This is the end

Trip Start Nov 24, 2008
Trip End Oct 21, 2009

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Monday morning with our overland tour finished we were back on our own again as we set off for the coast. We were up at 4.30am to get a taxi into Nairobi city centre where we would be catching our bus to Mombasa. It tours out our taxi driver was a bit over enthusiastic with his estimation of the traffic levels in the city centre at that hour. We arrived at the bus station at 5.15am and then had to wait outside the ticket office for an hour till it opened then we waited another 90 minutes before the bus actually left. Mombasa is only 400km from Nairobi but our bus was stopping on average every 10 minutes to pick up/drop off people so it was turning out to be a very long winded trip. What didn't help was the girl sitting in front of us vomited all over the floor and then the vomit proceeded to slosh up and down the bus, nasty. We arrived into Mombasa at 5pm and quickly grabbed a taxi to bring us down the coast to our final destination Diani Beach. Another 2 hours later we finally arrived. We had only one 15 minute toilet break the whole day so we had not drank a lot of water. First thing we did when we arrived was to down a litre bottle of water each!

We were booked into a place called Stilts which had been recommended to us by a guy at the campsite in Nairobi. We were a bit wary though because we had read some negative stuff about it on the internet before we left. We needn't have worried as it turned out to be a great place. We were staying in a treehouse(Banda) and the owner Andy even did a little deal for us as we were staying 7 nights. Andy's Dad also owned the legendary 40 Thieves beach bar across the road where we would end up spending most of our time. There was one problem with the Banda though, monkeys! We fought an ongoing battle all week with them. If any food was left in the banda they would get in by squeezing through a gap in the roof. Even if there wasn't any food they would get in and tear the place apart looking for some. We had a few snacks which we kept locked in the safe and we usually left very little that they could get at. Despite this if any plastic bags were left lying around they would tear them apart and they also took some of Rachel's anti-inflammatory and anti-malarial tablets. We didn't have it anywhere near as bad as the Norwegian girls staying in the Banda next to us, among the nastier things the monkeys did was poo on their bed, pee on their pillows and steal their clothes.

Once we learned how to deal with the monkeys everything was cool. Although We also woke up one morning to see what appeared to be a Green Mamba (very poisonous) snake slithering across the beams on our roof! On Tuesday morning we made the short 5 minute stroll down to Diani Beach and it was stunning sight to behold, clear blue waters and white sand. We knew right away we wouldn't be doing much else except laying on the beach for the rest of the week. So from Tuesday we pretty much would just get up in the mornings hit the beach, have lunch in 40 thieves, hit the beach in the afternoon, have dinner back in Stilts and at night sit around and have few drinks in the bar before maybe going over to 40 Thieves for a bit of dance. Not a very demanding schedule and the week flew by! Other highlights of Diani Beach was getting to feed Bush Babies, eating goat at the excellent African Pot restaurant and generally just enjoying a relaxing wind down to our travels.

Most of the week we had been dreading the return trip to Nairobi. Instead of getting an expensive taxi back to Mombasa we instead booked a bus that goes directly from the small village of Ukunda to Nairobi. Ukunda is only 15 minutes in a matatu (public minibus transport) from Diani Beach. So at 7am on Monday morning we started out what was probably to be the most epic and uncomfortable journey of our 11 months traveling.

Things didn't start well when there wasn't any room in the matatu and I more or less had to hang out the door for most of the drive to Ukunda. When we arrived there we hung around for 30 minutes getting hassled by some guy who wanted me to give him money for a 50 pence English coin, he didn't seem to understand that I was from Ireland and didn't want it? We got on the bus at 8am and reached the Likoni Ferry to Mombasa an hour later. Its only a short 5 minute trip across the river but the security guys insisted that everyone on the bus had to get off and walk on. Our bus conductor argued angrily and we heard the word 'Mzungu' thrown in there a few times. Mzungu is the Swahili word for white person. After our bus conductor lost the argument he got on and ordered us all off, there were quite a few angry stares in our direction as we all filed off the bus. We finally got across the river and back on the bus. The next 8 hours was a mix of stopping the bus every 15 minutes to pick up and drop off people, blaring African music, screaming kids and even children who insisted on coming and touching our strange white skin!? There had been heavy rains over the previous 2 days which had badly affected the Nairobi to Mombasa road and we passed many overturned/jack knifed trucks at the side of road, a lot more than usual! About 2 hours from Nairobi our bus driver swerved to avoid oncoming traffic (dangerous overtaking is very popular on Kenyan roads) and the whole left side of our bus sank in a ditch on the side of the road. For a few seconds I think everyone on the bus including us thought the bus was going to topple but we stopped tilting just short of 45 degrees. It was insane, we hurriedly got off. We had to wait for a friendly truck to stop and help pull us out. Before we got out though we managed to snap 2 tow cables, eventually a truck which had a heavy chain stopped and pulled us out. We thought we were on the home stretch when we hit absolutely ridiculous traffic on the outskirts of Nairobi, it had also started raining which didn't help things. Our bus driver tried to dodge the bad parts by going down side roads, we were making excruciatingly slow progress to the bus station in the centre of Nairobi. Then our driver managed to hit another car which resulted in a near fist fight. At this most people started getting off the bus as they knew it was going to take a while to clear things up. We stayed put as jumping off the bus in the middle of Nairobi and not having a clue where we were would have been very stupid, not to mention dangerous. Eventually after about half an hour the crash was sorted and we got going again. We drove through traffic for another hour and finally reached the bus station. Thankfully our taxi driver Steve who we had rung earlier to arrange to pick us up was there waiting for us. He could have easily got sick of waiting and then we would have been in real trouble as according to the guide book bus stations are most commonly the scene of muggings, robberies and pickpocketing incidents. Our troubles weren't over though because there was still gridlock in the city centre. Our taxi driver Steve drove around for an hour trying various roads only to find them at a standstill. We eventually got lucky and found a street where the traffic was moving. 14 hours after leaving Diani beach we arrived at the Acacia Campsite tired, hungry and dehydrated. All the transport together cost around 10 euro each, I reckon we got what we paid for. If we ever come back to Kenya we most definitely won't be traveling cheap! That night we had a few beers with the campsite manager Brian and then had a well deserved good nights sleep.

Our last day in Kenya and also our last day before flying home was spent mostly chilling out around the campsite and trying to fit all the junk we had amassed in our bags. The campsite manager Brian brought us on a little tour of the area surrounding the campsite. We went to the Nairobi national park to watch the Elephant feeding but we arrived to late and missed it. We did get to see some Rhinos up close though. We then drove over to the Karen Blixen museum. Neither of us knew anything about her as we haven't read the book 'Out of Africa' or even seen the film of the same name. We took a stroll around the gardens though which was nice. We fly out tonight and the thought of an overnight flight to London seems very appealing after some of the epic drives we've done in Africa, I know I'll sleep well thats for sure.

Seeing as this is my last entry I was going to write something profound and thoughtful which would nicely wrap up the last 11 months. I cant though because we've seen and done so much that its hard to take it all in right now. Maybe just ask me when I get home I might be able to make an attempt at summing it up for you. Rachel is going to do one more entry when we get home so our map has a nice completed look to it. She'll also throw in all the interesting statistics and facts from of our travels and we may even repost our top 20 favourite photos we took.

Finally just want to say thanks to everyone at home who has kept in touch and kept our spirits up when we've missed certain events back home we would have liked to been there for. See you all soon! Also if you're reading this thanks to everyone who we met and have helped us along the way, some places wouldn't have been anywhere near as much fun if we hadn't had some great people to share it with.

If you've been reading this travel blog from the start and your still reading at this point, well done I probably couldn't have done it!

P.S. I like apostrophes'

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