February 21, 1978

I got up early this Tuesday and packed all my stuff. Next, I made my escape, leaving a brief note and Ks 100 as promised for their return home. I felt like the legendary Sinbad the Saylor who had been relieved from the burden of the Old Man of the Sea he had had to carry on his back for days, which feeling was less complimentary than these two lovely ladies deserved. The road out was very muddy and I prayed not to get stuck, which would have been very embarrassing, to say the least!.
I made my way to Thompson Falls and drove into the lodge yard where I parked and from where I climbed up past vendors and unauthorized guides to the balustrade at the very top of the falls.

I took some photos, but it was still rather dark and the water was surprisingly muddy.
I climbed down the few hundred feet along the stone steps laid along the gorge. On both sides were columns of basalt and a dense rain forest complete with vines.
After a few minutes contemplation, I walked on to the dining hall of the lodge, where I had a good breakfast of bacon and eggs. I saw a couple of large Kenyans in jungle suits, and read the paper reporting a failed Egyptian commando raid on Cyprus to retrieve a hi-jacked plane, probably in an attempt to copy the Israeli Entebbe raid...

There were a few Pullman cars with Austrian tourists.
At the Bank of Kenya I exchanged US$ 100 for ks 773, a transaction so slow that I made off with a roll of their toilet paper "to make up for lost time". I also tanked up at ESSO, paying ks 99.5 for 33 liter.
Shortly after I left, I got to an excellent highway leading to Nanyuki. Once again, I saw the quaint bird with an excessively long tail which flutters and glides. The road was on the gentle slope of the Aberdare Mountains, and later of Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain of Africa. It was ranch lands with cactuses interspersed with fields planted with corn and potatoes. Also round hills, including volcanic cones. The views were so marvelous that no photos could show their grandeur.
I made a brief stop in busy Nanyuki- which straddles the equator - and bought milk, biscuits and mangoes for lunch. Although it was colorful, I did not take photographs. Later on I picked up a young woman with a baby and subsequently a whole family. I saw several details of chain gang prisoners at work with heavily armed guards. Also, at some places there were spikes on the highway which could be raised in case of poachers.
The twin tops of Mount Kenya were covered by clouds, reminding me of Homer's name for mountains: "gatherers of clouds".
Near Meru it was particularly well forested. Logging operations were underway and groups of women struggled along carrying immense loads of firewood on their heads and backs, some going uphil, others down.
In Meru itself, there were many schools and high bushes with yellow flowers, flame of the forests, sunflowers, bananas and jacarindas. The school children all carried machetes and many women carried calabases.
I saw a high green hedge separating the highway from a red sandpath with one of the deepest gutters I ever saw running along it.
People were wearing all kinds of old and out of fashion European clothing, which obviously command a good market here. The crowds of people and the up and down road seemed endless. When it finally got a bit emptier, I stopped for some pears and saw a woman using a patjol on a small cornpatch.
At 16:00, I went through the Park gate of Meru National Park and paid the entrance fee of ks 40. There were no maps available. I saw swarms of very small birds gyrating around a low bush.
When I arrived at Mulagu Lodge, there was no space available. There was a small airplane belonging to one of the guests, surrounded by a mother goose and some goslings, while a casuary trod around nearby.
Since it was not allowed to drive at dark (19:00-06:00), I had to hurry along to find accommodation. I saw a group of playful baboons aupervised by an old fellow sitting in a tree and playing with his thin and elongated member. Nearby, three giraffes were grazing with their long necks up high into the foliage.
Although there were many large piles of elephant dung on the road, it took me a while to come across a herd of elephants, which I watched for some fifteen minutes, at which time I needed to go on because of falling darkness.
In the distance I saw herds of elephants and buffaloes in the savannah, Closer up along the river, there were weaverbirds and hyperactive blindingly colorful kingfishers.
Via the Murera River circuit, I arrived at the Leopard Rock Lodge at 19:00 and was accommodated in a pleasant "banda" with half round bamboo walls, a porch, kitchen and utensils, bathroom and two beds with mosquito nets for ks 44.
I took a short stroll to the nearby river or creek, allegedly full of crocs, while the trees were loaded with monkeys. Next, I read the guestbook with its interesting comments and complaints.
Since I had a sore back, I went to bed early and had a very nice night rest alone under a mosquito net. I slept from 20:30 until 07:00, possibly due to the melodious choirs of insects. The Datsun odometer reading was 15,945 km.

BLO fecit 20070724 - 1978 TOUR
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