Another year, another country. I wish you all a happy New Year from Nairobi, Kenya.
We had a pretty good New Year celebration with my friends in Mwanza. I
liked it because it was pretty low key and heaps fun. Low key because no
one had much money for fancy drinks. Or any drinks actually. And heaps
fun because Tanzanians know how to have a good time without spending
extraordinary amounts of money. So we stayed in a big group. Every
lasted for an hour. And we listened to cool Tanzanian music in the pub
and danced around. It was a good time and it went on till the early
morning hours. However, the midnight point was pretty much ignored by
everyone. But yeah, why not.
The next day, first of January, Martin and me, we left Mwanza. To go
straight to Musoma and the Kenyan border. It is a beautiful tarmac road
all the way. Passing by Lake Victoria, the Serengeti NP (with lots of
Wildebeasts and Zebras next to the road) and the beautiful Rift Valley.
We rode through green valleys and up green hills. Everything looks green
and fresh and it is so much fun to ride along there and just enjoy our
free life. The border crossing into Kenya was very easy, no fuzz at all.
On the other side of the border a very different picture presented
itself to us. Whereas there was not much but empty landscape on the
Tanzania side, in Kenya there were busy streets, towns and lots of
people. Lots of people everywhere. Particularly on the street. And
shops, banks, restaurants, mobile phone agents - everything was there in
big numbers. Traffic became much more chaotic and potholes more
frequent and deeper.
Re-routing our journey along the East coast of Africa might have avoided
Africa's worst trouble spots and opened up brand new places of awesome
interest. But it also created new hurdles to get over. Like the visa for
Ethiopia. I never thought it would be so difficult. But you simply
can't get it from Kenya. No way. Drives you crazy. Because it is so
pointless. You can fly in and get a visa at the airport in Addis Ababa
on arrival. You can come from the North and get a visa in Karthoum. No
problem. But if you come from the South there is no way. Same person,
same passport, same destination but no way. T.I.A. (...this is Africa).
So our passports are now on the way home. Because the visa is cheaply
available in your country of residence. Just the DHL transport for your
passport is not cheaply available. $150 for the return journey.
Fortunately they can put two passports in one parcel so we can split the
costs. As so often before the typical degree of efficiency in Africa
kept us busy for the whole day. For one simple purpose: get the
passports to DHL and then sent to the embassy. It required us to visit
three different DHL offices across Nairobi, 50km there and back and in
between. 50km in hair raising traffic with seemingly millions of cars
which without any noticeable order negotiate the pothole littered
streets. Or just stop somewhere on these streets. Somewhere you would
Nairobi is a very different place compared to the Africa we experienced
during the last few months. The city centre is filled with modern high
rise buildings. It is by far the most modern city since we left South
Africa. There are shopping malls which would not be out of place in
Sydney. Apple computer stores, tablet computers, original branded mobile
phones, designer clothes and brand new European cars not even seen in
Sydney. And many white people too. In fact, here on our campsite (Jungle
Junction) there is one Swiss couple, one Japanese motorcyclist and
every other guest is German. German people seem to overrun this place.
Most with chic BMW or KTM motorcycles and latest-on-the-market gear. Or
huge trucks purpose built for travelling. It is kind of cool to be
surrounded by travellers. Although many have different ways of
travelling and seem to be a bit in a rush. A rush to make it to all the
sightseeing highlights as proposed by their guidebook. We will need to
stick around here for a week or so to wait for our passports to return
from home. And I guess it will be a tough week.
It came to me like a sudden shock when we arrived yesterday. Walking
through a modern air conditioned shopping mall full of white people in
good clothes. And camping in a 'German Village'. I miss the friendlyness
and the team spirit, the sense of togetherness we had when we were
surrounded by local people. Don't get me wrong, these tourists are
friendly, really friendly and helpfull of course. But in a very
different way and only up to a certain point and no further. There is
always at least a bit of distance to be kept, always a bit of
competition going on. I guess I am quite spoiled now by the great
experience I had in Mwanza and all those other places. Being part of a
local group of people for so long and feeling that spirit of 'we are
together' as it is so common in Tanzania, the 'looking after each other'
sort of thing. Being in this shopping mall yesterday, walking past
these incredibly expensive shops, there was this urgent need to run out,
jump on my bike and get out of that place. So to summarise my current
state of emotions I would say I feel terribly out of place.
However, being in Jungle Junction, my little Suzuki really feels well.
There is many cool and clean other bikes for her to share adventure
stories with. I purposely did not clean her so she really looks tough
compared to the others. It is the only DR650 around. And she is a little
star because you cannot buy her kind in Germany. So her sheer existence
is a surprise to our new found German friends. There is also good tools
to borrow. And clean bits of cloth. E.g. to clean the chain. It's
amazing how a ripped piece of old cloth can make you happy. Just in time
today my little Suzuki also told me about her desire for a new fuel
hose. By drenching the parking lot of the fancy shopping centre with
smelly fuel from her ripped fuel hose connection to her carburator. Well
done, this shopping centre surely deserves something dirty. Similar
thing as it happened some months ago in Zimbabwe. These fuel hoses came
together with the Safari tank and seem to be of inferior quality
compared to the original Suzuki ones. Knowing that there is a Suzuki
store in Nairobi I shall treat her with a replacement of all fuel hose
bits and pieces tomorrow. Also the gear shift lever became a bit shaky
lately, so much so that it already scratched some lines into the engine
cover. Which is not good. So I have to do something there. But generally
she is still doing well, extraordinarily well for the conditions we got
through. We almost reached the 30000km mark by now, all done together,
little Suzuki and me, the two of us. 20000km since leaving Sydney. And
15000km since arriving in Johannesburg. And there are still the same
tyres from Australia on her too, the ones I bought before I left Perth.
Not once did she brake down, not once did she stop. There was never any
serious trouble with her. It seems like she likes me too. Really really
Me and to an even further extent Martin go through a bit of a period of
frustration at the moment. For re-routing our tour, for the trouble with
the visa, for being stuck here to wait for our passports. It is good to
be together and get over this. We are already looking forward to
another country, to Ethiopia. And the rest of the trip. But we also
still look for options to get to Germany. Which is not easy now that
Syria is closed. There is no way to go overland. There is an option to
go to Libya and Tunisia and by ferry to Italy. Or there is a ferry from
Israel to Italy. Ot a freight ship from Egypt. But to be honest, we want
to ride. Ride all the way. Not cheating by taking a ship. So we also
consider the route Sudan - Saudi Arabia (apparently it is easy to get a
transit visa for Saudi Arabia in Karthoum) - UAE. By then I am almost
closer to Australia than to Germany though.
Don't know, but the guy who invented visas should simply be shot.