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Our first 6 weeks. ~ GIVE ME STRENGTH!!!

Posted on June 24, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Let me tell you, it has been an extremely long and very slow drive,… not for the faint hearted.

For 10 days solid we did nothing but get up, drive,(sometimes in the dark) find dinner, (cooker not working) sleep and drive again. 75 -80% of the way is spent doing less than 50 kms an hour, due to such badly pot holed roads, town boundaries, which go on long after the town has finished, and the all important slow up HUMPS, of which there are hundreds. Fair to say it was NOT an enjoyable exercise.

 The first couple of days in Botswana where the highlight of the time, due to the elephants & a giraffe who where crossing the road, and the bull elephant who visited the water hole where we camped at Elephant Sands for a night, but, aside from that, it was extremely tedious. We have driven a total of 4932 kms from South Africa, through the painstaking border controls of Botswana, Zambia, (the most expensive) Tanzania (where our GPS stopped working) and finally Kenya, so for those of you interested in stats and considering doing this trip:-. Our diesel bill came to au$711-, our camp sites/accommodation came to $174- and the total of our border fees and visas came to $770- making it a total of $1655- just for the pleasure of driving here. We are not looking forward to the return trip!!

 Some-one once said to us that if you are going to cross Africa, you should start at the top and work your way down south, as the countries get better, easier to manage and more enjoyable as you go…… that was the way we did our last expedition here,… but this time,…. Yes, we seem to of tested that theory and confirm they are right,…. Cause as you drive northward, each new country is just that little more harder to handle than the last. By the time we reached Kenya, we had had enough!!

Let me give you an idea with just ONE of the average things that test your patients… Pull into the chaos that is in every border post,- bikes, people, cars and trucks everywhere with no idea where to go, but men trying to push you and tell you where to go, so they can get a few bucks out of it…. eventually you find the office to get your visa stamped etc, that is always the easy part, but because we are driving a car from a different country, we have to have a ‘carnet’ stamped, (this is like a passport for the car and very important). You may have to go to 4 or 5 different offices to get all things paid and stamped.

 Anyway, the carnet, We hand over our booklet and she looks and reads it like she has never seen one before, (this is in most border posts), they read every section in great detail, walk s l o w l y over to see the car, discuss things with other staff members, look at the book again, then, as if she was taking instructions off google, she copied down all the details with the entire process taking a good 30-40 minutes. She tells us it will cost $55- for the road tax, but(this one) has to be paid in Kenyan money,… naturally we don’t have any yet, because we have only now just reached their border,… so once again, Bob is shown the way to an ATM about a km down the road inside their border, so he sets off walking to get the 4,100 kenyan shillings…… finally back he comes and told to pay at the other window,…. Ok, not hard, but wait, now we can’t pay by cash, no no, they do not use cash here, we have to use MPESA…. Which is a money transfer using your phone…… which of-course, you guessed it, we don’t have an Mpesa account yet, because we have not entered the country. AARRGGGHHH.. So another local guy who was also waiting, allowed us to use his Mpesa account, and after the 2nd time, it actually worked and the road tax was paid. Such is the stupidity and mentality that you have to deal with and test your patience to the very end when you deal with these countries.

 Once through the border into Kenya, we were in a very typical town which look worse every time we come. Oh yes, This was our (un) lucky day. Yep, there was HUGE precession taking up the entire length of the very congested main road. It is ELECTION time coming up, so cars where booming with loud speakers and people were strewn across the road, motor bikes weaving in and out and total chaos ruled. Luckily as we sat in the line of frustrated drivers, a police unit passed us, and told us to follow them, we went up the next street round the corner, (where I photographed the many coffins on display for sale) until we got further up the to the front of the procession, but even that was not enough, and the officer was SO furious, he got out his car and stopped traffic to let his driver, and a few of us through. Thank heavens for him, cause we would have been there a lot longer. Naturally the heavy black clouds burst at the seam, and torrents of muddy water ran down the dirt streets. It was dark by the time we found our way to Samson’s place at 8pm, so we were so relieved to finally reach our 1st destination where we could chill out for a couple of nights.

Seeing Samson (our teacher we supported) & his family again was awesome, even tho we did spend an entire afternoon setting up his laptop we gave him a few years ago and his phone so he could finally use a hotspot and send and receive emails from the comfort of his home. Naturally their was great excitement when we finally arrived at Joseph’s house where we planned to spend 3 weeks here in Massai land.

Luckily we have already had a group of men come here to Josephs house to view the Boran cattle we want to sell, and, it looks like they are all sold.

 To fill in time we went to visit our Kikuya girls Suzy and Cate in Githurai, 15kms out of Nairobi. Grandma, who is now 90 years old, still insists each time, that I stay there and Bob goes home… this has become her little joke over the many years. Cate now has a one year old daughter named Debra and Suzy is still footloose and fancy free! After much discussion we agreed to start the girls off in the small restaurant business they have talked about for a long time. Seeing as though we put cate through college where she got her Chef degree, it seems a obvious choice to get them started in their own business, which they started 4 days ago. The report last night is that they have got customers coming and liking it and so far doing very well.  Bob also took the chance to show off his skills at making scones, so taught the girls his tricks of trade so they may also use them.

While in Wildebeest camp we thought we could finally cook on our gas cooker, yayyy,…. DISASTER AVERTED; The photo was taken just before the pipe burst and flames were licking the side of our camper right up to the awning at top, which luckily was not open…. But, thank heavens for Bobs quick thinking to turn the gas off at the bottle which is inside our camper.

 We also visited Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary as planned, so we could give them the donation money that has been collected ($1000-au) from our gallery at home over the summer season.

While there, we picked out a lovely 3 year old ele for my sister Bev who was keen to foster and help the sheldrick team do what they do best. Rescue and rehabilitate orphan ele’s and rhino.

 While in Nairobi, we managed to do a bit of shopping for the gallery back home. This is something we will do for the remainder of the trip as we go through the countries.

We also met Tash who is at the start of her 10 week adventure backpacking around Africa. Ended up that Tash came back to Josephs place with us, so was fortunate enough to see what maasai life is like up close and personal. Her first safari was awesome and she got to see almost everything, except rhino and cheetah. (cheetah are becoming far harder to find these days, it is very worrying). On Tash’s 2nd safari however, she learnt the hard way about what life can be like here in Africa, and it gave some good life lessons she will use for the rest of her adventures here. One great legacy she has left me and the family with, is how to get TICKS off the dogs!! Not that I expect the family to do anything about it, but at least while we have been here, we have de-ticked, de-flea’d and given the dogs a handful of kibble each day which makes them look and act much better now.

We did have one day where we were watching some women doing their washing, then found everyone throwing rocks at some poor unfortunate critter.  I saw it was a small snake that was being pelted with rocks, so Bob calmly walked over there, stood above it, and slammed a rock on it's head to kill it properly and end it's agony,... then calmly walked away with all everyone in awe of the brave masungu!!

As far as Huberta goes, she is running well, but we have had our first flat tyre we have ever had in all these 19 years of driving through Africa.  

The update with our cattle is that Samson did buy the bull, but the other 3 men failed to pay, so we did manage to sell them to a person we know of here which was a great blessing… as was the relief I felt when we got an injured cow that we asked to be slaughtered a year ago, and wasn’t…. well it is now!! The on-going saga of Joseph selling his sheep to pay for the last 6 heifers he wants, still continues.

WE have been in Africa for 6 weeks now and still not had a safari or holiday… so, today we headed to Lake Navaisha for a few days Rest and Relaxation by ourselves for a change. It is fair to say, as I always do, Kenya is hard work and test of endurance and patience, so it is no surprise that we are holding out for next Thursday, when hopefully all our money will be paid to us and we can leave Kenya and start our holiday, starting when we lap up the warmth of Kapisha Hot springs in Zambia.

  

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