I woke up in the twilight today the sun still not quite up and guess what I had a peaceful animal free night with barely the twitter of a bird to disturb the silence. The ground was a little hard though and it might take a night or two more for my body to get used to wild camping again. But I feel good and get to watch the sunrise as I pack up my gear. While I’m packing up I remember that I’ve had a recommendation for tonights stopover from Josh – The Alizeti Hostel Iringa.
There’s something strangely liberating about a poo in the open air, the soft rays of the early morning sun warming your bare bum and with a gentle breeze blowing between your arse cheeks, ahhhhh magical! As I’m squat down on guard for roaming Lions out on their hunt for a spot of breakfast I hope to myself that this will be the first of many morning ablutions out here in the African savannah, I just have to remember to buy toilet paper as I only have a few squares left on my roll and had forgotten about its importance during my journey into domestication over the past month. Here is where the real adventure starts I thought, although tonight I was actually arriving in Iringa where I would be stopping for a day anyway but I felt as though the ice had finally been broken, the shackles of fear cast aside, and the now the true spirit of this journey was to begin!
Yes I know what your thinking, all of that from just one poo? Well my friends it’s amazing what power such a basic function can hold and it really is the simplest of things that are often the best!
Into the Great Wide Open
I had an absolutely lovely first 20 miles today with a totally flat and no wind whatsoever, wow is this what normal riding feels like? I had forgotten the joys of such a peaceful morning and 20 miles passes beneath my wheels like nothing at all! I knew however that I had a mountain to climb in the next mile or so as I had been looking at the wiggly road on my GPS for a couple of days now but what will be will be and it only looks to be a matter of 10 miles or thereabouts so I’m sure it won’t be too bad?! I stopped for a bite to eat in a village not far before the start of my climb called Izazi and enjoy some soup with a few chunks of goats meat inside that is a bit chewy, a bit fatty, but still rather tasty, oh and the normal accompaniment of a chapati and some tea. Not a massively hearty meal but it will do for now and I always have some bread and peanut butter to fall back on should my energy lag halfway up the mountain.
I continued on the flat for a little while longer still immersed in sea of leafless trees either side and was amazed at how there were virtually no cars on the roads today. It’s a cyclists dream to be on such a lovely stretch of almost flawless tarmac with little to no vehicles messing with the serenity and ambience of the place so I rode on well out into the middle of the road singing my heart out as I pedalled my way to Iringa which was only another 45 miles from the foot of the hill I was about to climb.
I think I should add a little “Tip for the trip” as I have been calling them since my last adventure and even life for that matter, now, I had been thinking about this road for only a little while but when I saw the series of switchbacks on my Garmin I had a bit of a sense of “oh damn a big hill, that’s going to be tough!”. The reality however was that this ascent that had given me just a slight hint of apprehension turned out to be incredible and yes although it was up hill and a little lengthier than most. The gradient was so gradual the riding was easy and I really enjoyed winding my way around the mountain, stopping now and then to look down upon the huge expanse of flat ground covered in a carpet of trees that stretched out as far as the eye could see. In short the “tip” is that there really is no need to worry about the “what if’s” of life as they will quite often be the opposite to your expectations and in some cases never come into existence at all. Which reminds me of another mountain road in the Bolivian Andes; I was descending after a long painstaking ascent and as I was flying down perfectly happy and relieved that the pedalling had stopped for the time being. I spotted a mammoth road back up the opposing mountain that I was sure that I had to climb as it looked like it was in my direction. It completely crushed the elation I was experiencing as I rolled down the spectacular mountain my thoughts consumed only by the inevitable but when I did eventually reach the bottom of the hill just waiting for the pain to start all over again the road turned suddenly and the leg breaking mountain road I had been watching all the way down was completely avoided, “ridiculous” I thought to myself and what a waste of a perfectly soul cleansing descent! I had obviously forgotten this lesson as I’m still having these troubles so I say it as much for my appreciation as anyone else’s but the truth in it is undeniable.
There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path… “Yes Morpheus mr know it all, evidently there is!!”.
The mountain ascent then turned out to be the best part of my day and starting at around 700 metres this morning I had now reached about 1250 metres when I assumed I had arrived at the top and would start to descent once more to another land of flatness. The terrain however had turned a lot more green, not lush and vibrant as such but definitely greener and some of the trees even had leaves on them too but what lay in front of me was rolling hills many of which were farmed (maize mainly), mountains all around, and a road that continued to steadily ascend all the way to Iringa.
Of course the wind up here was blowing rather well and although it had shifted slightly to the left I really struggled to generate any speed during the last 25 miles into the city and admittedly the riding was tough, beautiful but difficult!
Alizeti Hostel Iringa
I was so pleased to have finally arrived in Iringa and I worked my way towards the Alizeti hostel that Josh had recommended to me yesterday and where I would take my last rest day before heading to the border and entering another new country, Malawi. Only 3 more days of Tanzanian riding to go!!
I don’t think I would have bothered with this hostel had it not been recommended to me as it was a bit out of the way and down a steep dirt track. I persevered and found myself outside of the front gates before long. I must admit that on first impressions it didn’t look like much but I was greeted my a really cute dog and a very vocal cat and decided that id give it a try. It is quite basic really and the facilities even a little run down and dirty but the living area was fairly good and the sofas and armchairs looked commodious enough for me to get some writing done and as they have the internet I decide to take it! They don’t have their own website but after Googling around a bit I find that the Alizeti Hostel is well thought of, just check out their Trip Advisor reviews.
The remainder of the afternoon is spent talking with the few guests and relaxing on the hammock outside looking at the stony mountain. All is well in the world!