Zanzibar Tour and The Yarn Barn Ladies of Chisipite

With less than 4 weeks to go to our Zanzibar Tour, I’ve been forced to take the drastic step of adding prunes to my list of banned ride snacks, even though they contain a list of vitamins longer than the alphabet. Alas. Courtesy of a hernia op last week, I got to witness the more attritional power of prunes first hand, and second hand, and third hand, etcetera, etcetera.

Halfway through my first kayak training session preparing for the Zanzibar paddle, my tummy bulged alarmingly when my insides did their damndest to get outside. I looked like I was shoplifting a kilo of boerewors under my lifejacket. Apparently, I suffered an inguinal hernia, which is caused by a weakness between my tummy muscles and my abdominal wall. The hernia itself wasn’t sore, but I was able to quickly rectify that with corrective keyhole surgery.

Notwithstanding the fact that every Maltese Poodle out there enjoys a higher pain threshold than me, my hernia is the most sorest thing ever, even more sore than when I hammer nails or use my Leatherman. At the risk of inciting more pain from bricks being thrown at me, I can confirm my hernia op was sore like labour pains, the sort of labour pains one might endure giving birth to a teenager.

Here’s how the op went down. The doc deftly made six keyhole sized holes in my tummy through which he inserted a roll of reinforcing mesh, which he unrolled inside and secured to my tummy muscles using sutures and staples a.k.a. drawing pins, 35 of them. The doctor showed me photos of the carnage in my tummy on his laptop. N.B. I watched the slideshow through my fingers. Apparently, the drawing pins will dissolve eventually, but not before making my eyes water repeatedly. Looking for positives, apparently the mesh used is lightweight and aerodynamic, and might even make my tummy look ripped in the right light.

I spent the first three days after the op in bed whimpering whenever Jenny was in earshot, in mortal fear of coughing, or worse still, of counting to two. By day four, I developed an even greater fear of consequences of not counting to two and resorted to prunes. Turns out the difference between rock solid constipation and flood gates fully open is just three prunes. Open flood gates present their own set of problems when you can sprint fast like Joe Biden. Those same problems apply on a bicycle, hence the banning order.

A week later, I still walk like Joe Biden and remain too scared to cough. But in breaking good news, both my doctor and Google think I should be all good to start the Zanzibar Tour on the 27th of May. I will ride within myself, mostly because Jenny has threatened me with death if I don’t.

After a week stuck on my back watching television, I cannot wait to get back on my bike and on the road to Zanzibar. A week recuperating in front of the television is guaranteed to make you sick. When you are tired of watching the war in the poor Sudan, which South Africa could have prevented by arresting Bashir for crimes against humanity, you can switch channels and watch the war in Ukraine instead, which South Africa could put an end to if they had the balls to arrest Putin for his crimes against humanity. But Ramaphosa hasn’t even got the balls to arrest Zuma for thieving 17 billion USD from state coffers in broad daylight, so those wars will wage on unabated.

If you are sick and tired of watching war, you can watch suburban USA shoot each other with AR 15’s, or commit suicide by fentanyl, or you can watch Barbie roll out her latest offering, a doll with a learning disability, or you can watch the start of Trump vs Biden Round Two. The President of America is supposed to uphold the constitution, not trample upon it, and he’s supposed to stride the world stage, not dodder upon it. You would think that three hundred and thirty million Americans with four years to think about it, would come up with better options.

Even more sickening and closer to home, you can switch to Al Jazeera and watch heads still not roll after their Gold Mafia documentaries aired a month ago, or you can watch Mugabe’s daughter and her hubby wage divorce wars as they squabble over 25 residential properties worth $77 million, including a mansion in Dubai worth $8 million, 21 farms totalling 23600 hectares, 17 cars including Rollers and Bentleys, Mercs, Mercs and more Mercs, and a motorbike, but not over the children.
And to think her dad used to work for the government.

Or instead and far much better, you can binge watch Yellowstone Series One to Four, but only half of Season Five, because they haven’t finished filming Season Five, because the film company is having a war with Kevin Costner, who coincidentally is also having a war with his wife in real life, but their divorce should be more amicable, because they haven’t got 21 farms, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera to fight over.

Zack and Kim

I am very proud of Kim. She purpose bought her bicycle for the Zanzibar Tour in February, and just 3 months later, she is embarking on a 2800 kilometer epic adventure up through Africa. Already, she is one of my heroes.

I also suffered extreme FOMO from my sick bed as I followed Zanzibar teammates Zack Patinois and Kim Parker on their just ended epic 3-day Sani2C adventure. They looked like they had so much fun, apart from when they fell off their bikes. By the end of Day 2, Kim had bent her handlebars, broken her seat post, broken her derailleur, broken her chain and her cleats, and she also lost her pump, but that didn’t stop her from crossing the finish line on a borrowed bike with the hugest smile on her face.

Yarn Barn Ladies of Chisipite

I was able to escape my sick bed briefly for some proper medicine, the Yarn Barn’s annual blanket handover ceremony. Every year, the Yarn Barn ladies of Chisipite, a.k.a. Geraldine, Hope, Wendy, Mac and Evelyn toil for 12 long months, handcrafting beautiful woollen blankets for the Old Legs Tour to distribute amongst the Zimbabwe’s pensioners.

The love that goes into each and every blanket is palpable. This year’s record number of blankets will warm hearts in Mutare and Rusape. Our huge thanks go to Jayne Webb who contributed all the way from Australia; to Michelle Maher from Johannesburg; and to the good people of Barnt Green, Worcestershire, UK for contributing blankets for the third year running; and to Rory Rooney for bumping us up into triple figures. God bless you guys for caring from afar.

We will feel the Yarn Barn love all the way to Zanzibar, courtesy of the woollen mascot which the ladies knitted for us. We’ve named him Zanzibar and he will have pride of place on Christopher the Old Legs Overlander’s dashboard all the way to Zanzibar.

Crocheted Mascot

Please join us on our adventure, but be warned, we will ride fast like Joe Biden, which is even slower than paint dries.

In closing, Happy Worker’s Day. And please wish me luck for my eye surgery in Johannesburg next week.

Until my next blog, enjoy and avoid keyhole surgery if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong.

Photos below- about to go under the knife, blankets galore and Zanzibar the mascot, Zack and Kim on the finish line.

* Names and images may have been changed for privacy reasons

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