Day 12 - The long road to Marsabit

Trip Start Aug 07, 2007
Trip End Nov 07, 2007

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hair: Jake Gyllenhaal (Jarhead)
Beard: George Best (off booze)
Distance Travelled: 1762km
Frame of Mind: Fragile
Broken Indicators: 2
Broken Pumps: 2
Broken Luggage Carriers: 1
Loose Exhausts: 1
Knackered Suspensions: 0
Broken Spirits: 1

The tarmac did indeed end around 150m north of Isiolo.  There was 264km to cover before arriving in Marsabit.  "Not a lot" I thought, especially as I had been promised a 4 hour cruise by a 'friend' I made in Isiolo.  "A lot" my poor, tender bottom said after 8.5 hours of constant vibrations at 30+ degrees along some of the worst roads I have encountered on my bike.  Will apply cream soon.

I managed a whole 5km before I had to stop and reorganise all my kit, as the gerry can full of petrol had fallen off.  This 5km had taken me 20 mins.  This is when I realised my friend had suffered from the common East African premise that Honda XLR 250R motorbikes can:

a) Go at 200kmph
b) Fly

According to my road map the road is 'partially improved'.  What this seems to mean is that they take a perfectly good dirt road and throw huge numbers of boulders, rocks, pebbles and scree all over the surface then not bother with the tar bit.  Presumably this is to make it passable in the wet season but it turns it into an obstacle course and not a Krypton Factor-esque I've-always-wanted-to-have-a-go-at-that type, No! 
A Running Man-esque No-thanks-I'd-rather-have-a-cup-of-tea-and-a-toasted-crumpet -whilst-sitting-firmly-in-this-comfy-chair type one.

It took me an hour and a half to get to Archer's Post for breakfast (where I noticed that the second of my brand-new pumps was destroyed - learn how to pack it better Clark!).  A total of 32km.  Not good progress.  At this rate I was not going to make it to Marsabit. 

Even at only 20kmph the vibrations were intolerable.  I stopped every 20 mins because I needed to.  Tiring stuff.  Even driving on the 'sidewalk' was not much better.  I was having as bit of a hissy fit at points.  It was not just my exhaust that was coming loose.  I've heard of Chinese Water Torture but never Kenyan Vibration Torture.  It is amazingly effective.

So I tried a bit faster.  At around 70 the resonance stopped and it was actually reasonably comfortable.  The only problem being hitting a rock at 70 is not a happy thing, neither is the road turning into sand/scree, which is difficult at 35, let alone 70.  I weighed it up and decided that it was better than being ravaged by a camel at 2am in the middle of the desert and continued.

Made much better time after midday.  Had a beer in Loglogo, 50km from target and saw lots of camels being herded by lots of Sambura.  Just to see if I was paying attention the occasional naked Sambura kid would jump out in front of my bike aim his bow and arrow at me.  I wasn't sure how to react:  smile and wave at the cute kiddy; accelerate in fear; or be bike-jacked by a naked 8 year-old?

Here's a blast-from-the-past for all of you GCSE geographers.  Remember The Rendille tribe of northern Kenya, their abandonment of nomadic pastoralism and subsequent desertification around the Korr region?  I hadn't till I drove past it.  Except it's called Horr (actually, there are two Horrs in the region, but I don't plan on visiting either of them) except if you live here, in which case it is called Korr.  Saw lots of camels but no Rendille.  They are apparently further north now.  I hope to see the intruiging 'camel valve' that Miss what-her-name said they used to drink the camels' blood.

The scenery here is a lot more desolate (it being a desert) and punctuated with large conical cinder cones.  All of the rivers are dry till December, leaving dry canyons replete with stereotypical bleached bones and less stereotypical plactic bottles.  Can't escape the plastic bags/bottles in East Africa.

Arrived around 4pm weary and finished with driving for at least a couple of days.  I am still vibrating.  My bike took a beating, but impressively only the peripherals.  The welds on my carrier were snapped right off so got them re-welded as soon as I arrived.  Enquired speculatively at the petrol station if there was any petrol.  The answer: in two days time...suits me fine.
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charlesaclark on

Re: Would you prefer the Rain?
Oh I've got rain alright! Just fortunately not during any driving days...yet...where's that piece of wood?

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