As mentioned yesterday, our camp last night was directly at Lake Victoria. However, “don’t expect to see the lake”, Tallis had warned us already, “they’ve had an invasion of water hyacinths.”
In the morning when I went to the shore, I saw it for myself: The entire lake covered by water hyacinths, as far as I could see. Their growth is so thick that I couldn’t even see the water!
I haven’t been good at reporting about the socio-economic situation of the countries that we’ve been going through—partly because I haven’t had time to read up upon it myself (other than simply observing what I could see while cycling), partly because you can find all the information elsewhere if interested.
However, when reading up upon Lake Victoria and those water hyacinths in the evening, I was so shocked that I think this deserves a special entry. Lake Victoria is Africa’s biggest lake, and we’re cycling almost all around it—starting in Kenya, via Uganda, and back on the southern shore in Tanzania.
Here’s a few short facts of what happened (will leave it to you to read more elsewhere):
- Being the biggest lake in Africa, Lake Victoria had been of major importance to the regional economy, providing an abudnant supply of local fresh water fish and protein for the local population.
- In order to increase fish catches for the bigger fisheries, a colonial fishery officer put the Nile perch clandestinely into the lake in the 1950s (despite adamant opposition from scientists who feared the impact on the local ecosystem). More introductions were made in the 1960s.
- 50 years later, almost the entire natural, biological wealth of the lake has been destroyed because the Nile perch has alterted the food chain. There’s hardly any indigenous fish left in the lake. The situation is so bad that the Nile perch has even started cannibalising itself—bigger perches eating smaller ones.
- Small fisheries are suffering badly—their livelihood has been destroyed. The Nile perch is too difficult for them to catch (requiring more expensive equipment that they can’t afford).
- Combined with pollution from local sewage and waste being dumped directly into the lake, a once thriving ecosystem has become a massive plot of water devoid of oxygen and nutrients. What a shame!
Stage 28: Kisumu – Busia (Kenya), 107km
Road & traffic condition:
Good tar. Lots of shorter ups and downs—gone are the days of flat roads. Lots of speed bumps in and near villages. Shoulder disappeared for most of the ride, but traffic was slow enough not to cause any issues.
Our camp ground was still wet while packing up in the morning, but the sun came out as soon as we started our ride.
Fairly hot and humid during the day, and yet another torrential downpour and thunderstorm at night after dinner.
Last night’s dinner leftovers of cold spaghetti bolognese and apple pie have made for quite a lunch feast.
In exchange, we’ve had our first vegetarian dinner without protein, even for the non-vegetarians, but good nevertheless—pasta with broccoli cream sauce and salad.
Crossing the equator—equator crossing ceremony directly at the equator and cross-dress party at night.
Paul and Mike, inspired by Bridgette, had prepared a special surprise ceremony for us directly at the equator. We were only allowed to cross if we got off our bikes, put our helmets back to front, allowed Pauline (with long pink hair and bikini top) to smear shaving cream all over our face, and then—here’s the highlight!—kiss the mouth drawn with vegemite on Mike’s belly. What a spectacle, what a dare, what a fun and memorable equator crossing! Thanks to Pauline and Mike for undressing, thanks to Bridgettefor the idea, and thanks to Anmei for lending her sleeping bag inlet to Mike so he could cover his most private parts. 🙂
The fun continued at camp with a cross-dress party in line with TDA tradition. It was a bit easier for the guys to dress like a girl, and almost all of them had gotten themselves a very special feminine outfit.
Amongst the girls, special mention goes to Liz and Wendy for their men shorts and body hair, as well as to Anmei who had converted into an almost perfect double of Tallis.
Daring to kiss Mike’s belly during the equator crossing ceremony.