KENYA

February 22, 1978


I got op early and shaved. I found the two eggs which the father of one of the girls had given me in Naivasha, cooked them and found them still surprisingly good. I wrote some remarks in the guestbook and stressed the need for maps. I then left with half a tank of gas in the direction of the Tana River. Had to cross the Rotevero River even though it was "in flood" - no problem, Noticed nearby airstrip after I thoroughly cleaned my windshield.
I now entered a new facies which I will designate as "gnarlbush", characterized by domination of certain cute small deer and the nose bird. Some giraffes looked at me disrespectfully from way up high while birds ran up and down their backs picking whatever. Also noted a very large eagle and a type of "kluut", and took another photograph of some elephants.

After some 30 km I arrived at the Mara River, wide, muddy and rapid, which continues from here all the way to the Indian Ocean. While driving on the new road along the river, I only saw one croc and stopped to collect a sample of the black silty riverbed and to take a photograph of some sandbars. I looked in vain for signs to the Ura gate, but got onto the circuit till it turned four-wheel and people at a camp suggested that I drive back. I got thoroughly lost and came to Elsa's Rock from "Born Free". The trail was tough to drive and ended near some ravine. I was irritated till I finally found a sign that showed 28 km to the camp and again 28 km to the gate. I opted for the latter since it was near noon and I had less than 1/4 tank left. I sincerely hoped there would be gas at te gate but was disappointed. Fortunately, there were some nice gatekeepers and rangers there, including Roba Ali, Andre Oching and Patrick Marete. They told me there were 51 rangers in the Park, who had been trained in the Army for three months. They were authorized to shoot poachers and had lost two of their own in gun fights. There was a pleasant bungalow where the man had been for staying seven years already, and had a young wife and baby who offered me tea and an egg. I wrote up my journal and waited till he used his radio to find out what I might do. To have a car come from the camp to bring gasoline would cost me 2 x 50 km x ks 3.5/km. Fortunately at that moment a large truck chugged in carrying two large drums of gasoline, so I offered to pay him ks 150 instead of ks 100 to get my tank filled. So said so done and I left these kind folks at 14:30 following their advice to make for Embu. They also told me that although some days not a single car passes through the gate, the average was 5 per day.
At the next bridge I got a flat but quickly changed to my spare tire with the help of a nice old man and a lot of sweat.
The scenery was beautiful again with many tea plantations. I arrived in attractive Embu at 18:00. There were some sportsfields full of schoolchildren in uniform. I also noted a research stastion. I stopped at the old English Isaac Walton Lodge where I was told that there was a waiting list and that the rate was ks 150. I decided to get my tire fixed before deciding what to do. That cost me ks 14 and the mechanic told me that single rooms went for ks 45. While I backed out, I ran into a post and had a dent in the bumper. Not my day!
I drove down to the Silent Hotel - yes, they did have a room. I asked if I could look around first and saw a large interior court yard full of tables and people drinking. Then of a sudden there was no room and I felt some discrimination - but the clerk took me to a nearby hotel where I could get a cheap room for ks 22.50, if I shared the common bathroom with a hole in the ground toilet.
I walked into town illuminated by a full moon. I ordered a tall glass of full milk, with too many "skins" in it. Next, I went to a bar and ordered a dinner with meat, fried potatoes and tomato sauce, two cokes and free TV for a total of ks 10.50. After that, around 20:30, I returned to the lounge of my hotel and chatted with a lady guest and the waitress. Then I went to bed early but could not sleep on account of the moise, including that of a drunk who kept repeating te same sentence time and again. So I kept busy writing on 3x5 cards as many words as I could recollect from Thai and Indonesian I learned decades ago. The moment I put a full card on the table, some tiny ants would crawl all over it. Ambitious little buggers. At around 23:00 it got quieter and they brought me a piece of soap so I washed and did my laundry, then selected the least offensive common toilet hole for my own contribution. I then slept intermittently, listening to some cello - like sounds and the noise of several thorough cleaning ladies and kitchen staff using butcher knives. Final odometer reading for the day was 16,288 km.

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