The Landmark Hotel has been the perfect bolt hole. I buy some new shoes to replace my dead Adidas Sambas, find a very honest fundi (only wants to charge me ten pence for his work) to repair my bike (again) and manage to get Internet for an hour to post some blogs and let my family know I am OK.
The road from Tukuyu to the Malawi border is down hill for the first 20 kilometres. It should be a perfect day of cycling once we are out of the rain clouds.
Thirty minutes by the roadside.
Beautiful mountain scenery and well-kempt tea plantations.
Glass in tyre. Puncture. Brow of a hill with lorries and minibuses zooming by.
Puncture 3, puncture 4. I am ready to throw my bike in Lake Malawi. I feel ridiculous to be slowing down Bjorn so much.
By puncture six it is clear the problem isn’t just the rotting tyre and buggered inner. The badly/cheaply designed Chinese wheel is also creating its own punctures.
This is the most beautiful scenery we have seen so far in Africa. We are cycling a ridge with dramatic valleys either side. Tea plantations are once again replaced by bananas; thousands upon thousands of banana trees as we travel south. Green, lush vegetation covers the peaks that surround us. There are waterfalls, smiling kids by the roadside, strangely shaped mountains covered in rain clouds soaring out of the landscape. This is an incredibly beautiful part of Planet Earth, and we have it practically to ourselves. I will call this place ‘Paradise Ridge’.
But as the hours roll by we realise we may struggle to find a ‘safe place’ to spend the night. I must cycle on a flat tyre, and I must cycle very quickly if we are to make it to the border before dark.
Knowing we are in a tight spot is enough motivation.
The sweat pours off me like the rain did previously. Even my trousers are soaked from sweating.
We do of course make it to the Kasumulu and the border before darkness, I having felt every bump and vibration in the road from my flat back tyre.
It has been another amazing day of highs and lows. I am sorry for slowing Bjorn’s journey down so much, but the reward has been to spend many hours in one of the most beautiful and serene places I have ever seen.
Lubele Village Motel, Tel 0754 391650, Box 35, Kasumulu, Tanzanian side of border. Ask for Clement.