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28th Nov 12’ Upington – Springbok, South Africa

December 1, 2012

I excitedly walk round to the BMW showroom to pick up Livingstone. I knew he wouldn’t be ready but I missed him, and wanted to see Gavin at work. Along the way I safely walk the streets of Upington to call at the local camping shop, but its closed.

At the showroom, Gavin was half way through the service. I ask if the shaft oil is due to be replaced, Gavin replies telling me he had already changed it and does so on every service, now that’s what I call having pride in your job. The used oil was white where water had penetrated the shaft housing and I suspect that “pile of shit” I drove through on the road to Mamfe, Cameroon being the cause.

Gavin is a skilful mechanic with great aspirations and follows his aspiration to pass his masters in the near future. He made some minor adjustments to Livingstone and I was on my way wearing my new pair of riding trousers purchased at cost from the BMW, Upington. My old, cheap khaki Red Route summer trousers had served me well but had become worn and torn because of daily use, not to mention the many beatings on rocks they had received from the washer women back in the adventurous days of my journey.

Leaving the show room travelling back to Searky’s, Livingstone, cantered and bucked down the street like a playful foal, or maybe that was my low inflated rear tyre. I returned so Gavin’s trainee who re-inflate to my required pressure of 2.8 bar. The front was fine at 2.4 bar. During Gavin’s work we decided to leave the front TKC80 fitted as there was still a lot of tread to showing. The rear TKC80 had to be replaced with my Anakee 2 intermediate tyre which I had carried with me since last changing them myself back in Lagos, Nigeria. This now meant Livingstone wore an off road front and intermediate rear. So long as it kept the cost to replace any of the tyres this was fine with me considering my journey through Africa would be over in a few hundred miles.

I returned to Searky’s and packed away my gear then hit the road to Springbok. By now it was late morning so wasn’t too concerned whether I would make it or not. Any distance would be good progress in this heat.

Along the way are stop/go signs where road engineers are resealing the tarmac. I stop by one and look ahead. The shimmering tarmac resembles a stagnant river with a blurred haze rising hovering above it. Further along the Kalahari Desert, temperatures soon increased to over 40’C making it an exhausting journey. I pre-empt each gust of wind and lean in to them hoping it’s the right direction, though sometimes leaning with the wind causing the bike to sway from one side of the road to the other as I fight to control the Livingstone. I close my visor, its cooler that way, but the hot air still enters from around the chin area. My eyes are sore and my lips chap because of the hot wind drying them out. It’s that hot, I ride with one eye closed to prevent them both from drying, and then swap to the other whilst trying not to wet my lips. There’s absolutely nothing along the Kalahari Desert apart from a small town and petrol station every two hundred miles or so.

Eventually, I reach Springbok and look for accommodation. I find a lovely, expensive guest house with a swimming pool. I give the proprietor the same old sob story that I have ridden all the way from England on a budget and barter the price down from 700 Rahn to 650 Rahn. My room turns out to be the size of an apartment which explains the cost. It’s lovely and cool being located nearer the basement but find it way to cluttered. There are tables, chairs, teddy bears, rugs, lamps, drawers, cupboards, you name it, it was in there. Throughout the night I constantly tripped over things so suggested in the customer survey they employ a minimalist, like me, (lol), to help de-clutter.

I take a walk to the local restaurant but turn around after deciding I’m not very hungry and will look forward to the English breakfast in the morning instead.

I make use of their wi fi and update my blogs as well as watching television for the first time in weeks. Shameful of me, I know.