2013 Cape Town to Dublin by Scooter
After five years of careful planning and dreaming, at the beginning of 2013, I and three other intrepid adventure addicts, departed Cape Town for an 8 month expedition. We were sponsored with four 150cc LML Vespa scooters. The two stroke engines took us all the way zig zagging up the east coast of Africa before we crossed the Mediterranean Sea and continued through Europe. After touching 20 countries and travelling close to thirty thousand kilometers, we finished the ride in Dublin Ireland.
The expedition started at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town and finished up at Our Ladies Children’s Hospital in Dublin on the Emerald Isle. Along the way we visited many children’s hospitals, schools and pediatric healthcare service providers to raise awareness and create publicity opportunities for the amazing work that these organisations achieve.
In the middle of Africa, I became very ill. Unable to get the medical attention I needed, I had to fly home for treatment. The doctors back in Cape Town pumped me full of vitamins and a couple of courses of antibiotics. I had some rest and started to feel better again.
Thinking that I was ok, I did some research and found a way to get back and join the others to complete the trip. At this stage, they were about to enter the Sudan. They had had a month of delays in Ethiopia waiting for visas. This had obviously given me the time to rest and feel well again. Unfortunately my scooter was now back in Cape Town and with no chance of getting it easily to the Sudan or Egypt. I came up with a different plan. I managed to organize a loan scooter from a distributor in Paris, and so I flew directly to Europe. In the same time that the guys took to ride across Egypt and cross the Med, I would ride south from Paris to meet them in Italy. It was kind of ironic that although I missed out on riding the top corner of Africa with the others, my solo spin south had me travelling more mileage in the long run. This was all fine with me. I wanted a story to write about and my solo spin would certainly make for a couple of interesting chapters for my book. The entire time that I was riding alone in Europe, I did not feel well. Exhaustion coupled with many months on the road were the easiest suspects for the symptoms that I was experiencing. I soldiered on regardless. Surely I would be fine once home and rested. I was very wrong.
For many months after completing the expedition, I was juggled between doctors and hospitals who each tried to figure out what was wrong with me. All sorts of tests were run, from chest X-rays to lumber punctures, from an assortment of blood tests to MRI scans. The medical team could not seem to find the cause of my ailing condition.
It was only when my sight very suddenly faded and darkness ensconced my world, that I was sent to see an ophthalmologist. He took one look at the back of my eyes with special equipment and made a guess as to the issue. He sent me for blood tests, which would confirm his diagnosis.
A virus had attacked my retinas and although the doctors could stop the spread of the virus and save my life, my retinas were irreparably damaged and my eyesight was gone.
Little did I know that this would start a whole new journey in my life and turn me from being Chris the scooter guy into Chris the blind scooter guy.
2015 Rovos Rail
In 2015, I embarked on a train adventure travelling across South Africa on the luxury Rovos Rail. The following Blog explains how I could appreciate the experience as a blind traveller thanks for my remaining 4 senses. Click here to read the full blog: