Day 73, rest day, Mbeya, Mbeya Hotel
Bob was staying at the more upscale Hilltop Hotel a coupe of hundred metres up the hill from the Mebeya Hotel. I said I would meet him around 7 for breakfast but was up around 5:30 so did my laundry and got sorted for the day. As usual, a ‘rest day’ is a rest day in name only – especially after 8 consecutive grueling days on the road. In addition to the bags full of laundry I had the bike to look after and more than a week of blogs posts to catch up on.
We had the full English breakfast up at the Hilltop with real bacon. A treat. Bob went off to be briefed by the TdA staff and try to get a locker in the bog truck while I went back to the bungalow and started to catch up on the blog. Bob was luckier than I was. Hubert’s locker in the big truck came free because he had had to fly home (broken pelvis and three broken ribs). Although I don’t know if you can sat it was lucky to take over a locker under those circumstances. I caught up on my blog but could not get internet access. The dongle that I had put 25,000 shillings of credit onto still did not work. The wifi at the hotel did not work. Apparently the fibre optic cable that brings the world wide web to East Africa was severed somewhere in Egypt and as a result Mbeya had had no internet for three days. Those riders who connected to the internet through 3G on their cell phones could get access. But I needed to upload text from word files, which couldn’t be done on a cell phone. Stuffed again. Around 3:30 I started on my bike. What a mess. Finally finished about 5:00 and could go off for a bear. Bob had spent the time meeting people, sorting his gear and his locker, and making sure his bike was set and ready to go. We were good to go.
I ordered a sausage pizza in the hotel restaurant and after waiting for about an hour got a pizza about the span of a hand with a few slices of hotdog on it. What a treat. So to address my calorie deficiency I ordered a big ice cream sundae. After replacing the order four times and waiting another hour I finally had a bowl of vanilla ice cream. I felt like David Copperfield going to bed hungry. With over 70 riders and a dozen staff the Tour often puts strain on local services. Hotel rooms don’t get cleaned. Water runs out. Wifi works at tortoise speed. And restaurants go into spasms of chaos.
We went to bed shortly after we finished dinner. Tomorrow would be long.