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Mon Dec 11 2017: Moto or No Moto?

Two weeks later, still no rain in Cape Town.

We are seeing the effects of the water conservation measures around the city. Public pools have sat empty for months now. Restaurants are forbidden to serve tap water to customers, only bottled water is sold (which I'm sure they're really broken up about that!) and some places have experimented with serving food on paper plates so they don't waste water washing real dishes. Which seems to me that this is just substituting one problem with another...


Oh yeah, we've also moved! A bit further away from Table Mountain, which isn't entirely a bad thing
since we have a great view of it now that we're not directly underneath it

We've extended our stay in Cape Town because we've done absolutely no work on our motorcycle trip. We've now moved the RideDOT.com Africa Operations Centre to a neighbourhood called Gardens, about 15 minutes walk from where we were before. Not as swanky a part of town, but this place has a garage.

Because we are now starting to think and plan ahead...

It's gotten noticeably hotter the last couple of weeks. Also more noticeable because our new place doesn't have air-conditioning. :(


We walk around our place naked with fans trained on us the whole day.
Neda said I wasn't allowed to take any pictures...

Fortunately, Cape Town is *very* windy. We open all the doors and windows in our place to let a breeze through. But they have to be secured or propped open with stoppers or they'll slam shut loudly. In our apartment complex, there's constantly loud bangs heard throughout the day of a window or door slamming shut somewhere.

Unfortunately, the strong winds consist of very hot air blowing through the city. It's like living inside a hair-dryer. There's no relief until the sun falls.


But when it does, we get great sunset views of the city from our window!

Okay, vacation time is over. Time to do some "work".


I miss my R1200GS so much! Look at this sweet Rallye model, cool blue frame, nifty TFT display... *drool*

We walked over to the BMW dealership down the street to see if they would sell us a motorcycle. We were immediately pegged as foreigners (how could you tell?!?) and the salesguy asked if we had a Traffic Register Number (TRN). This number/document allows a non-South African citizen to be entered into the South African motorist database, so you can buy and sell vehicles, pay license fees and taxes, get traffic tickets and fines, etc.

From my research, I already knew we needed a TRN, but everything indicated that it would be very difficult to obtain if we weren't on a work visa, or didn't have permanent residency here. I was just hoping that the dealership would assist us in the process. Just a little local help in greasing the skids...

I tried to incent the sales guy by telling him we would buy bikes from them if they helped us get TRNs.

When he told us that they couldn't do it, I started to worry if it was even possible. Motorcycle sales people don't turn away prospective customers so quickly...

Fine. We'll do it ourselves.

We didn't want your stinkin' new, shiny motorcycles loaded with all the coolest, newest electronic gadgets anyway!


We Uber it to the Civic Centre in the Central Business District (CBD)

I've researched the TRN application process exhaustively. Officially, it's targeted towards foreign nationals who are staying in South Africa long-term, either for work, school or retirement. It's not really meant for tourists.

However, on the online forums and Facebook groups, there are lots of data points from tourists who have applied for a TRN successfully. But also lots of anecdotes of others who have been turned down. It all seems so very random and arbitrary, which really throws our plans for touring Africa by motorcycle into disarray.

All throughout our travels, we've pretty much flown by the seat of our pants, not over-planning; letting each moment guide us to the next. But this is the most uncertainty we've ever faced.

If we don't get these TRNs, we'll be forced to either rent bikes or try to convince a local resident to register the motorcycles in their name. The first option is super-expensive and I vividly recall hating that time=money sword hanging over our heads when we rented bikes in Japan. And that's because we like to travel so slowly... Plus we're forced to make a loop out of our trip, to return the bikes back to the rental agency here in Cape Town. We can't sell the bikes in another country when we finish up, which really limits our options.

The other alternative - if we register the bikes under a local - means that we'll have to carry around a signed affidavit giving us permission to take the vehicles across the border. And I've heard of some border crossings being super-difficult if the vehicle isn't in your name. Super-difficult meaning you need to do a lot of bribing. And again, it's difficult to sell a bike at the end of your trip if it isn't officially yours, so this isn't a preferable option either.

We really need those TRNs.


Based on my research, these are the two sticking points. We're going in to try anyway! Wish us luck!

After waiting in line for a half-hour, we approach the unsmiling lady behind the counter with a thick sheaf of papers.

She proceeds to rifle through them, scrutinizing every detail. Oh boy.

She pauses at the copies of our passport and looks up at us. "You are here on a Tourist Visa?" I nod.

"You need either a work visa or an education visa."

I shrug, not sure what to say. She continues shuffling through our documents. Is that a good thing? We haven't been turned away yet.

She looks up again. "Where is your proof of residence?"

I point to the copy of our apartment reservation that I printed out.

She shook her head. "No, no, no. This is an AirBnB reservation. You need either a utility bill or a lease agreement."

I give her my best So-Sorry-Didn't-Know shrug and smile. She doesn't smile back. That's it. We're sunk.

At this point, I'm mentally calculating how much it will cost to rent bikes in Africa for months on end: $$$$$$. :(

She files the papers off to one side and says, "I will forward your documents to the central processing office, but I do not think they will approve your application. Check back in 7 days time."

Oh. We thank her and leave a bit puzzled. Did we just successfully jump a hurdle or did she just brush us off by being non-committal? *sigh* I guess we'll find out next week.

Confidence level is pretty low right now.


Brian and Temi take us up to the summit of Signal Hill to escape the heat! Gets quite cool up here when the sun sets.

We've made friends in Cape Town!

Actually, they're Yaw and Hélène's friends from the US, who they've introduced us to. Brian and Temi have worked and lived here for quite some time now. Brian used to live in Tanzania when he was a kid and Temi has a Nigerian background, but worked for a while in Kenya. We spent a lot of time picking their brains about Africa since they have so much experience.


Hanging out at Signal Hill is a popular pastime for the locals, watching sunsets and paragliders take off from the hill

Everyone pulls out their cell phones and takes Instragram pictures when the sun sets on the horizon #sunetsignalhill

I'm a bit self-conscious as my big, clunky DSLR is the only camera making loud clicking noises as the sun disappears below the South Atlantic Ocean. Time to join the 21st century, Gene...


We made more friends! And they took us out surfing!

Actually, more of Yaw and Hélène's friends. :)

We were asked recently: if our blog is mainly meant as a record for our future selves, why bother making it public? The answer is because we've met so many people through it! I love reading through other people's blogs and have reached out to other bloggers in the past, because I feel like I already know them. Although we started this RTW trip in 2012, Yaw actually contacted me a couple of years before that because the blog has been online since 2007, with ride reports written as far back as 2005!

Yaw and Hélène set us up with another ex-pat couple in town. Cory is from Boston and Rowena from Edmonton (another Canadian!). They're also friends with Brian and Temi, and they're super-into surfing. We're not really surfers ourselves, but we come out with them just to be social and see another part of Cape Town that we normally wouldn't visit ourselves.


We are at the beach in Muizenburg, about an hour south of where we are staying

We rent a couple of surfboards and hang out in the water, but it's apparent this is no beginner surf spot, so we quickly trade them in for bodyboards, which Neda absolutely loved. But after 15 minutes of that, I quickly trade my bodyboard in for my camera and I walk around the beach taking pictures. :)


Muizenburg Beach is a very popular surf spot

Okay, enough playtime, back to work!


Uber is very popular in Cape Town, but since we're now doing multiple trips a day, it's cheaper to rent a car for the week

We pick up this dusty, rental Kia. Because of the water rationing, car rental agencies are not allowed to wash their cars - which I'm sure they are really upset about. Businesses are really sticking it to the customers during this state of emergency - no free glasses of water, paper plates, unwashed rental cars...

I have lots of experience riding on the left-hand-side of the road, but driving in a RHD car? Takes a lot of getting used to!

Is the clutch pedal on the right or left? I look down. It's on the left, as usual.

Is the shift-pattern reversed, now that it's on the left side of the wheel? No, it's the same shift pattern.

Okay, so things are pretty much the same as a LHD car then. I flick the turn-signal indicators on to leave the rental place.

Aaaand the windshield wipers activate, scraping weeks of drought dust across the front window. Oops!

Ok. Not everything is the same then...


Our first stop, the camping gear store!

Getting all our shit stolen is a major bummer, but it has a silver lining. A very small, thin and flimsy silver lining. More of a tin lining than silver, actually.

This is essentially version 2.0 of our trip preparations. Now that we've gained over five years of long-term motorcycle travel experience, we know exactly what worked, what we liked and what we absolutely hated in our old equipment. But back then, it seemed frivolous to throw out stuff to buy new things, so we simply made do with what we had and lived with the inconveniences.

But now, we have an excuse to use all our knowledge to build a setup that we know will absolutely work for us as we ride through Africa.

I'll probably go through Gear v2.0 in another post, as it might not be interesting to a lot of people. But we're kind of glad that we're starting off tabula rasa with our equipment and bikes.

Next stop, more moto-window-shopping. We drive out to another part of the Cape Town suburbs.


While we were shopping at the camping store, it rained!

The rains didn't last long and hard enough though. Only brief sprinkles for 20 minutes. The sporadic drops of water from the sky hit the parched pavement and gets vaporized to steam instantly. Nothing stays on the ground and there's no relief for Cape Town, as the city's emergency drought continues.

Driving this RHD car is very confusing. I keep looking up and to the right, expecting to use the rear-view mirror, but all I see is an A-pillar. I use the windshield wipers to clear the surprise rainwater off the window, but all I hear is the clicking of the indicators and see the confusion of the cars beside me as they jam on their brakes. "Sorry! Sorry!"

And when I pass other vehicles, I have no perception of the dimensions of the vehicle, or how much space I have because I'm now sitting on the right (err, wrong) side of the car. So weird. I need to get back onto a motorcycle as soon as possible...


Really, Neda? You like *that* bike? It's exactly the same as your last one?

So much for v2.0 of New Stuff... Funny, because the first bike I sat on earlier... was an R1200GS. Exact same bike I had before!

LOL. It's true. You can't help who you love...

However, we can't do anything on the motorcycle front until we get our TRNs.


Time passes. We go back to our favorite restaurant in Cape Town a few times
OMG! Duck Tacos, so good!!!

The longest week ever finally passes, and we drive out to the Civic Centre again, returning to the motor vehicle licensing office. We're not terribly optimistic, and we've braced ourselves for bad news.

Then:


Aw hellz yeah! We got our TRNs!!!!

Can I get a whut-whut?! I guess it's unusual to walk out of a government office happy, because people are staring at us as we whoop it up and literally dance joyously out of the building! :D

OMG, what a relief! This is the official start of our African motorcycle journey. The only thing we're missing are the motorcycles...

Stay tuned!

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