Sunday, February 12, 2017

BOTSWANA – SOFT BUTTS TRAVERSE “A MAN’S LAND” WITH LYING INTERNET



A bit of rain proved that the choice to use Aerostich www.aerostich.com Darien Suits and Combat Touring Boots was a wise choice.  Pictured above was Dr. G at an early pit stop in Botswana, happily acknowledging that his private things, like passport, money, and pleasure stick had remained dry after driving for ½ hour in a heavy rain. 
Exiting Namibia and entry into Botswana was quick and easy.  The entrants were given 30 days free entry on their USA passports, but each was required to pay 200 Rand (about $15.00 USD) for a road tax. Both were often asked by border guards and Customs officers (not immigration officials) when they saw the USA passports, what they thought of their new President elected only weeks before.  Dr. G would try to dodge the question with, “Hey, did Harold Stassen win?” which usually drew enough of a blank from the inquiring persons to allow him to walk or ride away without having to engage in a political discussion.


Having been to this part of the world several times before, Dr. G shared some of his road learnings with Livermore, cautioning: 1) Don’t engage in political discussions, 2) Don’t engage in religious discussions, 3) Don’t flash your money around, 4) Don’t speak fast. Speak slowly when talking with the locals, enunciate your words and don’t throw the person you are speaking with any curve balls by using American idioms, 5) Don’t hand anything to anyone using your left hand as that’s the one they know is for wiping your personal exhaust port after doing your ablutions, and 6) Don’t forget what the Tech Team in Cape Town told you, “Don’t talk to strangers.” Dr. G closed his lesson on political and cultural correctness with, “That’s my advice, you can take it or leave it, that’s your choice, but don’t forget the old saying, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.



Pit stops were fun, a chance to rub/stretch and flex the Soft Butt buns, and the gas attendants were curious and friendly.  During one long stretch, Soft Butter # 9 limped into the petrol station with ½ liter left in the tank, or about 10 kilometers (six miles).  The lady attendant pictured above laughed when she was told how empty the gas tank was, and said, “You’ll not like walking in this hot sun if your run dry.” Dr. G pointed to Livermore, who does daylight walks,  and said, “He’s the hiker, I’m the biker, so I will stay and protect the motorcycles while he walks to the next town.”

 
Processing information gleaned from fellow travelers, gas station attendants, and hotel employees was a constant filtering process.  Even more so was the lying Internet and free downloaded map and hotel booking information (like the long dead hotel in the photo above).  

On one occasion the pair spent a hot 10 minutes circling a two block section of a town looking for a hotel Livermore had found on the Internet.  Dr. G, a nose-in-the-wind-traveler-Neanderthal and non-digital-adventurer or a sniff-out-a-cool-place-Luddite, said, “That place we passed three times while looking for your cyber missing Internet hotel, the one with the sign that said 'Ernie’s B & B,' looks good, next to a bar and restaurant.” 

After checking in the entrants were told the Internet had been lying to them -  the hotel Livermore found on the Internet had been out of business for 2 ½ years.  A factor that had become more common on a daily basis was to see how much misinformation the Internet could feed Livermore.
Pictured above was Livermore talking to a stranger during a pit stop.  He quickly put on his helmet and climbed on his motorcycle after the stranger said, “I want your motorcycle.”
Carrying on the spirit of the Clancy Centenary Ride http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/page/clancy-centenary-ride-2012-2013 Livermore is pictured above displaying one of two pendants that were created for the 2012-2013 event.  Dr. G, author of the book about the first ride around the world on a motorcycle, MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURER and a follow-up book titled THE GASOLINE TRAMP, liked to speculate at stops like this on how Carl Stearns Clancy would have seen the world over 100 years earlier.  Dr. G sadly opined, “The days of true adventure motorcycling have been lost to the Internet.”

Upon meeting a South African motorcyclist and telling him of their crossing of Botswana, the BMW GS owner said, “Botswana is still ‘A man’s land.’ It’s a rugged country, a hard country. You’ve done well to cross it without any people or mechanical problems.” 
The team’s next part of Stage Three was to exit Botswana and re-enter South Africa where they had to decide on whether to earn extra points in the eyes of some Internet adventure trolls and more riding miles offset by losing days to secure visas for entering Mozambique and possibly entering Zimbabwe and Zambia. 

While pondering a routing decision, Dr. G said, “Filter out those nice photos and glowing descriptions that lying smart phone has been showing you from the Internet. I’ve been there before and can remember it was far from being in Kansas. ”