Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It All Unravels

I woke up from the first decent night’s sleep in a long time. The cream made a difference instantly. Erin and I cruised around town, checking out cool venues as we went. I turns out that the film fest is in town, so we decided to check out a few flicks tonight. The funky cabaret venue next door was unfortunately featuring an Afrikaans show, so we gave it a pass. We decided to completely avoid the crew, as both of us are feeling the need for space. Honestly, I think everyone is. It’s been a long trip.
We went to the Olive for lunch – had pastries and bought wine, chocolate, sun dried tomatoes, olives, and just about everything western we could think of that we had been missing. We found a t-shirt for James (the cook). A weird Japanese-like t-shirt with a jar of peanut butter hugging a jar of jam saying, “Let’s come together”. Heh heh. Every morning James is greeted by people complaining about daily breakfast of pb&j.
I ran into Peter on my way to my room, but didn’t tell him about Erin and my plans for the evening. The other annoying thing about small groups is gossip. Because we frequently bike together, we get along, and because he is male and I am female, we must be having an affair (we’re both in relationships back home). When I told Erin about not mentioning it to him, she said, “They’re terrible, aren’t they! Well forget them, we’re inviting him.” Too true!
We went out and saw two terrible movies. They were rife with propaganda about Namibia’s environmental program. It was boring. I fell asleep through the second one. Studio 77 itself was quite cool, with woodcuts on the wall which, when you first looked at them, appeared to be a bunch of hammers pounding into the earth. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was also men in suits. We were going to go to a club beside the studio space, but it was empty and the music sounded lame. And so we decided to go out for food. We got some Paella which was delicious. Neighbouring Algeria was once Portuguese. Thank goodness.
We thought about dancing, but vegging to movies and sleeping seemed to be the better alternative.
The following day was more of the same. It may not seem interesting to you, but we were beside ourselves with excitement! Smoked salmon! Blue cheese! Champagne! Erin and I has talked about going out to the movies, but then it wound up just being a night of vegging in front of the tele. We all met up at Peter’s for a picnic. We drank the two bottles of champagne (I didn’t care, I wasn’t allowed to ride for the next couple of days anyway), and ate, and ate, and ate. I then disappeared into my room and watched another movie and slept. Sometimes vegetation is all you need.
I woke the next morning to mixed emotions. We ere meant to have pavement, but it all turned out to be dirt with headwinds. Everyone came in looking very broken. I was glad that I didn’t ride through that, but at the same time, we’re so close to the finish that it’s painful to miss a single day.
Nick, Malcolm and Simon pulled in just as the truck was packing up. All of the cyclists had left. Alex was on sweep and she was angry. Nick was still drunk. That would mean a long day for her. Everyone’s coming down hard on Nick. I can understand sweep being angry, but not anyone else. It’s his ride; let him do it how he wants. It’s not like he’s ever in a bad mood, or that he is anything but the sweetest fellow to all of us. People are really just getting on each others nerves, I think. It’s time for this to be over.
I was the only one on the truck, which was great. I had on my flowy skirt with my black, spandex biking legwarmers, tank tops and arm warmers, looking very Madonna-esque. With no one on the truck I could let the window’s breeze do its work. Speaking of which, it’s freezing here. I can’t believe how cold it is. I though Africa was warm. Namibia in the fall is not. We kept having to stop to wait for Shanny and Paul. The truck crew was pissed at them because they were: “acting like the runabout is their own personal cruiser.” Looks like the riders aren’t the only ones sniping at each other.
Our rest stop was in Solitaire. We drove through the most beautiful mountain ranges on the way there. They looked like Southwestern mesas. Solitaire was pretty much a one-horse town. It was a truck stop, lodge, and gas station with the most famous apple crumble in Namibia. I walked into the pale pink building, past the large prickly-pear cacti (they stood about 7feet) and got what was the best apple crumble I had ever had.
We left Solitaire with a full truck. Everyone was cursing Henry. The original route through Namibia was on paved roads. Because there had been so much construction in Sudan, and we had had so much paved route where we were meant to have dirt, he changed the route. He did a quick scout in a 4x4 with his mother, and declared the roads amazing. He had no clue. The dirt roads are still corrugated, and now because we’ve changed routes we are no longer doing 80-100km on corrugation, but 150-170km. Even some of the off-roaders are pissed. It’s also causing a bit of infighting between the road-bikers and the off-roaders. “You DID sign up for an adventure, didn’t you?” Statements like these cause unnecessary rifts between people. My personal favourite “It was MEANT to be hard.” Actually, it was meant to be an adventure, but adventure doesn’t mean hating every minute of it. I got to distance myself from a lot of it, because I wouldn’t be riding until after Sossusvlei. Ten minutes after we left Solitaire we had to turn around and go back. More people couldn’t get any further. My heart went out especially to the EFIers (Every fabulous inch). They had to keep motoring, no matter how hard. Over half of the riders gave up today. The staff was worried. The roads weren’t about to get better, but they would be getting longer. Word has leaked from the staff that Henry is a terrible planner in general. We all seem to agree.
Fortunately, camp was wonderful. It was our last bush camp. Shanny met the farmer when he was out scouting, and he is intending to turn the place into a campsite. He brought us a ton of kindling so that we could have a campfire. It was wonderful. We drank hot chocolate, slept under the stars, and everyone stayed up later than usual.

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