Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kenya

Sorry it has taken so long to post again but we could not access blogger in Ethiopia (we are now in Khartoum).
Ok, granted we only spent a little over 1 week in Kenya and only in Nairobi and in transit at that, but I still feel confident in making a few strong statements about it. The first is that Nairobi is indeed a very modern and international city in both look and feel, though it has plenty of it's chaotic "African" parts as well. Time and again we have run into travellers that have had great things to say about Nairobi and how they were able to find and do pretty much anything they could at home. It is that way indeed. Kenyans in general also seemed quite friendly and helpful. It is also fun to see tuk-tuks again.
We got to Nairobi and stayed in a small overlander camp a little out of the centre. Ben, Bre, Patrick and Sarah were in a different camp not far away. It was a nice, relaxing place and we were there a few days because we had to apply for an Ethiopian visa. No problem there. The group went out to Carnivores restaurant as probably most visitors do at some point. Talking to others as well as our own opinions though, it seems the place has become rather disappointing lately. The atmosphere is great but the meat has become of mediocre quality and we were all much more impressed with Joe's Beer House in Windhoek, Namibia.
We were also very surprised but extremely pleased to learn that by fortunate circumstance, John Volken and some of his family were in Nairobi at the exact same time we were. Finally, a real taste of home! We were only able to catch them briefly at their hotel for a quick chat before they flew home though, but they were golden moments for all of us.
From Nairobi we hit the road north, with the original 3 trucks in convoy again, for the first time since Namibia, although with the group now reduced to 9 from 12. Patrick and Sarah followed us north as far as Isiolo, which happens to be the end of the decent roads in Kenya if you are headed north. Everyone complains about the remaining road to Ethiopia (~600km) as being one of the worst in the world. With Kees' truck not in the best of shape and having experienced other horrible roads elsewhere we were expecting the apocalypse. Not quite. We somehow managed to get through without too much damage (Kees broke one of his air compressor tanks so was running on half brakes) compared to others. It was still a long and painful 2 days for our butts though. The corrugations are terrible and when those stop we were on sharp volcanic rocks or sliding in the mud. The mud part was fun and we did come out completely filthy. The area itself was quite flat (which is heaven for the truck after all the hills of Rwanda and Uganda) and barren, though with the rainy season just ending it was a lot greener than we expected. There are lots of mirages and the odd camel herder here and there. At one point we picked up a hitch-iking local only to discover that he was actually a camel herder looking for his camels! He got off ~20km later when we finally spotted them.
The few towns and villages that exist are populated with some of the most interesting people we've seen in all of Africa. Very traditional look, with the clothes and piercings, etc. They are poor cattle or camel herders and made the ride much more interesting than a painful transit should be.
Over all I'd say that Kenya is THE Africa that everyone thinks of. I guess as one of the most visited and written about historically that makes sense. But being here, if only briefly, I can finally understand and see all the stereotypes. The wild animals on safari (they have warthogs and zebras running loose outside the parks because all wildlife is protected here), the savannah look and it's sunsets, the Acacia trees, the tribes with traditional clothing of spears, headdresses and earrings, and the huge, um, masculine parts, on the guys. If you want Africa, go to Kenya, forget the rest of the continent. You will see everything you think of as being on the continent right there. At the same time, I think the true mythical status of Africa really only survives in books and existed in the early colonial days. I just finished reading Out of Africa and that those were the days......

You might be asking why we didn't see more of Kenya. Well, as a group, I have a confession. We are all done with Africa. The attitude and consensus of basically everyone in the group (with the possible exception of me) is that it's been long enough in Africa and it is time to get "home". We are now pushing directly through and Ben has his sights set on being back home for Christmas Eve in the UK and Kees is thinking along the same lines. We won't make it quite that far because of problems getting a Libyan transit visa with an American in our group. It looks like we'll be getting dumped off in Cairo. From there we aren't sure what will happen but there really is no point in travelling when you are burnt out or don't have an interest in it any more. So, you may see some or all of us soon.....
Ammon

2 Comments:

At 9:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

did you guys think of me when you were there? i miss kenya :( bre i got your email but life isbusy ... will write soon
love xo sandra

 
At 8:06 AM , Blogger The Bear said...

Hey Gang,

I'm not sure what happened, your post was delayed getting out, and now my 1st post in reply I just noticed didn't get posted.......
At my typing speed no way I re-do the epic.

So new stuff.

Your killing me, Maggie, could you send me an email and let me know if you're coming home so I can try to change some plans. Promise to keep it a secret.

I hope things are gong well as you wind down if you are. One way to look at it is it will allow you to re-stage for South America if that is your plan. But think you need to reconnect with you family, especially Mom McCall, who I know misses you guys. Funny you will all and have all changed so much on this amazing journey. It has been a daily part o my life to check your blog., and to stress over long periods of silence. The whole thing had some amazing twists and tuns, an will make a great book.
I hope this post gets posted this time, and that this finds you all relaxing and reviewing the journey fondly and I know with humour.

Love always, and Big Bear Hugs
The Big Bear

 

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