Of course not, but eating another road ruined pulp of banana – from the rough roads – staring at another flat tire and with a big abscess, the aeroplane I could hear leaving Nairobi airport seemed a little bit tempting!
At the border town of Moyale,which separates Ethiopia and Kenya; I was exhausted from Ethiopia and hoping Kenya would be better, but my hopes were dashed by fellow travelers crossing the border, as I heard reports of the road to Isiolo – a place I’d never heard of, at the end of one of the worst roads in Africa – “with rocks like *THIS*!” – and riddled with gun toting bandits, tribes and spear wielding Samburu warriors.
All facts new to me.
Other travelers always seem to know these things and my complete lack of knowledge made it feel like I was riding into the unknown, unprepared.
Of course, this is exactly what I was doing.
Knowledge is a nice comfort.
Weighing up the options; leave now or stand around and wait for new options, I decided to leave.
As always the road wasn’t that bad and I took it easy, stopping to read under a tree. Big mistake, one I kicked myself for later, a novice mistake and one I had learned long ago; I casually expected the road to continue in the same vein, but it deteriorated later in the day, sand, massive corrugations and deep loose rocks, heavily rutted that caught the sidewalls of the tires and sent me tumbling. They were lethal, and on one such a fall I bent my foot peg, brake lever and engine bars very badly – I was lucky it was not worse, terminal.
The locals along the way had warned me that this stretch, the desert, was dangerous with many tribes fighting for survival, but with my lack of ground covered during the day I had to face the prospect of camping outside of the town of Marsabit where all others had planned to reach.
I survive the night and spend some time in Marsabit before pushing on after lunch, seeing wild ostrich – black with white tipped wings which they flap wildly to grab the females’ attention and monkeys sitting by the road side. I camp up in a nice quiet section of bush and waking in the morning with the tent left open to vent the terrible heat as I slept I see outside; Kenya! and I smile to myself. I get up and go to the bike and as I do so hear the enormous sound of hooves and see a giraffe running across, an unbelievable sight and one all to myself!
I feel ill though today, dehydration perhaps? and have a sore bum from the ridiculous corrugations. Feeling lethargic I take forever to pack up, drinking gallons of water,leaving myself with little for the day ahead. After only 2km of riding, I get a puncture and find that the vibrations have broken the fuse for the pump,the two spares I was carrying,the wire to the battery and peanut butter has gone everywhere due to the lid coming off. Exasperated I sit in the already blistering heat and repair it all. Four South Africans arrive on BMW 1200GS’s they check I am OK and polishing off the last of my water I contemplate how each of their bikes cost more than my entire trip. Bloody nice bikes though.
Luckily the South Africans’ GPS units are incorrect and the town is 20km and not 97km and I can top up my water, meeting tribes people of a quite unbelievable beauty, a camera would have been a treat here.
I reach Samburu and am invited by the police for a drink, a teacher comes to chat too and points out a Samburu warrior whom he talks to. The warrior is spectacular, as amazing as any wild animal. Skinny and small boned, wearing a sarong, colourful beads and a skull cap adorned with four flowers like roses and carrying a spear. He looks at once feminine and menacing and scares me to death,but pays me no attention. He looks to me as if he has the confidence of someone who has killed a man and I contemplate to ask the teacher if he perhaps has, but refrain! The warrior skips off into the bush and I decide to press on.
Looking for a camp, now past Isiolo and on tarmac, four days after entering Kenya I get two flat tires, which is a bit of a problem when you only have two wheels. I reluctantly pull into a Lodge and camp there. In the morning I fix four punctures, and 1km later two of them come unfixed. I stop in Nanyuki, where two come unfixed again! What is going on??!! That night,rain clouds approaching (and with no rain clothes – stolen), two plugs come out again, then later another one and, down to my last plug I super glue it in place and pray I can find a camp spot before it comes out and before the rain!
I reach Sweet Water Game reserve and to my horror find it is $300 to stay there! As I chat to the guards – exclaiming my horror at the price and hoping for a discount of 99%, my rear tire begins to deflate and the John McEnroe in me comes out “You CANNOT be serious!!”. Luckily a nice chap called Daniel is on hand to rescue me, one of the staff members at the reserve, who gives me a lift to the research center inside the park, where I have my own bed, shower, cooker and I get to see a black rhino and a hippo, all for free and all thanks to Daniel whom I am deeply indebted to! Thanks Daniel!
In the morning I fetch parts from town, getting a motorcycle taxi and fix my bike. On my way again, I pass the equator, where a distressed man holding a jug of water shouts out as I pass by nonplussed.
I go to Crater Lake National Park, believing it to cost $3 to enter, it doesn’t, the price has gone up to $12 and I reluctantly pay to enter – I am such a tight ass.
In the morning I take a walk around the reserve and stumble into two giraffe, so close I can almost touch them, 3-5m away. A camera would have been nice here, too. I watch for a while as they chew on some grass, staring at me. They are beautiful and funny and I push on, not wanting to annoy them. I see zebra, loads of zebra, gazelle, foxes, antelope and a group big bull like things…unfortunately I did not see the resident tiger…or maybe cheetah, I was getting this info from a local farm hand hoping for tip. I walk the crater rim and watch black and white monkeys with long tails playing in the trees below me. Then to Lake Naivasha where I eat my lunch and watch the millions of flamingos and the few hippos keeping cool, eyes peering out of the water.
By now, my bum is in agony, and a big horrible abscess has formed. I go to Nairobi, and walk VERY painfully and slowly to the doctors – getting many a strange look on route. The doctor sends for a taxi; who whips me to the hospital; who put me into surgery and they proceed to cut me bum to pieces. Waking up my first words were “Thanks for looking after me”, I was glad that the Kenyans hadn’t killed me as I was a bit skeptical entering the theater. I chat with the man opposite my bed,a Somalian aid worker shot through leg by bandits wanting his car, he floored it and escaped, he was lucky to be alive and I noticed how he received many visitors, something my bedside was distinctly lacking in!
Now I am recovering and waiting around in the YMCA for my bum to improve before I will push on. I will miss out Uganda; I had hoped to miss out Tanzania in Uganda’s favour, but Uganda’s southern border is a ropey connection with Rwanda and some other place of doom, would mean returning back to Kenya then on to Tanzania,a great expense I can’t afford as my funds dwindle.
I had contemplated visiting the D.R.Congo, but this is not only expensive but a risky proposition, especially solo and I fear I would be to fearful to do what I wanted; such as camp. I am now contemplating a short spell volunteering on a farm here in Kenya, but we will see what happens. I have some work to do on the bike and this will no doubt take one week and not one day as I expect!