Saturday, July 17, 2010

Maasai women

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Driving through outskirts of Nairobi

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Friday, July 16, 2010

16th July Fiona's Perspective

Well, it is Friday lunchtime and they are still working on the car. They are now thinking it could be electrical, having eliminated all else. If they don't find the problem today, we are stuck here till Monday as the workshop is closed over the weekend!!!

I have extended our stay in the hotel by another night, whilst Gavin and Jen have moved on. We will most probably meet up in Mozambique again.

I am visualising the beaches in Mozambique again. I think positive visualisation is very effective.

Realising I am stuck for the afternoon with Alan at the workshop and no transport I went looking for something to do. I found a salon and booked a Manicure and Pedicure. What a treat after 2 weeks of walking around in slip slops in dusty conditions.
At home you would pay in the region of R400 for both. It cost me R140 and looked great!

I then anxiously waited for Alan to call as they had put the car back together and were going for a test drive.

In Uganda the main mode of transport besides Taxis, which were only common in main Centres and for long distance travel, was a Boda Boda. This was a motorbike rider who gave lifts across town to about 3 people at a time and charged about R2 - R5. No helmets necessary and obeying the road rules not even considered. They can be seen everywhere and hang around in groups on street corners.

In Kenya you have the Tuk Tuk, which is a little 3 wheeler car which charges R10 for a trip and then you still have the motorbike riders.

At 5PM I finally got a call from Alan to meet me in the bar!!! Good news, the car has been fixed!!!

After exhausting every other option, they found that the chip installed by Steve's Auto clinic in Kyalami Business Park was causing arcing and the intermittent power fluctuations. What really irritates us, is that we took it to Steve's Auto Clinic and told them there was a problem with the chip and can they look at it. They removed the chip, left the harness, which was causing the problem and did not even test drive the vehicle and still charged us R1500.00.
P.S. Alan is busy scraping their sticker off our rear windscreen!!!

Anyway, after celebrating, we are going to find a local restaurant tonight for dinner and plan our next few days.

Positive thinking works!!!

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Murchison Falls on the Nile from the boat

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Leaving Bwindi, Uganda

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Border post into Kenya

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The result of the style of truck driving in East Africa

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

15th July Fiona's Perspective

Alan and I got up a little later than normal. A) because the weather is a little cooler and it was warmer in bed B) we were tired because of the late night and driving all day (no, it had nothing to do with the Jamesons)

I did not mention how delicious the Samoosas were last night. We opted to have a snack for supper and they were tasty!!!

We drove into town and found a supermarket. Eldoret is quite a large town. After a shop for essentials, like bread, Red bull and Garlic we were on our way.

The drive down to Lake Nakuru was quick as the roads were probably the best we have been on for days. Unfortunately the vehicle started jerking intermittently, which is a problem we have had erratically for the last 4 months. Toyota Rivonia amongst other garages could not find the problem back in SA, but after visiting Toyota Nakuru, Kenya. We felt some hope. We left after an hour or two in the workshop and some spare parts, just incase.

We stopped at a petrol station to get a colddrink on our way out of town when an old African man tried to sell Alan a tow rope... It must have been a sign. Alan said he had no need for one, but the old man said he needed the money, so Alan offered to buy his Knob Kerry for R50. What a bargain, he handed it over, took the money and ran!

But disaster struck 12km down the road...the jerking and loss of power was still happening. So, we turned back to Nukuru.

Then the drama unfolds, the car won't start when in the workshop.
So, we had to leave the car in the workshop overnight and find a hotel to book into. The workshop manager was ever so pleasant and even gave us a lift to a hotel.

On the upside, at least I can do some washing!!!

Well, Gavin and Alan have done 10 300km since they left Kyalami and between them have only had to replace 1 x air suspension, 2 x fuel pumps, 2 x Air filters, 1 x Alternator and whatever tomorrow brings. Oh, and Gavin has a cracked windscreen.

So after an early dinner and 2 Dawa's (a Kenyan drink) we retired to bed.

Tomorrow will no doubt bring new challenges....
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13th - 14th July Fiona's perspective

Gavin's vehicle has been fixed and we are ready to go.

Whilst the guys were fixing cars, I went through my clothes, only to discover I have 2 pairs of clean pants left! I have to plan a wash and get the clothes dry before the Putsi fly lays eggs! Stress. I thought holidays were meant to be relaxing!!!

After a nice long, hot bath we went out to a local Indian restaurant in Entebbe recommended by Jane, 4 Point.
We had great Butter chicken and then all exhausted headed back to the hotel.

Security had been stepped up at the hotel and we had to open the car for a cursory search and mirror searches under the car. They even had Police in attendance. It is all a farce though as their search was certainly not thorough at all. There are Americans staying at the hotel, so I suppose it looked good.

After a healthy fruit breakfast, we continued on our journey. We are going to cross over into Kenya today. As the border crossings are going to have much tighter security, we are going to travel a little further to a smaller Border post, which is less busy.

We decided to first head for JinJa, where Jen had seen a painting she wanted to buy. I happened to see a couple I like too. After a quick bite to eat at 2Freinds restaurant, we were on our way and soon got to the Busia border post into Kenya. This was a relatively smooth crossing and it probably took all of 60min to pass through both entry and exit customs offices.

So now off to Raj's place in Eldoret, Kenya for the night before heading off to Lake Nakuru or Naivasha.

In Kenya the landscape changed from Banana plants to Mielie fields and Rice Paddies.

The trip up to Naiberi River Camp, Raj's place was uneventful until it got dark and we still had about 50km to go. There is good reason why you should not drive after dark in Africa.
Picture this, No road markings, No lights, trucks with No lights, trucks straddling the middle of the road(and they do not move over for anyone), potholes all over the road big enough to lose a tyre so everyone is weaving around them, which is also difficult as you only see them at the last minute!! goats and cows crossing and people walking everywhere, on and off the road!!!

So the last 50km took well over an hour as it had started to rain too! My job was to spot the potholes, whilst Alan avoided everything else! Very stressful.
By the time we got to our destination it was 8PM and we headed straight for the bar for a double Jamesons.

Raj who owns the place and about half the towns factories... Is a great character. He is a 54yr old with a 23yr old Kenyan girlfriend. He has long hair at the back, shaved on the sides. Jessica who stayed here on the journey up to Uganda calls it a mullet.

Jen and Gav went to bed early which left us drinking Jamesons till midnight with Raj. Listening to his stories and laughing a lot.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

13th July Fiona's Perspective

This morning we were up early with a view of the lake from our tent window. We then had a cold shower, coffee and flapjacks made by the twins.

The last two days have been spent in a Tsetse fly area. They are persistent little buggers and fly up to 30km per hour, so out running them is not an option and on these roads driving is also often not an option either. They are attracted to dark colours and it seems only certain people. Gavin of course got bitten, everything bites him! They occasionally sat on me, but never bit me. I think they didn't like the smell of G&T's!!!

We set off at 8am for Entebbe via Kampala. We are anticipating big delays around Kampala with traffic being diverted and possible Police or army roadblocks after the Bombings on Sunday eve. We already went through a few smaller Police stops, which comprise of a sign in the middle of the road saying 'Police Stop' and 3 or 4 police standing around with AK47's.

There have been very few places where an armed guard is not present. The hotel in Entebbe had 2 guards with AK47's, Jane has an armed guard at her house at night and outside every bank/ATM you will find them. When Jane and I went to the local cafe, there was an armed Guard outside that too.
Military or Police Bakkies pass you on the road with a couple of guys in the back wearing uniform with rifles in full view.

We drove through villages for the first hour of the journey and handed out pens to school children on their way to school. The joy and excitement of receiving a gift as small as a pen was wonderful to watch. The smiles where huge and if one child managed to grab more than one pen, they would run away with a few others in hot pursuit.

We drove through the Budango forest this morning and stopped to get out and listen to the birds (as instructed by Paul). The wonderful sound of hundreds of birds was cut short by Alan yelling that something was on his foot and he could not get it off, as he was in the middle of a bush wee !!! A beetle/tick like insect had crawled between his toes and sunk 2 pincers into the soft skin. When I got hold of it and pulled, it did not come off easily at all. It seemed to have hooked itself into the skin. Africa is not for sissies.

Trucks and buses drive at high speeds, whether the roads are good, bad, dirt or a single track, so it is no surprise when the occasional burnt out bus is seen lying next to the road.

We stopped at Luwero, en route to Kampala for a Rolex from a roadside stall. This was Gavin & Jen's first roadside experience of Chapatti with an omlette inside. Jen thought we were taking her to a restaurant for Chapatti's and coffee. No coffee in sight, but she picked up a pineapple for R3.30 and Lunch for about R2.00

I think it would be hard to starve in this country as everywhere you look there are fruits & Vegetables for sale and if you have no money, there are bananas, melons etc growing wild alongside the road. The Ugandans are a slim nation and you very seldom see a fat person.

Arrived back in Entebbe. Alan & Gavin went off to Paul's workshop to see if they could sort out Gav's vehicle....

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Monday, July 12, 2010

11th - 12th July Fiona's perspective

We awakened to our curious Hippos and Jane and Paul boiling water for coffee. After coffee and crunchies, we packed up camp. The twins and Gareth are obviously seasoned campers and love the bush. No supervision was needed from Jane & Paul and before you could have a second cup of coffee, the tents were packed and the Goldrings were packed and ready to leave.

Today's plan was to game drive, cross over the Nile to the south, via the Car Ferry and head for the Falls.

Gavin seems to have a broken Air shock on his Cruiser, which doesn't surprise me after the roads we have traveled.
I think we might have to return to Entebbe for it to be fixed before we leave Uganda. He also seems to have been bitten by every type of bug, insect and mosquito in Uganda! Poor Gav! He even has heat rash.

In Uganda you have to iron all your clothes after washing as the Putsi fly lays its eggs in damp clothing and then when you wear them the heat of your body hatches the eggs and the worms burrow under your skin and hatch! The only way to kill them is to iron everything. I'm terrified of this happening, so I will wait for Kenya to wash my clothes.

After our camping excursion with Jane&Paul, Gavin and Jennifer are probably going to head for the Ngorogoro crater and we might head to the Masai Mara as the annual Migration is in full swing. We will then proceed through Malawi and then into Mozambique, where we will meet up again.

I intend meeting up with my Domestic workers sister and son in Malawi. Elizabeth prefers the Rice and Mielie meal from Malawi, so we will stop at the Tete border post going into Malawi and get some from her sister. Apparently the best Mielie meal is the one made at home, hence not buying from a shop. On the way to the border into Mozambique, we will travel via Blantyre where Patience, her son is in school at a little rural village outside town. We have kept some Soccer balls aside for the school and of course Patience.

By 12noon we had got to the Ferry in order to cross over to the south of the Nile. After crossing, we packed a cooler box with snacks and drinks and got onto one of Jane&Pauls boats. We went for an hours cruise along the river, viewing Hippo's by the dozen, Elephant and lots of buck along the waters edge.

Another 40min drive to the campsite along the raging banks of the Nile. Before setting up camp, we all put on costumes and walked down another little known path to a corner of the river just above the falls where a couple of metres away from the raging rapids a small calm tidal pool awaited the hot and thirsty travelers. Cold Nile beers and a swim in the Nile!! A perfect way to end the day.

We walked down to the falls, which are very impressive. The river narrows from about 500m wide to about 20m wide. The pure force of the water is unbelievable.

That eve dinner was a hurried affair, although Alan was braaing fillet and refused to rush the process!
Shortly after dinner all parties rushed off to the closest TV to watch the Soccer World cup final, a mere 45min drive. Alan and I chose to stay in camp, sit around the fire and have some quiet time!

We woke up to the news of the 2 bombs in Kampala! We are going back that way, but have decided to stay in Entebbe whilst Gav sorts out his vehicle.

So I suppose the drunk soldier had it half right about the Somali's coming...

We packed up camp once again and proceeded down the river to the last campsite on this leg of the journey.
We set up camp, had some lunch and then got onto another one of Jane&Pauls boats for a 3hr trip up to the falls and back before dinner. Accompanied by the occasional G&T. Have to keep the Mozzies away!!!

Food, boat ride, food, drink, sleep....hard life!!!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

10th July Fiona's Perspective

We saw Jess off at 5.30am this morning. 6kg over in her luggage allowance, but Jess negotiated away an excess charge of $60 per kg.

We set off at about 8am to Murchison Falls National Park with Jane, Paul, Sian, Amy and Gareth. The aim was to camp for 3 nights out in the middle of nowhere.

The first stop was for a mid morning snack. We found a stall along the road selling Chapatti's. This time we had a Rolex, omlette wrapped inside the Chapatti's (rolled eggs, hence the name). Delicious and only R2.50 or 600 Ugandan Shillings.

The next stop was a lodge that Jane wanted to view for future placement of clients. They are Tour operators and own a company called G&C Tours. Chobe lodge was situated on the Nile, with floor to ceiling glass frontage, giving you spectacular views from anywhere. Wetherlys style leather couches finished the chic look.

We then entered the park via a little used track, traveling for 90km, stopping occasionally to hold back branches and pull away fallen trees to allow for passing.

We had numerous sites of Buffalo, which seem to thrive in this environment as they are everywhere. Elephants, Giraffe, Topi, Cob, Water buck and Thomsons Gazelles were to be seen in great numbers too.

We met up with Jen and Gav at about 5.30 after a full day of driving. They met us at an Airstrip in the reserve, which was guarded by a drunk soldier who told me he was protecting us from the invading Somali's. I now feel much safer!!!

We carried on for another 40minutes until Paul turned off onto yet another little track which was not shown on the Garmin! This led us to a secluded spot next to Lake Albert. Our only company about 10 Hippo's. Thank goodness they chose to stay in the water and view us from a distance (50 m).
We set up camp before dark and enjoyed Jamesons and Waragi Gin whilst listening to the grunting and snorting of the Hippo's close by.

Paul set up a makeshift shower for us after dinner. It consisted of water from the lake, warmed in a metal bucket on coals on the fire. The bucket has a pipe put into it with a pump running off the car battery. The water pumps up through a pipe to a shower head affixed to the side of your car. So basically you are showering out in the open with nature as your shower curtain.

That night I went to sleep to the sounds of Hippo exiting the water in search of food.
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