Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is That a Supermarket?!?

I woke up this morning and prepared myself for the best ride ever - paved hills! I joked with Jim, one of our fastest cyclists, and a sectional from the Lonely Planet, that all he would be seeing was my back. Shortly thereafter I was overcome by pain and had to jump on the truck until lunch. Alex gave me some naproxen and I was good all the way to Nanyuki.

I had my camera mount on but, sadly, it busted. Between that one dying there and my front one being taken off by the winds while soaring down Ethiopian mountains, I have to figure out some other kind of set-up.

When I got off the truck at lunch, it wasn't too long before Jim showed up. The look of shock on his face as he said "How did you get here?" was so funny.

Once again I headed off, wishing him bon appetit for my dirt, and didn't see him for ages, until finally I was called to a halt by the police. Now I've definitely gone over the speed limit on my bike a few times on this trip, and I was seriously wanting to stay ahead of Jim, but I didn't think that I would get stopped! Turns out, they just wanted to ask me about what I was doing. Being the sore loser that I am, as Jim sped by I called him over. He stopped and asked what was happening. I told him we were being arrested. His face dropped and the police officer was shocked "No,no,no!" he said, as I started to giggle. I guess I embarrassed him, as he had us on our way seconds later. Sadly, while I did stay close to Jim, I never regained my lead.

And what a day - rolling hills with Mount Kenya drenched in crisp morning sunshine. I zoomed through pastoral countryside covered in sunflowers. People on bicycles pushing loads of charcoal strapped to the rat-traps - the weight must have been an easy 50kg. It was also actually chilly - we were up around 2600m, and so my t-shirt wasn't enough anymore. I found myself wishing for my sleeves for the first time since Egypt.

In Nanyuki we found ourselves on the grounds of a hotel with a pool. It was wonderful. The city was wonderful - I had a proper pain au chocolate! I think I've said before, African cuisine has not been very impressive thus far - stews and fried food. Not much spice. One of the shocking things we encountered was just how many foreigners there were in town. Not just the odd overlander group, but loads of ex-pats and the like. It really felt like we had just come out of "real" Africa and come into a globalized Africa. There's a strange brew of emotions that goes along with that. Relief at the return to the familiar, but sadness at losing part of the true adventure of this expedition.

That night we had our equator party, as we would be crossing the line the next day. James cooked us up burritos but the party was a bit of a bust - this is a very tea and cake kind of group, so it seemed more like any other night: most were in bed by 8 and the evening comprised of all of us sitting around chatting. Nevertheless, there was a pub upstairs and some of us went for drinks and pool. Erin and I took hold of the table and kept winning, which meant we were up way later than we wanted to be, but it was fun. The table was warped and the pool cues had no nibs, but it was fun no matter.

The following morning we were in for a ride even better than the last. I flew on my bike, up and down hills with countryside that was exactly as you would imagine Kenya. Red dirt hills covered in tea and banana plantations. Lush tropics everywhere. We went through towns that had grocery stores with trolleys and automatic check-outs. There were flush toilets more often than not. We were definitely moving into an easier part of the continent.

When the day ended we had a long journey down a dirt road that ended in cobblestone. I cursed at their choice of campsite, knowing I'd have to ride up it in the morning, and then when I got down there I was so excited! It was such a beautiful site, right on a river. I joined a few people in taking my thermarest for a ride down the river, and sat by the pool drinking Stoney Tangawizi - Non-alcoholic ginger beer - it's my drink of choice at the countless coke stops we have during the day.

We had BBQ that night, and when the sun went down many of us went for a moonlight raft adventure down the river. The river was low, but I had never rafted before so it was incredibly exciting for me! Light-bugs were everywhere, the full moon was out, and we went between crashing down 6-foot falls, to ducking our way through vine and tree overgrowth (startling a ton of bats), and then even getting to drench ourselves under waterfalls! A few fell out of the boat, one boat flipped, and we all had an awesome time - even when we were just drifting down the river. I love Kenya. I keep planning out all other adventures I'll have when I come back here some day.

No comments: