The next morning, Colin changed the oil in both bikes (he was going to do it the day before, but time got away from us, and before we knew it, it was dark). Unfortunately, the beautiful sunshine was accompanied by a dust storm. And between trying to keep the dust out of the fresh oil, the constant licks from the nosy bull-terrier puppy who wanted to “help”, his newly blood-blistered and throbbing thumb, it was a pleasant experience all around. We left town after breakfast and continued northward. I don't understand the wind patterns in Africa, but we again rode into a strong headwind. No matter what direction we go, there's always a headwind!
|Sunset on the Zambezi|
But wait! As we started riding across some marshy wetlands just east of the park, hulking gray mounds appeared, and I slammed on my brakes (fortunately Colin was ahead of me and no one was behind) in my excitement! Elephants! A BUNCH of them! Oh boy oh boy oh BOY was I thrilled! Colin turned around and I pointed and waved at them. I got out the binoculars, and we watched them do what they do for a good twenty minutes before Colin had to drag me away, promising that I will have other opportunities to see elephants and reminding me that we do NOT ride after dark, and if we are going to make it to Katima Mulilo tonight, we must get a move on. Well, it was nearly dark by the time we got to Katima Mulilo. We camped on the grounds of the very swanky Protea Hotel for the night. While Colin again set up the campsite, I rode out to find something for dinner. I needed to hurry since it was about 6:30pm, and most grocery stores in Africa close at 7:00pm. On my way through the gate of the hotel, I asked a guard for directions to the grocery store. He smiled and said, “I will take you there.” I thanked him and said I just needed directions, but he insisted he would take me to the store. He hopped on his bicycle, and I followed him up the sand driveway to the main road and across, to another sand road, then another, then round another sandy turn. It was fully dark by now, and we pulled into the lot in front of a small market, where I searched for anything to put together for a meal. They had pasta but nothing to make sauce from, giant bags of rice and flour, frozen chicken necks, no eggs, but they did have potatoes and...pies! When I exited the store, my guide was waiting for me and apologized if I wasn't able to find what I wanted. I was just happy to find some food of any sort and even happier that he waited to take me back. As he rode, very slowly, he apologized for his lack of speed, but his bicycle rode like it was constantly in hill climb mode. For each rotation of the pedals, the wheels hardly moved. He finally jumped off and ran alongside the bike, yelling to me where to turn while I waited for him to catch up. I rode as slowly as I could so he could keep up, until my headlamp started to dim because the engine wasn't turning fast enough to keep the light bright. We made it back to the hotel, and I thanked him profusely (and tipped him) for his assistance. Colin and I ate our dinner of meat pies and mashed potatoes on the banks of the Zambezi River, listening to the grunting of the hippos somewhere below. It really doesn't get any better that this!