Friday, April 15, 2011

TdA Stage 71. The Breakfast Club.

96km. Livingstone to Kasane.
With just a short stage today, a few of us couldn't resist the temptation to turn an 81km journey into a 97km adventure and head back to the Royal Livingstone for the breakfast buffet.
Cappucino. Eggs benedict. Four different types of stinky cheese. Fresh pastries. These kinds of breakfasts just don't happen at bush camp.
One of the cool things at the Royal Livingstone is that a fair amount of wildlife wander the grounds; giraffe, zebra, antelope, monkeys (and not the mangey kind). We watched as one monkey grabbed some food from a briefly abandoned plate at another table. Dennis decided to teach the monkey a lesson and chased it down. Meanwhile, another monkey was already positioned to move in on Dennis's plate of food. These monkeys were smart and I have a feeling that this little routine is a daily occurrence.
Coming back to find that his food had been taken, Dennis lamented 'I can't believe that I got screwed by a monkey'. That might go down as one of the quotes of the trip.
We grazed the breakfast buffet table at the Royal Livingstone for two hours before finally getting the show on the road, then took a leisurely pace to the border, making up games along the way. 'Hide in the Bush and Surprise the Next Rider' was a fun game until Steve almost landed on his face after slipping on the gravel as he leaped from one bush. Then it was on to a High Cadence Competition. Paul won this one by briefly breaking through 180rpm. Ah, the breakfast club. I hope that we ride together again!
Our adventures turned out to be childsplay compared with Ram and Alice who got charged by an elephant at the side of the road. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.
As we approached the border, which is marked by a ferry terminal, there were cargo trucks were staging a protest. Two of the three ferries that provide the means to cross this border are out of service and each ferry can only take one large truck per crossing, a line-up had developed to the point where there is a five day wait for big trucks to cross. Somehow our trucks had sneaked through early in the morning, which is what I assume triggered the protest. Several kilometres of 18-wheelers parked diagonally across the road to deliberately block traffic made for an amusing zig zag by bicycle to the border.
I find it shocking that this type of bottleneck for transportation and trade in the south. The crossing is not long, but it passes the corners of four countries (Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia), which has complicated negotiations for the construction of a real solution like a bridge to open up transport and trade across this border.


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