Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mon 13th Sept - Kenya

I get jerked awake all of a sudden - we've turned off the highway and are now bumping over what was formerly probably quite a good road - except that now its the potholes that are keeping it together! No wonder its going to take 8 hours to drive 450kms - we're weaving along at about 10km/hour trying to find a less holey parts of the road that won't rip out the axles! 

4 Wheel Drive...heard of it anyone?...anyone?

The countryside we're going through is in some ways similar to outback Australia - its desperately dry and dusty, the vegetation is very scrubby and sparse. As we pass through small towns it really hits me just how poor this country really is - most of the buildings are in a very bad state of repair, empty market stalls with torn plastic sheeting as 'roofing' lean at crazy angles looking like the next puff of wind will blow them over, there are women selling some fruit and vegetables on blankets on the ground right by the road - so every vehicle that goes by covers them in dust. Every electricity pole is leaning and has a mad web of cables leading to shacks made of corrugated steel or dried cow dung. There are skinny kids herding scrawny goats along the road, women carrying bundles of clothes or water barrels on their heads and the most common sight I see is groups of men sitting on their motorbikes or under a tree - doing nothing. The men don't appear to do anything. and those that have motorbikes - the bikes are all spotless and shiny!

In some of the towns we pass through its obviously market day and then everyone is out and about, its noisy and busy and the women are all very colourful - the women I found were always dressed beautifully in very bright print robes - and how they kept the whites, white in all the dust I have no idea!

The road system in Kenya is a crazy paving of nice smooth empty well built tarmac sections that come to an abrupt halt and we get diverted off onto a dirt track that runs parallel to the marked out highway yet to be built. On some sections we saw lots of constructions workers doing what construction workers the world over do....stand around talking about what to do and who should be doing it! :-)

its like each town has the responsibility for building a bit of highway, then when it gets too far away from the town no one can be bothered to link it to the next towns bit of highway....

As we get nearer to Tanzania we drive through Masai country - cows are the kings here, they are still a measure of a persons wealth and status - so no more scrawny goats and plenty of beautiful hump backed  masai cows. If the cows were crossing the road or being herded along the road - we gave way

The deeper we went into Masai territory the more the culture was present. The women wore traditional dress which is very bright and looks like tartan really - most of the women are also adorned with lots of silver jewelery. The traditional round houses made from dried cow dung were present amongst newer western style housing

We finally got to the border with Tanzania about 5 bone shaking hours after leaving Nairobi, just had to get the exit visa's - only 1 form to fill in, 1 queue that took about 20 mins then we had our retinas photographed, our passport stamped then back into the bus to drive to the Tanzanian side of the border (all of 10 yards!) where we had to get our entry visas.

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