Hash and Hotel Rooms in Morocco
While biking through Morocco, one might think that the men are incredibly gregarious by the way they flag you down from the sides of the road to talk and share a tea. That was what I thought at first. But soon I realized that most of these men saw me as a potential customer for local hash or a hotel room, and they used their unique selling skills that only a Moroccan is born with to try and convince me that what they were offering was exactly what I needed at that point in time. But not every Moroccan had a sale in mind, and I thoroughly enjoyed my jog through the country while I spent a little time out of the European Union. The Rif mountains of northern Morocco were surprising green given that I always imagined the country to be one big desert, and the hilly farming areas near the old city of Fez presented as many colors as spices were available in the local markets. Northern Morocco 23/4/18 to Algeciras, Spain 4/5/18
Running from the Police into the Middle East
In Egypt I lost the peace I found throughout the deserts of Sudan as I was soon followed for several days by the Egyptian police who were ordered to protect me from any threat as I traveled. Terrorist activity against tourists in the past has left Egypt in a position of understandable paranoia, and so I had to cycle with a police truck following me for several hundred kilometers along the Nile river in Egypt. But this did not keep me from enjoying in awe the ancient pyramids, tombs and temples of Egypt, and appreciating the strong energy and happiness that Egyptians displayed as they greeted me throughout the country. I continued on to Jordan where I marveled at the ancient city of Petra and biked along the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. As I crossed into Israel, I arrived just in time to celebrate Purim, a fun Jewish festival, with some of my friends who I have not seen in years. Aswan, Egypt to Jerusalem, Israel 7/2/18 to 11/3/18
Meet Mario. Mario worked 12 hour days every day for 19 months straight at a gas station in USA. He made the most of the opportunity and now can afford to plant cumin on this plot of land along the Nile.Lush farmland along the NileHabu Temple (Luxor, Egypt)
This was the view from the front door of a home I stayed in one night. The father of the home said that his grandfather made a good choice when he chose the piece of land to build the house. I would agree.My first falafel with my first Egyptian friendsSailors on the Nile
From Hell to Heaven
As I biked out of Ethiopia and crossed into Sudan on my birthday, I realized that I was leaving Hell and entering Heaven. Any cyclist who survives biking through Ethiopia will understand what I mean. Unfortunately my time in Sudan was hurried, as I was only allowed a two week transit visa with an expensive price tag. But the trip across the Libyan and Bayuda deserts of the Sahara was peaceful and colorful. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 9/1/18 to Aswan, Egypt, 7/2/18
Two Christmases & Zero New Years / What It’s Like To Bike In Africa
It has been over two years since I have ridden with another cyclist for more than just a couple days. I met my Swiss friend Pascal in Nairobi several weeks ago and we decided to head north together for a while. We biked through the richest cultural areas I have ever seen around Lake Turkana and the Omo Valley region of Kenya and Ethiopia respectively. Riding in Ethiopia means dodging rocks, sticks, water bottles, and book bags that are thrown at us by village children, and afternoon stops to enjoy the best coffee in the world. Due to the Ethiopian calendar, we have enjoyed celebrating Christmas twice, once in Kenya and once in Ethiopia, but missed the New Year altogether, so we are still living in the year 2010. Kampala, Uganda to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 3/12/17 to 9/1/18 (or 9/1/10)
The sandy roads around Lake Turkana in Kenya meant a lot of pushingCrossing the equator in KenyaEthiopian grave
Ethiopian Orthodox celebrate Melkam Gena (Merry Christmas) on January 7th. That meant two Christmas celebrations between Kenya and Ethiopia 🙂 . Ethiopians also celebrate their New Year in September, meaning no New Year celebration this year 🙁
Wild Honey & Grasshoppers in Eastern Africa
After a long windmill project off the bike in Malawi, I was eager to hit the road and make some distance north, trying to avoid biking in the rainy season. That didn’t work out so well as I was rained on daily in Tanzania, but waiting for a rain shower to clear always means passing the time shoulder to shoulder with the locals under the nearest shelter you can find. I briefly biked through Rwanda, enjoying the beautiful countryside and energetic children who ran and biked alongside me as far as they could. Then onto Uganda where the polite greetings, kindness, and big smiles of the Ugandan people have made quite an impression on me. Mchinji, Malawi to Kampala, Uganda 17/10/17 to 2/12/17
Stopping by the special needs orphanage of the GEM Foundation in Kampala, Uganda
This is a common sight in rural Africa, I come to a junction in the road and a bunch of signs for Non Profits and NGOs. In remote areas, often times the only vehicles I see are trucks, taxi vans, and the Land Rovers of these NGOs.The mountains of the western rift in Burundi
I want to thank the United States Government for funding the construction of more than one hundred miles of smooth road in western Tanzania. Smoooooooth.Millet+Corn+Wheat+Peanuts+Rice+Soy Beans = Power PorridgeCrowding around for camel rides
It's grasshopper season in Uganda, and this is a roadside grasshopper farm. Lights are hung from the sticks, metal sheets reflect the light, and the attracted grasshoppers fall into the oil drums. And they are delicious.Produce market in busy downtown KampalaA little hard to tell in the picture, but the slopes of the hills in southern Uganda were so steep they caused me to break a good quality bike chain for the first time
Let’s Build A Windmill
When I entered Malawi, I was eager to meet a Malawian man named William Kamkawamba who built a windmill when he was 14 years old. While searching for that man I met Zack Mwale, a young innovator in Eastern Malawi. After chatting about windmills we decided to build a windmill ourselves that would work to pump water for a community that was currently without any type of water pump. We went to some surrounding villages and met the people of Zandana, a small village of some 25 families who all pull water from a well using a bucket, or walk more than half a kilometer to a water hole to carry water back in buckets on their heads. We agreed with the chief of the village that it was a good place to install a windmill. After weeks of designing, finding materials, building and redesigning, we successfully constructed a windmill that pumps water for use in the village (see video above). This rewarding experience has been an inspirational one for myself and the people of Malawi, most of whom have never seen a windmill before. Zack and I look forward to seeing what this windmill leads to in the future, hopefully motivating other communities to look to the wind for clean energy. Mchinji, Malawi 7/9/17 to 17/10/17
After hours of searching around the market in Lilongwe, Zack and I struck gold when we found this old gear set that used to work for a conveyor. We used this for the critical function of the windmill gearing.Zack negotiating timber prices Digging holes for the water tank standWind blade layout The people of Zandana helping to move the tower
When we strapped this 1000 liter water tank to Zack's little car, we had to drive at night to avoid the inevitable police bribes that would follow.Digging the water well Building our gear set for the windmill Constructing the tower Some of the children of Zandana around the well
We carried sand in buckets on our heads to mix concrete. African women are ridiculously strong when it comes to this.The future of innovation, baby ZackZack claims he became a better brick layer than me by the end of the project. I disagree.
A big thanks to Zack Mwale and his family and friends for all their support, meals, and good times. I thank the people of Zandana for all their help throughout the project. Thanks to Delick, Halice, Jablos, and Mr. George for all their help and patience. If you are interested in what to consider in building your own windmill, reach out to me through my contact page. If you are looking for innovation and design work, Zack Mwale is filled with ideas and can be reached at [email protected], whatsapp +25699930029.
Crowning The King, Baboons and the “How Are You” Song in Zambia
I was eager to hit the road after a long stay in Zimbabwe. I rode through the backdoor of Zimbabwe, crossing the great Zambezi river into Zambia. Little changed entering Zambia, except hearing the "How Are You" song chanted by little children 24 hours a day, a sore butt from a new saddle, and a giant baboon who aggressively stole 1 kilo of oats from me. I met some other cyclists for the first time in a while, including fellow global trekker Pascal after last seeing him in Mexico nearly 2 years ago, and a couple on a short tour of Southern Africa. After riding with them for a few days I split upon entering Malawi to learn more about renewable energy…
Harare Zimbabwe to Mchinji, Malawi 25/8/17 to 7/9/17
This family of elephants decided to eat from this tree. My bike and the bikes of Pascal and another couple were all sitting under the tree. One of the elephants stood eating just 2 steps away from destroying my bike. When I tried to sneak behind and steal it away, he turned, stepped forward and threatened me with widespread ears, standing inches away from my bike. I backed off and just as the family decided to find another tree to eat from, one of them smelled fruit in the front bag of Pascal's bike. After failing to take it out with his trunk, he stepped on the bag to try and open it. He again failed to open it but bent the front rack and wheel of Pascal's bike before leaving. Only in Africa.
Shout out to Working Bikes on this one. I use to volunteer with Working Bikes, a nonprofit based out of Chicago that collects donated bicycles and ships them to developing countries. Sure enough I found one of the recipients, and this organization run by women in Zambia uses the shipping container filled with bicycles as their shop and warehouse, fixing up the bicycles and selling them to the community. After spending many Saturdays working with Working Bikes back in Chicago a couple years ago, it was great to see the other side of their equation. I found a bike saddle which helped my sore butt, and my buddy Pascal found a bike rim to replace his which was stepped on by an elephant.
Christian women praying in the fields outside Harare ZimbabweThe backdoor Zimbabwe-Zambia border post of Kanyemba. Not too many people take the rough road through a safari area to reach this river crossing.This one is tough to see, but scarecrow or voodoo doll set up next to a hut?
Meet Beatrice Maggie. She has a great story about women's empowerment in Zambia. Watch the video and listen to the rest of the recording to hear her story. She can be reached at [email protected]
How the Sun Can Freeze In Zimbabwe
In early July as I was first biking into rural Zimbabwe, I met Zulu Tofirani, a bread salesman in the village of Kalisine. I dined with Zulu's famly, slept in his humble shop, and learned about his desire to expand his business in the future. Like in most other rural areas of Zim, Zulu lives off the grid, without any electricity. Those in Zimbabwe who do have electricity have suffered from frequent power outages as the country struggles to generate enough energy from its coal plants. As I left Zulu, I began to think about how he, his family, and his business could benefit from an off grid solar system. One month later, after I learned a good bit about solar installations, I made my way back to Zulu to install a solar system strong enough to power to a deep freezer. Zulu and I agreed that the project would be an investment in him and his business. The idea is to use the solar powered freezer to expand his offering to sell meat that he and local farmers raise, as well as other chilled products that are in high demand in the area. By harnessing the power of the sun, hopefully Zulu will be able to grow his business and make life a little more comfortable in his village. I look forward to tracking Zulu's progress as I continue on my trip. Harare & Kalisine, 11/8/17 to 24/8/17
A huge thanks to James and Buck Davy at One Stop Solar for their recommendations, instruction, and high quality solar products. My project would have been a pipe dream without the help and resources of Graham Botton of Carbontek. My thanks to Barry Rawlings at Switched on Solar. Thanks to the guys at Capri, Zimbabwe's best refrigeration dealer with products manufactured in Zim. I also want to thank Baba Mevi and Orphan for their help and wonderful company, as well as the community of Kalisine for their assistance during installation.
African Kung Fu and the Monkey Dance
Solar Installation with Max of One Stop Solar in HarareI have been amazed at the skill of Zimbabwean women when it comes to carrying anything and everything on their head
Eating a cooked field mouseComposting Beds at Foundations For Farming. Check out the great ways to farm organically at www.fffzimbabwe.orgI enjoyed following my teammate Lord Graham Botton into thorny bushes as he did not know how to read his GPS during my first mountain bike raceShout out to the Saturday morning Mountain Bike Crew in HarareThe Chinese have a growing presence throughout AfricaFrom left to right, the evolution of typical rural homes in Zimbabwe