A more reliable Matatu!

Trip Start May 31, 2006
Trip End Oct 14, 2006

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Thursday, June 22, 2006

Well we had a lazy start, with us all up by about 9am, ok, i was up at 9 and everyone else already was!! Ronnie was organising our local taxi (known as a matatu). Our driver and conductor turned up, a right pair of characters, they were even helping us pack up our tents. We loaded what we needed in the minibus (peter the truck driver had already departed for Nakaru to get the fix that he needed there) and started on our journey. We gradually (and that being the operative word because the hill side was steep and our matatu was struggling - a lot of it was about 15 kms/hr and Dom commented that 20kms/hr was the limit in India - so at least Africa usually moved faster!) ascended the hills, so that we had a stunning view of the lake and surrounding area deep in the valley and us getting higher and higher in the hills. Photos just didn't do it justice (NB i'm struggling to upload photos here so far so nothing to provide yet...sorry) and then we headed through various small towns, even hamlets like sesia (where i took a photo from the matatu), through Kabernet (which was quite large in comparison and seemed like provincial elections were soon due, as there was a local crowd listening to a campaigner), through Tambach as school was coming out at Tambach high school where a former president had taught - greg got a high five out the matatu window as we passed one of the kids - hence the speed we were travelling at!! :-) (i promised greg at smiley face at that point as he wanted me to point out that it was a human kid not a baby goat - as we also had just passed one of those types of kid - and i have now challenged him to high five a goat - we'll see if he succeeds!). Through Kessup, and Iten on the Marakwet highway and into El Doret for lunch. I spent so long on the internet that i only managed to pop to the supermarket for my lunch, but the muffins i bought were tasty, but it meant i hadn't found a toilet, so we went in a nearby 'hotel' and found the toilets locked out the back...when provided with the key it was with a note of regret due to the full ness of the toilet, which was improved minorly with the bucket of water a worker threw in (coz that was how you flushed it!). Then we just added ours to everyone elses...and ran from the stink bomb as quick as we could and out of El Doret!

Our night was to be spent at Turbo, and we got in earlier than if we'd been doing the normal tour, so when we got to the Spring park hotel at the far end of Turbo we sent up our tents and walked back through Turbo. Well i tell you, i have never felt more like a zoo animal in all my life, as we walked we waved and said hello. Some people approached us to try and talk to us in broken english. The kids wanted their photos taken...after about 45mins we finally reached the other end of town...should have taken about 15mins that is the extent of Turbo and also the level of attraction we provided. Then the storm clouds approached and the first drops fell, so we made for the Movie Theatre so the guys could watch some football. This was in a wooden shack with a tin roof, it had raked benches down one side in front of a 14" TV and down the other side was the bicycles lined. We sat and watched Ghana vs USA first half - well you should have seen the kenyan's when Ghana scored the place almost exploded! I had a chat to a local called David, who said it was hard to get jobs round Turbo and he seemed unable to entertain the fact that i would have had a job and voluntarily left it!

By half time in the football the rain had stopped and we made for the exit, there was a hoard of kids outside who again asked for a photo to be taken...one who was 3 or 4 had his hand over his mouth and was really shy as the photo was taken but when he saw the photo the joy and excitement in his face was - well a picture - it just lit up. On our walk back through town, one kid was walking past me and as he was about to pass me put his hand out and grabbed my wrist and then let it go again...he just wanted to touch a white person...i was that strange and it was such an acheivement just to have touched me...the most bizarre thing! When we got back, ronnie said the people on our tour never normally have time to walk through Turbo - hence the response we had received as being something unique and strange to behold...it was quite an experience...one i would not have missed.

The evening passed uneventfully except the wet tent for the girls who'd left there's open before our walk, and i was in the cook group for that evening so kebabs and soup and a natter round the hearth.

The following morning (23rd June) and our truck still hadn't arrived, he had got the part back and he'd been able to drive the truck (distinct step forward) but it needed a little tweaking before things would be good so had been driven to Nakaru for this. We spoke to Ronnie and he had been in touch with the boss in England who was very displeased with him moving us on (we disagree!) and said we were unlikely to move on again today even if the truck got to us, we said we would be happy to do a night drive if possible...and you'll have to wait and see if that is possible!

I didn't like the thought of just hanging around there for the day, so suggested we head somewhere, ronnie said we could go to El Doret again, so half an hour later we had another Matatu waiting for us and we all loaded in (with the plan that the truck would pick us up at 4pm and drive us back as that was the ETA we had). The Matatu we had was a dump, a driving liability, it was a rust bucket, with a door unable to close, the crack on the windscreen hidden by the creeping vine tape with little leaves and a bud. The other Matatu seemed to go supersonic speed in comparison, i think this one really did have a top speed of 15km/hr - as we even managed to overtake at that speed (with a comment of the slowest overtake in history). At one point we ended up on the other side of the road with a lorry going the other way on our side of the road and a line of traffic coming at us...but everything moves so slow we had plenty of time to get back in. So we have spent the afternoon here in El Doret, on the computer, wandering around, getting some lunch etc...Peter's eta is now 6pm...so i'm gonna chill with the others till then...Roll on Uganda...!
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