We meet our friend, Angela in Nairobi on the route through Africa. She travels SOLO on her Honda Dominator and has criss-crossed Asia, Africa & Australia. She does 2-hour slideshows to 400 member audiences in Germany. Here she pries open closed minds and blasts away fears and fallacies.
We stay with her at home in Munich. We enjoy each other at beer fests and ice cream shops and motorcycle workshops. We hark back to the life we had through Africa. We brood over our trip to come along the Silk Road and through Siberia to Vladivostok.
Harry & I are pretty confident. At home, we broke through a mountain of books and maps and blogs. We know the places, the visas, the seasons, the diseases, the time zones, the alphabets.
We ask Angela for her slideshows of the Silk Road and Siberia …. simply to round things up for us.
WELL! It is a BOOTCAMP!
When it is hot, it’s HOT. When it is cold, it’s COLD. When it is busy, it’s BUSY. When it is isolated, it’s ISOLATED.
I feel like a punctured balloon and crawl into bed. Harry is wide awake and declares “no more ‘sit on the sidelines’ Harry”. Isn’t he funny?
The next day we squeeze Angela like a tube of toothpaste ….
Along every inch of the way, we mark; – the isolated spots of the barrel-like border posts of the police states; – locations of octane deficient plastic-bottles for petrol stations along the Pamir Highway; – possible camping places close to the summer pastures of the Kyrgyz herders; – a bunch of contacts in Karakol, Almaty and Ulan Bataan for storing our bikes just in case we get caught out by the Siberian winter.
Angela digs out a festering splinter in Harry’s finger. She finds me a bottle of red wine in the beer-cask that is Germany. She contacts the Embassy for advice on our last missing Turkmenistan transit visa. We visit Griegle, her mechanic-for-life to sort out Harry’s persistent flicker problem.
We spend 3 days and nights with Angela. Unintentionally (or intentionally!) she breaks us down and builds us up again.
And here are the Mantras of our Matriarch of Motorcycle Journeys:
- Smile until your cheeks hurt! (you are happy to be in their country).
- You are the TV! (you need to entertain & make them laugh).
- Wave at every truck driver. (you & ‘your bike’ may need a lift).
- Eat the old bread first. (you may need it all).
And her last grand gesture sweeps as away. She finds, amongst hundreds of Germans at a local beer fest, a KAZAKH for our first lessons in Russian! I do well and leave with a page full of sentences in English, then Russian, and then phonetic Russian. Alas, our Harry is left with a single sentence “I do not understand Russian, please speak to my wife”.
We leave Angela, but not without a date for a visit, by her to us, in South Africa.