Day 55 Saturday 4th December. 2010
Packed up and walking out of customs at eight am we crossed the bridge into Kenya and by nine we were officially in. Our ”saviours” rolled up and told us that the truck had to leave without us as it had no room.. After sitting in warm sun for an hour I walked back into Ethiopia to stock up on food and water as I reckon its gonna be a long day. We finally told our pair of helpers the deal was off after three more promised trucks had been and gone. He was not impressed but neither was we. We were promised trucks and land cruisers by every man woman and their dog over the next three hours and at three pm we headed to a hotel for a much-needed shower and a break from all the lies to enable them to have our dollar.
Another deal done in the hotel with a man who implied he was the manager, we are sorted for the morning. We saw the truck and all seems perfect in the early evening.
Robin rocked up at eleven pm with deal with the night receptionist who now said our manager is another tout and he will get a truck for the four of us and two bikes for six hundred USD. It’s now passed midnight and my head is cooking with failed promises and a wasted day.
Day 56 Sunday 5th December
We ate a small complementary breakfast and packed the bike for the trip south, with or without a truck. After sitting in the shade of a warm day, (again), feck me, a truck pulls up and our shark like tout, number three hundred and fifty-one, is sat in the cab smiling like, well a shark.. the truck backed up to a pile of dirt and as the tail board fell into the dust yer shark says ”ride the bikes in then”, oblivious to the fact of a half metre sharp incline due to the miss-match of height. Ten strong men later, (not me included) the bikes were man-handled into the body of the van. Tied in we headed south.
Robin and I sat up top, on the roof to catch some wind and a whole lot more dust than we thought possible, and watched the desert pass by. About ten locals were on board also, heading for a wedding, about sixty km en-route. As they jumped off in their posh, bright clothes, a whole heap of wedding goers headed our way, down the dusty road singing and beating drums. They passed us by and after asking permission I took a few pics, before they conger in a field of earth, ne’er to be seen again.
The road was desert and rocks on the road till we hit Turbi where a few more passengers hit the dirt. We carried on to Marsabit where we stopped for the night, a non dis-script place that boasted a national park and a knife in a kidney if you are lucky, according to out truck mechanic.
Day 57 Monday 6th December
We were all up around six am and Diane and I went to find some breakfast. We found a small hotel that sold somosas and puffy fatty bread. The somosas had meat in them, neither of us were sure what, but they tasted good!!!
Shortly after hitting the road we had some mechanical problems. First with the back spring then a puncture and then the back spring again. The cure for a broken main spring is to hack a lump of tree branch to a wedge shape, jack up the body off the axle, and beat the wood between the main spring and helper spring. Then let down the body to trap the wood with the spring shackle. As the fox clips were missing that repair is tie the leaves in with strips of inner tube. As the day went on we had to stop a few more times to fix the back springs as more leaves broke… It was hot and very dusty but the roads were improving slightly. During the afternoon I got very hot and had to sit down in cab. I was surprised how noisy and how rough the ride was compared to on top. I was in the dust and heat but it was a much more comfortable ride. We arrived in Meru late and I was crashed out on the bunk among a heap of helmets and bike gear, all but Diane and I went for food, we slept well.
Day 58 Tuesday 7th December
The highlight of our day was stopping for a plate of chips, bread, jam and butter. First food hot food for many days. We trucked on through desert and dryness till we hit Merille where we stopped for food and hit the sealed surface there and made big km till the dirty wet slum sided road into Nairobi, sorry to sound dismal about it but that is what it is so far.
We drove into the truck stop for the night and were turfed out of our cab and truck body for the delights of a six dollar hotel with no water due to the rain fall we were enjoying. Forgoing a shower and the first wash for five days we went out for a beer as the chip sandwich was enough for us for one day. After visiting two restaurants with no beer we gained entry to a supermarket which appeared to be closed but in fact was fussy to whom it admitted. Once we were in the door was locked behind us.. They also sold no beer as being an Islamic owned joint, bugger.
Heading back to the hotel with a bottle of water sleep hit me like a hammer at nine pm after doing sod all for four days. I felt very idle.
Day 59 Wednesday 8th December
Finding the truck in the gloom of early (seven am) morning and a raining sky?? Must have caught up the wet season. I have had no rain since Germany, must be a mistake yeah? Driving out of the truck stop the driver I had always thought of a friend, said there is a pile of sand you can drag your bike down. Shite says I, looks fecking impossible, but T.I.A. after all. Another ten strong men haul my third pride and joy down into a cold puddle of muddy (?) water and proudly announce some scum bag has nicked my breakfast bag of rolls from my handle bars, bastards, paid them good dollar as well.. making muddy tracks to jungle junction and getting very lost in another slum finally arrive there at eleven am just in time to accept a DHL delivery from Selwyn, of a Xmas card, stove part and the new map. Excellent as they were only posted two days ago.(After sms from Selwyn found it cost thirty-two pounds!! Its cheaper to send things home than send them out. I guess the U.K. Is an expensive place to live, but safe. Day spent cooking hot food and drinking beer, and writing this ramble.
Day 60 Thursday 9th December
Had lovely breakfast avocado, granary bread, crisps, tomato and nasty nescafe coffee. Took off the panniers racks to weld a few cracks and sort out the crash bars and front tool tube. Diane washed the bike, really not the thing to do as folks say if its grubby it wont attract so much attention. But when we were unloading the beans it was very dusty and still attracted a whole heap of onlookers and many pictures were taken on ‘phones. I don’t like it dirty and when she had done it really looked great. Much better without all the boxes and racks on. Lean and able to do the Marsabit road to Isilo without trouble. The repairs took most of the day,as usual. But I did spend an hour or two adjusting the brakes on a land cruiser for Chris, to offset a little of my borrowed tools. Enjoyed the day and finished fitting bits back on by night fall. Still got the fettling to do but that’s just me being O.C.D. I reckon.
Did not get to K.T.M. Dealer to order spares but on the grape-vine its said they keep a boat full. We will see tomorrow.
Day 61 Friday 10th December
Started work on the chain oiler at six am, cleaning it from the last of the desert dust. The one hundred and forty weight gear oil I bought in Moyale, that in that heat was fairly runny, now in the cool of Nairobi, is pretty reluctant to flow. I thinned it down with a dash of petrol and after a ride out it seems OK. We left at one pm to sort out money at the local Barclays bank. When we arrived they were more interested in giving us cake and biscuits, and hearing about our travels. Leaving there with no Ksh but a place to go where they charge no commission. The shopping area we found was a little haven of fruit and veg, and a small supermarket where, for the price of one of us attending the Jungle Junction barbecue, we bought three days food. We managed to buy cheese on offer, two for one, shame it was absolutely tasteless. No surprise it was on offer! It was best fried I discovered a few days later, still tasted of nothing, but did not make your teeth squeak when you ate it. Money changed we rushed off to the K.T.M. dealer to buy needed bike bits. On the road home diane spotted a local souvenir shop where a nice necklace and earrings was chose by herself.
Day 62 Saturday 11th December.
At daybreak we bailed out the tent as after the nights usual downpour the ground sheet had lost the will to repel water. We decamped to higher ground…
Fitted the new air filter, as at Wim’s when I changed the oil it was in a poor state, mostly dust from the desert roads I reckon, stuck to the slight petrol / oil residue. The side-stand also had a bit of a beating in the back of the truck, so a happy few hours were spent trying unsuccessfully to coax it back to what I thought was its original shape. Packed the bike ready for departure to Mombasa in the morning.
Day 63 Sunday 12th December
After a breakfast of eggs and fried onion rolls we left Jungle Junction in the dank air as it was still wet and humid from the rain. The roads were dry though and it felt good to be on the road after four days. I reckon that that is the most time we feel comfortable with for being stopped, with planning, bike work, washing to do three to four days is fine. Any more and we start to feel lazy and drink to much beer…. Not good for the budget.
Six hours of Kenyan roads, (not bad), and Kenyan driving, (said to be one of the worst in the world, they are bad but not that bad, surely??? They will use your side of the road to avoid holes, overtake or just for a change of view, whether you are in the way or not. Interesting and keeps you awake to say the least). We stopped at a souvenir shop about a hundred km from Mombasa, partially by the black sky heading our direction and mostly by the time. I had kept riding for to long, again. We asked where we might be able to camp, the chap who seemed to be in charge said that we could pitch up out the back of the shop. There was toilets, (flush and clean), water in a tap and shelter from the wind which was blowing up from the easterly approaching storm. Perfect. By the time we had cooked and ate the ”storm” had blown its self to nothingness and the wind which may have kept us cool had also disappeared. A hot and sweaty night prevailed with the cooks in the shop kitchen starting work at three am and the radio to accompany their loud chatting!!!
Day 64 Monday 13th December
After a early start and coffee with potato crisps, no sign of the bread and cakes they must have been making in the early hours, we headed south east. Filling up at Voi, the attendant was really bowled over by the bike and we chatted with him till his boss came over and implied that he should really get back to work. As we were the only vehicle there I thought that a bit mean of him.
We had been advised to take a round route to avoid going through Mombasa and the ferry south on the coast road, sounds great to me. The first mistake was not turning back as we started down the gravel path at Samburu. The second was to keep going.. It was firm but bumpy first thirty km, then it went a lot more bumpy and the last twenty of the eighty km was soft sand. After flagging down a police land rover, two of the men got out and helped us push the bike out of a shallow ditch I had decided to park in..
Half a hour later we were in Kwale, eating spicy food, rice and fruit juice, all reheated like your not meant to but I was mentally and physically drained, and in need of food after our meagre breakfast all those hours ago. The road through and out of the village to the coast was tar and soon we were at Tiwi beach camp with the azure blue sea merging with the sky. Camped up on white sands and paddling in the warm water the ”short cut from hell” was well behind us. Playing cards in the bar as dark fell drinking tea we even managed to laugh about it, but not much.
Day 65 Tuesday 14th December
Talking to a fellow camper whom we met at Jungle Junction last week, a German chap called Andy, (sound name), we tried to clarify between us the Ethiopian clock. We think it runs along the following lines. At six am U.T.C., in Ethiopia its then twelve O’clock. At seven am U.T.C. it’s one O’clock and so on till six pm U.T.C. when it 12 O’clock. We’re not sure what happens at night but as its dark we did not worry to much… If any one can put us straight, if we are wonky let me know. The other odd thing about the country is its eight years behind our calender, but I forget what their calender is called.
Walked the to other end of the beach looking for small shells with a hole in so Diane can make a bracelet, tying them with braided coconut hair. A fair number of locals come past with veg, fruit and fish for sale. We bought a white snapper and made a soup, which we had with our pudding rice that we are slowly using up when we can manage it. Its OK if you don’t cook it to much.. I was perplexed to see a guy beating his squid on the toilet steps like it was not dead enough for his liking. He explained that it was to relax the meat, as when they swallow the hook they tense up, not surprising really.
Day66 Wednesday 15th December.
Another German chap talked of the next village, Diane, being forty minuets walk, with the promise of a shop and nicer bread we set off. It was much more commercial than Tiwi beach, with fake boats as bars, sun loungers with people lounging in them. The place had a feel of Spain in Africa, Tiwi was much nicer. We never found the shop either so we went back to our paradise for a cold beer and to compare sunburn…. Diane cooked pasta but did not eat a great deal as I reckon she had sun stroke, as she felt sick and cold and hot! All at once. With the bike packed as much as I could I got a beer and watched the sea grow dark, cant say I watched the sun go down as the beach faces east. It was another warm night and Diane felt fairly rough. Hope she is OK to move tomorrow.
Day67 Thursday 16th December.
Stayed up till eleven or so in the hope of being tired and sleeping till five or six, no chance. Woke at two am with the stifling heat, it would be really pleasant to have the wind blowing through the tent, keeping the mozzie away, and keeping us cool. Started to pack the bike at five with Diane looking and feeling, I guess fairly shite. Also she had not slept a great deal due to not being able turn over without being in pain. She went to the bar to get food and coffee and left me to grump on stowing our gear. Farewells said, I rode up the dirt track that I had forgotten how steep it was and bounced over the rocks and boulders back to the dirt road that I thought was rough when we arrived. Heading into Mombasa, thought the villages and road side stalls I had forgotten how hot it could be at eight thirty in the morning, wearing bike gear, as you do just south of the equator in the high season. After being shouted at in a most helpful manner we were heading in the direction of the ferry. As the tide was out as we dis-embanked the ramp was a very steep desent of smooth metal, boy was I grateful it was dry.
Heading into the dense Mombasa traffic I soon realized I did not have the faintest idea where I was heading or did I have the gps switched on or even any co-ordinates for which to head. Oversight rectified we pulled into the first garage on what I thought was the correct road to Nairobi, to be told ”no petrol”, bugger. Diane had fallen onto the kerb stone with sunstroke setting in proper. The pump attendant told me that the next garage had fuel, so I walked to it , also looking for some bread derived food as I had not eaten yet. After filling up all the tins and tanks we headed north west to Voi. There was much noise from the pillion seat as we passed over bumps and ruts in road, and the plan from behind was to stop NOW so as to relive the pain. With no decent stops being offered we ended up in a fantastic B&B called St. Augustus. Its a little set back from the road, but very quiet and cheaper than the town hotels. I left Diane in bed and went to town for a beer, and bread, in that order. Voi had a largish outdoor market area in the centre with shops being to one side and stretching back a few blocks. We had been advised at Tiwi that fuel in Malawi, especially the south, fuel is scarce so I was pleased to find five litre plastic containers which were clean for fuel. The metal ones I had brought from home are now down to three due to the spills on the deep sand on the more off road parts of the journey.
On my return herself was up and drinking tea with the manager, looking a little brighter. The evening was spent mooching through maps and drinking tea.
Day68 Friday 17th December.
We took the unusual step this morning and asked the manager of the B&B if we could use the kitchen!! We had bargained the cost of the room down yesterday by agreeing that we would leave early and did not require breakfast. However now that we were staying another night as Diane still felt too sore to wear bike gear, or any over-pants at all really, we needed to eat. The cost of dining in compared to buying off the markets and cooking ourselves was still too great. One meal for us both equates to two or even three days food. So I wondered into town again and bought us the ingredients for a fry up!! Sounds ordinary to you but we are on one pot cooking, so stews and soups with pasta is our main diet. The greasy meal was fantastic, with spuds, eggs, beans, toast and fried cheese? Well its still tasteless but need eating. We mostly just dozed the day away watching old Tom and Jerry cartoons on T.V.
I went to town later in the afternoon for a walk and food. I did feel really idle but the temperature was up to thirty five and I’m afraid to say but it was too hot to clean the poor old bike in full sunshine.
Day69 Saturday 18thDecember.
We woke early with the idea of riding just to a camp ground about twenty clicks from the boarder. The road was marked on the map as ”major with improvements”, our Tracks for Africa said it was sixty percent tar. We filled up at the same gas station, with the same lad, he was really chuffed to see us again and took pictures on his ‘phone. He missed doing it last time because of his boss. He set us on the correct road and we said our goodbyes.
The road was bumpy but OK enough for thirty to forty kph but as the odometer trip hit twenty five the tar stopped and we were on very rough rock, but it was firm. The next seventy km was in first and second gear with fuel being used at twice the normal rate, real bugger as we only had ten litres in the cans. We bounced our slowly a long looking for the camp that was marked to be on the road side. When we had not seen it the gps was switched on and it said the camp was ten km behind us!!! Its not on the road side and not marked up a track. I said this to Diane who was flat out under an enormous tree for shade. As she lay there the local children saw us an came running over. They were some Masai type of people as they were fantastically dressed and wore tons of necklace and ear-rings. With their hands out for gifts we don’t have to give, as it causes more grief than good we have been told. Especially for those that travel after you. As one of the older girls, (about eight or so) tried to take a bracelet off the dozing Dianes’ wrist. As she woke she said did I hear a child say ”give me pen”??? We soon had to leave, its a real shame but it reminded us of Ethiopia, you cant sit down for five minuets without being swamped by children. It would be OK if you were not hot, sweaty and road weary. Generally the children here did not pay us any attention, but I guess out in the middle of nowhere you will cause a stir by just being there.
We carried on to the next town, which turned out to be the boarder. Not intending to travel that far, it was nice to be there as we both hot, sweaty and hungry. Outside of the customs house we sat on the floor, in the shade and had the last of our perishable food. It somewhat surprised the officials but they did not mind, and came and chatted with us. Clearing customs and immigration we headed off to the nearest camp.