Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Gokwe Kid – Rogue Rhodie on a Roller : Part 12. Hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more

Day 17: 13th August
As I said - to be continued...NOT. Not now. I went to Auschwitz. I have decided I will write that up along with pictures when I get back to my pad in Germany.
So, it was well late when I got back. Early bed and bad nightmares...
Day 18: 14th August.

Rise and shine. Cool beans - overcast and no rain. It takes ages to pack up after a shower and a couple of cups of coffee. Then ready to rock and roll and there is a photo session with the people that helped me.

I now had one hell of a trip to make. I would follow the same route back. Hour after hour. Refueling whenever I hit empty but no matter how hard I tried, yet again, just as I crossed the border back into the Czech Republic, I was again on a forbidden high speed dual carriageway. I had, just before crossing the bridge that divides the two nations, used up what I thought was my last slotties on tobacco. This was because I presumed after that, no one would accept the stuff.

Nearly 40 mins I was stuck on the damn thing. I was now even more frightened. Bad enough getting caught but as far as the police are concerned – I do not exist!
With roller with no name going flat out, I just hoped at some point I can get off and orientate myself using the ludicrous map of 1cm to 10km. I had a GPS I borrowed but when I tried it out once near Passau, it sent wrong directions big time. The one on my phone I had only used once also and that was for a 5 minute local trip.
Strangely, whilst I passed the trashed garage with the VW Beetle stuck on the first floor, I had somehow wandered off and did not go down the road with all the scrap car parts.
The clicks go by, bit by bit and my bum hurts and my forearms ache from holding the machine onto the road. Some of the dodgier small ones meant keeping your eyesight down to a mere 20 meters in front of you to avoid hazards. It is exhausting work and as trucks rumble past, nearly touching the handle bars, one small slip and I am mincemeat.
And I am freezing. I had next to no warm clothing and had on the thickest sweatshirt (Rhodie of course), and two wests and a light jacket. My mood wasn't exactly cheerful. Along with the downer of being robbed and the appalling weather, I wondered why I bothered chattering my teeth in time to the clattering of the over strained two stroke. Was this fun? Not exactly.
At 4.30, with the machine now driving on fumes, I find a petrol station. Do you speak English or sprechen sie Deutsche? Do you take Euros? All answered with a negative shake of the head. Now what? Casually chattering to me in the local lingo she points to a small  parked up caravan hot dog stall thing.
I get the message. The lady changes my Euros at normal rate and expects me to eat. No problem. I was starving and chilled to the very bottom of my non existent wallet. One chicken leg and fried potatoes plus a giant cup of hot coffee (all for less than 4 Euros), I fill up and hit the road again. But now I feel much better and at 7.30 pm after 276 kms, I arrive back at Sternberk camping site.

I was greeted with delight and much sympathy for my plight. Plus, I had no problems booking in as they knew me.
Early bed.
Day 19:15th August
Chill and but, like wow - the sun shines. Hey... they have a washing machine and I have some serious bad smells emitting from my rucksack. A quick zip to the shops for essentials (beer), and the cheapest packet of local washing powder, that from the picture is guaranteed to make even the darkest whites whiter than a shade of pale. As the owners now know I am not a full shilling, they decide to operate the machine for me.

With some sign language and a bit of German, I ask the kind lady to please exit whilst I get undressed and shove my stinking clothes into the machine (I had brought shorts and a T shirt for this occasion), and promptly rammed everything in. It was beyond a tight fit. I needed all my strength to get the glass door closed.
The lady duly loads half a packet of the stuff, turns it on and explains that after one hour it will be ready. I had one small problem. My two towels had not quite made it in. I sniffed them and tried to conclude if they were still sort of clean or not.
Considering I had sod else to do, I filled a sink in the launderette with hot water, threw them in with a liberal dose of magic powder and let them soak as I soaked up a tinnie of golden nectar. When the tin was empty I looked in the sink. Instead of happy towels there was a pool of swamp water, so black that a black hole in space would have competition.
I was puzzled. I had sat on the laundry step sipping and fagging and did not recall a bad man wandering in with a bucket of swamp water and going out with my towels. So with deep trepidation, I put my hand in – and was attacked by a monster of terrible proportions. Screaming, I pulled my arm out, and wrapped around my hand towels.
I was disgusted with myself. Am I such a dirty person? I threw the things into an adjoining sink and with enough flowing water to open up your own reservoir, I got the things running clear. Well pleased I wandered back to my tent with the dripping things, strung up some rope I had and slung them over.
By now the machine had run its course so I pulled the lot out into a bin bag and dragged the heavy load to the hanging rope. And that was when I noticed a flaw in all of this. I actually had more stains on my clothes than before!
One T shirt was still folded up. All the clothes were covered in residues of washing powder. Nothing was washed. Sure,  they now all smelt clean but that was about it. I made a mental note that a full wash means leave some space for the water.

Oh, well. I hung the lot out, wandered to the bar, grabbed a pint, looked up and the heavens opened in tropical proportions. Great. Just great. Rushing around, I threw the stuff into the playroom and hung it all over the backs of the chairs. And there they stayed till the next day as it just rained, rained and..pissed down.
Marcela, at the bar, lends me a blanket, it is that cold! This is supposed to be the height of summer. The locals can't get over it. Climate change for sure.

Day 20: 16th August
Chill and do nothing but turn the washing over. It rains. However, I get a great send off in the evening and all drinks for free. Micha, the cook is a star. Makes the best grilled skewer and chips.

Day 21: 17th August. Sunday.
Hit the road at 10.00 am, pack almost dry powder stained clothes, and I now will try the impossible. Get to Prague by nightfall. It was stupid idea but I HAD no alternative. I was down to exactly two Euros after working out I would need to refill another two times before I made it. At least it is not raining.
And YET again, I land up on the wrong roads, and the second time, just short of the outskirts of Prague, I do not care any more. Arrest me, at least I hope the cells are warm!
I had ridden for over ten hours with just fuel breaks that take twenty minutes. (Unload, reload, have a fag – not whilst refueling.)
The direction is due west. It reminded me of when I drove back to Salisbury from Inyanga. After Rusape, you had that huge red orb blasting into your eyes and even the heaviest shades could hardly cope.
So I was blinded by the light. Small mercies, next to no trucks and only light traffic on Sunday evening. Shit, I was knackered hey. Prague is like any city, first you go through the suburbs following the signs 'Centrum' and I suppose you can work out how rich each council borough is by the condition of the main drag heading into the middle. Sometimes perfect tarmac and then 'WHAM', one pothole so deep (remember, I cannot see due to the angle of the setting sun), it nearly threw me and the roller. The shocks went beyond shocking and the 17inch wheels were nearly ripped off the chassis. It was amazing that the only thing that was thrown happened to be the one litre emergency canister of juice.
I manage to get into the 'centrum'. Of course, I have absolutely no idea where the IBIS hotel is. Now it is time to use the wonders of modern technology – it would nearly kill me.
Tired, sun has set, twilight in a busy city. I put in what I thought was the address of the place not noticing that for a flash of a second it gives options such as avoid motorways. I have the phone connected to the headphones in my helmet and within 20 minutes of being told to make a half dozen U turns and going in circle, I am in an autobahn tunnel heading to god knows where whilst I scream and shit my pants.
I get the hell out the place at the next exit (in the tunnel) and when I surface nearly throw up from the stress and exertion. This time I type in the hotel and spot the options and 8 mins later, amazingly I am there!
I parked the poor machine around the side of the hotel next to the kitchen delivery door. I chain it to a proper strong drain pipe, strip off the rucksack, and with the day rucksack and helmet, stagger into the joint, shaking like a leaf just as total darkness descended. It was now 9.00pm. I had been on the road 11 hours and covered 307 kms.
I got out my notebook because on it was a copy of the booking Sue had made. As perfectly usual with me, in front of the check-in desk were a couple of complete idiots that had more moans and groans than an arthritic patient with Alzheimers. If only I had my FN at that moment!!!
Eventually after 20 minutes of racing pulse, it is my turn. Looking at the booking I simply have to fill in a form and she doesn't bother asking for my passport. Of course, I entered the number of a stolen passport – mine.
With the magic key shaped like a credit card, this opens the room door and works the elevator, I stagger off. I am called back by the reception babe with the big boobies. Oh-oh!  Ah, it seems I left behind my notebook. Yeah... I am tired hey and after standing in the lift for two minutes shoving the stupid key into a slot in every direction but the one pictured on the wall, I finally drag my weary body into the room.
First thing I do is crack a beer tinnie that I had with its mate, in the side of the big rucksack. Now fortified, I showered and shaved, changed into the few unstained clothes and wandered down to reception. I walked out for a fag and as I rolled – Sue turned up.
Chatty chat and hugs, starving we find the only place open at that time – McDonald’s. A late night – we will do the tourist thing the next few days...

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