On January 13th, I started my epic solo mission to cycle around the globe. With a plan to cover the distance from Chile in South America back to my homeland in the foothills of the great Mount Kilimanjaro, all in an effort to raise $100,000. In the begin some told me I was insane, some said it was too ambitious, and my beloved grandma even told me that it would be better to get married and find the meaning of life.
I admire education because it is vital where I come from. Over time though, I realized we learn throughout our life. Up to today my education is informal and I am still struggling to acquire formal education. From this quest is where I came up with the idea of cycling the globe in hopes that young Tanzanians, like myself, can have the opportunity to gain the knowledge needed to protect our rich but fragile ecology, and manage our country’s natural resources for sustainable development. By cycling to raise money, it is my dream to bring formal education to those that wouldn’t otherwise be able to go.
So far in twelve months, I have cycled from Argentina to the Canadian Border through the United States. I covered 110,292km (approximately 68,532mi). On this journey, I have had to overcome so much; social challenges, mental challenges and the hardest, physical challenge. I found myself in the Northern Hemisphere in the winter season, which I would have never imagined the difficulty I would have continuing to pedal to Alaska–even with my sense of adventure! I tested the weather when I pedaled from Northern California to Washington–a series of cold rain, persistence of cold weather, frozen passes and as I reached further north, the shortness of daylight hours. I am now taking a break for the winter season, making a great effort to prepare for the second and last leg of the journey to cycle the world and drive change. Due to the visa difficulties I am forced to change the route plan. My plan now is try to acquire a European visa then cycle from Northern Europe through West Africa and finish in East Africa.
Thanks to Marry Anna Rose for such a great support and kindness. Marry Anna and other close friends encouraged and supported me when I was deciding if it would be a good idea to fly back home and join family for holiday while I was taking a break through the cold winter. The flight from Seattle to Nairobi was long and tiresome. Luckily, I had 24 hours in London to rest. Coming from the US, I was so surprised how UK is different, starting with immigration–they were so flexible. It took about 20 minutes to get two-day visa without the usual bureaucracy complications. I was impressed by how people were so patient and helpful (at least most of those I met). It was extremely expensive though. The taxi driver even advised me not to take a taxi. He explain how I could use buses, and again the bus driver was nice enough to tell me where to go and even offered directions. There, the people had a sense of compassion for foreigners. The thing I liked the most was finding out that in London ‘English don’t speak English’. It was very difficult understanding them because they spoke so fast. The most noticeable thing was ‘size’ compared to the US. In the UK most of the cars are small sized and often with more than two people on board. It was cold and snowing so my activities were limited.
I didn’t know how I would feel when I reached the Motherland. Landing in Nairobi and walking out of the plane, it was hot and humid and the wind carried the familiar odor that hit my face suddenly. I felt the strength which I have never felt before. Super excited and joyful, I stated to confront the harsh reality which will prove that things will never be the same. The taxi driver’s overpriced ride, driving to noise and smelling the streets of Nairobi, now I am starting to see things differently. In the morning at the B&B I had a great welcome back to the third-world with half-cooked bacon, over cooked sausage, and a cold omelet. I decide to stick with chappati and milk tea. Looking at the street, the street vendors were opening their stalls selling second-hand clothes, cheap Chinese products, scratch cell phone credit, peanuts, cart-pusher with huge loads were bare-chested and pouring with sweat while he was shouting to vendors to give him the right-of-way, all while a car was honking behind him. That is just beginning of a typical African morning.
Traffic is super intense! In the midday it was as hot and humid as I remembered. There were public transport riots due the the new laws, so people were walking and there were lots of people marching–some with their bundles balanced on their head. It made me remember those lonely streets and avenues of North America. Motorbikes carried three people with their belongings and some had two umbrellas to protect passengers from the unforgiving tropical sun. The driver of our 70-passenger bus was a bit impatient, but guess he had the right to be since he was trying his best which required a lot of experience. Out of city, on the way home to Arusha, under 120km/h (80mils/h), a herd of cattle attempted to cross the road. The driver slammed on the breaks and almost hit one. The Maasai herder was mad at him. What is supposed to be the highway is often shared with cattle, donkeys, and sheep. In this evening, folks sit under acacia trees and seem to be engaged in deep conversation while children play soccer/football on the dusty pitch.
The plains are green and stretch to several hills and mountain. The clear blues sky gives way to a yellow fire and soon the sun sinks into the mountains and we were left with only darkness. No street lights, but yet a woman selling fried fish beside the dusty road recognize me and shouted, “Hello!” I could hardly see her through the kerosene lamp…I am back home!
I wasn’t expecting culture shock but it happened (is happening). It is taking time to re-experience the quality, the system, etc. It is also hard to find the same common things to share with my people, nevertheless I am happy to reunite. It my environment, my people that motivates me to continue fighting for change. Seen all this, I realize that the set of so called with development was totally wrong as it produced less and less intended results, people still face the basic challenges which were supposed to be solved 30 to 50 years ago.