DAY 31 – 30/4/08
I had grand ambitions of waking up early and getting on the 8am bus to Fort Portal this morning but these plans were dashed when I realised that I hadn’t set the alarm on my watch properly. This was probably a blessing in disguise though, as I woke up with a raging headache. Either my tolerance for drinking has slipped in the past month or someone was spiking my drink because although I had a fair few beers, it wasn’t any more than I normally would have on a Friday or Saturday night… maybe it has something to do with the tropical heat and dehydration or something?
Nonetheless, feeling a little worse for wear, I managed to drag myself out of bed in time to catch the 10am bus, which of course didn’t actually leave until 11am! Its only a 5 hour ride to Fort Portal but it felt far longer than that today. Besides my self-inflicted suffering, I had to contend with a distressed chicken that had been stuffed under the seat in front of me. The bloody thing wouldn’t stop clucking the entire bus ride – not what you want to deal with when you are hungover and feeling a little ‘delicate’! We reached Fort Portal (a dusty two-street town in the middle of nowhere) in the afternoon and I checked into the first guesthouse/hotel I could find. With plenty of daylight left, I took a stroll around town and went in search of the local tourist office. At the tourist office I inquired about hiring a motorbike for the day. All this riding on the back of bota-botas around Kampala had reignited my thoughts of buying a bike in Dar and cruising down the coast of Mozambique. However, not having a great deal of experience with motorbikes, I figured I should at least spend a day driving one myself to see how hard/easy it is to get around and whether this 'Easy Rider' fantasy of mine was actually realistic.
The people at the tourist office rang a guy they knew who they said would rent me his bike. I was hoping I would be able to pick up the bike tomorrow and just spend the day getting the feel for it as I went along. However, the guy wanted to see me ride before handing over his machine – which is fair enough, I suppose. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing as I had only ever ridden clutchless mopeds or quad-bikes where all you have to do is flick a lever by your foot to change gears and its impossible to stall. Unsurprisingly, I stalled straight out of the gate and even after a quick tutorial, the best I could do was bunny-hop up and down an alleyway behind the tourist office.
The bloke wasn’t looking enthusiastic about having me rent his bike but nonetheless, he offered to take me to an oval across town (where I would have more space to practice) and give me a proper lesson before definitely refusing. I did a few laps around the oval with this guy shouting instructions at me and watching nervously as I grew in confidence. I felt like I was getting the hang of things but obviously not fast enough for this guy's liking. He walked over to me shaking his head and muttering "No, no, no...". In the end, he suggested that instead of renting the bike I just let him take me around tomorrow. I was reluctant to accept (my Mozambique fantasy was crumbling in front of my eyes) but when he promised to give me a few more lessons i caved. We agreed he would come pick me up the next day and show me around the crater lakes which dot the region
In other news, I had some amazing BBQ goat for dinner that night. Never had goat before but it was positively scrumptious!