Once again we are on a travel day, however, today is our final big bus travel day and we are extremely excited to not have to take a day long trip on a bus again. So we woke ourselves up this morning just before 5 am. We were the only souls, animals included, awake in the Nile River Explorers camp this morning. As we left our awesome safari tent we went to the office to drop off our tent “key” but of course it wasn’t open. I precariously balanced the keys on the itty bitty wood key chain on the door knob so that someone would find it when they opened the door. Then we waited for our taxi. We waited right by reception where the taxi driver we met the night before told us to wait for him and his white car in the morning. Once 5 am came and he wasn’t there we decided to head to the gate and look and hope for a taxi. As we headed over to the gate we heard a car come and honk at the gate, but even the guards were either asleep or not there to let him in, so we ended up opening the gate and heading out to the taxi. We were glad the taxi showed up, but interestingly enough as Africa has seem to gone, it was not the same guy as the night before and definitely not the white car from yesterday. Either way he picked us up and we headed back in to town, then past the turn off to town, and a little ways down the highway to the “bus stop”.
The bus stop was of course, closed, as it was too stinking early to be awake, even for most of the Africans. We did pass people on the dirt road making their way into town, but they had a 1-2 hour walk to get into town to work or to sell their wares and I felt bad for them having to go so far every morning and so very early. So bus stop is completely dark and dead, all offices are closed and we are expecting to meet a guy here to know we’re in the right place and to sign in, more or less. Our taxi driver guy was sure we were in the right place and in the nice kind way of Ugandans he said he would wait with us for the bus just in case it wasn’t the right place. So we waited. I sat outside anxiously peering at the road looking for a bright red bus passing us and not stopping, while Lindsay chatted with our taxi driver in the cab. About 20 minutes later a guy showed up and opened the Kampala Coach office and I found out from him that we were in the right place and the bus was on its way, if just a little late (what a late bus in Africa?). We thanked our taxi driver, tipped him some extra for waiting with us and giving Lindsay a nice time of conversation, and he was off. A little while later other passengers started arriving and eventually our big red Kampala Coach bus pulled in to the station. We got our bags under the bus, (hopefully they’re still there at the end) hopped on board, found some seats near the back, (poor choice as it was bumpy but only spot with 2 seats together) and the bus drove away again.
Approximately an hour and a half later we made it to the border of Uganda with Kenya. We knew the drill by this time and we got off the bus and headed to the emigration line along with everyone else and the bus drove away. 4 weeks ago this would have worried me, now, I know it will be somewhere down the road that I’ll find again. As we waited in the very long line to sign out of Uganda we were approached by a woman working for the office that essentially did a survey with us about how our tourist/traveller experience in Uganda was. First place to care about what we thought and interested in changing things. After getting a couple of exit visa stamps we went to use the bathroom, I over paid as I had no change, so we sent Lindsay in to hers for free. Pretty sure there was no fee what so ever but I can part with $1 to help this guy out “running” the bathrooms. I also had a conversation with a kid while waiting for Lindsay who was trying to sell me something, perhaps food, I didn’t need (don’t remember what). He was apparently trying to get money for school books and was selling these things to collect money. This 11-ish year old boy was the most polite child I have met on this entire trip and in hindsight I wish I had just given him some money for his school books (whether that was true or not, because either way he could have used it more than I).
We started our walk across the “border”, which wound down and around a few roads, and then suddenly you’re in Kenya and had to go to the immigration office which was not easy to find. After following a few people we made it there, waited in a long line again, got new stamps, then walked down the road looking for the bus. Eventually we found it and since not everyone was there we decided to get some samosas (shocking right?) that were for sale right next to the bus. While hiding in the shade eating them, as it was disgustingly hot that day, I happened to take a step backwards while talking with Lindsay and almost fell down into a 3 foot ditch. Not a nice grassy ditch, but the water and sewage run off kind of ditch. Luckily I grabbed part of the bus with one hand and slowed my self down as I grabbed Lindsay with the other, close call.
After much much too long in the sun, then in the hot box of a bus in the sun, we drove across the street to the gas station where we filled up, then finally got to get on the road and get some breeze through the windows. Driving through the Kenyan countryside it became flatter again and less green but it was a nice blend of the flatness of what we saw in Tanzania, and the green and hilliness of Rwanda and Uganda. Very pretty countryside. A few hours later we made it into D??? , which is a fairly big city, and we drove up beside a building and the bus stopped. Pretty much everyone got off and walked inside a restaurant. It happen to be about noon, I wonder why we stopped? So Lindsay decided to stay on the bus, and I went inside to find out how long we were stopping for lunch. The bus driver told me 15 minutes (it was longer than that). I found the disgusting bathrooms at the back by following the locals, used the African urinal ( trough on the ground more or less) and then decided we should get some more food. I watched one lady purchase some pasty/doughnut type thing and I asked her what they were. She spoke perfect English and explained to me that they were like doughnuts and were from the Mombasa area originally. I thought that sounded good so I asked the woman working the till for some of the “Mombasa things”. She got a few, put them in a plastic bag, then another fellow took them and stuck them in the microwave for a few seconds (in the plastic bag) came back across the room and handed them to me smiling as he said “here are the Mombasa things”! It was funny. I headed back on the bus and shared my new doughnut find with Lindsay as we waited to drive away again.
Back on the road again we drove through more lovely Kenya-side and dropped off and picked up passengers in little towns or on the side of the road. One plumper woman we picked up was dressed fairly nicely for the bus (even with African standards of dressing up nicer for things), she was obviously doing well. After a few minutes she got up and started her sales speech on the bus, her appearance suddenly explained. She was selling some sort of health food/pills type things and even had samples she was handing out to people. Her sales pitch did get cut short though as the bus suddenly had to take a detour off the highway and we headed on to a dirt road.
This part of our trip I still don’t understand and have been trying to figure out what happened since that day. Every bit of traffic was now on this small dirt road through a thick forest, kicking up so much dust and dirt that you could barely see in front of the bus. We all closed all the windows and it barely made a difference as we got coated in more dust than I’ve ever experienced before. Most everyone was holding up some sort of cloth/shirt to breathe through, which Lindsay and I quickly adopted as well. We slowly lurched down a hill on this road and made it to the bottom to see a whole bunch of traffic coming down the hill towards us until eventually we were all stuck and going nowhere, sweating, covered in dirt. Somehow our driver, backed the bus up, then forward, repeat a million times, and we were going back the way we came. Or at least I think we were, we couldn’t see and it was too unpleasant to exist at this moment in time. Possibly we went down a different road that met at the bottom of the hill and continued on past whatever was wrong with the highway. Miraculously, 30 minutes later we made it back to highway, but not where we had entered this dusty road through the thick forest. Then there was only one way out and an instant 90 degree left turn that most of the buses and semi trucks and trailers couldn’t do without a 35 point turn procedure. We watched many smaller vehicles attempt and mostly succeed at 4×4 ing up the little side hill and onto the road. We did get a turn eventually and we were back on the highway heading the right way? Only now we needed washing from head to toe and inside most body parts. We hate dust. I would have taken a picture but I was afraid I’d destroy the camera just by taking it out of my bag. There was so much dust.
We arrived in Naivasha town after a few more hours of driving and sadly passing the village of roasted meat I had read about, it is apparently not a mid-afternoon snack stop. Naivasha was a nice size, still a big enough town for a few different banks but not so big as to be busy and hectic, a weekend getaway town for the locals and tourists. We were heading to Lake Naivasha for the next few days to stay at Fisherman’s Camp along the shores. After a quick stop at the Barclays bank – it worked for us again – we went in search of a ride to Fisherman’s. We just missed out on having a free ride from a safari truck out front the bank, but they were full. The driver directed us down the road to where the matatu stand was, but we decided light was fading somewhat quickly and since we had actually arrived into town in daylight we didn’t want to waste it. So we turned to our default, sort of cheap mode of transportation – boda bodas. We found two guys parked on the side of the road and figured they might be bodas of the taxi kind and they were. We offered them what we thought was a good price to the camp, but they wanted a little bit more. We caved, and off we went to the camp on a boda each. It was a long trip, about 30 minutes, so the drivers earned their money. My guy gave me a little tour along the way pointing out the different camps and who went there – either the rich politicians or backpackers, tourists etc. Lindsay told me once we arrived that we also drove right past a giraffe and zebras. I apparently missed them while listening to my driver tell me there were zebras and a giraffe on the edge of the road but I couldn’t understand him in the wind, too late by then. Many bumps and a windy trip later we arrived at Fisherman’s camp as the sun was about to set.
Lindsay and I walked up to the office and booked ourselves a tent for the next 3 nights. It was around $28 a night. This was a really, really high price for backpacking in Africa and especially for the itty bitty canvas pup tent we got here at Fisherman’s. It turned out to be hard, very cold, (extra blankets were extra money), and the bathrooms were not in the best of condition near the tenting. The bathroom next to the main building where the restaurant was is much nicer, aside from the fact that guys bathroom has no seats on the toilets (and I see no urge to fix that any time in the future, the girls apparently have seats). We quickly unpacked into the tent, decided showering was more important than eating, so each did that and then finally went to get some real food for the day from the restaurant. We were pretty much alone in the restaurant so we were able to order and get food fairly quickly for Africa. The only downfall is that we are discovering Kenya is quite expensive compared to the other countries we’ve been too. We’re already regretting not having bought souvenirs in Uganda as the prices were 1/3 to ¼ less for crafts, food, lodging. Backpack and learn apparently. Dinner was alright, nothing special, but much needed after our long day. Afterwards we hung around the bar for a while soaking in the atmosphere and watching the lake and hoping to see some hippos come up on the shore – no such luck, but I’ve got hope we’ll see at least one in the next two nights. Climbed into our cold little tent, put some more clothes on, and went to bed. Tomorrow we’re going to hang around and explore the camp and relax.
Bathrooms here are ok, but less than desirable. There are a row of outhouses that I opened one door at a time to discover one hole in the ground after another, finally 5 doors later I found a hole in the ground with a “nice” white throne sitting on top of it, phew… I have managed to still avoid the squatty, only a few days left, let’s see if it can be done…