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Monthly Archives: August 2012
One of the exciting events I had in San Diego is to present my project to the San Diego Zoological, Institute for Conservation Research. When I do talk in the other places I mostly talk with students, cyclists or adventurer but this one was different, these were people with broad knowledge of conservation, engaged in conservation program in more than 100 countries around the world. Furthermore apart of doing only Biology conservation they also try to find the best way to conserver the natural area. In what we agree together is ‘Conservation can’t be done without collaboration of local communities’.
I think they are very used to seminars because the listen capacity was very high even after 45 minutes whereby to other audience I have to wrap up because they lose their concentration.
As I said before my knowledge of Zoo conservation is quite limit but now with this frequent visit and meet several people, I’m learning other side of it, though you cannot separate it from the concept of money making and only can be afforded by rich society. These zoos can help to save endangered species from extinction, some of good study can be done here accurately due to the availability of facilities compared to the wild areas, and they bring nature inspiration and education to the visitors who wouldn’t be able to visit the wild areas like Africa. That said, I still have to find out what we lose to animal like elephant with it complex brain and social life or bird which mean to be free on the sky to wonder around the cage for the entire life.
Cycling to Los Angles…
I wasn’t aware of how it may feel to be cycling to such a city like Los Angles; it was till last few days when I told my friend in the internet charting. She was so thrilled ‘are you going to cycle to Los Angles?’ she asked. After that conversation is when I start to work on the map and other info regarding the city; I’m going to cycle in the city of 20 million people, which is like ¾ of my entire county, it is the city of famous ‘HOLLYWOOD’, just to mention.
The ride start at Ocean Beach, it was warming up ride as me and Erick cycle without panniers to Carlsbad beach (35Mi). The shit show cycle in these cities is navigation; most of the locals navigate with their GPS so asking it doesn’t mean it improving compare to Bolivia. The route took us through beach towns, these towns has most luxury looking houses, the lane full parked with all sort of car, looks like 3 car per family, visitor you may have to bring your own parking! Everybody is out, running, golfing, tensing, my fellow brothers ‘Mexican’ taking care of well manicure small garden. To be honest I felt like I’m in the big television and soon I’ll get out to the real world. What I mean is like there is no buses with shouting people, street vendors, jobless hang out playing games or so, here it like everything is managed with great remote. It seems like it doesn’t matter what is the day of the week the cold water beaches are full parked with ladies on the bikinis and bare chest dudes.
At Carlsbad my host Aaron and his fiancée Konni they put together part and invite bunch of friends, it was great time to hook up with amazing friend I made in San Diego. The house offer beautiful view of the ocean, for the two nights I spent her, anytime I look at the road there were cyclists, and guys on giant motorbikes making all might noise.
On Sunday morning alongside Dr. James, the direct of Education department at Institute for Conservation Research we start pedaling towards Los Angles. We were supposed to cycle along Pacific Coast Highway but in some point we had to go through towns and here it when it becomes complicated. We had three leaders on three different times; first was a woman we ask for direction and she decides to cycle with us to show us the proper route. Next was a friend (Ron) very fun and enthusiastic buddy who hear about Chile to Kili form friend who have been following the project and the ride from began. Knowing how challenge it might be for navigation Randy and Luke join us in the different separate area. 30 Mi before Los Angles down town I was again alone but now with clear idea or my navigation, before the city get busy, Dr. Curtis from LA Zoo peak me up. Together we drive to Chine town, I guess it big like my county back home, it not a Chine town just as name, it real Chine town. We ate at Chinese restaurant all dishes are Chinese even the chop sticks written made in Chine! I’m told that the city is devided to several gangs as well some places can be dangerous, here it were you see those dudes with baseball caps turned front back. Possible I may see Snoop Dog Dog walking is dogs!
I’m staying in the zoo but not on the cage as many may thing in the very nice apartment, I can here tigers and chimps in the early morning, it doesn’t feel like Los Angles at all. Curtis and other friend from the LA zoo health center they drive me around the city up to observatory and then down to Hollywood. The city is massive and wide spread but that isn’t shocking. The shocking is pollution, first I thought is fog but I was told no man! This is pollution, so far I have heard about pollution but this one was so visible and oblivious.
While my brain was still occupied with that recently experience and my host busy finding way to the famous Hollywood, all over sadden Hollywood was here. I don’t mean to be called blooded but honestly it a place full of mixed feelings of art and illusion. It all about jostling and pushing with tourist from all over the place with access to TV and Movie, just as Arusha down town might be with safaris guys, here are guys with costume of famous actors. The different is this clowns they has secretaries, they has someone who encourage you to take pictures with these clowns for certain amount of dollars. The Hollywood boulevard is full of shops and stores for souvenirs, expensive, clothes, food, etc. There is also lots of tourist vans which shuffler tourist around, under-ground artist put up some demonstration in the street. When the view permits the giant sign board of Hollywood stand still in the foothills.
Jacob Inseberg the SIT student is a man who is brings Chile to Kili in East Coast, through Jack invitation. On Tuesday morning I start the day as early as 4am, short ride to catch a shuttle to LAX airport, shuttle delay due to road accident, before driving in LA I thought Dar es Salaam is worst for traffic jum but that is wrong, here are four lanes but it still jammed. It big airport for the bushman like I one mistake will end up losing the flight. I stand in the queue for a while to find out I have to print my boarding pass myself, the fat lady she just tell me ‘you have to check in again the wall Sir’ there was no further explanation when I turn she was dealing with more confused folks than me. Learning that isn’t only I confused and frustrated with the system, I had to work hard; I got in the plan the last minutes.
Flying over Arizona desert I feel like my body want to jump out of my skin, I had clear memory of the hot days I had here. I was sitting next to Mexican woman who asked me if that was desert, I’m worry I exaggerated the information I gave her because of my recent experience. Arriving in new York I dint see the famous sign because on the window is Indian dude who is more curious than I so he claim the window for himself.
I fly New York then transfer to New Jersey, the formal ‘garden state’ means producing food but what I have seen so far it nice garden with huge house in the middle though timed and clean but no one to be seen enjoy that beauty . So far the invitation will bring me to speak at Princeton, Cap Code, Boston, Portsmouth, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Tucson- Phoenix felt good, the terrain was relatively flat with gentle climb or descend. Don a friend from Tucson join me with his road bike, it was nice to have someone along to start seating the pace. Don was telling me his story that for about 20yrs he has back bone problem spent lot of time and money in the hospital till recently he start cycling and all the pain is gone. Bicycle for medicine!
About 50km the frontage/shoulder road goes along highway wonder in the interior of Indian Nation or what known as reservation. It just till recently when I came to know that even the big nation as US it is still small possible New York and Los Angles feel more US than I hear from someone from Tubac village or certain Indian Nation or even Vemort state. So the history goes like that the federal government wasn’t successful to unite everyone to massive US, some native Indians fought for their independence from Spanishyard to federalist. Today these small patches still preserve their tiny islands inside big ocean; their preserved rights are simply like running casinos, possible to stop certain development and McDnald. Some of the Indians I met they were so proud of their nations which make me remember of Israel in the middle of Palestine.
At the rest area half way to Phoenix I had long conversation with Indian family selling souvenirs despite the fact that there was big sign calming that ‘vending is prohibited’ though there is vending machine selling coke cola. They were so kind to share with me their water insisting that I should take a ride because Phoenix is too far and it is getting hotter. Just as African they didn’t passive it why should I torture myself like that if I’m not going to wine certain sum of money.
At 4pm in the evening I made it to Phoenix made it 105 miles 140km, Lily and her daughter Grace show up on their tandem bike to pick me up. Lily she is first Black African woman I know who does touring cycling, she cycled some part of west coast. Here stories can be found in the ‘crazy man on the bike’ https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/directory/?user=bllvenus. We knew each since the time I was biking in Africa she has been good support of Chile to Kili. She helped to put together the talk at the central library. She is now plan to cycle across Africa with her daughter in the near future.
Here in Phoenix I come across like minded folks, activist in several aspects from culture, politics, arts, medical marijuana, gay/lesbian/transect, and environmentalist just to mention. Through this connection the news of the guy on the bike spread fast like wind, I was shuffled around into art galleries, parties where I’ll come across the mayor of the city and eventual end up pose for photo with him.
No matter what happened moving on isn’t an option, Lily lead me on the tide but lonely street of wide spread desert city of Phoenix. Soon I was alone once again in the outskirt of the city which Mexicans neighborhood, not too far the road disappear into desert. Few times the road breaks into small farm town actual most of them farm Hay. In this town you will be welcomed with big signs Subway 5miles or picture of Mc Donald bugger with big mug of coke for $4. I used chance of these places to get some ice and water. In these fast food place and gas station stores there are machine for ice and soft drinks, after fill my dirty and bitten up bottles I once asked the girl on the counter how much does it cost she replay ‘no problem’, I think probably because you can’t scan them sine everything here is sold by computer. Since then I use these place without bothering to ask for payment not sure if it offense or not or the just consider me as arrogant black dude on suspender and helmet who think can walk in the store and get water for free.
The valley of death…
The cycling between Phoenix till began of plateaus it one vast valley which goes as low as sea level. Cycling in this are in peak of summer might mean death, the heat increase as the sun rise till 2pm it reach 50 Celsius (about 120F). This is twice of my normal temperature of where I’m leaving. The first day out of Phoenix the heat reached this point 20 miles before I reach Gila Bend town. There were no were to hide, the ‘desert shrubs’ are too short, 10 liters of water goes just like northing. Evaporation is so high that I don’t even see like I sweet any more. 10 miles before Gila Bend I run out of my hot water, I need
to push fast to get water and at least some shade but at the same time this mean sweet more , my mouth dry to the throat as I breath the dry air and the head start to hummer. I keep raising my bottles to the passing car but seem like none could peak my sign, at this point it when I feel like the world turn against me, I felt my insanity more closer ‘what is the hell are doing here’ it the voice inside me, it like I wasn’t me anymore so I just pedal hope that next minutes I’ll fail down sleep in the long peaceful sleep or peaked up by someone. But thanks that didn’t happen so I made it to Gila Blend, the town though has fancy houses, fast food and stores but still remand me the ‘dead towns’ of Atacam/andes, people are seen getting out of the car and entering stores and houses, everyone hide inside the air condition. I drink lot but it took a while water to get into normal circulation, I cycle out of the town since wasn’t look very welcoming, it has bunch of RV (Recreational Vehicle) park and motel which cost $40. At 6pm it was still 43 Celsius but the breeze make it easy to cycle. With the fence everywhere there were no way to bush camp, I bike till 10pm when I come across sign say ‘food and gas, next service 40mils’, the food and gas place was closed down long time, the store still has merchandize and vending machine outside still has few drinks. I hang out at the place for a while but I sense that there was no any sign of human being. I put up my tent but unable to sleep on it as it was still 38 Celsius. In the next morning it when I see around where I slept all the doors has sign saying for sell.
The following day I try to sleep in the hill overlooking Yuma but the situation was the same hot, hot. In the morning I cycle pass Yuma crossed River Colorado this day was less sun with just a it of clouds, I spent the hot afternoon in the abandoned house.
There were few places to refill water, thanks for border patrol officers who end up asking if I need instead of asking for passport as they do when I drive by these check points. The officers turn to be friend and interested on my project but they insist that next day the last day to San Diego it going to be the hardest one they give me the detail of climb and heat. I tend not to go too much into detail and take the surprise but these guys were serious so their advice was to do it earl in the morning. The after become hot as the first day so It took long rest at Imperial Dunes, here I enjoyed simple American kindness two guys stop by to offer cold water and simple chart. What is fun here is there are so many cyclist anyways not at the section I ride or at least not this time of the year but unlikely Latin where you receive lot of attention as foreigner and crazy enough to cycle from one city to another, here you are another guy on the bike.
Soon after 5pm I resume pedaling pass the dune which give a good scene when you look behind as the roll down into valley. I crossed El Centro town in the night stop for Pizza and big mug of ice mountain dew. About 16 km out of El Centro I found rest area they don’t allow camping and yes I didn’t camp I just put mattress under the tree and sleep for few hours. I wake up at 4pm and stat the climb, I think it about 25 to 30km of climb, I got up in the pass which is about 1250m, it was 50 Celsius by the time I finished to make my branch of raise, tuna and sweet corn. Going downhill was the reward of the climb, from here the terrain changed into plateau, jugged mountain with valleys in between. The vegetations changed as well slowly the shrubs turn into pines and temperature kept going down. The time I arrived San Diego down town I was cycling under 27 Celsius with cool breeze from the ocean, it was like a dream when I did comparison of where I cycle for couple of few days to here, and this was paradise!
This is my third big city in US after Tucson and Phoenix, geographical it total deferent from the previous ones. The atmosphere here is quite different as well; it like everyone is in the mood of vacation. It quite a bike friend city about 40km out of the city there was bike lane, down town the city along the beach lots of folk are in their bikes. Even the accent chaned!
Upon arrived at Ocean Beach area my host Amy and his brother Eric were out waiting, so when I should up the corner I hear the scream ‘he is here’ that was one of enthusiastic and exciting receiving. Few blocks from the house is the beach, yesterday we found ‘nyama choma’, race and beans first east African dish though here sold by Caribbean dude who we couldn’t understand our accents till we adjust to standard pronunciations . For me was surprise to find that kind of food such far but I’m told that here you may find any kind of food you want, the world is in America
It also seem like if I was wondering how things are different in Arizona here things might be total ridiculous so let see I have few days here before cycle up to Los Angles, hope I may be able to come up with another blog before take off.