Day 95 – Women’s Day in South Africa and a very Happy Birthday to my cousin, Yvonne and to my old pal, Ann, now in Australia – God bless you all, Ladies xx.
S: We got up fairly early, I had slept for 8 hours straight. I made coffee and I knocked over the little gas stove on my way out of the room as I had put it on the floor behind the door. Lesley got a bit of a fright and jumped up and down like Rumpelstiltskin telling me that she knew it would happen eventually. I got to wipe up the kettle water.
L: We left at 7h40 this morning and got onto the terrible rocky road almost immediately. It was a teeth-shattering drive for 120km into the town of Merille. There was not too many vehicles, but those that we did see were packed to the gunnels, as usual, now even with people clinging to the very top of the trucks. Luckily there were no bridges to go under. The people wrap up warmly against the early morning chill in this desert region.
Some of the trucks and smaller cars drive so fast that we saw two separate vehicles, having just rolled, where we were only managing to do about 30km/hour.
And so began our day of climbing up hills and down dales ranging from about 700 metres above sea-level and back up to 2 566m at the highest point that we noticed. It feels so strange, but luckily the Colt takes it all in her stride. We know that everything is getting shaken up and found the evidence of what we heard rolling down the roof yesterday when we set up camp tonight. 3 of the nuts holding the bracket of the rooftop tent were missing. Steve borrowed one or two from elsewhere on the tent and we hope that will hold us.
We find our little Tyre Pressure Gauge, which we call Tamagotchi – you may remember about 20 years ago when this little handheld computer game used to beep incessantly until you reset it, saying that it had been fed, or had it’s nappy changed etc. Every time that we inflate or deflate the tyre-pressures, the thing squeaks and when the battery starts to go flat, it really squeals……!!! I say to Steve – doesn’t Tama need recharging and a few hours later, it starts. As you can imagine, it is really a bonus having one as you are alerted to any tyre problems.
S: Talking of tyre problems, we are back in Kenya and today alone have gone through about 12 Police Check-Points with those lethal spikes to stop anyone from driving through without being checked. They are never clearly marked and if you are lucky enough to be at 60, have to slow down really quickly so as not to get spiked, oh and then the policeman or woman saunters over and talks nonsense for 5 minutes before dragging the spikes away, annoying………
L: We digress – after the awful 120 kms, the roads were tarred, thanks to the Chinese and traveling was a breeze. The Chinese must have had a special on the white paint and a lack of yellow as here, bizarrely the middle line is yellow and the outside ones are white, strange. Steve said that he noticed it on the way up. I knew something was wrong, but it took me a while to work out what. We decided, now that we are used to driving far each day, that we would push on and have a shorter distance to drive into Nairobi tomorrow.
We had seen various birds of prey, dik-diks (buck) and camels as well as cows, sheep and goats, but suddenly I asked Steve to stop – there was the most amazing Gazelle standing on two legs and reaching up to munch the top branches, it looked as tall as a man. It stood like that for a good ten minutes, yes, I got Steve to wait patiently while I took a dozen pics. Wow, it made my day.
It felt so surreal to be crossing the equator again when we are mainly heading north, but cross it we did. We stopped quickly to take a photo with us heading south this time.
We were looking for a place to have a good rest and a meal so that we wouldn’t need to worry much for supper when I remembered seeing the Elephant Corridor Resort on the way up. We stopped there and ordered beef and chips and coffee. What an unusual place – the tables and chairs are constructed from cement and then painted dark green to blend in with all the foliage and ornamental animals. Cushions are provided for a comfortable seat. The coffee came in 2 flasks and was enough for 2 cups each. The food was a massive plate of hot chips (so much better than Ethiopia) and beef done over a fire. It was really different and we enjoyed it. The only problem is that you are supposed to pre-order so the food took over an hour to be ready.
S: We felt ok to carry on so we continued on the mostly good road, with a few lousy drivers, and got as far as Savage Camp in Sagana. It is along a twisty road, 1 km from town and you can park above the campsite as it is a really steep driveway. The setting is beautiful and we were told that we could camp using one of their tents or flip our tent in the car park as they didn’t want us to drive on the grass.
I asked to see the rooms and after crossing the huge Tana River, where they do white-water rafting and kayaking, on a rickety old wooden bridge and puffing up all the stairs at 2 000m above sea-level, it was a real let-down. For KSH 4 650 (R570) you get 4 old single beds, all different styles and an old damp shower and toilet, but walk a mile with all your stuff, no thanks.
So now we are up in their car park with the tent zipped and flipped for only KSH 1 000 per person. We have had a couple of drinks, but are so full from lunch that we decided to skip supper altogether even though there is leftover pasta from last night.
We still have no way of posting, but continue to update while everything is fresh in our minds.
Day 96 – Congratulations to Ian and Trish on your marriage. God bless you for all your years together.
S: So we had slept well in the rooftop tent even with a few bolts missing from the structure and in the car park. I made coffee while Lesley went down to take a few pics of the campsite.
L: We decided to make sweet corn fritters since we did not have far to go to Nairobi today. After that we went to shower and we both had cold showers and was so disgusted with the state of the bathrooms. Last night they were filthy and now they were merely hosed down so the entire ablution block was soaking wet. I spoke to Ann, the manager and told her that for KSH 1 000 per person, Wildebeest, Nairobi has stunning ablutions with warm water, beautiful camps and even includes breakfast. Here we paid the same to camp in a car park with filthy bathrooms and cold showers, ugh.
S: The drive in to Nairobi was only 108 kms, but the traffic was bad and fast with everyone taking chances. In the actual city, it was chaos and extremely stressful for Lesley.
One of the things we find really dangerous is that due to various settlements springing up close to the city, the council here has you going from 100 km/hour down to 50 with hardly any warning with 3 little strips of bumps to slow you down and a raised “sleeping policeman” with a zebra-crossing for you to screech to a halt for the pedestrians and hope and pray that everyone behind you does the same. Can you understand the stress?
L: I needed a minute to collect myself when we got back to the Galleria Nakumatt shopping centre in Nairobi, but it was lovely to see a decent shop again. Steve went off to get the SIM card, yay, connected to the world again and then we browsed the aisles of the shops and bought chocolate, that we have missed, some pastries for lunch and a few other essentials, including make-up base which Ethiopia has never heard of.
Back along that familiar road to the Wildebeest camp where everyone knows our names and speaks and understands English. We parked in the same site and went straight up to the deck restaurant to sort photos and catch up on the blog and get all the news. We could hand in our washing too. We had messaged the girls and Elana to say that we were back in civilization.
It is so good to be back here for a day or two until we hear news of a ship. Ryan, who we met before is still here also waiting to ship out. We also chatted to the owners, Alan and Lynita.
S: After a decent cup of coffee we are starting to feel normal again. We have also booked for the buffet tonight for supper so some decent food as well. Tomorrow we will start making enquiries for shipping. Ryan has already got a lot of contacts so between our source and his we should be able to arrange something soon.
Watch this space.