Phew!! So much to say, where do I start?
First off, I really just want to say thank you! From the bottom of my heart. Thank you to all my followers, friends, family, fans, for all your support, messages, e-mails, tweets, sms messages, phone calls. It’s been one crazy ride! (pun intended)
And thank you to La Domestique (Hanret) for keeping everybody updated and making me jump up and down, screaming next to the road!!!
I am convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I must be the luckiest person on the face of this earth. Now I can hear some of you asking: ‘How the heck can you be lucky if your bike got stolen’? Well, it would seem that I ALWAYS bump into the right people, and when something ‘bad’ does happen to me, a miracle always follows.
I am absolutely stunned beyond what I can put in words, at just how Angola, as a nation, as a country… reacted to my ‘predicament’.
I’ll try and explain, in my own words, what happened. (In a nutshell, as I think everybody knows the story by now and I’ve had to go over it with the Angolan police and media like ten thousand times.)
Four drunk kids yielding knives (big and bigger), take my precious Luna. I manage to keep my handlebar bag, one front pannier and Camelbak. I Whatsapp message Hanret back home. I manage to phone friends in Lobito and Luanda. Then….CHAOS!!!
Friends from Lobito jump in their car, friends of friends from Lobito in Soyo jump in their car. Bearing in mind that these towns are, respectively, about 200 kilometers and 700 kilometers from where I am!! Friends from Luanda phone the head of police in N’zeto. Next thing I know I have four cars skidding to a halt next to me. (Police)
I get taken to police station and have about thirty officers in uniform all asking questions, all at the same time, in Portuguese. They find someone that can speak English. (At this point my Portuguese is good enough to explain what happened etc, but I’m stressed and jump between English, Afrikaans, Portuguese, French, Hebrew… heck, I even throw in a little isiZulu)
Then I get taken to hotel, two guards in charge of making sure nobody comes near me. The guys from Soyo arrive (Domingo and Jose, whom I met for the first time in front of the hotel, but they came to save me anyway). We soon discover that all three of us are Aquarians and we immediately get on like Namibians and Jaggermeister.
I then receive a phone call from one, Pedro Sebastião, the Governor of the Zaire province in Angola. He informs me that he has dispatched two helicopters from Luanda and is on his way, personally, in his airplane. Holy Moses!!! From thereon it was just the most incredibly, amazingly, bizarre and crazy and ‘out-of-this-world’ experience I have ever had.
The Governor arrives and tells me that I will be flying back with him to M’banza Congo where I will spend two days. (Yes sir! – she replies) In the air, he asks whether I need a doctor? (I’m still fighting this stupid cold or flu or whatever it is.) We land, at his house (read mansion), the doctor awaits. He gives me a load of meds and I go to bed. I stayed in bed, no jokes, until the NEXT evening!
The two helicopters remain in the air for TWO days, searching for Luna and/or the perps. On Monday, a flight is especially chartered for me to Lobito, at my request!! (I have a lot of friends in Lobito and it was where I felt most comfortable at the time.) I receive phone calls from no less that four Ministers, PERSONALLY!!!
From Lobito I drove to Windhoek (Namibia), thought it would be a nice road trip, to see the road I had cycled just weeks before. Then I flew back home.
So here I am, back in good old Mzansi. In the city of gold. AGAIN!!!
Bar the incident in Angola, I just have to state that I have never experienced such kindness, openness, warmth, caring and passion anywhere else before!! And this is before and after the incident. Angola is an amazingly beautiful country with amazingly beautiful, caring people!
I am, and probably always will be in awe of the extent that the people of Angola has gone to, to try and catch the boys that took Luna and to make sure that I was safe. It is just beyond words! I owe them a great deal of gratitude!
NOW – I know the question EVERYONE is asking is: ‘Are you calling it a day’? I will say this once, and once only: I have NO intention to give UP!!! I want to be the first woman to circumnavigate Africa solo. I’m just currently figuring out the how and when etc.
So * watch this space *!!