August 6, 2010
The humble tent. A budget extender if there ever was one. If I had stayed in hotels throughout my bike trip in South Africa, my journey would have lasted three weeks ... tops. But through the magic of poles and fabric, my journey lasted five months.
I didn't have the luxury of three, four, or five star hotels, but I had the luxury of time.
When your travel time is measured in months instead of days, you can take advice from locals you'd never consider if you had to stay on schedule.
I was in the Western Cape Provence and trying to decide what route to take heading east. I met a farmer who pointed down a road and said, "It's not the direction you're headed, but I guarantee you'll like that road.
I camped on his property that evening. Setting up my tent within sight of his farm house. He was worried about an upcoming storm. Not quite sure of my tent's abilities to shed water, he erected the large tent above mine. His own fabric structure looked pretty flimsy, but I wasn't one to criticize a gesture of kindness.
After breakfast the next morning, I announced that I was going to take his advice and go down the road he recommended. Two weeks of stunning scenery later and hundreds of miles off course, I sent him a post card and heartily thanked him.
Photos by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His latest book Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist will inspire you to hit the road and just might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.