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Kenya - town of Marsabit - Monday arvo - rest day

Email update 6 March 2012


View Gen's African Cycle 2012 on gennesseb's travel map.

Hey guys,

first internet for 2 weeks.....excuse no capitals....keyboard is killing my fingers...stiff with dust i'm sure.....who invented "capital letters" anyway....?

Great to receive everyone's emails....you are all too kind....with words of praise and wonderment..... from this side it is just the daily routine....how easily one falls into it....

have arrived in Kenya, but shall tell you more of that later.....today is monday, town of Marsabit, incredibly dusty, big market town with everyone selling the same gear.....much like our air conditioned malls with shoes and clothes.....woollies and coles....

at least the veges are organic.....all that dung... Our rest day is in the grounds of the local convent. We arrived on sunday arvo, and the good "sisters" had in a stock of beer, chocolates, flavoured yoghurt, ginger beer.....and the drinks were cold...."heaven on a stick"....sister marguarite said "i pray to the good lord for six days, on the seventh I do business"......and boy, do they mark it up....and yes, we gladly pay....too far to walk into town and who can guarantee the drinks will be cold.....

Oddly enough the main religion here is Muslim....lots of full head gear...black is such a "heat-sucking" colour.....

Last email - Addis Adaba......what a big, hot, dusty, unsafe city. But I still walked the streets, pushed my way along the road/pavement along with everyone else....people coming and going..... On last night after sending my email, the internet guy said "be very careful, robbery is rife and you are alone".....sort of gave me a shock, but luckily only had to go down the road....about 1km....I was very vigilant, walked behind a young couple for part of the way...spotted unsavoury looking guys hanging around dark areas, sussing out what was going up and down the street....little traffic, and even the cars seem to be "cruising the area" for victims.... the street lighting was non existent, so took to the middle of the road for best view.....thankfully the campsite gates were in sight and I made the dash across the road....leaving a guy behind mystified as to where I'd gone..... On chatting to some of the other riders, they had bad experiences, drugged guys literally riffling their pockets as they walked along....totally oblivious of constantly being pushed away and onto the ground...

During the day I passed the area filled with tourist shops. bit behind these were the "slums of Addis.....homeless and drug addict kids/adults..... Every city has such sadness.

Always good to be back on the bike and road again. Only 108kms..Convoy out of town, through the pollution...OMG, couldn't see the mountains...vehicles, donkeys, horses, goats, cattle....all sharing the dual highway out of town....one poor donkey didn't survive the night...dead on side of road....probably a better place for it....those poor animals work so hard....One of our older male riders went over his handlebars.....off to hospital...another one down... We have had lots of injuries....our nurse and doc have seen more of the inside of hospitals that out.....broken ribs (1) detached shoulders (2), broken hip (1), UTI's (2, both men and one septic, flown to Nairobi hospital by flying doc...)

How quickly the landscape changes from day to day...Lots of world vision, child vision care signs now. Towns are closer together and heavily populated...sort of one long village compared to the scene of days and days before. Buildings are now square - western looking - with painted glass windows, and even verandahs, that look so out of place. Lot more trees, greener pastures, sort of 5acre blocks.... Kids were good, a relief for some, also helps if one's attitude is good to start the day....

Ground so rich and brown, productive. Saw man using a crowbar to till the soil....big chunks, one at time...ground too hard for the cow and oldstyle plough. Fruit trees, apple mangos, avocado, so plentiful...just growing everywhere...Each house seems to have its own plot of bananas...mango trees growing wild everywhere....Rift valley very productive for fruit and veg. See pumpkins and pawpaws on side of road for sale....oh to be able to carry some pawpaw (papaya).....

As recipient of 'golden bicycle award" I had to pass on the award after Addis....My choice was easy, and not to a rider. I passed on the award to Noah, our lunch truck driver/cook - for his compassion and caring for the children of Ethiopia (as mentioned in my previous email) and for his cycling family. I felt chastened and humbled for what I had done to win the award several days earlier. We are just people travelling through a land we know nothing about.....so I looked at the kids more thoughtfully and kept my attitude to myself. Passed through a village, kids heading off to school, all in uniform.. The girls laugh and run beside me, another smaller girl pushes me from behind. We talk in broken english, and all is well for the morning....they have run with the "ferangi".. white person.

More horses now appearing....had to take a second look one morning....as the man riding the horse was dressed in Bolivian style clothing.....where am I???? Other people commented on the same that evening. Maybe we were all hallucinating!!!!

A wedding celebration...people walking the road from both directions...dressed in their "best"....people carrying pots of food, blowing trumpet....all happy and smiling. Saw big tent up on hill....what an occasion, so many "relatives????? Next day, a funeral....the men carrying the white cotton shrouded body on a stretcher high on their shoulders...proudly walking along, women many paces behind.....new life and then a death in space of 2 days....Area heavily Muslim, women covered totally, little Ethiopian dress.....

Many women walking their donkeys laden with pottery..water pots, injura trays, all safely wrapped in banana leaves and stored into saddle-type bags either side. I shout "where you go"......the reply is "big town for market".... I wonder if it is the small town I'd just ridden through, or furthere north again..... Lots of cattle always on the road...droving, droving, droving....the vehicles aways give way....including bikes....

Horrid campsite....in a dusty quarry full of yelling, abusive kids.....so much for our attitude!!!! They stole out of the tents, the 'finish flag' and during the night, even though we had full security with rifles....they stole....yes....the TOILET TENT......rather funny now I reflect back on it.....I guess the material will be put to good use, an awning for the verandah, window adornment.. riding shoes also stolen...luckily the guy had another pair....(How much spare space did he have in his locker..!!) but all was forgotten when fresh bread rolls arrived for breakfast.....oh so good with peanut butter.... Breakfast is usually a full meal with porridge, bananas, meusli, milk (powered of course), condiments of all type...local honey is the best...even bits of wax added....Have enjoyed nutella on banana.....but currently its the local peanut butter...so much better than our processed rubbish.....

Have been lucky not to have the flats that most people have experienced...two only and both when not on my bike....unfortunately one was back wheel...over to the mechanics for that one....out with the instruction booklet and my rear nut tool....(thanks Justin). Glad wasn't on the road, and on my own....

University town of Sodo, big, industrial, lots of building happening, big cement apartment blocks, even new hospital in progress. Lots of Ethiopian flags flying in the town...never noticed it before....dual highway through main street with palms in middle section. Adds a touch of green to the big town dust.....Although lots of building going on the water is still being collected from wells and walked by donkey back to their businesses and homes.....

Spent 3.5 days in truck.....due to gear problem....nothing drastic, but not really fixable at lunch break...plus dirt roads and hills.....not killing myself or my bike.....interesting to ride the truck through the villages and bigger towns. Sometimes the powerlines are so low staff have to get up on top of truck to lift them over the bikes....obviously they wear their rubber shoes.....no-oneelectrocuted as yet!!

Bush grazing coming down off plateau off, no farming...but acres and acres of banana trees...smaller than the usual type, cattle are shorter, longer horns, brahaman type... To a town of Ahbra Minch. Tourist area, two big lakes, crocodile farming for handbags, shoes etc, also hippos abound, and bird sancturary...Weaver birds nests in lots of trees, so perfectly constructed...the turquoise breasted starling...how eyecatching as they flit from bough to bough....not at all like Oz starlings which are a pest....long cylinder style baskets up in trees.....beehives of course!.....our campsite atop the mountain looking down to the lakes and savannah grassland....how amazing, so much dust and dirt yet one feels clean with just "a view". Great sleep....the resort rooms expensive, my view from tent, the same.... I took the liberty of reposing on an "expensive verandah wicker chair" late in the arvo, watching the bird life, reading my book....and snoring......how embarrassing!!!! luckily no paying tourist in that room.....

The resort rooms are built out of normal bricks, well hand made bricks but then the entire building was covered over with a rattan woven constuction...most effective, and probably for the heat protection....what a job building it....inside the restarant the ceiling was woven bamboo...such workmanship..the gardens home to : yellow frangapani and pink desert rose bushes..how beautiful they were...the smell of the frangi just exquisite.... desert rose bush so big....ideal place for it....FIRST RAIN....fantastic sound and light show over the mountains near the lakes.....thunder growling around the mountains...no fly on tent...ooops....middle of night dash.....others also caught out....by time fly on, rain gone.... The smell amazing, even at that time of the night/morning.

Head cold, So much for the beautiful smells, glad to be in truck and dirt road sees accommodation swell.....9 people....makes for a squashed, hot, slow day...Kids on side of road now doing crazy dance routine for passing trucks and bikes.....just like our aboriginal corroboree leg movements....how things change, but still remain the same? New way of asking for money....Looks good and way better than rock throwing....

Land now hilly and terraced...but long time ago....rock walls everywhere....no crops. housing again huts, but smaller in height, and all thatched with corralled areas made from sticks and wood which denote the family plot. extremely dusty. Bags of wheat/maize lie outside the huts, aid from outside, but collected on donkeys.... The dirt road is a main route, the road is collapsing everywhere, slumping mountainsides....gosh knows what happens when the rains occur. Lots of traffic, of big trucks....so much damage. The rock walls over creek beds all collapsing.... campsite in a river bed....mmmmm. in 2009 the tour was split when it rained and the river rose quickly....took a spot uphill for that night....sometimes difficult to find a flat spot...and never free of thorns....have leak in my thermorest....need water to find it....very scarce, so blow up at least once a night....ah the joys of tenting....more desert rose bushes....so bright amongst the dryness and the scrub. Small community of nomads had green pasture of paw paws and sugarcane...must be near a spring. They drove all year, staying 3-4months in each place...no women, just men/boys.....

Down out of the rough mountain area (and dirt road)...the early morning sun streaming through the clouds to form shafts of sunlight on the mountains...a special effect show just for me...Now piles of wood stacked criss-crossed on side of road, all from dead trees, insidious vine crawling over everything...crushing their life.....but providing wood for another life....termite mounds....conical in shape appearing everywhere....like chimney stacks....colours change depending on the soil. Some I see shapes....a person with a hooded robe staring off into the distance...that perfect african flat tree and the sun setting...a great picture. Housing changing again....now tiny grass huts with no doors, just open space for entry.....huts look small but have high thatched roofs.....smoke coming out from top area.....how often do they catch fire...how many people die? Riverbeds now getting wider....how marvellous they must look when flowing with fresh water....feeding the land and the people.

Routine days....what do I do: wake, dress in tent, pack gear away, pack tent up...try and keep dust out...ha....fight way to lockers....how to get it all in at the same time....wait..go wash hands, make a cuppa, wait for 'breakfast call"...line up or go to locker and put away gear? such decisions so early in the morning....find a stool, hope it's there when you come back with food...usually not.....get out another stool....wash own plates/cups, fight way to locker again.....somehow get on bike and clock out for the morning ride.

Lunch: get off bike, disrobe (hat and gloves)....wash hands, eat fruit first, hoping for mango....sign says "1 piece per person"....oooohhhhh.... bread rolls, sometimes stale, so use it as a plate and put tuna, coleslaw, tomatoes, avo, cheese, or whatever is available on top and eat with spoon....banana with nutella...mmmm. a new experience, most riders devour several rolls.....being a "backpack girl" we get the left overs....and most often no mango....refill waterbottles.....

Some of the serious riders don't even stop for lunch....they need to get an edge on other riders. How they can do it is beyond me...some of the roads are just horrendous.....their bodies are really suffering, they are so thin...all to stay with EFI, (every f....ing inch) and to be one of the 200 in the world to achieve it....I missed out long ago...in the truck, no EFI......

I have grouped everyone as :
Front pack - efi searchers and racers
Rat pack - group of girls and other riders who join them when they want a break from the front pack
Back pack - slower group....usually females, including the Older Ones......just two of us left now.

How odd, here in this internet cafe Dolly Pardon and Chris Christophensen singing "Islands in the Stream".... first english music for months....and I am just that "island" amidst the stream of life.....

Am heading off to eat dinner. Will continue the last days of Ethiopia another day....but I can say that it is a rich country compared to what I have seen of Kenya so far.....No more internet for at least 10 days...so stay safe everyone....keep that smile on your face....life is not difficult compared to what I'm seeing.....

Enjoy each day, savour it all.....would luv to just drop in and see you all for just a minute or two....

luv to all.....

Posted by gennesseb 23:42 Archived in Kenya

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