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Remember me?! It's Tatsu Sakamoto, a cyclist from Japan. How have you been doing? I hope things around you are OK. As you probably know(I hope!), I left London year '95 October for a "around the world trip" by bicycle, and now I have reached to Cape of Good Hope (Le Cap de Bonne Esperence), in South Africa, one of my big destinations. I have cycled about 19,000 Kms so far, and South Africa is the 25th country to cross. I experienced a couple of serious deseases, but not big accidents. Thanks to your supports and help, I stay in a good shape to arrive here. I'm now having a relaxing time after a long trip! It's impossible to write all about my trip what has been happening into a few pages, but at least I have to give it a try, so that you can't forget me!! I put photoes, a map, and article as well. If time allows you, please make a cup of tea or something and sit on a sofa, then start reading!!




course map


Europe

My "dream" turned to reality, and I have found the meaning of "dream". That is, to cycle in cold, windy, and rainy days with 40 kilograms of heavy laguegge on my bike, with barking wild dogs along, nobody paying attention to me, getting lost and ending up to spend a night in the middle of nowhere, alone.... By the time reaching to Spain, all the pains I had felt become joy(!), and I really enjoyed riding even snowy days! I spent X'mas and a new year with many travelers from different countries, in Madrid, Spain. That was a lot of fun!


North Africa

I entered Morocco in the middle of Ramadan (month of fasting), and saw what the Islamic world is like. It was a whole different world out there. What I loved most in this country was the diversity of the nature, from snow capped High Atlas Mountains to dried sand dunes. Also, crossing the moutains with heart-warming hospitality of the locals, mouth- watering real home made Moroccan dishes, three cups of "welcome Chai" (sweet, sweet mint tea) were something special! In Mauritania, I happend to meet Tomo, another Japanese cyclist who just "wing it" everything. We cycled together for a month to the south. Sharing the anxiety crossing Africa further on. In western Sahara, the tempature raised up to 48C (120F)!!! Every local stayed home or under a tree escape the heat.


West Africa

People are EXTREMELY friendly, kind and hospitable. Also full of curiosity. Humidity, heat and occasional bad roads were the major problems. I used to start riding with the dawn, when the most pleasant time of the day. Stopping at noon where there is a village, I asked the cheif to provide me a place to sleep. Thankfully, they always welcomed me. My concern about security (such as bike, belongings, and myself) was 100% OK, after reporting to the chieves. It was a pleasant part of visitings. One day as I woke up in a village, I met a man who came to see me from a village 5 kms away. On foot, of course. I was surprised to know how fast news runs, how far this man came from, and how early in the morning he left his home just look a visitor from Asia! Visiting a village in the middle of jungle is a two week-lasting top topics for the area, and a lifetime experience for me. I loved to do this, and to talk with them was such a gift! (my broken French worked very well...only sometimes, though!!) Malaria was always a big concern which is a serious killer in Africa. Although I was talking malarial prophylactics, malaria once attacked me in Guinea. Oh! Please, never ever happen to me again! Even worse at that time, I developed dysentery that made me impossible to eat anything. Fortunately, thanks to Cherif, a Guinean doctor, I was able to recover at all! He didn't recieve even a dime from me for all the treatment, bed, and food etc.... 40 to 50 kms a day was the average distance I covered in this area. And I used to take a day rest every 4 days or 5.


Central Africa

At Congo Embassy in Yaounde (cameroon), I met two crazy cyclists from Belgium, James and David, who were taking almost the same route as I would to Cape Town. We cycled together for a month up to the border of Congo. Their ways of travelling was very different from mine, so I learned a lot from them (but they didn't learn anything from me). What a coincidence, after 5 month of cycling saparately towords Cape Town, we happened to meet each other in South Africa!! There lives Pigmies in Central Africa. It was such a fabulous time to visit them. They offered us elephant, monkey, porcupine, croccodile meat, and so on for meals. Their houses are made of banana leaves and branches. Though the living condition is not easy in the middle of dense rainforest, the idea of "sharing" (food, gift, pain,etc.) is alive in them, and they live in harmony. In Congo, people travel by boat where there is no decent roads. I took a huge boat transporting wood, to down stream on Sanga River (Congo River). It took 11 days to cover 1000kms. There were more than 300 people on the boat (I was the only white people as usual), and they cook, eat, wash, fight, dance, sing and do everything. Not only the human, but goat, chicken, monky, croccodile, huge catfish, etc (dead or alive and smoked) were on the boat. Fighting with Tsetse-fly (sleeping sickness), and mosquito (malaria) was another story. I almost fainted some times to face who treated me like a real member of thier family, incredibly precious kids, and beauty of the sun set, mist in jungle, etc.,etc....


East Africa

As the conflicts in eastern Zaire became worse, I had to fly to Nairobi (kenya) to cross Zaire. In Nairobi, a modern city, I had blood, stool and urine test to check up my body, and also some additional vaccination. Nairobi was the place to be in shape, to meet people, to collect information and goods for the next stage. Plus, I enjoyed Japanese food, movies, hair cut, safari tours for National Parks, etc., that I had long been missing!! Reaching to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro (5385M/Tanzania)... AHH! THAT was undoubtfully the toughest day ever since I left London. The altitude sickness attacked me so bad, but the air I inhaled at the top was incredibly wonderful. The panorama over the clouds and the glacier was something that I had never expected.... I will never ever forget that for all my life!!


Southern Africa

Due to a long lasting civil war, riding Mozambique was qiute difficult. People in rural area is always kind and helpful, but scarcity of food, and bad roads gave me a hard time. Bedbugs were around even in my bags. Nevertheless, untouched nature in northern coast and Mozambique Island was SO beautiful. The second X'mas since I left home was at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Did you know that at a full-moon night, you can see a rainbow over the huge (110M high) falls? It was the right time to be there for that. As the X'mas eve was full, full moon with no clouds! Thanks very much for the wonderful present!! Cycling on a national road in Zimbabwe and Botswana was thrilling. Wild elephants were around (see the picture)! Cycling the edge of Kalahari desert was also thrilling. Vast plains, dried scene, dried road, distance between village is so LONG, no farm (means no water), no shadow, only the sun, wind and dust. Namibia, was just beautiful. The world's highest sand dunes (300M high! Can you imagine?)was fabulous! I have seen several dunes in the past, but it was outstanding in terms of size and color (like an apricot). To my suprise, there was a flood(!) just before my visit, and so there was a big lake down there. What a strange combination the dunes and the lake!!

On 21st of Feb. this year, I finally reached to CAPE OF GOOD HOPE, CAPE TOWN. Just one year from Morocco, the starting point of this continent. I could not believe that my trip in Africa was going to finish. How many times I would think "I can't finish Africa..." along the way, but now, it's finished. The people of this continent and love have lead me up to here, safety. With lots of supporting me and took care of me. Thank you very very much. I am flying to Italy on 02 Mar, and then continue towards east, east, and to east. I will travel to Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan and the South America, start from there and cycle Central and North America, finish by 1999 Dec... I hope to hear from you soon, stay in touch!



PICS: 01, Paris,"Tour Eiffel" This photo appeared on French newspaper
02, snowy days, Zaragoza to Madrid, Spain Dec.1995
03, entrance of The Palace Alhambra, Granada
04, tanning-dyeing, improvement of leather, Morocco
05, sleep with the owner of a hut in Tizi-n-Test, Atlas Mountains
06, clouds could see below, Atlas Mountains
07, turban is must. Nouakchott, Mauritania
08, to Dakar, over 200kms desert but there are many small villages
09, with "TOMO", Japanese
10, with beauties! Senegal
11, on around the world trip, Loubert & Jaques, French
12, a signboard of the doctor, realistic illustrations!
13, malaria and dysentery attacked me. under the doctor,
the village-headman plesented me chikens. village Kalia, Guinea

14, "Quinine"(prevention for malaria) mixed tonic water
15, squashing taros and bananas
16, "La Porte du Non Reteur" (the Gate of no return), Benin
17, the way to Congo, James & David, Belgium
18, many kind of drugs, for malaria
19, lumber truck, Cameroon
20, "easy rider", Cameroon
21, fixture day of '96 Atlanta Olympic, Sabbath
22, Pigmy woman refrom their house, made of banana leaves and branches
23, flies afflicting me
24, monkey, smoked by exhaust gas. on the huge boat
25, one week boat life, this colander is great!
26, Kenyan!?
27, the altitude sickness attacked me... Mt. Kilimanjaro
28, reaching to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro!!!!
29, the white powder makes thier skin purely.
unmarried women only. North-Mozambique

30, what can I do if.... Zimbabwe National Park
31, attantion to the elephants?
32, shower, Zimbabwe
33, Dr. Peter with turtles. psychologist in Namibia
34, Namibia dunes
35, the dunes and the lake
36, Cape of Good Hope

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