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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!!
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!
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.
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.
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,
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
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
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.
08, to Dakar, over
200kms desert but there are many small villages
09, with "TOMO", Japanese
10, with beauties!
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
for malaria) mixed tonic water
15, squashing taros
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,
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
24, monkey, smoked
by exhaust gas. on the huge boat
25, one week boat life,
this colander is great!
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
32, shower, Zimbabwe
33, Dr. Peter with
turtles. psychologist in Namibia
34, Namibia dunes
35, the dunes and the
36, Cape of Good Hope