Wow – already 6 weeks off the bicycle, time flies when you are busy recuperating, back in a safe zone which I desperately needed to restore some balance to my body, and mind. Not to say it’s all sorted out yet, but having a private space to call home for a bit has really helped – After going for this long I’m starting to see the dark parts of long term travel – Things as little as a Clean pillowcase to change if you slobbered all over your own, or even an extra pillow if you wanted to prop yourself up a bit more while reading – little things – of course I could rattle on for a few paragraphs of the other things but I’m sure you get the point. Even just a conversation is needed regularly and sometimes those don’t exist – long term this can make you flat out lonely if you don’t have the right people to bounce things off of.
Zambia also has seen some major changes since I left, and it seems the shining country which I loved so much is starting to struggle with some powers that be in the office – The USD has been taken out of any sort of currency transactions here, in an attempt to raise the value of the Zambian Kwacha (ZMK), in preparation for the removal of 3 0’s (think 5000 ZMK which is worth about 1.10 USD at present will now be 5 ZMK) sometime in the next few months. This is going to have major impact on the prices of goods, with most retailers raising the prices to round things off as they don’t want to deal with the hassle of coins. A mandatory minimum wage increase was forced down the throats of business owners resulting in many businesses laying off 30% of their staff immediately due to the way that the law was brought in and at such a rapid pace. This causes prices to rise in itself and massive inflation as retailers raise their goods and services prices to keep their existing staff on board and still try to make a profit, but often the prices are higher than the actual raise in salary comparison – not to mention the huge spike in unemployment. What could possibly come next? Price fixing? Wait – the census bureau is now visiting businesses demanding to look at prior years of books to find out how much profit is being made on products – Other henchmen seem to be appearing in places with measuring tape wanting to implement new property tax rules, and it seems the government is slipping back into a corrupt situation along with the rest of the authority positions here – If you can believe it, the Zambian Police showed on their books $0 income for the year of 2011 from fines and tickets – It seems that if you are caught doing something (that is supposedly wrong, or actually is) you can drift enough for some lunch and a beer over to the officer and you are off on your way – but if you wanted to follow the books and get a receipt for the fine by going down the station (and actually paying the full price often 20x higher) – it still manages to disappear but at a higher level. An amazing show of greed from the ones out to protect people. The biggest debacle is the rules that are so grey and wide open to interpretation, such as the new law stating that everyone is entitled to follow their own religion, with the next clause being that as long as it isn’t anti-christian – or my favorite – No smoking in public places, with no definition of a public place. I actually was dealing with some business downtown a few weeks back and hopped into a car of a friend and lit up a cigarette in my hand while sitting inside with the door ajar. A man walked up to me and started talking to me – I initially brushed him off figuring he was out to shake me out of some money and ignored him, until he pulled out a folded copy of the bylaw from his pocket standing upright alongside his newly appeared cronie. They demanded the equivalent of $450 USD or told me that I was to be sentenced to 2 years in jail for smoking in a public place. Thoroughly frustrated at the situation I put on the dumb act, had them read each line of all 3 pages out to me, often with my commentary of “What does this mean? I don’t understand!? Can you explain?” until they finally spoke to each other privately coming back to me explaining that the matter was in my hands – and after that I could be let off scott free. I promptly got out of the car, shook their hands hopped back in, slammed the door and we drove off. I’m sure they won’t be saying that line in the future! Out of this all though, this country is starting to get ridiculous in an obvious attempt to squeeze residents and foriegners out of their money. Same old tricks as older governments, different ways.
A highlight of the past month was taking receipt of a suitcase brought over to me from Canada carrying some replacement parts and clothing that I had picked up, but a handful of letters, postcards, funny gifts, and a ridiculous amount of painkillers that someone figured I could use over here. Some people that I’ve never met in person but I have communicated with over the past little bit – readers of the site, friends of friends, passer-by’s – My call for a little pick me up was heard loud and clear, and I still have a smile on my face from that day reading them all – they are posted where I stay at present and will be put into safe keeping come when it’s time to move on forward with the bicycle again.
I haven’t been doing a heck of a lot to be honest since arriving – Other than being able to see older friends, I’ve also had the opportunity to make some new friends, mostly through travellers networks as I haven’t been venturing out much more so in ‘hermit’ mode. With these people I now see it the way that some people see me, a great opportunity to build upon long lasting friendships, that is until its time for them to go back to their country, or continue their travels – starting to wear thin a bit. Luckily I have a few Zambian friends who while confused at my overall way of living and mindset sometimes still manage to continue to put their end of the friendship effort in which is nice to see.
I do think I trust too much however – A few weeks back it finally happened – I had some things stolen from me, my two knives which are essentially a part of me were taken from inside my little shack that I stay in one late night when I invited someone back for some late night beers until the sun would rise. I couldn’t make it until daylight and just told them they could see themselves out at daylight only to wake up and find them gone. It’s funny, in the past month as well I’ve taken a major hit on my finances upsetting some future travel plans a bit, but it seems to be the knives that are bothering me the most – simply because it was something I actually touched, felt, and used on a daily basis – and maybe that it was taken by someone who I thought I could trust. Not trying to let it get to me as I like giving the benefit of the doubt to people but I’ll always remember it going forward, as I’m unable to get the exact same Spyder Co Manix Mini knife as it’s well out of production and highly sought after by Knive lovers. The Leatherman Wave Multi Tool can be replaced, but still needs to gain its soul only after long amounts of usage. Like a lighter however that one holds onto for a year and loses it, the next few lighters immediately disappear and the magic and care one first took to make sure the original one was always around seems to dissipate, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I am able to find replacements and that they disappear soon after as well. Just a thought.
Books, Music, Movies, and even watching bad TV has been getting me through the mornings where I still wake up at 5am come daylight – far too early to be shuffling about – all helping to reset the brain and get well again from May and Junes disastrous times – My weight is back up, people no longer tell me that there looks like there is something wrong with me and my colour is back to normal – my voice is completely scratchy though still, even after kicking the smoking habit which I started back up in Mozambique again. Seriously, this is tougher than I thought – enough already – Once quitting the first week I couldn’t swallow whatsoever while my throat regenerated tissue – I suppose I wasn’t always coughing up phlegm to keep it moisturized, and even now weeks later after quitting I come up with random colds, congestion, and coughs out of the blue – making me wonder how long this is going to go on for, and if there is something else lurking – My body hasn’t quite been the same since Malawi, and all out pain is back in the nether regions – After years of abuse from riding, slipping, and perhaps even getting kicked waaaay back when I’ve decided that once I get into more friendlier Medicare territory to undergo surgery to have one of my testicles removed that seems to give problems for no apparent reason, even after repeat visits to doctors along with x-rays, ultrasounds, and other “exploratory” measures. Enough is enough.
I’m also wondering as to what’s next in the traveling after this break is over. I’ll be honest – the last time leaving from Zambia really took a lot out of me and made me realize that I was starting to miss some of the more important things in life – When the families I knew passed by me on that holiday weekend stopping at the side of the road wishing me good luck and expressing sadness that I was leaving started to bring up some desires to get some stability and normality – It’s funny – grass is always greener on the other side isn’t it! Not happy with your working-to-the-bone life so you take control entirely and be 100% free, but then down the road you begin to realize that some of those components are actually good for you – Read the ‘About’ Page one more time that was written way back when this website started, I suppose I ‘m reaching the phase where I’m interested in the ‘balance’ mode using the skills and knowledge I’ve learned after moving from one end to the other of the spectrum. Does that mean stopping? I don’t know. Does it mean settling with a partner in a location? I don’t know. I don’t know what anything means right now, but have decided that I won’t push myself much further if I start to go through the problems I did in months past. I’ve got a choice – Head North through Kenya and Sudan (which is actually a no go due to war at present), or Head West into Congo (which again seems to be a no go) both with the ultimate destination of Europe, and a bit of structure. Not to say that it’s what I exactly want, and could make me just up and quit my tour entirely but it seems like a good plan right now to start looking for some sort of goal after meandering about with no commitment whatsoever. Where ? When ? Why? What ? Who ? All seem to apply and swim around my head. I seem to be at a turning point yet again, highly coincidental seeing as I just found some old writing that I wrote publicly even before this website was running, heck – even before I even knew I would be riding a bicycle again – 4 years ago today at August 15, 2008. It’s an interesting read in my mind to see where I was, and where I am now. Am I happy? Yup. Was it worth it? Sure. I did everything I needed to to get out of a state of chaos that I managed to fall into, and although I didn’t expect some of the fallout that came from people and things around me, I still managed to plug through and make it to even start the trek outwards finally ending up here. It’s not the end for sure, but for certain there will be the inevitable change, and likely with that the approach may be a bit different just as evolution occurs. See you back here in a few weeks.
Ain’t going out like that.
by Dave Conroy on Saturday, August 16, 2008 at 2:26am ·
Many of you know I work from home and stare at a screen for at least 1/3 of my waking life for something that i call a career. The mass amounts of information, media, and data that I subject myself to on a daily basis is immense. They say the human brain stores the equivalent of about 10 tb of data before overload occurs and things start to go missing.
I’ve noticed in the past few years, whether it be my late nite wide eyed escapades, food consumption, or just plain out laziness and not pushing myself to achieve any goals that I’m starting to lose things, and starting to notice minute changes in my body. Some are visual, by the fact that I’ve gained close to 20lbs in the past year and a half from working from home (17 steps to your desk does its tolls on you), to mental, understanding how my body reacts to different things such as specific amounts of sleep, different reactions to various foods, herbs, drinks, and other consumables.
Somewhere in the middle of June I ran into the third person I know who is under 40 who recently suffered a heart attack, or a stroke. This is pretty alarming news. One could be classified as fairly sedentary, and one middle of the road, while the other fairly active yet suffering from immense amounts of stress.
I started to lose sleep earlier on this year where it forced me to start wearing earplugs, medicating myself, and sleeping in a separate / sealed room from anyone else. Other things were falling apart in my life, and I was starting to see old health problems creep up again. I made the decision while on a vacation in April that I was going to set some goals. One of those goals was to focus on myself. See, I spent my 20s-30s really have a great time, yet almost coasting. Little to no effort required at doing things, as generally if I do something I pick it up without issue. Little was done to maintain myself however.
I told myself that I was going to focus on myself, which meant a lot of thinking about past experiences, empty promises I had made, and vanished goals. I started by getting rid of my TV. Now, I’m not a barbarian who shouldn’t be watching TV – I actually like watching the odd movie or Torrent, but I found its gratification was so short, and realized that I needed to try something different. Whether it stays this way is unknown, but at least till I sell my house and move into another place, wherever that may be. Instead I started reading. I used to have my nose in books before I started gluing myself to the computer – reading adult books at very young ages, continuously seeking more knowledge (those who know me, know that this is nothing new, the ocd/quest for reverse engineering everything has existed from day one). I plan to read 100 books before the year is done – no not speed reading, but a good mixture of novels, fiction, and education. I’m doing quite well in my goal so far while garnering valuable knowledge for hobbies that I’ve always been interested in but just never had the understanding on ‘where to start’.
The next phase was to get some exercise. This is a no brainer. I can’t sleep because my mind races at night from all the days stresses, so logically it means that I am not tired yet. We’ve got a little piddly gym in our complex that I started testing myself and monitoring how far I would ride a bike and doing basic strength training. I hated it. I last did a lot of strength training in the 90s when I had a lot of spare time on my hands and had some great results, but in those days it was more about looking cool. I kept plugging away though until I got to the point where my body wanted this exercise on a daily basis. Rewind a bit here – I’m not entirely a fat blob, I have a fairly good physique, scuba dive, snowboard and do other active things such as swimming, hiking etc. – but nothing on a regular basis.
At the same time I was figuring out the basics of exercise I did considerable reading about nutrition, what our body needs (craves) and what is not good for it. This is not rocket science, many other people understand the same concepts, it just seems that I was late to the party and had some goofy sunglasses on ignoring it all. I started counting the calories, monitoring the percentages of protein vs. fat vs. carbs I was putting into my body and the evidence was damning. I was eating crap! I read a report that said the average Canadian is eating over 4400 calories per day, while the majority of this food had little to no nutrients, other than the fact it was edible and provided an energy boost. So I bought a scale and started designing a small diet for myself. I tried to get other people to come along for the ride, but realized it was far too much work to introduce others into my personal goals, so decided that I’d let the results do the talking.
It’s now a month and a half after I started getting onboard with the daily exercise, and proper eating habits. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass as is everything at first, but I have gotten to the point where I enjoy it! Gym every day (I’ve since gotten a pass at the Surrey Parks Board which gives me unlimited access to any of their facilities, bonus is that I get it subsidized by my work) and setting personal eating goals. I have some fitness goals that I’m looking to achieve and as it stands I don’t think I’ll have any problem meeting those goals.
I’ve already received a bit of flak from this “shift” – comments from people saying this is just one of my fads and that I’m wishy washy with commitments, lack focus on past interests or just flat out generally comments from other people that almost are determined to see me fail. quite frustrating to hear other peoples views about you, however just shows true colours that people fly. I’ve gotten this far in life and tend to think i made the right decisions along the lines to get this far – but at the end of it all – I’m the one who lives in my head and know what i need to do to get by in life and not going to let other peoples views and talk bother me. lettem chatter.
this isn’t a wow look at me attention post, normally i tend to keep to myself and just live my life but figured I’d write this and release where my heads at now a days. i’ve been thinking about where i need to be in the next few years and these are my plans and goals that i need to follow. while this isn’t going to fix all my issues and there still is day to day mindfuckeries and other things that are affecting me from other angles, but at least I’m able to proceed with a clear head now rather than getting stressed out, freak out and not sleep. I can see the changes all the way around, with my communication, with my general outlook on life, physique, my radio show is kicking ass and has lots of fresh ideas, and my creativity is coming back. something that’s been faltering since about 2003.
these next few months pose to be fairly critical and things could change rapidly on multiple fronts. maybe will post an update in 6.