"Deep in the Tanzanian bush, David Robinson, the 53-year-old son of
baseball legend and civil-rights hero Jackie Robinson, has exchanged
his uneasy compromise with U.S. culture for a tribal adoption, an
arranged marriage, and an economic crusade. Through the farmers'
cooperative he founded, he is using the world's second-most-valuable
natural resource—coffee—to spur social change" - Brett Martin, May 2005.
I first came to know of David Robinson and his work through my friend Brian Hyland who produced a short documentary about him. Since we are only in Mbeya for a brief moment, I will not be able to make the quick trip into Mbeya's surounding countryside to visit Mr. Robinson's farm. But my thoughts have been with his story, which for me has accentuated the beautiful countryside we have had the pleasure of riding through the past few days.
The rolling hills have been smooth and fast the last 3 days as we near the end of our safari through Tanzania. Tomorrow we cross the Malawi border.
Riding the pavement can be fairly mindless compared to the tricky dirt roads - so there is a lot of time for the mind to wander.
Earlier today I was thinking about the overland trucks which are our lifeline, and realized that I haven't really described their role in this crazy journey. Firstly we each have a locker on one of the trucks - that locker is essentially our castle. Yes we either sleep outside or in a hotel room, but at the beginning of the day our possessions go into the lockers for safe keeping, and are there waiting for us at the end of our ride. Second, the trucks are our kitchen, which comes with a chef. After serving us a a hearty breakfast one of the trucks speeds to the designated lunch spot to set out the day's spread. At the same time the other truck rushes to the next night's camp to start preparing the camp area and get ready for the dinner rush. The pressure is on for these trucks, because as the riders are experiencing their own challenges during the day - sometimes the same challenge is even greater for the trucks ... Northern Kenya for example. Those roads were sometimes barely walkable, never mind drivable even for the most resilient of trucks. The trucks are also responsible for finding and storing our very thirsty water supply. And when it's all said and done the trucks are also the last line of defense for riders who need a bail out from the day's ride.
These trucks are not robots, so the people who operate them are really the ones who are our lifeline. Although there have been a couple of times when one of the trucks has not been at its expected rendezvous, there has always been an effective back-up plan.
So as I gave my daily thumbs-up to the passing TDA truck earlier today, I reflected on how much easier its existence makes a bike tour of this magnitude - and I am grateful. I am also even more in awe of those individuals around the world who embark on adventures like this - solo!!!
Lake Malawi - here we come!!!