Date: 30.03.17 onwards
Blog entry date:21.05.17
Odometer: 8 544km
Flat tyre counter: 3
Max speed of tour : 72.1km/hr (Day 142)
Longest day: 215km (Day 48)
Renting an apartment in Durbanville, Cape Town.
This blog entry is long overdue, but better late than never.
We have been back in South Africa since 02.04.17, but let me start with the last few days in Kigali.
During our last day at the Mille Collines we slowly started arrangements for the trip home. Our plan was to pack the bicycles and fly Kigali-Johannesburg-Cape Town. Eva scoured the internet for good deals, the “sparfuchs” that she is 😁.
Using a flight search engines we bougt our tickets for Kigali-Jhb. Unfortunately this turned out to be a bad deal. Without boring you with the details, we lost the flight, but at least no money. It did result in a bit of an anti-climax, for our last day at the Mille Collines was spent sorting this out.
We had one last stop to make in Kigali and the next day cycled to Jacques and Hannelie, South Africans who recently moved there. They really spoiled us, but more important, they helped us get onto a flight to South Africa (through a friend who work as a travel agent).
I previously tried to get used bicycle boxes for packing the bikes. In South Africa you walk into any bicycle shop and they gladly give these away. In Kigali, not so easy. After several phone calls I found some at the Rwanda cycling federation. Jacques generously offered to collect these by car.
During our time with them we had great food and we soon realised that suddenly the tables have turned. Instead of burning more calories than what we eat, we were definitely consuming more than what we burn.
We also went for a visit to the genocide memorial in Kigila. This is in memory of the 1994 genocide, whith a strong message, “we’ve moved on but must never let this happen again“. It was moving to see all the exhibitions and it was difficult to imagine this happened 23 years ago. We both agreed that Rwandans deserve massive respect for the way they dealt with this. The country is moving forward and has the highest rate of GDP growth in Africa. One also gets a sense of “I’m proud to be Rwandan”. No one talks of Hutu or Tutsi, except during the week of remembrance when the whole country reflect on the atrocity of 1994.
By coincidence Jacques and Hannelie were on the same flight to Johannesburg as us, as they planned a visit to family. Again, this was of great help for us as we shared transport to the airport, organised by Jacques.
Kigali airport have some of the highest security I have ever experienced. Entering the airport every car is evacuated and luggage and car searched by sniffer dogs. After this and 3 security checks in the airport itself we made it onto the plane, with no time to spare. No extra cost charged for the bicycles.
The flight back was uneventful, but it felt really strange to sit at 30000 feet in the air and in 4 hours land in Jhb. The glossy in-flight magazine felt like something from another world and the artificial nature of commercialism has never been more clear to me.
We landed in Jhb at 23:00 and had to overnight at a hotel at the airport since the first connection to Cape Town was only the next morning.
We arrived in Cape Town the following day. There we were, 6 hours flying, less than 24 hours travel time to what has taken us 5.5 months by bicycle. In one way an anti-climax, but we were also very glad to be back home. In retrospect it would have been great if we could have planned our trip to cycle all the way home. It is a bit of a shock to be thrown back into normal life so suddenly, but ultimately it is inevitable.
We received a warm welcome from friends and family at the arrival hall. Then we went for a hearty wholesome Sunday lunch with the family. A meal we have dreamed of so often during our tour, the food was especially delicious. Besides the food, warm showers and flush toilets are really great 😂.
In the days that followed we relaxed and did a few beautiful hikes in the Cape mountains. I was reminded again why we love this part of the world.
We also visited friends in Knysna and they invited us to the Addo Elephant Park at their expense, very generous!!
At this stage we were slowly getting used to a normal life although we have not started work again. We also had to rent out our house for 12 months and were still bumming with the family.
On 2 May we walked back into the office and it felt a bit surreal. We did however receive a warm welcome which made it easier. Now after 3 weeks back at the desk it sometimes feels like our tour was a lifetime ago, or even that it never happened.
For this reason I’m so grateful that we could have done this together. From time to time when one of us remembers something it helps to be able to talk about it. It makes the whole experience more real, especially now that “normal” activities steal the hours and days.
In the meantime we managed to find a small furnished place to rent close to work.
Oh, I forgot, our two faithful companions, Friday and Uitkyk made trip back in good condition too. I re-assembled them in the first week and we already did beautiful cycling routes around the Cape winelands. We will soon be back on them for our daily commute to work (while staying with the fam it was too far).
For us this tour was a dream come true. We are so privileged to have had this opportunity. On an expedition like this you learn things about yourself you never knew. Some of them not so nice 😬. If we can share one lesson it is: take 1 day at a time, or put differently, break a big task down into small achievable segments. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time 😁.
Thanks for you interest and all the support. In a next post I will say something about the donations and how it will be used.
Willem & Eva
Arriving at Cape Town airport.
Hiking in the beautiful Cape mountains.
In Addo Elephant park, the reserve lived up to its name. We saw many elephants and it was a fascinating to observe their social behavior.