Africa, Motrocycles, Working Too Hard, And Foolish People

“Those who know him generally like him well enough, providing he keeps his thoughts mostly to himself.” (William P. Young. The Shack)

We did two bush runs on the motorcycles in one day, covering about 160km. One of our projects was going so well, my wife and I had to return to Sikasso for more supplies, to keep the garden expansion going. A friend of ours wanted to come and see the work progress, so he hopped on my wife’s motorcycle with all the supplies strapped on. He drove the loaded motorcycle out for us as Lynn hopped on with me.

However, on the way home  I blew a front tire tube. We were about 3km from a village so I got my friend, who is much lighter than me, to drive the motorcycle slowly to the next village, as he sat way back on the seat to lighten the load on the front tire.

My wife saw us stop, but rather than turn back she parked on the side of the road up the long long hill and waited,not realizing there was a problem.  My friend took off with my bike and passed her. I had to walk about 1/2km up the hill to my wife, in the hot afternoon sun, with my helmet and bag. I thanked her for that.  LOL.

She is just learning to drive so did not want to turn on the road.

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Flat tire. Did you notice the Rooster?

We made it to the small village and we pulled into a street side tire repair shop,  and the guy took the tube out and repaired it right n the bike. With my chicken still hanging upside down on the handle bars. Did you notice it? The chicken was given to us by the village we are working in. They tie the legs and transport them that way. Poor Chicken. I did feel bad for the thing.

Anyway, the tire guy wanted 200 cfa, about 60 cents, for the repair job. I gave him 300. We were off and running in now time. It never ceases to amaze me how people help when you have problems.

My motorcycle is new, and I could tell the quality of the tire tubes was pretty poor. So I went looking for new tubes once back in my town. My Chinese Sanya is a new model for the bush, and it has larger tires than the other Sayna motorcycles. I could not find a tube in town anywhere. So the guy who sold the motorcycle to me is trying to order me tubes from somewhere. If that is the case, I said he better order me four tubes, two for each end. Anyway, I hope I don’t get into a parts problem with this new motorcycle.

Fast forward two days,  and we are again in the bush for the day. I got home midday, and when I put the kick stand down on the bike I noticed a lot of oil pouring out of the top head of the engine. “What the heck” I said. I looked down, and my left shoe and pant leg were covered in oil as well. I checked the oil level, for fear I might have run it dry, but it was still full. So the leak literally just started shortly before I arrived home. Thank goodness.

After the realization I can’t even get tubes for my bike here yet, (Ya running in the bush with no spares is not smart) and then seeing this oil running out of the top of cylinder, after only 900 km on the new bike, I was feeling pretty bad about the new motorcycle.

I said to myself, “I finally get a bike that I like, and is awesome in the bush, and now these little issues.”

I also had a guy driving along with me to help. He was riding my wife’s motorcycle.

He said, ” I hate to tell you this, but your wife’s bike has a funny noise in the clutch. You should get it looked at.”

Oh boy! Both bikes?

I took the oil leaky Sanya 150Gy over to the mechanic first.Then I  walked back home, and drove my wife’s  Sayna 150 36A over also. I was feeling pretty discouraged about the bikes about then. They both are new. My wife’s bike I bough earlier in the year, but it only has about 2600 km on it yet. So it is new too.

Well, it turns out the chain was too loose on her bike. On that particular model of motorcycle, if the chain is too slack, the chain will tap on the frame and make a noise. So that was easy.

I asked about my oil leak. Turns out it was a 5 minute fix. It was NOT the seal on the cylinder, or lower block. It was on the top head where the oil pumps in from the top. They unbolted four bolts, put gasket sealer on, Bolted it back down, and presto, good as new. I felt much better about it after that.

I was nervous as I had 160 km round trip again today. No spare tubes, very poor quality tubes in the bike, and not sure how that sealing job was going to hold up.

We left at 5:30 Am, in the dark. Just missed a dead cow on the road today. and did a full lock up for a goat, both tires. We also drove though one village at 60 km per hour, in the dark,  where there were a dozen Donkeys on the road, Not one moved as we whizzed by tooting the horns.  They had the whole road covered.  Just a narrow opening I went through. No wonder I see so many dead donkeys  in the mornings.  A tuck would never have gotten though without hitting one or two of them, if not more.

By Mali standards it was very cold this morning. Even I was freezing.  It hit over 35 in the day. But this time of year temps drop at night. Today it was about 14 degrees when we left.  My friend Salia was frozen. We had to stop several times in the dark for him to warm up, even with his winter jacket on. Yep at 14 degrees. Our last stop was on the side of the road about 65 km from home. We shared a fire with a family to warm up before continuing on.

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And about  the High beams- Low beams game.

The truck drivers are so funny here. They flash you no matter what. If you are on low beam they flash you. So I turn on my high beams and then down to low beams to let them know I have my lights on low. They then put on their high beams back on you again. So I put mine on too.  They go to low beams, as do I. Then they go back to high beams and leave them on as they pass me. I do the same back. Gosh it is funny. 90% of the time they go by you with high beams on anyway. Why do you bother with all the flashing?

I had to inspect twelve more drought season drip irrigated gardens today. I enjoyed the village today. As I did my inspections and showing the women what to do, I guess the village men were talking with my partner in crime, Salia. What they said just cracked me up.

“Salia, your white guy works too hard.” The village men said.

“Well if you think he works too hard here, you better not go near his house and see what he is always doing there.”  Salia responded.

I laughed out loud…. Your white guy”

Since I am a fisherman in Canada, at night,  and on my own time I have been making a few eel nets (only one small part of them actually). They have almost nothing I need here for most fishing things. But they do have the webbing I need for part of an eel net, and if I make them, they are small enough I can toss  a bunch in a suitcase to bring home. One less thing I have to do when I get some.

However, some people are real assholes.

I posted a picture on Christmas eve saying I was making a few eel nets over Christmas, as we had down time from the village visits. I was here alone then, so I started working on a few nets while listening to podcasts, to pass the time at night, and over Christmas, alone.

Well someone back in Canada saw my eel net comment on Christmas eve, on Facebook, and actually asked my Mother.

“Why is Andy making eel nets, I though he was over there to help the people?”

Really? Like really? Did you really think I am in Africa working only on nets, or that my Agency would let me work on nets, and allowing me to not help the people? Really? And even if you thought someone was a lazy ass, who would go tell his mother that? What a great way to make friends, eh!

While you were sitting around on your ass eating Pot- Of-Gold chocolates on Christmas eve, I chose to make a net and listen to music to cheer my soul. What business is that of yours?

Mom shared the encounter with my wife.  Lynn simply pointed out to my mother.

“Andy is not on call 24/7. Everyone else is free after work to do as they please, everyone else has a few days off a week. Andy is there alone at night right now, and what he chooses to do on his own time, or days off, is no one’s business but his. He can do what ever he wants on his own time. No one is questioning what he accomplished over there.”

My mom was going to march right back and tell whoever said it, I have no idea who it was, but my wife told her not to bother. Because, if someone is that stupid, they won’t get it anyway. People who think so narrow minded, don’t really give a hoot about us, or what we do. One look at FaceBook and it is obvious he is working hard. Some people read books on their spare time, others hang a net. Who cares? Nobody cares, and we don’t care. Don’t waste your breath answering such silliness.

“I got so exhausted trying to make other people feel safe with my decisions.”
Aspen Matis

Anyway, when my wife arrived and old me this. I was truly dumbfounded. I forget how small people can be at times when I am Isolated away in Africa or at sea fishing, where it is just me and my son. People like this make me happy to be working in obscurty.

“You don’t have to play by their rules if you don’t require their rewards.”

~ William P. Young

There are a lot of people games I am not playing anymore, life has never been better because of it. I highly recommend it.

I had a good day visiting with village folks after the garden work. Had many great chats today. Especially with this old man. He was a hunter until he went mostly blind from cataracts. I told him about my grandfather teaching me how to hunt and trap for fur.

He was highly impressed to know,  “Your white guy” (LOL) also enjoyed such things as hunting and trapping. He is a lovely and interesting old man.  Gives me hope for the human race.

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