The Fat Kid diaries: Week 54-56. A perspective reboot.

The resumption of the Fat Kid Diaries marks a very sad turning point in the focus of Lettie’s Ride – it will forever remain a journey celebrating health, vitality, mobility, adventure, discovery, life, and the Human Spirit in support of Lettie; but heart-breakingly now that Lettie’s couragous battle is over, this support is now in the form of a celebration of a life less ordinary, an incredible legacy, and a remarkable human being. “The next 14 months is dedicated to your memory Nix.”

The last 3 weeks have obviously been a whirlwind and a roller coaster, and I’ll never be able to thank everyone adequately for all the messages of support and condolences (particulalry those for Zoog and the family), for all the help logistically, financially and otherwise in getting me back to South Africa for Nix’s incredible send off, and for all the ongoing support in general, but please know that I am, and will be, forever grateful.

Before the week long trip back to SA, I did manage the biggest week on the bike since the beggining of the journey (from southern Benin to Niamey, Niger) and although I struggled a great deal on my return, still managed some decent mileage and experienced some more special moments that Africa keeps on delivering. For a period covering 3 weeks, there are too many highlights, challenges, thanks etc to squeeze in, but hopefully the below will give a fair reflection!

Oh yes, and please excuse the spelling errors…doing these diaries on a French PC, so spell check clearly not that useful! And please excuse any general clumsiness, jumbled thoughts, and the fact that some pics are from the last few days, and not techincally from the 3 weeks covered…my mind has been somewhat frazzeled! 

Ending: Sat 26 July 2014
Starting point: Abomey, Benin
Ending point: Djibasso, Burkina Faso (country 35, via Niger)
Approx. Km’s covered: 1400km

Some selected highlights:

  1. Meeting overland motor cylists Liam and Daniel in Benin.
  2. The incredible friendliness and warm welcome of the Niger immigration officers.
  3. Camping under a full moon in the Niger desert.
  4. Seeing the Niger river for the first time, and crossing it twice…after the Nile and Zambezi, another of Africa’s great waterways I’ve been luckily enough to experience.
  5. Not normally a “birthday person”, but was lucky enough that my trip to SA coincided with it this year, and I got to enjoy a small celebration with some great friends.
  6. Seeing a lot of Benin, Burkina Faso, and enough of Niger, to know that all 3 countries are on my list of places to come back to one day and explore further.
  7. The privilage of being at Lettie’s send off and life-celebration…my goodness, what a legacy she left.
  8. Catching an unexpected Sharks game in Durban…which we won!
  9. Catching up with old friends…and reminding me never to take friendship for granted.
  10. And so much more!

Some challenges:

  1. Mentally processing everything that’s happened the last few weeks…a real emotional roller coaster…everything else below in this section seems totally irrelevant this week, but nonetheless…
  2. Some of the sweatiest camping to date of the entire expedition.
  3. Blistering hot days, rough roads and hair-dryer like winds, combined with 100’s of km’s of pancake flat roads, make for some tiring cycling conditions.
  4. At less than $1, and from a Benin barber that’s never cut a white man’s hair, my hair cut expectations were low, but I’ve never experienced a more painful 20mins in a barber chair in my life…and all the ‘moth eaten’ comments back in SA where hardly a surprise!
  5. Getting back into the swing of things after the SA trip…cramp, lethargy and general unexplained aches and pains. 

African #HumanSpirit moment of the week:

  1. Everyone of the 500+ people that came out to celebrate Lettie’s life and legacy, and in particular her husband Zoog that delivered the most incredible eulogy. A celebration of the Human Spirit if ever there was one.

Particular thanks to (as always, in no particular order, and apologies for the inevitable omissions):

  1. Teresa at ABSA bank for all the banking help.
  2. Craig Van Niekerk and ABSA for the updated communication hardware and ongoing and incredible all round support.
  3. Dad and Estelle for the replacement headphones!
  4. DHL, in particular Casim at DHL Benin who personally drove 4 hours to deliver the Fat Kid’s passport in time for the crossing into Niger, and everyone at DHL aviation for getting me onto a cargo flight to Burkina Faso that allowed me to catch a commercial flight back to SA just in time.
  5. The adminisrator at Nunah Hospital in Niger for allowing me to camp in the hospital grounds…but especially for the shower…my first in a week!
  6. Chris Pearson for the camping hardware and treats!
  7. Nics Goldblatt for the new tunes.
  8. Lehan and everyone at RAM moutaineering and Black Diamond for the support.
  9. Bianca, Sue, ITEC, Michelle, Ingram and the whole ‘visa team’ for all the visas.
  10. Kate Frost and the Racefood team for all the real food energy. 
  11. Colin and Nics Aylward for hosting my birthday!
  12. As mentioned in the intro…every single person that made the trip to SA possible, and despite the circumstances, so memorable.

Something random I learnt (aka a FFF or ‘Fascinating FatKid Fact’):

  1. The source of the Niger river is in Guinea…something I would never have gussed before this trip.

What I will try never take for granted again:

  1. Friendship.

Keep in touch:
Twitter @RonRutland

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Fat Kid on a Bike · On my bike · Somewhere in Africa, Planet Earth 0000 · South Africa

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