Osadabwa's Retro-Africa Ride Report: 2004 - 2005

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Osadabwa, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    So much for a good night’s sleep. The mattress was lovely, but the damn call to prayer… when am I going to learn to pick my guesthouse based on its distance from a mosque! What gives anyone the right to project their religion over loudspeakers? And churches aren’t much better with their fiery, amplified preaching. It’s not even just religion… by now it should be clear to me that Africa’s just a noisy place.

    Today’s riding was some of the best in a while. The land had become infinite, with long views and huge skies. The people had changed too: herdsmen with their red shuka wraps, long spears and knives trailing huge herds of cattle and goats that looked fat and happy to this Wyoming boy’s eyes. Their houses were brick, with large thorn kraals around them and had curiously flat roofs. I guess they don’t expect much rain!

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    Above: Dust covered thorns, fodder delivery by bicycle

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    Above: Flat topped houses, whistle thorns and nomad tracks

    At the escarpment, where the road climbed straight up, Rosie turned 36,000. Once on top, the African-postcard-looking people were replaced with folks in various stages of outdated and dusty western dress, and the smooth hard-pack gave way to stones and corrugations. For at least 100km it was brutal. The thousand and one bumps beat my hands to pieces, but the bike held up without losing her bolts.

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    Above: Rosie turns 36,000

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    Above: View from the escarpment (Note the effort to keep the headlight in place... fundis always underestimate the vibrations and under-engineer things for my bikes. That lorry headlamp worked, but the mount the Mtwara guys built was just too flimsy.

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    Above: Escarpment climb

    In Singida now. Not a half bad town. It’s got all you need: food, TV, internet. I washed a lot of clothes since I’d arrived just after mid-day, bathed and spent 3 hours at the internet café uploading photos. I’ll be in Arusha tomorrow in time to meet Terry. Ana and I are planning to meet up later in Kenya, maybe. I still don’t know what to do with the bike after the ride. It’s all up in the air…
  2. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Another month gone. It’s hard to even understand this trip. I think it will take hindsight to make sense of it.

    Pulling out of Singida, I thought I would be caught in the rain. Brilliant, bright morning light cut shadows across the sandy track in the direction of the cold, driving wind. There were too many vehicles for me to enjoy the view properly, but I remember smiling at it. Stone piles, like those around Brandberg came out of the hills where people were moving cattle from village to town or field. I just kept riding. The scenery changed many times. Before long, I was riding a ridge top with the plains far below in the bitter wind. Thorn trees have completely replaced the rest, and the views are long and African in the stereotypical sense.

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    Above: Traditional bee hive

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    Above: Some topography

    I rode past Mt. Hanang at 3000 + meters with her head in the swiftly moving clouds, and crawled up into the greyness of her high shoulder. At the junction, the road became miserable. It was as though the devil had crushed his cigarette out upon the earth, leaving a long streak of ashen barrenness that the vehicles are now doomed to follow. I was cursed to be following two buses that created a dust screen so impenetrable that I was forced often to stop, and the unending, deep corrugations made it all the more painful and worrying.

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    Above: Oxcart transport

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    Above: Flowers, weaver birds and wheat

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    Above: Crossing the map

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    Above: Umbrella

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    Above: Baobab

    Not long though, and the tarmac reappeared. I happily cruised past Masai on the roads – red or black robes, beads, faces painted for initiation – to Arusha. This evening, I plan to meet up with Dr. McCabe to see if there’s a chance of me tagging along with his group awhile later in the month. I’m spinning my wheels waiting for 620, so we’ll see what comes up.
  3. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
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    Above: Leaving Tanzania

    Odd to be back. Lonrho House at the fancy coffee shop I maybe visited once back in 1998, wandering these same streets. Today I rode in, parked on the sidewalk on Koinange Street and started walking. It just doesn’t feel as hard-edged as it used to. Somehow I think it’s me who has changed, but it’s difficult to say. Nairobi, too, has been changing. I walked Muindi Mbingu Street looking for Carol and Jann’s Café and found only rubble where it once stood. The view used to carry over the Blue Market to the Nation Centre, but now the Market is the Jamia Mosque parking lot. I was here when they burned the place down to make space for their Benzes. I used to sit in the window at Carol and Jann’s, sketching and thinking on my way to Kuona Trust at the Museum. I was younger and clearly struck dumb by the country. Now, I feel Nairobi and I know each other… not in the energetic way of new lovers, but like two beings that have grown used to each other.

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    Above: The Nairobi Nation Centre, Matatu downtown

    I haven’t written much. I met Terry in Arusha and tagged along with him and a pair of Geographers from Florida U, bumping around in the bush around Terengire National park, hiding from tsetse flies and taking note of the changing ecosystems. It was interesting to see research in action, but I’m still unable to sort out my feelings with regard to academia. It’s probably not for me.

    In Nairobi, I’m staying in a posh house in Westlands with Americans I met while working in Zambia. That, too, feels odd. Last time I was in Nairobi, I lived with Lucy in Kibera. It never ceases to feel strange how I’m able to navigate such different worlds. I visited Lucy on the 4th and found her situation much improved from last time. No refugees squatting in her upstairs bedroom, a new lick of paint on the walls and a sun shade over the back area to keep her dry. Her kids (who she single-handedly launched to the US and Europe) have been steadily sending money back to Kenya and now the house is paid in full. The little school she started in the ‘90s is growing, and I spent a day taking photos to help promote it when this adventure is through.

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    Above: Auntie Lucy at home and Head Mistress Miriam at St. Vincent's

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    Above: Recess

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    Above: The St. Vincent's Schoolyard

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    Above: Recess rolling fun

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    Above: Shoes in the queue

    All in all, it’s good to be back. Things are changing, and I’m lucky to be here to see it. The Thorn Tree at the New Stanely Hotel has been replanted. Regrowth is everywhere apparent. Hopefully it’ll rub off on me.

    Side note from Nairobi, July 2015: The school pictured above has been run by Lucy Kayiwa consistently for nearly 20 years now. It began in Kibera at the Catholic church and has moved several times before settling in its current spot which was bought with money from a German priest. Donations from around the world keep the school going, and photos from the place now really show the difference when compared to those above. The situation of the 90 kids that attend the school, however, have not much improved over time. HIV is rampant in Kibera slum, parents scrape by if there are any parents at all. The School is a place to come for safety, food, love, and of course a bit of education (St. Vincent’s kids are fought over at primary schools for their preparedness). They have also begun a “rescue centre” for young girls who are abused. The internet revolutionised the school’s ability to connect with donors. If you are interested to see them now, or to make a donation, please check out their Global Giving donations site HERE. And here’s an article John Carlin from the Guardian wrote about Lucy in 2009 that paints the picture of the woman I know very well. To think, in 1998, I could have been given to some other host mother. Instead, I got one of the most honest, caring and special people on earth. Dumb luck.

    Also, it's funny how the world goes full circle sometimes. Tomorrow morning I'm off to Arusha on my KTM 450 EXC. I meant to take my lovely old XL600R, but she's got some gremlin in the electrics that made me think twice... didn't relish having her die on me. If I get a chance, I'll post a few pics from the area as I go. Might as well. My RR never ends! So much for "once in a lifetime!" You only get one lifetime, make the whole thing one big ride!
  4. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    When I take off tomorrow, it'll be with my mate Kobus and his daughter Luna Belle who are doing a 2 up trip down to Joburg on a 1985 Tenere. We'll go together across the border and then they're off to the races!

    Follow them on their FB page called Two on a Tenere

    Good luck guys! :clap
  5. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    So, a quick interruption to our regularly scheduled flashback ride report. I'm inserting a day trip here because it covers the same location as I was riding 11 years ago and just has a certain symmetry to it. Life is just one big ride... Here goes:

    It was raining when I woke up. I rode to Kobus’ house under gray skies and a grumpy heart. For the past two days I’d been trying to get my XT600R to start to no avail. She’s got a gremlin in her guts and just couldn’t be trusted to take me back to Arusha.

    At Kobus’ house, he and his 10 year old daughter Luna-Belle were readying for the trip of a lifetime: 2 weeks from Kenya to South Africa two up on a 1985 Tenere. Slowly, watching the preparations take shape, I started to ditch my blues and began to look at the day from their perspective: We’re going to ride! Plus, I wasn’t exactly going to suffer, I was taking the KTM 450 EXC.

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    Above: Kobus and Luna on the road to the Tar and a quick stop at the Check Point

    We cut out Nairobi City by going through Ngong, Kiserian and Kajiado. After an hour of riding, I had the bug and bid the guys farewell and blasted down to Namanga Border. I was itching to hit some dirt.

    The KTM isn’t geared for long hauls, but she sings along nicely enough at 100kph on or off road. As soon as the hour long hassle of the border was behind me, I was ready. I turned West at Longido and ripped up the dirt.

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    Left: heading west from Kajiado, Right: Scaring away the giraffes

    The morning had been gray, but now the skies were shifting. There were patches of blue among the clouds, but ahead to the West it looked like rain… or was it just a dust storm? There was plenty of wildlife on offer – giraffes, zebra, guinea fowl, impala and gazelle – but hardly any settlements. This is Maasai country and they’re always on the move. You could hear the tinkling of goat and cattle bells everywhere.

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    Above: Crossroads

    At the first crossroads, I decided not to continue into the mysterious cloud of mist and dust in the photo. I blasted to the left instead. My plans always alter on a whim and that’s the way I like it. At the crossroads, a pickup came by and said “if you want to follow us, we’ll show you how to get to Monduli”. I laughed at that… two twists of throttle and I never saw them again!

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    Above: Climbing “seven sisters”

    After some lovely, sandy track riding, the plains gave way to a mountain and the road just climbed straight out of it. There were enough switchbacks that I lost count, but a biker I met in Arusha says they call it the Seven Sisters. Beautiful. I kept passing boda bodas on the way up then they’d pass me as I stopped to admire the view. In the pic above, I parked just a bit close to that wait-a-bit bush and nearly had to cut my jacket free. Demonic thorns on that sucker.

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    Above: My weapon for the day above the plains

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    Above: Looking back down valley from Seven Sisters

    The climb made me happy I didn’t remove any clothing down on the plains. It got downright chilly up there in the misty hills. The colors were more defined there, less hazy, less dusty. Greens and blues were visible and the most incredible golden yellow from the dried wheat and maize fields. There was also randomly places small plots of orange, red and yellow flowers I couldn’t identify. I could have stayed there exploring awhile, but it was getting late and I had work to do (this was a work trip, after all).

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    Above: Up on the mountain

    I raced down the mountain to Monduli Juu and onward to Monduli town. I gathered a bit of info from an agro-vet shop there and then made a plan to meet someone at another town further along toward Arusha.

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    Above: Messarani and Arusha Coffee Lodge Pizza

    At Messarani, I had another meeting and then gave Kobus a call. He was at the Coffee Lodge in Arusha having a pizza and a mate of his, Mick, had offered to have us all crash at his place. I was out of there in no time, burning rubber to get my hands on that pizza and a beer. That night, we all hung around Mick’s kitchen swapping biking stories. Luna-Belle was listening with all her attention until she finally couldn’t keep her eyes open any more and we all called it a night. Awesome day.

    I bid the adventurers farewell in the morning and spent the day in meetings in Arusha, going from place to place on the bike. At 5:00, I was on my way back to my lodge on the flanks of Mt. Meru and just kept on riding. The dirt tracks lead up, up, up and I just kept following them until I had a brilliant view of Arusha below. I would have kept going but the track was slick, I was in my work clothes, and it would soon be dark.

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    Above: View from Mt. Meru back down Arusha

    After a nice night’s sleep, I was on the road in all my gear. I had a meeting wearing KTM trousers and my padded jacket (nobody seemed to mind) and blitzed back up the tar toward home. I didn’t have much time… it was 11:00 by the time I left Arusha and I wanted to play in the dirt a little. I got the itch right away and just outside of Arusha I pulled off the road and blasted through the dust and wind up an overgrazed hillside to enjoy the view. Mars-like. Amazing.

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    Above: The Martian landscape near Arusha and one happy biker

    Now I was pushing it, so I hit the tar and didn’t stop til Namanga border. That’s not quite true actually… one of the ubiquitous traffic cops of Tanzania decided to pull me over (probably because I was weaving around on the road to kill the boredom) and discovered that my driving license had expired. Oops. That was a genuine surprise. So, as a gesture of gratitude for his astuteness, I gave him 10,000. As he was putting his bribe in his pocket, a Mercedes Benz whipped past us going easily 200 Kph. His fat, lazy comrades just sat under their tree playing with their mobile phones. Pathetic. I said: “I want my money back. You don’t even try to stop people who are a danger on the road, and you take money from me for a minor offence. At least call the next guy down the road to bust that Mbenzi!” He was pretending to call when I left, roosting gravel on his boots.

    Through the border without incident, I went about 60 more KM on tar in Kenya before pulling into the bush. Up to that point, I’d taken the parallel access road for awhile to kill the boredome, racing the speed-governed safari cars (stuck at 80kph… such torture) as I went. Finally, I could peel off and go home in style. I went west, then north to Maili 46 where I pulled in to a little shop for some beans and chapatti. Boda riders gathered around the bike and asked the usual litany of questions about top speed, range etc. All good fun. And there was an old guy there I could chat with about livestock meds and his preferences etc. A nice break. I’d been previously been to Maili 46 and knew there were two track that would take me to the Ngong Hills. One was big and fast, one was little and twisty. I took the latter.

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    Above: Tar and not tar

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    Above: Cattle access

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    Above: Coming up to the Ngong hills from the south

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    Above: Melted my tool bag… oops, and the Ngongs from the North side

    I was racing. I don’t know what got into me, but it took only 2 hours from Maili 46’s lunch stop to the North side of the Ngongs, and only 15 minutes off road from the South side of the Ngongs to the north. When you’re in the zone, you’re in the zone.

    This little trip has rekindled so many memories of my long trip. Solo in Africa, what a feeling! You do what you want, when you want to do it. No compromise. Lots more interaction with locals and the environment. Brilliant.

    Best of luck to Kobus and Luna-Belle!
  6. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Well, shit. Since the new ADV setup has scrubbed away all reply subject lines, none of the above posts say where I was or the date. Sigh. Life's too short to re-re-re-edit stuff.

    Back to 2004

    July 25, 2004 – Somewhere Near Amboseli National Park, Kenya

    For days, I bumped around Nairobi reconnecting with people I know and exploring the city before rushing back to Arusha to accompany Terry again in the Land Cruiser around the National Parks. It was wonderful. I saw Terengire and went into Ngorongoro Crater, out the back and all over the countryside with people who really know the place. But that’s not really part of my adventure. Its time to get back to it.

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    Arusha: I’ve broken free of the inertia that had me, that sour feeling in the gut that means anxiety for the move. I’ve been off the bike for a week or more. At 9:00 AM I was out of Arusha, vague plans to see Kilimanjaro from the Kenyan side rattling around in my head and nothing in my stomach. Overcast and cold skies made it all the more important to move on.

    Past Moshi, prospects for seeing Kili were looking slim and at the border I decided it was probably a lost cause, but after Taveta – where the border guards were annoyingly thorough for some reason – on the dusty road heading North West, I caught a glimpse of the peak through thinning skies and thorn bushes. While I was gazing at Africa’s tallest peak, Rosie’s rear end started acting funny. Sure enough, after boasting that it had never happened, I had myself a puncture.

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    Above: Roadside attractions

    There I squatted under a hot sun, gathering a crowd of more- and less-handy individuals. Something about Africa, or my state of mind or both made the experience thoroughly enjoyable. I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t put out. I just took everything apart and started working. We couldn’t find any thorn in the tyre, but there was a hard puncture in the tube. Might be a manufacturing fault –right on the seam – but also could be a nail had done a runner. It was easy work. The tyres were far from new and pliable from the sun. I got on the spare – all the punters were amazed that the mzungu was prepared kabisaaa – and started pumping.

    My bicycle pump was effective but slow, so I relented to letting others have a turn. I’d been joking with a Maasai morani there, with ochre hair braided to a widow’s peak in front and held in place with a tin delta shaped clasp, beaded arm, neck and ankle decorations, red robes, cheek scars – circular – and rubber tyre sandals. He looked to be about 18 or so and wanted a go at the pump. The scene was priceless. There was this iconic personage decked out in centuries’ old attire, pumping up a brand new BMW motorcycle with lookers on decked out in all manner of dress and traditionality. I was the token mzungu, the cherry on top of the scene. I took a mental picture. It was great.

    Puncture sorted, I bid the crowd farewell, gave the hardest workers a bit of soda money, and took off for the nearest village for beans, chapati and cabbage lunch. Had some good laughs with the guys in the café. Promised one of them he could have a ride on my bike… tomorrow!

    From there, I just rode. The foliage started to thin. Even the thorn trees weren’t crowding the roadside as it ploughed through huge boulders and rubble like a bulldozer track. Cresting a certain hill, I stopped in awe. The road below led out in a perfectly straight line for as far as the eye could see and right behind me: Kilimanjaro had come out. A reward on top of my excellent day.

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    Above: The long straight road just North of TZ border

    I cut down that razor’s edge in the dust, passing very traditional Maasai houses and large herds of dust-kicking goats and sheep. All at once, I had the urge to set up camp out under the stars, seeing that there was a half-moon already in place and nearly empty expanses of scraggly, raw bush around. I set out scanning the roadside for shops to buy food. I had nothing and knew the evening would be better if I found at least a biscuit or two to fill the void. I stopped in place after place – that is, there were literally two places – and th3ey both had cabbage, potatoes, coke, soap and sugar. Nothing else. This place instantly felt irresistibly remote!

    I didn’t really know where I was (navigating by a rough map has its advantages) but I finally came to another shop and a road block where I learned I was almost to Emali on the main Nairobi-Mombasa road, but that there was a diagonal track that would branch to Kajiado. That settled it. I hunted down some biscuits at last and a bit of water, thanked the folks, and blasted down the tiny little drive over a few rolling hills until I spied a dark gash in the yellow grass where a dry river lay. I cut down onto the dry bed unseen, found a corner and layed out my tent. Having investigated my surroundings some, I now sit on the still-warm black soil, crickets voices float on the breeze with cattle bells and murmurs in the distance. The half-moon is at its apex and the night air is setting in crisp and cool.

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    Above: My campsite: a riverbed in Maasai land

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    Above: Campsite details

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    Above: Self portrait of a tired, happy biker


    Speechless.
  7. just jeff

    just jeff Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Oddometer:
    4,014
    Location:
    LacLaBiche Alberta Canada
    Hey Osadabwa!
    Sorry to hear you are having trouble with the new format. I really hope you sort it out and continue with this excellent ride report. I find it an intriguing window into Africa's past and look forward to reading every new post.:clap
    Best Regards....just jeff
  8. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    July 26, 2004 – Naivasha, Kenya

    I awoke to cold low ceilings, sort of the norm down around Kilimanjaro in the cold season, but hopped right up eager to get back on the tiny track to Kajiado. The world hadn’t seen me sleeping there. I’d hidden well indeed. The track took me past a school or two before I rejoined the tarmac at Sultan Hamud. I slid up the tar to Salama, wolfed a chapatti and chai then raced back onto a dust road toward Kajiado through scrub brush, over hill after stony hill. At Kajiado, I didn’t hesitate and cut right to Isinya followed by a sharp left to Kisserian/Ngong. On the tarmac through the Athi plains, just enjoying the Scenery and the easy riding. A roadkilled zebra reminded me of other possibilities, so I photographed her beautiful hide – unspoiled – for her own eternity and rumbled on toward the looming Ngong Hills.

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    Above: Zebra hide

    Right on the white plains into the brooding green hills, a contrast all through Kenya I love. I first remember it going down to Turkana years ago. My senses were keener then. Not much has changed in Ngong since I was here last. They towed away the old broken down Bedford truck that was on the roadside and there’s an internet café. Besides that, not much. It took only a moment to recognize the place I used to wait for pickups going down into the valley over the hills to Oloshoibor where I had ups and downs while staying with a Maasai family there.

    I bought bread, sugar, washing soap and candy for gifts, ate a samosa and descended. The place was more stak and beautiful than I rememberd. Back then I felt trapped in a drab world, but this time I saw broad views, tough terrain and scraggly trees supporting herd after herd of goats, sheep and cattle driven by Maasai who still do it all the old way.

    I had to ask directions a few times, but I eventually found my way. Three women undewr a tree, busily threading beads onto belts and decorative necklasses confirmed it. Go back three turns and you’ll see Mama Lois’s house. I recginzed the boma immediately. Many stray emotions were conjured here once – awe, anger, surpise, wonder, boredom, peace! I hesitantly entered through the thorny gate and found the old lady, Mama Lois, exactly as I had left her years ago, seated in the mottled shade, clad in red blankets and beaded ornaments, decorating a walking stick with beads and fishing line alongside her son’s second wife.

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    Above: The front gate

    We were happy to see one another – only happiness remains after time passes. So it is with Africans I’ve met, and a quality I admire. Unfortunately, none of us could speak the other’s language so the old woman took me out under the tree where her son Lois sat overlooking a small herd of all white kid goats, braiding a leather thong into a cowbell necklace. Meantime, Paulina was sent for – Lois’s third wife and the only one in the family that could speak English. While we waited,I watched Lois’s hands work the hard leather, spitting loudly on it to soften and lubricate it, punching holes with a sharpened stick and braiding deftly. Lois wore Firestones and a red robe, his long earlobes tucked dover the tops of his ears. He remembered me, he said, and I too remembered him. He seemed frightening then. Now, just a strong family man taking care of chores.

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    Above: Mama Lois
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    Above: Mama Lois

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    Above: Mama Lois

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    Above: Mama Lois’s hands

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    Above: Paulina and Lois

    Paulina came and I was overjoyed to communicate with her about family affairs. The old woman’s house has a tin roof on it now. Before it was a totally traditional mud and dung bread loaf shaped hut. We went in and I was happy to see the interior hadn’t changed a bit. Leather cots formed benches near the fire and beds at night, tucked into impossibly black corners where mice scurried. In the centre of the floor, a dry stick smoldered as it had for decades maybe, and the old woman stoked it up for tea. We sat the three of us there with our tea for an hour and she let me take a few nice photos of her beautiful, wrinkled and expressive face. When I showed her the photo of herself on the screen, she said: “This is my old mother sitting here!” We all laughed a lot.

    I left reluctantly, but needed to move on. I promised I’d return and I will. Leaving their house, the dirt road branched left down the Rift Valley through rocky outrcrops wrenched up when the continent split itself asunder. I crawled through this jagged world in awe of the views I had and surprised to find truly traditional looking Maasai so close to Nairobi. Bomas clung to the edges, surrounded in thorns. The road changed innumerable times and I’m sure I deviated from the usual path, but it was challenging and beautiful so I kept on.

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    Above: The Great Rift Valley

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    Above: Mt. Longonot

    At last I found the tarmac and belted it toward the escarpment. Waited out the rain at a petrol station joking with the Kikuyu girls running the shop then made a sprint for Naivasha. I’m knackered now, but elated. Sitting beneath the fever trees near the Lake, thelittle iridescent blue and orange birds hpping around hopefully. My last impression of six years ago is as fresh in my mind as the breeze on my neck. My first significant memory of Kenya was just down the road: glowing yellow-green fever trees and ancient papyrus… beautiful.

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    Above: Fever Trees at Lake Naivasha
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    Above: Lake Naivasha flora

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    Above: Naivasha camp

    [Now, an aside from 2015.]
    Yesterday, US President Barak Obama visited Kenya and essentially shut down Nairobi. The word had gotten around that roads would be closed, so everybody stayed home. I took the opportunity to go rambling on my old XL600R, solo, over towards Ngong. I didn't have an objective in mind, but I found myself drawn close to Mama Lois's old place, which up to now I'd only blasted past with my friends.

    Alone I had more time to appreciate the changes. It's unrecognizable now. There's been so much development there. There are more roads and far more fences... fewer trees and no wildlife (in 1998, there were gazelle, giraffe and Cape Buffalo everywhere). I hunted without luck to find her house, thinking I had it pinpointed in my brain forever. Disappointed, I continued on and up the road I found a school and asked for her. A woman at a hut knew her and pointed back the way I'd come. I rode that direction and found a herder with his cattle. Asking him if he knew Lois, he said (in Swahili):

    "Yes, behind that red house lives Lois"
    "And is his mother alive, Mama Lois?"
    "Yes, she lives."
    "But she must be 90 years old!"
    "I think so! But she is well. Do you want to see her?"
    "Yes, I lived with her many years ago. I want to see her, but not today. I want to bring gifts, and it is lunch hour. I don't want to impose."
    "Fine. Good... also, I'm Lois."
    I looked at the man. Earlobes tucked over the tops of his ears. Maasai shuka over his shoulders. Knife and leather belt (complete with cell-phone holder now, I noticed). Silver hair... It was him!
    "Wait! Look!" I said, scrambling to find the photos from above on my smart phone.
    "Yes, that's me! And that's my wife Paulina. My mother is also there! She looks younger. Now she is old, but still well."

    Remarkable. I regret not taking a picture. He was the spitting image of himself 11 years ago, apart from the white hair. I can't wait to go back. First I have to compile a little gift package of veterinary medicines (I'm a bit of an expert on that stuff nowadays) and domestic goods. Can't show up empty handed. I can't wait to quiz Lois on his cattle business... the place I knew as their house is now a ruin and surrounded by a big fence. Their cattle had been vaccinated, I noticed... a big step for a traditional herder like Lois. They must be on the forefront of things, compared to other Maasai around. They must sell their animals for cash, rather than keeping them for status. Kenya and Tanzania are overdue for that kind of thinking.

    Lois' brother, Reit, was the one I stayed with in 1998. I didn't love the guy. We were both in our 20s, but he was a born again Christian and spent every waking moment trying to convert me. I was interested in learning about Maasai culture, not wild American evangelical doctrine about a long-haired, blue eyed Jesus. I'd heard that story before. It didn't take long for me to fall out with the guy, but his mom stole my heart, making tea for me in that smoky hut... and I cant' wait to see her again.

    I'll be sure to post the outcome, and photos, when I do. Probably early next week. Stay tuned. Also, Reit lives there now, after some time in Georgia, USA... I wonder if the fire has cooled, or if I'm in for another round... Place your bets.
    Dacquiri likes this.
  9. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    July 27, 2004 – Bomet, Kenya

    Today, I’m just wrecked. Still in my boots, nearing sunset in Bomet where I just dragged myself pitifully to the doorstep of a Catholic youth hostel named after some African Bishop. The Sister, nice as can be, kept me chatting for a quarter of an hour, served me a Krest Bitter Lemon (which I sorely needed) then showed me to the room. Only then did she say she’d get the bathing water going and arrange the bedclothes… sigh. But the evening light its wonderful golden best, crashing into the top of a distant cloud. There’s no noise. I’m all alone.

    I didn’t rush out of Fishermen’s Camp and right away I was basically lost, winding around through flower farms and cattle ranches tucked beautifully in small, hidden fever tree covered valleys. I emerged on the tar, raced to Gilgil and took a shady left onto what would amount to a very long day.

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    Above: Rosie off piste

    But what a day! First I busted out over a flat green field and rode willy-nilly across it, making my own track, jumping little cattle paths and avoiding big stones. The hoards of Maasai kids must have thought I’d lost it, but it was early yet , so I regained the road which was really several tracks coming to consensus. I passed an odd memorial to a Mexican priest killed in a car wreck when the road was much better… couldn’t get up enough speed to kill you there nowadays.

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    Above: Mexican memorial

    Then, my clutch cable broke. Just like that: klunk. I wasn’t surprised. The thing’s done nearly 40,000 km by now. I replaced it while a guy pretended ot help. I’m getting better at that – not chasing them away that is. And in no time I was on again through the cactus and barbed wire lined fields of the countryside aiming for a tall hill in the distance.

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    Above: Hillside fields

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    Above: Fences and sheep

    The ascent to Mao Narok was great fun. Challenges at every turn from stones to deep washed out ruts. The view over Nakuru was hazy and bright. I rode a long time up through fields and open areas, dodging muddy spots and noticing that the murram that’s supposed to keep the mud at bay was a bit thin in places.

    I reached Mau Narok high in the cool air, field after field being nibbled on by fat, white woolly sheep, squares of land demarcated by high, tight wooden posts. I had been slipping in the mud and my boots were covered when I took in some petrol. The guys directed me to the junction to Bomet giving me a million village names in between, none of which showed up on my map. I had, again, to just wing it.

    To say that the road was in need of repair sorely understates the situation. I crawled for two hours and covered less than 60 km, thanks to deep, black mudbogs. The adjacent fields came right up to the road, usually two or three feet dug in, and only rarely afforded a cheat by riding around. On one occasion, high up after eating a nice plate of rice, beans and meat, past a number of sheep in their paddocks, I diverted to avoid falling in the mud and ended up falling in the mud. Took me awhile to rubber band the boxes back on. In the meantime, a couple of guys came to offer their condolences then directed me to another junction.

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    Above: Wee tumble

    Soon the road greatly improved. The dark clouds seemed to dissipate and I was rolling through bits of forest – that part was on my map – that gave way entirely to tea plantations. I learned at the imposing gate blocking entry to the tea processing plant that the good murram roads were there to enable easy working of that crop and was not open to the public, lost motorbiking wazungu included. So from the gate I was diverted away from the hard-packed murram onto red clay tracks poxy with black muckholes. Still, it was tolerable going and extremely beautiful with the tea plantation spread out as far as the eye could see, hugging the hills and drawing its contours in emerald and black. I happily rode along watching people pick tea, load bags onto trucks – suspended like cocoons in rows on special hooks – lumbering along, pedestrians going to and from their work… beautiful, active and alive.

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    Above: Tea estate

    Then, all at once, the plantation stopped – as if a spatula had scooped out a piece of emerald cake – and bamboo, impenetrable on both sides of the road took up its place. And it got steeper. A lot steeper. Down. At times I thought I’d made a wrong turn. The road had clearly been traversed by only one vehicle in many days, hugging the tops of very deep ruts and splashing through the inevitable deep patches of evil.

    I failed to believe this was the road on my map. That little innocuous yellow line remained little and yellow with no indication that at some point the jungle was going to eat you alive. Places like that can play tricks on you. I swore I saw a buffalo out of my eye’s corner and there were no people or signs of people anywhere. I was on my own and destined to let gravity dictate my direction of travel.

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    Above: Slimy ruts

    I started to fall eventually. It started with a couple of slow ploppers in the mud. Fatigue drops brought on by the fact that it was now inching toward 4:00 PM, so it was understandable. But, just sly of sleeping right there in the bamboo where I was, I knew I had to keep going. Finally, after many near spills down into those canyon-like ditches I came across two men walking. They were a welcomed sight. Five hours they’d been on the move from Bomet so I was on the right track! Wait, what was that they said about the road getting worse?

    I soon learned. I ended up in a 100 meter sluice box into which my bike became an awkward sled and dumb plaything of gravity. The rear tire wouldn’t climb the ruts to follow the front, so I was on both sides of the road at once. The ground was so slick my boots had no traction, so I found a hefty two meter length of bamboo and levered the bike back in line. I literally slid the rest of the hill, exhausted after so much struggle but also thrilled that I was making it on my own!

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    Above: Back to the murram!

    The murram reappeared, villages and fields followed and then came the tarmac and town. Aaah, they’re making tea!
    BCBackRoads likes this.
  10. BCBackRoads

    BCBackRoads Travels with Gumby

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    592
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC
    Awesome ride report. I love the retrospective from 10 years past and I also like your tie-ins with present. Africa, like the rest of the world is changing.
    Osadabwa likes this.
  11. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    July 31, 2004 – Nairobi

    From Bomet, I got to Homa Bay on Lake Victoria somehow and ended up drinking beers with a PCV I met there. It’s a bit of a blur. But Thursday’s ride out from the Lake is fresh in my mind.

    I left Homa Bay slowly and a tad hung-over. The first two hours or so were spent negotiating small roads between the fields of a sugar cane estate, lost because there were many more roads in reality than depicted on my map. It took many stops and queries to get going in the right direction. By the time I turned south at Kilgoris, I knew I was on the right track: Aiming for the Mara.

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    Above: The African Savannah

    The fields fell away and there were the plains, the breath-taking savannah and the Maasai again with their cattle. I rode just north of the Mara park boundary, had some very difficult sections where the tourists seldom pass, and was rewarded by the open plains, stuffed full of wildebeest, eland and gazelles and absolutely free of interference. I rode. I now know what it’s like to be a cheetah.

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    Above: Umbrella plains

    The track went here and there across the savana, through the grass and over the stones, between the acacias under a huge easy sky. I had a chapatti and Coca Cola Kubwa at a Maasai duka and impressed the wazee with the bike. In time the open plains gave way to dry bush and the track became rough and dusty. Then another change: waves of grain. As far as the eye could see there were wheat fields and farmers were, unexpectedly, in the process of harvesting. A half-dozen modern combine harvesters growled over the fields. The juxtaposition of the Maasai watching the massive machines was wonderful, and a trifle sad as well.

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    Above: Zebra and a new-century greeting

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    Above: Euphorbia

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    Above: Old and new: combine harvesters and Maasai onlookers

    After Narok, I suffered through an hour of truly horrible broken tarmac befor eth long stretch to the Rift Valley Escarpment. Climbing the old Naivasha road was a breeze and I arrived in Nairobi after 8 full days of riding, well before dark. A mini-epic and an excellent day.
  12. Tr0jan

    Tr0jan Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Pretoria - South Africa
    Loving the RR!
  13. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    August 7, 2004 – Sango Lodge, somewhere West of Eldoret

    Smell of fresh paint and the sound of rolling traffic on the Uganda Road, warm sunshine at late degrees pushing through a Tusker at my side. Two sheep – dingleberries aplenty – graze in the lawn. I fuelled in Eldoret, thinking I’d bunk up there, but once the wheels are in motion, I tend to push ahead. Inertia. The sun was gaining on the horizon and the dark raincloud I’d been skirting was falling behind. I said I’d push to the next town, but my eyes were scanning the roadside for decent bar/restaurant dives. Sango it is! Outside it has a big, clean yard, new paint, a signpost… and inside a bed and loo and a mosi net for only KSH 250. A steal.

    This morning I rolled around Nairobi swiping my credit card for Ana’s upcoming visit. Four hundred dollars for flights, two fifty for the car, six eighty for the rooms. My god. I’m like a financial Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde! Pinching pennies on the bike and blowing bucks for the girl.

    An old fella, white trousers rolled up to keep them out of the mud and a little hat perched jauntily on his head, shoulders like coat hangers, just staggered loose from the bar. Both the sheep eyed him suspiciously then went on grazing.

    I can’t say enough for warm evening African sunshine and a cold beer, so I won’t.
  14. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    August 10, 2004 – Lake Bungoni, near Kabale, Uganda

    Way down over here in the South West. I’m a long way from Nairobi again, but this time I opted for easy tarmac. As usual, I’m completely destroyed at day’s end, overlooking the lake, all cool and still under the ultra cultivated hills that take their terracing all the way to the water’s edge. I’m waiting for a feast of – gulp – crawfish. This’ll be my first meal of crawdad and I’m wondering what I’ll think. This place is indeed something very different. I think it’s the wet air, the presence of the Congo just to the west and the dark recent history of Rwanda to the South that weighs on me. Somebody asked if I’d like to take a boat to see the Pygmies in Rwanda. I declined. I can only imagine how artificial and awful that trip might be. I’m content here, thanks.

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    Above: Bananas and a BMW

    In truth, I’ve been a bit restless. I was happy to see my Peace Corps friend Scott in Kampala and to have discussions with some meat on their bones while not shying away from a dirty joke now and then. We saw all Kampala had for us, I’d suspect. It’s a little city – easy to negotiate – and we were able to have a dose of the Mzungu and a dash of the local each day. One evening we ate boiled beast with matooke and beers – we decided Bells is the best of them. We phoned Sammy a day after his birthday. He was happy, I could tell. Walking across the George Washington bridge in New York City, morning, phone rings and my dlunken voice waxing humorous and nostalgic comes blathering into his ear from far off Africa… I miss people. I think I feel the end of this ride nearing. It’s getting time to go do something else awhile.

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    Above: Red flower dreadlocks

    I don’t recognize the music these guys are playing. It’s one of those African tracks that repeats the chorus ad-nauseum with a fast dance beat and a tin guitar accompaniment – add a synthesizer for glue and you’ve got it. I’d guess gospel. Has that sort of clapping-choir-in-flowing-robes-and-smiles sort of feel to it. The language is beyond me. I don’t even hear distinct words in it, though I thought somebody just called somebody else “iwe”.

    The place smells unmistakably rainy. There’s been a hazy sky since morning and it poured on me at one point. I’m a long way from Nairobi and I need to get back in 12 days for Ana’s arrival. I’d better plan my days well and hope for a mechanically flawless week!

    Fingers crossed.
  15. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    August 14, 2004 – Near Jinja, Uganda

    Whenever I’m near a river and the air is hot and heavy, I have to have a beer. This time, just after 15:00, it’s a Nile Special Lager on the Nile River at some slightly annoying campground where a disabled acrobat is entertaining the kids next ot the foamy rush of the World’s most amazing river. IT’s really cool to see so many Ugandans here checking out their natural woners despite a super-slick red mud brought on an hour ago by a quick afternoon storm. My bike’s where it’ll be til it dries, regardless of whether I’d like to leave or not.

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    Above: Rosie in Uganda somewhere

    Not sure why, but I don’t have the energy to write…
  16. just jeff

    just jeff Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Oddometer:
    4,014
    Location:
    LacLaBiche Alberta Canada
    It's fine Osadabwa. Just write at your own pace. No one wants you to have another wreak.:imaposer:jack:lol3
    Still following along.... just jeff
  17. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    August 18, 2004 – Somewhere

    I think I’m feeling a bit weary from travel. Places are blending together. I’m less interested to study and pick out the differences between them. I ride steadily, often passing up photographs I will later wish I’d taken. Uganda has seen the worst of my apathy. I think it’s because I’m interested in seeing Ana and am aware that this is just a way to kill time til she arrives.

    Anyway, a few days ago when I left Lake Bunyoni, the world was wet and hazy. If I think back on Uganda later it will be to remember steamy, hilly mornings that seemed to last all day. I climbed immediately into the foothills on a decent murram road and was quickly rewarded with views of valley and hillside, a rippled blanket of undulating cultivated quadrilaterals. The place seemed mysterious, largely due to the heavy atmosphere and the possibility that my tyre might slip.

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    Above: Ugandan Hillside

    The road wound around to the north of Bwindi National Park where after cutting through field after field of bananas the Impenetrable Forest began, like a ruler line drawn down some African bureaucrat’s ledger pad. The contrast with the cultivated areas gave me a shock. There was no resemblance. How so few people can deforest so completely is astounding. It seems the park came not a moment too soon.

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    Above: Before the Impenetrable Forest

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    Above: On approach… slick track

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    Above: Terraced hills and a wounded butterfly

    Once in the park gates, I pitched camp and hung around with a pair of Brit teachers whose attitude I admire – easy and happy. The following morning I was able to fill a vacant space to see the Gorillas against all odds (this being the high season). After being so frugal most of the trip, I felt the pinch from spending the $360 entry fee, but I am happy I went for it. The hike was magical! Our guides led us straight up the steep mountain side under the dense canopy. Huge ferns and towering mahogany trees and a million other green plants crowded around us in a wild emerald melee. The ground was damp but not slick and we climbed steadily and slowly over the top where we found the trackers who had set out a few hours ahead.

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    Above: Flowers and greenery

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    Above: Spiky succulent

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    Above: Old and new

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    Above: Opening in the Impenetrable Forest

    Our family of gorillas were happily eating in an open, sunny valley, dense with ground vegetation but free from the dark, high canopy. Approaching them was intense. Crunching sounds were all around us as the gorillas devoured the underbrush and the guides had slowed to a stalking pace. All at once a series of deep grunts emanated from the growth and everything fell still. The guides returned the grunts in kind – supposedly reassuring the gorillas that we’re friendly and we crept closer.

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    Above: Geometry and beauty

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    Above: Lushness

    One by one they came into view: first a female, then a tiny baby in a tree and finally the enormous Silverback purposefully strode into the open. We spent our hour watching them eat, watching the baby dangle from the thin branches of the tree. The setting was idyllic. The scene so good it’s as if it were staged. I was aware that we were much too close to the gorillas but none of us could refrain. I dearly wanted to sit down beside them and stroke their thick coats. After one hour, we walked away leaving the gorillas to do as they pleased and made our way back down the mountain.

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    Above: The gorillas


    Above: Short, low-res video I took of the gorillas - worth watching just to hear them eat

    On the descent, the clouds rushed in and unleashed the most wonderful rain I’ve ever been party to. It was so heavy and even that we were drenched in seconds despite us all wearing raincoats. The canopy was one giant percussion instrument, a huge snare drum hasrashclashing all along the path. The smell was divine: clean, flowery and earthy. I smiled and sang songs to myself all the way down the mountain. A good memory.

    The following morning everything was soaked and the sun was not showing signs of emerging, so I just scooped up all my gear and aimed for the Rwenzori Mountains. Back through the bananas and fields I rode for 60 km, then I took a hard left toward the game reserve where I had a mini game drive with buffalo and dozens of pockets of funky antelope I rarely see. I was treated to a good, open dirt road that wound smartly through it all. That I didn’t stop, throw my head back and yell in ecstasy speaks to the fact that perhaps I’m worn out and ready to go home…

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    Above: Bananas and more bananas

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    Above: Misty Uganda

    I rode through the rain on tarmac through Queen Elizabeth National Park towards Fort Portal where I found decent digs, food and beer. I quite enjoyed the place, despite my gloomy mood. I walked the streets unmolested to the garden restaurant where I sat for an hour with the Ugandan papers sipping a beer and watching the goings on. I missed a great pic of a Muslim guy sitting quietly in the sun above his mosque and a troupe of schoolgirls walking past a high church on a hillside. I had dinner with a guy from a nearby tea company who doesn’t blame his kids for not returning to Uganda and had a good laugh with a woman in her duka before calling it quits and hitting the hay.
  18. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    August 20, 2004 – Kakamega Forest, Western Kenya

    Here’s a scene that’s familiar. People around, music gagging through the radio, chickens in the back room feasting on scraps, their clucking a high-pitched protest and plea all at once. People chat quietly. It sounds like utilitarian talk actually, not chat. Maybe they’re saying “pass me the spoon”. Now a kid is making noise just because she can. Meanwhile I write by candle and kerosene lamp in the “canteen” with the Rumba on the radio and a coke near at hand.

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    This morning I wrote by the morning light at the Nile’s edge and now, the crickets compete in the darkness in Africa’s Easternmost Rainforest: Kakamega. I strolled around in there for awhile late this afternoon and watched the colobus monkeys in the tallest trees. They don’t talk much, but make quite a racket in the branches. I heard the whooshing wing strokes of the yellow hornbill but only saw them glide past from beneath. They’re my favorite African bird. I love the way they fly with a heroic flap of the wings that arcs their sleek bodies up, weighted back down by that long aquiline beak until – like a missile following its parabolic trajectory – it dives toward earth again.

    The ride from Jinja wasn’t bad. I don’t’ remember much of it in truth. From the border to Kakamega it was sugar cane all the way. I stopped somewhere at a “Best Café”, actually skidding to a halt, so quick was the decision, and consumed a ration of beans, skukuma and ugali with a chatty Baptist preacher and two surprised, giggling waitresses. I had a nice chat with the preacher who tried to explain what people grow in the area. Sugarcane mostly, cassava and maize. He asked why I stopped at such a small hotel. I said: “cause I’m hungry”. He laughed.
  19. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    August 23, 2004 – Nairobi

    Arrived yesterday morning to Chris and Monica’s in Loresho and spent the whole day shooting the breeze, playing guitar and drinking coffee. We kicked around ideas for living in Africa, talked about life, travel, dreams… the usual. Chris says travelling helps him see things from another perspective. I’ve tried to analyse how I see things as a result of this ride. On certain fronts, it’s largely the same as before… maybe on most fronts. I dunno.

    I sat down to say the landscape between Kisumu and Nakuru is splendid. Agriculture and trees in bouncy narrow valleys and on the backs of broad bumpy hills. I weaved and dodged through the traffic taking it all in – once again not a single picture to help remember it. Will it exist in my memory as a sensation rather than an image? [Aside from 2015: it doesn’t exist at all in my memory. Like it never happened.]

    The other morning, I walked through Kakamega forest with a guide to the hilltop. He showed me medicinal plants and pronounced the Latin names with an impossibly thick Luyha accent that made me smile. We ducked into an abandoned gold mine shaft in search of bats and emerged atop the hilltop to get a panorama of the place. The last proper rainforest in Kenya, beset on all sides by the interests, ignorance and necessity of an ever growing group of rural opor. In that forest could be the cure for HIV for all we know. The guide said scientists found a certain reddish sap that’s used these days for prostate cancer. Who knew?

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    Above: Kakamega flower detail

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    Above: Kakamega Forest view

    That night in Naivasha again I watched the Olympic swimming finals and marvelled at how young the competitors are. It was weird. I was pulling for the ol’ US of A, but didn’t really feel 100% American as I was doing it. I’m a mixed up, countryless person these days. I wonder if I’m riding to hide from something, or am I just pushing ahead?

    [Note from 2015. For two weeks, I travelled around Kenya with my gal Ana in a little crappy Suzuki Escudo. We went to Ngong, Naivasha, Nakuru National Park, then Baringo, Nanyuki, Samburu National Park, then hopped a plane to Lamu to end on the Indian Ocean coast. What an amazing holiday within a holiday. Pics below sum up the trip.]

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    Above: In the feshfesh – out behind the Ngongs on the way to Naivasha

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    Above: Hell’s Gate National Park

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    Above: Walking through the Hell’s Gate canyon

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    Above: One of Nakuru National Park’s Black Rhino


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    Above: Driving to Baringo

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    Above: Samburu National Park – Elephants and Grevy’s Zebra

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    Above: Lamu Island off Kenya’s Coast

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    Above: Ana

    I'll be back in September to resume this RR. The momentum picks up as we head into the wilds of Northern Kenya and Ethiopia. Stay tuned.
  20. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    September 11, 2004 – Maralal, N. Kenya

    Back on the road.

    620 returned from his trip to the UK, refreshed and ready to explore the North. We sorted out our bikes and Ethiopia visas in short order. Rosie now wears new sprockets and tires and has fresh oil, a clean filter and a new sump-plug. We left Nairobi and I rode on auto-pilot all the way to Nakuru since I’d been that way 3 times before already and only awoke when the heat of the low country became unshakable.

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    Above: Me at the KTM shop in Nairobi

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    Above: Breaking free the sump plug at Rick’s

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    Above: On the road… Mighty Meaty might have been describing Rosie…

    We crossed the Equator and reached Marigat where there was no fuel. After searching in vain, we just pressed ahead. We turned at the right hand junction where a preacher was preaching to a group of sleepy guys at the bus stop. A surreal way to begin a new chapter. I’d take it as an omen, but I tend not to view preachers as fortuitous.

    The road was excellent and fast. We climbed out of the hot lowlands into a semi-arid plateau with beautiful scrub brush and thorntree lined hills and ample space to think again. We stopped for some dried mango slices and a sweet or two, watching the comings and goings of a few Samburu, variously dressed on the continuum from traditional to full Christian.

    As we rode deeper into the bush, the sun was pulling the trigger. We turned at the junction with the great stone kraals, then rode fast down the smooth murram. Not long after passing a minibus, 620 pulled over with a busted clutch cable. We were adjacent to a small herd of goats being tended by a few red-robed kids. Their guardian was gathering firewood a distance off. While 620 struggled with his cable, I took photos of the kids. The only girl there, bedecked with red beads from her chest to her chin and graced with the whitest, most alluring smile; was shy of the camera though and never let me capture a compelling portrait.

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    Above: Samburu onlookers

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    Above: Goats, kids and bikes

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    Above: Repairs under observation

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    Above: The scene

    By the time the cable was repaired, the sun was setting and I was dancing on the road to welcome the beautiful changing light. We’d descended a bit to open, flat plains with umbrella trees everywhere and the sun pushing bright orange through the dark purple of a distant thunderstorm. We rode close and fast to Maralal where we set up camp, had a few games of pool, chatted with a group of Samburu guys at the bar and devoured a meal of rice and stew. I chatted enough with the waitress for her to ask me my name... risky move… I love the desert lands!

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    Above: The last rays
    Dacquiri likes this.