11, 12 July, 1998 — Kakamega Virgin Rain Forest
We hit Kenya with full speed. Immigration goes smoothly, but customs lags, waiting for the road tax cashier to return from his lunch. After a couple of hard-boiled eggs, 2:00 PM rolls around, fees are paid and our gas parched car heads for the place of our friend at the TOTAL petrol station, Joseph of Bugoma. We fill up, and Joseph, who is not scheduled to work, coincidentally shows up and exclaims, “I am very, very happy to see you! Very, very happy.” We are invited to his house where we meet Milka, his wife (I am not doubting), the kids, neighbors, etc. We are given many hard-boiled eggs for our journey to Kakamega. Later, we leave, headed for the rain forest. After a hard rain, we arrive to the beautiful indigenous virgin forest. We are invited by Nick, a Moi University Ornithologist student. We make him a spicy spaghetti dinner, watch the Dutch/Croatian finals of the world cup and doze off.
The next morning, I walk by myself though the forest, beautiful, tranquil, and mysterious. Thoughts about my future running through my head. A sign, pointing left tells of a high place lookout ahead. As I traverse the hill, my thoughts become clearer — Eric and I should start a business together. A view of the valley below reveals itself, as I feel content and satisfied of my progress today.
I return to find Greg and the Todd’s stirring. Nick is going to take us on his favorite hike. I eat oranges and we head down the road in Breakfast. After several K’s, the road becomes more steep. Greg and I are atop, dodging the vicious acacias and other sharp foliage. A right turn, and Todd hits a termite mound. I lose my balance and fall off the top of the car. I’m okay, laughter and we proceed. A nice hike takes us through dense forest where we hear Colobus Monkeys, blue monkeys, & red tailed monkeys. We walk by a river and head back to the car.
My turn to drive after a brief shit we zoom down the road, destination unknown. It starts to rain and a sign in the middle of the road reads “accident ahead.” Three minutes later, no accident, I pass under an overpass and head up hill. Suddenly the back wheels slide. I let off the gas. They continue skidding. A car is headed toward us so I brake. Bad move. The car 360 and is headed for the steep bank. The onward car misses us and I am luckily able to maneuver the car onto a perpendicular road. “Is everyone okay?” Suddenly, I look through the fogged mirror and I see a jackknifed truck head right for us. “Reverse, reverse!” are Todd’s words of wisdom. But of course the car is stalled, but the slope of the hill lets us coast away from the hellbound truck. The driver straightens out and everything is okay. “Let’s go back to the orphanage.”
At the orphanage, no one is around, but Jane and Kip Keino. We eat a wonderful dinner and watch the world cup finals: France vs. Brazil. France wins and it rains, rains, rains. Goodnight.
13 July, 1998 — Lake Bogoria
We awaken, unsimultaneously. I thought I was the last to rise but Todd’s door is still closed and Nicole is inside. Hmm. I wonder what the Todd’s are up to? Greg has been productive this morning as he has filled our parched containers with Eldoret’s finest well water. A brief breakfast with Jane and we shoot down the road. I get gas at Shell — only 1000/- and Nicole gets annoyed-but she simply doesn’t want to talk about it; but I am driving and it is okay because every gas station is fucked anyway and Nicole needs to come to grips with that reality. We take a small road, that dips and winds, and then rises through the Kenyan highlands. B53 or something see very little traffic and the few scattered potholes let me glide by with ease. Almost two hours pass when we hit a short cut tipped off to us by a gas station attendant in some Bovine Town. Anyway, this road turns out to be the second worst road in Kenya, and after some passenger says it 100 KMs more to Bogoria, I have a brief meltdown. I pull over to ask another guy who wants a ride and get some discontent from the others, just adding more heat to my melting. Anyway, I have a right, as a driver, to ask for directions. Anyway, Nic doesn’t know. So the guy assures us it is not 100 KM but just 12 more so we give him a shotgun ride. I am still on fire, as my fast and sporadic driving reveals my mental state. Anyhow, 150 potholes later, we drop the saint, and suddenly, as quick as it ended, we hit smooth tarmac again. We buy a melon and some honey from a road side kid and merchants and hit the gate entrance to Bogoria. “That will be US $10 + $2 Camping + 200/- for the car.”
“What, we thought…”
After some lighthearted fun bargaining, we pay 500/- for all. And we zoom toward the lake of 1 million lesser flamingoes-a pink lake. We offroad to the shore and I chase flamingoes everywhere-hundreds of them flying about, fleeing from their tempted, yet truly helpless enemy-me. Silly birds. We never do make it to the official campground, so a nice bush camp½ way marks the spot. The sunsets to a nice bowl of rice stir fry. I make a bet with Nicole that it won’t rain. And I sit, hoping it won’t rain, too happy-or just tranquil to want to fight my way into our flailing tent. Goodnight.
Tap, tap. Tap, tap. “Greg, it’s raining!”
14 July, 1998 — Lake Bogoria / drive to Nairobi
“So, how did you like that rain last night?”
“It wasn’t rain, it was very heavy mist.”
The drive to Nairobi proceeds smoothly, minus a crazy Matatu accident where they are dragging bodies and putting them into other available pickups. The try to put some bloody bodies in our car but Todd guns it. We arrive in Nairobi and I am not as thrilled as I thought I would be returning to the truck stop otherwise known as Upper Hill Campground. But then two familiar faces run up — Maxine & Max — and my have they grown big from such little puppies. One beer later and we are on our way down the hill, and after sharing a grill cooked corn, we enter Nairobi central. We are discouraged to find that the exchange rate has dipped Ksh 3 to the dollar. A quick fish & chips and passion fruit juice and we are on our way to the weekly Tuesday Masai market (actually a bunch of local Nairobians selling African souvenir to tourists. Hundreds of people, hundreds of things. Well, I sucker out and buy the nicest boutique on the lot, a strand of jobsters, some nice serving spoon for my mom, and a new friend, my malachite egg.
15 July, 1998 — Nairobi
Today nothing special really happened. After wandering around downtown Nairobi aimlessly, I lose my patience and walk back to Upper Hill alone. I must admit I felt a little uneasy walking back through Uhuru Park solo (due to its reputation as a theives’ haven) but no problems. I am such a sketcher sometimes, but then again, they don’t call it “Ni-robbery” for nothing. Nicole leaves tonight so I start drinking and Todd does too when he returns from the airport. Thank gosh we are leaving tomorrow is a later thought amongst the drunken slurs of overlanders at this camp on a hill.