Too many cows

Day 85, stage 65, 172km

Start, Chingwewe Hotel

Finish, Luangwa, Bridge Camp

Today was a Mando day – so we expected a hard day. We would be going up a fair bit, about 1300 metres, but down even more, into the valley of the Luangwa River. We had no riots today, just a lot of cycling. And since this was essentially our third century ride (100 miles or more) in three days, the legs were feeling it. We worked hard. We pedaled. We pedaled some more. Eventually we made it. We felt ok. It was good.

The only kicker was the road leading to camp. We stayed in a very nice camp right on the river but to get there we had to cycle a rough, very corrugated and rocky dirt track for about 2 ½ km. And not only that but when we got there we found out that they charged 16 kwacha for a coke that you could have bought on the shop before the turning onto the dirt track for 6 kwacha. I did not want to cycle back up that track until I had to the next day. Fortunately, Freek, a young and strong Dutch rider, offered to cycle to the shops and took orders for drinks. A brave and valiant lad. We placed our orders and went for a shower.

The countryside we were cycling through was different than Malawi or Tanzania. There was more bush. It was more green. It appeared far less spoiled. And then I began to realize that we were not seeing the large herds of cattle that we had seen since Ethiopia. There are huge and growing numbers of cattle in these countries. They turn rich land in pastureland and then scrubland. And then move on. Cattle are seen as wealth. They represent a family’s assets. So they are not killed and eaten. They are kept and their numbers grow. They are destroying the countryside. But in Zambia – or at least the part we were now cycling through – there were no herds of cattle, the land was well treed and the farms productive. We could do worse than get rid of this cattle fetish.

It was another early night – In my tent by shortly after 6pm. Asleep by 8. We sleep, we eat, we cycle. Life had really become very simple.


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