I wrote this blog for www.drivesouthafrica.co.za
Please don’t let us fall, please don’t let us fall!
I know panicking about it won’t prevent it, but I can’t help but think about it all the time. Maybe envisioning it will soften the landing?
“Tuck your arms in and whatever you do, don’t put your legs out – you need to get free from the bike,” Guillaume advised when I asked. But before I could perform all this, before even the vision of me, arms and legs tucked in, hands protected, could reach my brain, we hit the sand!
For more than an hour on this impossible (for a 150 cc bike) 50km stretch in Botswana these thoughts have been ringing in my ears along with the sound of the bike’s revs – and before I even realised it we hit the ground – arms out above me, one leg stuck under the wheel. Bam! Sand in my shoes, helmet, eyes. Ungracefully, to say the least.
We really didn’t see this coming and it wasn’t such a bad fall so as exhausted as we both are from fighting this sandy nightmare, we pick up the bike and are both just fine! A bruise here and there but fine.
It’s our first fall and it happens just 4 km before the end of this sandy road which is leading us into Botswana from the Parr’s Holt border. “It’s a gravel road, but a good one,” someone advised us in Lephalale. And he was right; the road is fine, just not for our little, overloaded bike.
But, falling was a relief actually – now I know. Yes it wasn’t tar, but we fell and without one drop of blood spilled on the Botswana soil, we are back up and heading into Malahpaye.
It’s just after mid-day and school seems to be out. Kids dressed in bright white uniform walk along the road, chatting and waiving when they see us. A group of youngsters run towards us as we approach a stop sign. “Phula, phula!” they shout. One picks up a glass bottle and instinctively I duck… it seems South Africa, and the fright from the fall, is still fresh in my mind.
We decide to push on despite the pain in our butts. Our bike is loaded like an African taxi and we are sitting uncomfortably close to each other. Guillaume drives, sitting on the tank; I share the small, hard seat with our luggage. With every bump I again realise just the amount of discomfort my bum is in and every time Guillaume moves, I again have to find a new, temporary, semi-comfortable position to sit in.
Relieve comes at the end of each day and lies in the fact that I will be able to spend some time off the bike and give my body a rest. Sadly that means spending time on a 3.8 cm ‘thin’ mattress and tiny blow up pillow, next to a snoring husband. By morning, every piece of my body is sore, except for my bottom! But, I am loving every moment and I won’t exchange my aches and pains and sleepless nights for the best hotel in the world.
By the time we reach Palapye we are 2 days into what we hope would be a 10 month long journey and there is one question that pops up all the time …what the hell are we doing?!