Erin's Tour d'Afrique Bike of a Blog!
An 8,000 mile personal and philanthropic adventure across Africa…

Colorfully Attired Maasai

I once read a beautiful piece of writing, that captured the incongruity of the border crossing between Kenya and Tanzania at the chaotic town of Namanga. The author wrote of colorfully attired Maasai warriors in traditional garb and weaponry, chattering on sophisticated cell phones, while drinking Coca Cola in an area of the world that lacks a consistent supply of clean water. I felt this tension between old and new, and progress and subsistence as I approached the border on my bike.

This is a very special border crossing for me, as I did it previously by bus in 2007 with my brother, enroute to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. That trip to Africa was transformative for Kevin and me, and solidified our deep bond as siblings with a shared obsession for lactic acid accumulation and climbing or skiing to great heights. I think often about when Kevin will return to Africa, or when we will be able to experience another international expedition together. Kev, you’d better start looking for a summer job now.

To get through the border by bike this time around, I knocked off back to back 100 mile and 75 mile days, and realized that I am going to miss Kenya, and that we are starting to pass through whole countries in just a few days. So far, Tanzania has consisted of breathtaking green mountains guarding every direction and extremely variable road conditions. It was like an obstacle course out there today, and I was surprised to find the road to Arusha, Tanzania (a very up and coming little hotspot) in such rough shape. We rode on a mix of potholes, corrugation, cracked roads, perfect pavement, dirt, sand and still wet newly tarred roads. As German Reuben now introduces me, “This is Erin. She hates riding on dirt and it’s the only time she will get cranky and stop talking on the ride. Hope for some dirt today.”

The real problem exiting Kenya was ironically not the dirt, but the new pavement. We all ended up covered from helmet to pedal in sticky, icky still wet black tar. When we got to camp, most of us had to douse ourselves and our bikes in gasoline to get it off. This process took a particularly exciting turn when I looked up from my petrol shower and saw the Dutch contingent smoking nearby. I think I will be much less cranky riding on the dirt from here on out.

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, we have several new “sectional” riders who will be riding sections of the tour with us for just a few weeks. Yesterday I asked a Brit named Jacob how his first day of riding in Africa was going, and he responded that it was “the best day of his life.”. His unbridled positivity was like jumping into an ice cold (parasite free), refreshing lake. My goal for the next week is to avoid feeling any exhaustion or cynicism regarding our long journey, and remember that the much maligned beep of my morning alarm clock offers a new opportunity for me to experience the best day of my life. At the very least, I am currently having the time of my life amidst the mobile networks of colorfully attired Maasai warriors and spandex attired Tour d’Afrique riders.

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2 Responses to “Colorfully Attired Maasai”

  1. Erin,
    Beautiful imagery and writing!!!! I am thrilled that you and Dana are together enjoying this trip of a lifetime. Be well and have fun!!

  2. Er,
    This post brought back alot of good memories. I remember the Kenya/Tanzania border crossing very well – particularly the young man interested in my orthodontal assets. I tele’d all morning at Gore today. I’m going back to school next week and hopefully taking some trips up to Tucks on the weekend. Take some pictures of Kili for me, we were leaving there just this time 3 years ago now. All the best,

    Kevin


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