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WE DID IT!!! – The final handover to riders for health

May 17, 2010

“I’d buy your wife for 1800 camels” The man was deadly serious and continued to inform the guys in our group this offer was infact an absolute bargain. It’s amazing what you can buy and sell on top of an African mountain.

Our final day began in Ouarzazate. We were embarking on the shortest ride of the whole trip, the last leg to Marrakesh and the ceremonial handing over of the Super Teneres to the Riders for Health Organisation.

One more day to explore this wonderfully rich yet, staggeringly poor country. One final tank of petrol. There was no question in our minds, we’d run on fumes to make the experience last longer. After a few miles, our guide lead us to yet another utterly breathtaking view, as used in the movie Babel with Mr Hollywood himself, Brad Pitt. We could see why it was chosen. It seemed to be a real life illustration of a lost world, of the beginning of civilisation. We stood at the top of the rough ground and surveyed the land beneath, totally speechless. Until the cameras came out . . .

We pressed onwards, slicing through the switchbacks that snaked up the mountainside. The air felt refreshingly cooler the higher we climbed and it was somewhere near the summit, when we stopped for some traditional mint tea, that we encountered the comical guy looking to swap a few hundred camels for a new wife.

250 km later we hit the madness of Marrakesh. A dry river bed on the outskirts exposed the rubbish that must have been hidden in the waters some time ago. Tourists in horse drawn carriages bravely bared their pale skins in the plus 30 degree heat. Silly fools. As for the traffic. Are there any rules? Taxis, bicycles, scooters, pedestrians and lorries all morphed into one messy tangle of movement. And as we rode closer to our final destination, dozens of Swallows dived bombed through the air, squeezing into the tiny holes in the city walls. Our brains were overloaded with information, our senses strained trying to take in the sights, sounds, smells and potential hazards of such a huge city.

Finally, we arrived at our meeting point with mixed emotions. We were elated that we’d all made it bubble side up and with grins as wide as the Sahara Desert itself. But no one could hide the tinge of disappointment in knowing our fabulous trip had come to a end. And then there was the pride in knowing that we had all contributed to saving lives. Lives that needn’t be lost.

Cherno Jallow is the African representative of Riders for Health and as he was ceremoniously handed the keys to five Super Teneres motorcycles, he kept repeated one word. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. These bikes will be shipped off to the newest program in the charity which was only launched last year. The Zambian health workers had been eagerly waiting for bigger cylinder bikes to transport patient’s blood tests the fifty km stretch from villages to clinics. It’s a journey that can often take up to five months, via inefficient public transport that often destroys the samples. Now, with a specially designed back pack, each rider can carry up to 40 blood tests at once, and provide the patient with a result in days, four at the most. Four days to find out if you’ve got HIV or TB verses five long months. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that these bikes will save countless lives. Perhaps up to forty in one single journey. We’ve covered 2100 km over the last week. In Zambia, these bikes will do an average of 1000km per month in their mission to make a difference, as they ride quite literally, for life.

Today is the end of our part of the journey but it’s the beginning of a new adventure for the 5 Super Teneres. The Ride for Life in Zambia is about to begin.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. olgaweterings permalink
    May 20, 2010 9:47 am

    Thank you very much for the lively travelstories. I read them with a big smile and (sometimes) a fast beating heart. Such an adventure, so long and yet so short. I hope the bikes really help saving lives.

  2. ernstt permalink
    May 18, 2010 10:10 am

    What a pitty the Ride for Life was so short !

    I silently hoped for a stint into the Tenere itself, but then again the chosen Tires would have made that a verry risky operation.

    And now we wait till those bikes return to Koolhovenlaan to be distributed to the dealers 🙂
    (can you give me a update when it arrives at termaat Nijmegen please?)

    P.S. it also would be nice if this Ride For Life “blog” would be updated with some more info about riders for Health experiences with there new rides. Hop to hear from you.

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