11 December, 2006

Beetling Around Nairobi

When I got back to Nairobi, Alex had his two charming children visiting. Christian (7) very much likes The Pink Panther cartoons, one of my favourites! Maya (two and a half) very much likes her dad, and ‘fluffy duck’ – the hot milk fluffed up ready for coffee but without the coffee. Recommended.

A further encounter with local wildlife was provided by Christian when he went to a tree and produced a friendly chameleon. It was much smaller than I'd imagined but had the swirly eye thing going on. It must have been quite tired because it didn't seem to bother about changing colour to blend in. Maybe it trusted Christian enough not to need camouflage since, when he kindly handed it over to me, it crawled slowly up my arm without any hesitation. Its feet tickled a bit, but it seemed to weigh nothing at all. Christian knew that two chameleons lived in this particular tree in his grandparents' garden.

After some daft nonsense about ‘tax’ to be paid on the value of the contents of the package of parts from Scotland, it arrived. I was peeved because they’d only used the value Mo had put on the packing. She could have written anything! And I’d already paid VAT in the UK! Ho hum. At least things could begin to progress with the bike.

My knee was still pretty sore, and the bike was still at Christoph’s so Alex produced a second yellow ’74 Beetle for me to drive around in! It was a lovely wee thing. Driving it was a bit like riding the bike, which I likened to dancing with your frail old granny. You need to be firm or she might trip up, but you also need to be very gentle because of the frailty. Anyway, Alex appreciated the analogy and I didn’t break the car!

Maureen was now active in seeking a new camera for me. She had phoned around and found the best deal in town. Maureen lent me her sister, Cherrie as a guide and off we went, beetling off in the Beetle. I bought the same model as I had before, at about the same price. Alex had gone off into the bush on assignment for a few days so I had the house to myself to relax in. It was a little odd having all this freedom, and I got a wee bit homesick for all the comforts of home. I helped myself to his dvd collection and settled in each evening with a film – perfect! The peace and quiet of the wee cottage was a great tonic. And my knee was getting a chance to heal pretty well.

When Alex got back he had volunteered to work behind the bar at Christian's school Christmas show. I met him there to help out. I was supposed to have gone into school to show the bike and chat about the trip but it was the mad final week of term and things were far too hectic, as they are at schools the world over during that week. A lovely school though. I’d never seen a primary school with a swimming pool before! I did okay at the bar until I managed to spill red wine down the leg of the only gent there wearing white trousers. He was very understanding! It was the greasy but tasty samosas I’d been nibbling! I laughed much of the way home, buzzing along in the spare yellow Beetle behind Alex in his.

His designer pal Linda needed a lift around town in the morning and I became her driver for the day. A good way to see the city in comfort, and I got used to waiting for her to exit her last delivery and getting the door open in time, "ma'am"! We had a good giggle round the town. Between deliveries Linda was able to direct me back to JJ's and other places I needed to go to. She took me to an open-air market where you could buy all kinds of second hand clothes. Some with those 'designer labels' people get excited about. I got some new trousers and a sun-hat.

Meanwhile Christoph was doing great things with the bike and a potential riding chum had turned up there in the form of Ian, a South African who had given up work in England and was riding home for Christmas on a brand-new KTM Adventure 640. His daily mileage was similar, his bike was reasonably compatible – we could go at least as far as Lilongwe in Malawi. Good to have a bit of company.

Alex was back for a few days and then off again to climb Mt Kenya. I had been in his home for almost two weeks and thought it might be about time to disappear and allow him his life back. So I decided it might be the thing to go and camp in the garden at Christoph’s and maybe get talking with some more of the other overlanders there. Quite a few interesting characters, and lots of exciting overland vehicles which some people with enough money just keep there. They fly out every so often to go and play in them.

Alex had also organised for the man who made his camera cases to make me up a new tank bag. Very reasonably priced and to my own specifications! Excellent. Christoph produced the new bike. Brakes work, a new hub means there should be no more problems with the front wheel, new head bearings, straightened handlebars, a long list of minor improvements all adding up to the bike being much better than ever! He’d even found a windscreen from somewhere and gone to the bother of re-sticking the Saltire from the old one! What a guy! What a place! He and his lovely wife Diane have the perfect set up there.

It turned out that Alex had taken Ted Simon there a few years ago on his second trip around the world. This was after he’d broken his leg on the Marsabit road. With me hobbling about Christoph joked that in future Alex should tell him if he was bringing anyone else and he could get the wheelchair ready, everyone Alex brought was on crutches.

I was pretty sad to leave Nairobi. It was a strange place with a strong post-colonial feel, but in two weeks I had become accustomed to it. Much like Khartoum I suppose. Stopping for lengthy periods is very enjoyable, but makes it harder to move on in the end! A last coffee in the morning with Linda and Alex, some perfect directions out of the city and Ian and I were heading for Tanzania.


At 24/12/2006, 11:08, Anonymous Roy said...

Hey Mick, when you're finished the trip maybe you could ride the R75 down there so that Christoph could fettle it also! Merry Xmas.

At 24/12/2006, 14:54, Blogger Mick said...

Good plan, but do you not fancy the run yourself? I was thinking of bringing mine over every five years or so.


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