Earthlings Through The Eyes Of A Wandering Biker

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Comments

  • RidgetopRidgetop Major grins Posts: 214Registered Users Major grins
    edited December 11, 2012
    Still loving your posts. Just ordered your book to give it a try. Great story and pics.
  • strikingvikingstrikingviking Big grins Posts: 99Registered Users Big grins
    edited March 27, 2013
    To fully develop as human beings we must venture beyond conventional education and push the limits of our existence past the suffocating mundane. Identify the impossible--then challenge the boundaries of logic.

    Climb a difficult mountain, train for a world-class event or travel under arduous circumstances into the unknown. To taste the music of the wind we might have to sacrifice a romance, skin our knees, suffer hunger or break a bone as the magic of the universe feeds our collective souls.

    Disregard the odds as you push the envelope beyond what others consider wise and you will flourish with a rare, profound energy that is only experienced when boldly leaping outside of your comfort zone.

    No matter the mishaps along the way, stagger back to your feet and keep on swinging, bruised knuckles and all. A delicious victory awaits those who persevere. Awake and feel the pulse of your destiny as you discover that you are the world’s greatest everything.
    glen heggstad
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Posts: 20,849Super Moderators moderator
    edited March 27, 2013
    "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

    -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • strikingvikingstrikingviking Big grins Posts: 99Registered Users Big grins
    edited March 18, 2014
    Thanks for the kind words amigos. I sort of forgot about this thread and will update these journals soon.
  • strikingvikingstrikingviking Big grins Posts: 99Registered Users Big grins
    edited January 13, 2015
    And the Road Smoothes
    January 10, 2006
    Delia, Ethiopia
    Early mornings in Marsabit were a wicked tease. A cold, gray fog enshrouded decrepit buildings and browning eucalyptus treetops, offering just enough momentary light mist to tingle faces. But in the arid Chalbi Desert air, rain was a frivolous notion as faint whiffs of moisture were sucked into clouds of swirling red dust before ever hitting the ground. Inhabitants weren’t encouraged; only optimistic foreign visitors were foolish enough to think the drought was ending and a storm approaching. But it was the same result by noon, an empty powder-blue sky breathing steady desert gusts to deposit grit into squinting eyes.

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    Riding toward the border, there was little to see beyond a deep cut corrugated road evaporating into the horizon. Endless ruts and jagged stones threatened to slice vulnerable rubber tires over thousands of flat square-miles across evenly spread baseball-sized volcanic rocks. The scene ahead looked like photos broadcast from robot cameras on Mars.

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    Despite the government’s attempts to search for water, their inadequate gesture is a year too late. As massive brand-new yellow road-graders rusted in Marsabit equipment yards, there was no one to man them or the scattered, abandoned roadside drilling rigs. Foreign aid sent to finance relief was likely lining the Swiss bank accounts of various government officials appointed to oversee these projects — and no one here works without pay. They will die first — sooner rather than later, if the delay continues.

    Established watering holes have vanished into pathetic pits of caked earth — there is nowhere left to drive cattle for drinking, and there is no plant life left to graze on. Useless to continue herding, cows have been freed to die in the open. Every other mile, scrawny strays lie sideways, intermittently flailing their legs in futile attempts to rise — and in between, the piercing stench of death announces another less fortunate. Skinned for their hides, the decaying meat was poison to humans, and there weren’t even any vultures to pick the bones.
    Despondent villagers with downcast eyes waited next to stacks of empty plastic jugs. African pleas were no longer hustles for money— only parents and children on their knees with clasping hands shouting “Water, water, water.” I still hear them when trying to sleep.

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    Continuing past dusk into late evening’s transparent black velvet, teams of miniature antelope the size of jackrabbits leaped aimlessly across the road. Sets of shining pink eyes either froze in my path or charged for the light. A faster-moving vehicle would have creamed these only companions of the night. Able to march vast distances without water, long camel caravans weaving through thorn bushes stood the best chance.

    These tall, lanky animals could be smelled before they were seen in the headlight, as nomadic tribesmen in high-piled turbans swatted their rumps with irritable commands to keep moving forward. As the only beasts able to survive, even their final hopes were to find the edge of the desert. Yet the only hope for an alien on a limping motorcycle was the Ethiopian frontier, where promised tarmac would lead to Addis Ababa and an opportunity at repairs which will be necessary if I am to finish a journey that I am no longer sure of.

    And just before dawn, rooftop shadows of the dilapidated outpost at Moyale rose into view like welcoming tombstones. More rundown than a typical soulless border town, this forlorn graveyard of decaying structures made Marsabit look modern. Though it was too early for me to enter customs and immigration procedures from the Kenyan side, I could see relief ahead — a dark asphalt strip wrapping low-lying hilltops, vanishing into the Ethiopian skyline.

    Finally, groggy, old black men in soiled gray uniforms shuffled to their posts in time to first fire kettles of tea for the upcoming day. As the only person transiting either direction, my carnet de passage and passport were stamped and registered almost faster than I wanted. With no other suckers out this early, black-market moneychangers argued over who could scalp me the quickest. But using the leverage of supply and demand, I bargained them down to exchanging the last of my Kenyan shillings at better-than-bank rates
    and felt lucky until discovering that there are no ATMs in Ethiopia.

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    Riding to the capital was a 12-hour sprint to cash my emergency traveler’s checks, which until then, would leave barely enough money for fuel. Still, the casual countryfolk were pleasant, and at every stop I was met with outstretched hands and urgings to take their photo. Ordering food was a challenge. As no one spoke English, in order to eat without fried onions, there is now a complicated new language to learn, quickly. Derived from Arabic with no familiar letters, consonant sounds are configured in peculiar order and pronounced with hisses. Greetings come first in developing countries. “Salaam endemana?” (Hello, how are you?)

    But this works fine while waiting for food in side-street restaurants, as I engage locals while pantomiming questions for recording definitions in my improvised Amharic dictionary. Experimenting in crude cafés is still the best way to meet people, and soon I’ve bumbled through an hour-long simple dialogue in an unknown language. Between easygoing natives and flavorful, spicy curries, southern Ethiopia was much too pleasant to rush, and for the first time in awhile, it was a refreshing change not to hurry.
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