It’s fortunate that I’m not a journalist, but only a simple blog writer without deadlines. Otherwise I would for sure be unemployed. Or more motivated to publish my stories quicker. It’s been over three weeks since we arrived in Kenya (19th of December), and when posting this we’re actually in Uganda. Well, I guess it’s high time to give you an update about our stay in Kenya before we move on to Rwanda.
So, after crossing the border south of Omorate in Ethiopia we spent our first night in Kenya camping at a police station in the middle of nowhere, watched by a couple of friendly policemen. Unfortunately they didn’t protect us from mosquito attacks. Then followed a number of days on the sandy piste along the western side of lake Turkana. It is a fascinating lake, claimed to be the birthplace of humanity and the place where the oldest human remains (from ”Lucy”) have been found. But since the road goes a few km:s away from the shore, we didn’t actually see that much of the lake. What we saw, on the other hand, was sand. And rocks. It was a deserted landscape, barren and without much lushness (apart from the now familiar thorny bushes, if they are even to be considered as green). The road was rough and obviously pretty sandy, so it took us several long and hot days to reach the first substantial town, Lodwar. On the way there we passed a number of small villages where we luckily could find water and some foods. We mostly had the same standard menu every day: biscuits and/or donuts and sweet tea for breakfast, donuts or chapati and sweet tea for lunch, warm fizzy drink and some more biscuits in the afternoon and then camping stove pasta with tomato sauce and fried onions (the only vegetable that was to be found) for dinner. Staying a little bit away from civilization usually makes it hard to keep up the variety in your diet. But who needs vitamins when there are carbs and refined sugars? Well, I guess we all do after a while. And fortunately Sam, Marcus and I arrived in Lodwar, which is one of the biggest towns in the Turkana region, just before Christmas.
While Sam and I stayed in the town for a couple of days, Marcus left us and cycled away on his own again. We all have different paces and preferences when it comes to routes, daily distances and number of rest days. When you’ve been cycling together for a while you learn to compromise and to accept that you can’t travel in the exact same way with your companion as you would have been able to do if you were solo. And hopefully you realize that it’s worth it. Otherwise, you might simply be happier by yourself. Especially if you’ve got places to be and a time plan to stick to, like in Marcus’ case. I hope that he will soon meet some faster cycle buddies on the road.
We celebrated Christmas Eve with walking up a hill to check out the big Jesus statue that’s standing on its top, watching over Lodwar. That night we didn’t get any Christmas curry nor classic Swedish buffet, but some lovely beans with rice, kale and chapati. And loads of fresh mangos.
On Christmas Day we had had enough of Lodwar, so we decided to hit the road again in the afternoon and camp somewhere outside of town. Once back on the road we soon discovered that it was in a surprisingly bad condition. At this point I guess I should stop going on about the bad roads. Picky, wining cyclists who desperately need smooth tarmac to stay happy should stay in Western Europe. But all I ask for is being able to cycle without getting pain in the wrists from constant bumping – and without having to get off the bike and push it through sand or mud.
Except the rough roads there was nothing really to complain about on the way down to lake Victoria. The surroundings got more and more lush, and we had all a cyclist can ask for: magnificent views, shade, cool rivers to wash in and access to fresh and cheap fruit. Especially the areas around the Marich pass were pretty enjoyable.
Since we were slower than planned for many reasons (like bicycle troubles, several infections and too many tea breaks) we didn’t reach the town Kisumu by lake Victoria before New Years. Instead, we ended up in the smaller town Kakamega. That didn’t really matter after all since we rather fancied reading our books and watching series in the hotel room than partying. To tell you the truth, we even happened to fall asleep before midnight. Who said touring cyclists were supposed to be fun?
But the year 2016 started anyway and we eventually arrived in Kisumu on January the 1st. We took a day off to go see the national museum and spending more time with our kindles. Besides, I was feeling quite miserable due to some stubborn infected wounds on my legs and needed a rest. The wounds started as small mosquito bites, but obviously I scratched too much and didn’t keep them clean enough afterwards. It got pretty bad and when I got fever I decided to take antibiotics as a last solution. Apparently it was a good decision because after a couple of days they finally started to heal properly.
After resting in Kisumu we headed towards Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria for some more time off the bicycles. The plan was to do some volunteering at an organic farm and learn about permaculture. We stayed one week with the farmer Nicholas, his wife Liliane and their four kids Yvonne, Jane, Duncan and David. Those kids were so cool. Only between five and ten years old and still mastering so many things. They worked in the farm, cooked food, danced like stars and ran up and down the hill (where their house was located) with heavy cans and bags on their heads. Always smiling and laughing.
Although it was a short stay we had a great time on the island. I hope I will return one day when the roads are not calling anymore. But at the moment they do, and it’s actually time for us to move on to Kampala. Kwaheri!