The Trip to Kenya
- Niamh O Riordan.
"We are on the most dangerous road on our trip with no guns, no convoy and it's less than two weeks after an horrendous massacre!" - Niamh
"What should I do with your body?" - Malachy
I had been dreading this particular journey since that afternoon in January when I sat in a hospital bed after a tonsillectomy and Malachy told me about what happened to Paul Theroux, author of Dark Star Safari. When Paul completed this particular stretch, his truck was shot at by shiftas (bandits) intent on robbing the vehicle. Luckily for him, he truck had an armed escort and they were travelling in convoy. They escaped. Sitting there in that hospital bed, I was not impressed.
The journey would take four days: two days to get from Addis to the border and two more days from the border to Nairobi. Four days to cover 1450 kilometers. At home, you would cover that distance in two days. On the continent, maybe one.
The first two days were straight forward. Sure we were up at around five both days to catch the busses but apart from that, the roads were paved and there were plenty of hawkers selling fruits and nuts and seeds. It was a beautiful trip through stunning scenery. The landscape was lush and green - more green than we had thought possible - and the bets (thatched huts) were adorned in artwork and covered in many different styles of roof. We were well entertained!
Moyale itself (the border town) was a mixed blessing. We met Dawit who invited us for our last Ethiopian enjera. I'd gone from not being able to stomach the stuff to relishing every bite in just seven weeks. But the room was infested with the largest cockroaches I've ever seen. As Malachy said, they could have been trying to make off with our shoes, they were so large. It was horrifying. It was disgusting. It was revolting. Not for the first time, we hung a net to keep bugs out rather than mosquitos.
The following morning, we negotiated at length to find two seats on a truck heading to Nairobi. Then we were off: the most dangerous route on our trip. We found ourselves travelling hours behind the convoy after a breakdown. We were without an armed guard and there had been a tribal massacre in the area just days before. Not exactly what we had planned. Seeing the guys on the roof posing with sticks as though they were guns while gesturing into the bush was not exactly inspiring either.
At last we made it to Marasabit, a nerve-wracking and difficult day done and only one more to go. As it turned out, it took a further two days to reach Nairobi but by African standards, that still represented good progress. At last we were in Nairobi, the most westernized capital we've seen. I had high hopes of finding a McDonald's (I've been craving a caramel sundae since before we left) but to my dismay, there was none to be found. Why is it that this global giant has disregarded Africa? What is a girl to do?