06 December, 2006

Namelok and a Knock in Nairobi. 9360miles

Having retrieved the bike from the truck in the morning, I noticed how badly the 'bars were bent. The right side was as if it was from a chopper while the left was like flat 'Ace' bars! I had difficulty riding it on asphalt!
The road to Isiolo was supposed to be much better, and only 250km (160miles). It didn't have as many puddles but the state of the corrugations were little better! There was a small desert to cross and then up into some mountains before Isiolo. After about 20miles of battering I decided I'd stop each 50miles for a break. Then I wished I'd had kms on the speedo!
At 99 miles a hotel came into view with a sign advertising 'Ice-cold drinks'. It was useless to suppose they'd have any but it was time to stop anyway so certainly worth a try. I put the bike into the shade, dismounted slowly and took a seat. They were sorry, but the fridge broke down some years ago. I had a lukewarm Fanta for the sugar and made ready to go. I was being asked all the usual questions "How are you, where are you going, where have you come from, alone, where is your wife, what is your country of origin, on this bike!? . . ." and trying to be polite. Then my friendly interrogator said they had an English teacher in their village and maybe I'd like to say hello. Really? Well, why not? This teacher might enjoy a bit of banter without having to worry about being understood (I know I certainly do from time to time!), I was tired and had a bit of time, if Isiolo was only 60miles more.
I found Kirsten sitting on the bed in her manyatta cooking lunch. We blethered briefly before she offered me a go on the internet. In this place? Miles from anywhere! Yes, but she had the internet in the computer room. There were solar panels on the roof which turned to catch the best of the sun.
Having done that, lunch was ready and Thomas always cooked too much - he'd been in the hospitality trade. Had to eat so . . . and that was so delicious and peaceful sitting there outside Kirsten's manyatta in the shade watching the children playing. It was getting late however, and I needed to get going if I was going to avoid riding in the dark. But then I could camp there - free accommodation! Excellent, I was very tired after just 100miles of battering roads (with VERY squint handlebars!) and could do with a fresh start in the morning.
Kirsten (AKA Namelok [Sweet Thing]) had worked in the Outward Bound trade at home and had spent some time at Ardroy, Fife's schools' adventure playground. We agreed it was a shame that due to the new litigious society, kids were being denied the opportunity to stretch themselves for fear of injury leading to legal action, broken careers and hefty pay-outs for the few. We chatted like old pals for some time and then Thomas insisted I used the shower (?). This involved two big basins, a cup, a stool, some soap and hot water. I was shown into a square of corrugated iron. You put one basin on the stool and stand in the other one. You wash, then rinse using the cup. If you're careful, the majority of the water falls into the basin you're standing in. At the end you can tip all of the clean water over yourself for a thorough rinse. If enough of that ends up in the bottom basin you can swap basins and start again, or someone else can have a go, presumably! I'm sure I remember my dad doing this when I was wee. But that may be the mists of time. I certainly remember the tin bath we had in front of the fire! I had to share it with my wee sister! Eeeuch! Or maybe she got it first, being the girl, and smaller.
Dinner came and went and was also very tasty. I could see that Namelok had brought only the bare minimum of stuff and began looking through mine for things I hadn't used. There were some re-hydration sachets I seemed to have too many of, a tiny water filter thing and not much else.
In the evening we heard some singing not too far away. This was the local disco. Young Samburu warriors chanting and dancing in the darkness, flirting with the girls. Like oldies all over, we were encouraged to join in so we could be lightly ridiculed. Namelok scolded that I wasn't Mzungu, but Wigeni (Honoured Guest) It never caught on! They danced in the dark and when someone produced a torch some of the warriors went into spasms on the ground, grunting and shaking. This wasn't staged, but a little scary. And I feared for the livestock if the Borani came with torches! I learned much later that it was more to do with some potion they drank (not alcohol) and that they didn't drink this very often.
In the morning I took too long to drag myself away from this new idyll and headed off south. Mt Kenya was in cloud and rain threatened all round. The road was at times good and then at others full of pot-holes and cars weaving wildly to avoid them. I arrived in Nairobi in the dark, too late to contact Alex, another friend of a friend. All the lights, except the headlamp had gone on the bike so I checked into a very Western style hotel on the outskirts of the city after I'd managed to charm Beatrice the receptionist down from $150US, to 120. As I was drying after showering in my room, she rang through to tell me the manager had decided on $90!! Hurrah! I filled my boots!
Next day I was guided by text towards Alex's Photography studio. No indicators, rear or brake lights made me feel very vulnerable in a city where driving licences are just as often bought as earned. Tired and ready for rest, I turned into Forest Lane, but SCREEEEEECH! BANG! Without gloves, I barely had time to tuck away my hands before I was climbing back to my feet, the bike on its side. No time to react like you would normally get in a tumble. A deep pain in my chest produced a weird sort of roar I was surprised to discover was coming from me! My troosers were ripped at the knee and when I peeked through the hole, I saw white. But I was standing up and that could be seen to later. Got to get the bike up! We'd been shunted from the rear about 50m along the road, me padding as best I could to save the skin on my hands! I wasn't so careful with my knee though! With that in tatters, adrenaline wasn't quite enough to do it. Luckily some shaken characters were advancing towards me from a pick-up half in the ditch to one side of the road. The one who was shaking most (and actually crying) turned out to be the driver. We got the bike up and I found myself spending time showing him how the bike still started, we were all still alive and things were pretty well considering.
He took some convincing to calm down and at one point I even had my arm round this complete stranger, destroyer of bikes and knees, trying to calm him down. I later learned from Alex that he had been very afraid that I might get the police involved. He probably didn't have a licence, or insurance or whatever. It was also fortunate that there was another Mzungu in his car with him, otherwise the police would have had to have been involved. I can only think that, given the sort of trip I'm on, this sort of thing must be something of an occupational hazard. How lucky am I that it happened so close (500m) from the sanctuary of Alex's place? If this had been in the middle of Marsabit . . ?
On rechecking the knee I saw that the white I had seen earlier must have been skin, and not bone since it had been replaced by a very stingy red. Painfully, I rode the bike away to clean the wound at Alex's. Fortunately, the handlebars seemed to have been straightened a bit by the blow! Lucky I brought that walking stick - supposed to be for coming off hills. That'll be RTA 1 then!


At 13/12/2006, 21:12, Anonymous Mo said...

I went in the bath 1st, being 'the baby' then you then Ali and so on. Fiona probably had a bath on her own being the eldest. I had no idea your accident was as bad hope you healed properly before starting off again and that this is the only 'occupational hazard' you have.

Love Mo xxx


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