February 23, 1978

A flea woke me up at 07:30 and I was stiff and dressed slowly. When I was just about to depart, a kind stegopathic chambermaid hailing from Kericho brought me some coffee and cake and made an interesting request. I paid the rent and tip and left in a better mood. Without much trouble I got to the hard sand road to Kiamuringa which showed up as the main road on the map. At Musonoke, however, the map failed me and I was confronted with the main going to Siakago and a poor secondary to Kiritiri. The road got worse and worse and by the time I was pondering wether I shouldn't first go back to Nairobi, I skidded down a muddy slope and saw the river. It was, however, impossible to back up the slope, but fortunately some men helped push me and assured me that this was the worst part of the road.

Again, I had a flat and
changed it quickly.
After that, I forded
the river and negotiated
the slope up on the other
side, where the men pushed
me over the top.
I paid them ks 10 and
found out thay were right:
the rest of the "old" road
was fine and soon I
reached the pleasant
village of Kiritiri.

(please click to enlarge)

taken by Ned Farrar, U.S.Peace Corps in 1983
I was directed to the car mechanic
and while he fixed the flat,
I ordered three glasses of
milk and a mandazi, a kind of pancake,
in the restaurant and
had a chat with some
pleasant locals.
By 10:20, the tire was ready
and I crossed a large black dam,
Kambura -
still on the slope of Mount Kenya
and soon reached Kangondi,
from where the big leap to
the East Coast was to start.

This was a small village where I could not find any phone, so I raced on to the next larger village or town, Mwingi. In a Muslim garage, I saw a white man in a Landrover and asked him for help. He referred me to either the Presbyterian Minister, or the Police Office, to use a radio telephone. I first went to the Mission, a small piece of heaven wrought in the bare rocks, with numerous flowers, small huts and many people, mainly patient pstients awaiting. I met a very droll Irish nurse named McNeil who called me the wrong type of doctor and told me that they had abolished their radio. This was independently confirmed by another nurse, Ms Roberts, POB 37, Mwingi.
I first tanked up at the Shaikh station 25.5 liter at 31.3 ks/l, for a total of ks 80; odometer reading here was 16,433 km.
Next, I went to the Police Post where I was received most cordially. The Duty Officer promised me to pass on my message to Nairobi HQ at 13:30: that I wanted to have my car-rental extended another week. I wrote his name and number on the car lease just to make certain.

I continued on a good corrugated road going from one detour to the next in the increasing heat. I had problems passing a grader and a truck stuck close to a fording spot. I realized that this entire part of the country is a vast flood plain and outwash fan, of which the road was an integral part. At times, it was scary to see how the high sandroad was gnawed away by erosion. Next followed a facies of high gnarltrees again, followed by low dittos which is succeeded by silvery weeds, then the "dried leaves" tree and the flat plain. I took some photographs of the outwash fan and meandering rivers.
.The road was quite decent changing from red to gray sand and gravel. The optimum speed was some 85 km/hr when the car felt a bit like a hovercraft slightly out of control. At this speed, you negotiate grooves and holes which at lower speeds felt neck-breaking. I wondered whether there might be a physical formula relating speed, ripple (washboard) wavelength and waveheight.
While pondering such items, I took a wrong bifurcation option and barely managed to stop where a bridge was out. I backed up, and like a good boyscout cut a branch to mark this bad spot.
The distance markers to Garissa discontinued and I wondered wether this was, indeed, the right road. It appeared that either the Army or some Youth Organization is in charge of fixing up this road. The landscape was getting dryer and flatter and to my surprise I suddenly saw some camels! I felt like coming home - having lived in Kuwait the preceding year. Next, I saw flocks of storks, which suggested I might be approaching the anticipated flood marshes of the Tana River. Although I had planned to stop in Garissa, I was doing so well that I decided to carry on towards the coast. It was about 16:00 and I ran into groups of very black tribesmen, obviously Muslims, with herds of zebu, goats, sheep and grazing camels. and occasional primitive villages.
After another 100 kms without any sign of or for Garissa I got into a part of the road with deep truck tracks which I had to avoid at all costs. So I promised myself to send $ 100 to the mission if I would please not get stuck... Anyhow, I made it, but not so my tire, which I noted when I shifted the focus of my worries from overheating of the engine to the possible cause of bumpiness I experienced. The tire was shot, I was tired, sore, lost, thirsty and most apprehensive. Why for heaven;s sake did I do these things?
But fortunately the scenery started to resemble the Dutch Biesbosch with many storks and herons and their natural enemies, frogs. I was racing against time and also two Landrovers which I tried to keep in the back of me. Suddenly I saw a segment of new road lying like some pudding next to the track I was on I moved onto it fast. Now the moon rose at my left, first red, then orange, and finally yellow and white. It was semi-dark now and very romantic what with all kinds of eyes reflecting. These belonged to black ibises, numerous Guinea Hens, small deer, four hyenas and a herd of zebras!. I came to a clear pond and stopped to take a quick skinny dip and to fill my waterbottle, adding 3 iodine tablets.
A few minutes after I climbed back into the driver's seat and nodded off a bit, it was as if the devil tried to play me a trick and caused two large trucks to have to pass each other right alongsidse the very spot where I had parked. A few seconds later, one of the drivers walked back and asked me if I needed any help. No, but thanks a lot! I did decide, however, to get to a safer place and took a small road into the woods. I drove on till 21:00, then wrapped myself into my mosquitoe net and to make extra certain I also put my dishdasha over my head. This deprived me of air, so I tried to get back into the car where I had to close the windows to keep the swarms out... perhaps putting the fan on would help? But what if my battery would run out of juice?
Finally, I fell asleep with the moon in my left window and woke up at 05:00 sprawled all over the seats, but with the moon in the right window. I heard shepherds yell at each other and took a swig of the treated water which tasted terrible, but I was ready to start my seventh car - day in Kenya...

Tribes - eco-feminism - Sedimentation and Dams - Effects of Large Dams (Edward Goldsmith)
Sand Dams to fight Droughts - Geological Maps of Kenya

BLO fecit 20070729/30 - 1978 TOUR - previous page - next page