Moyale Road, Kenya

Not Paying For Fuel = Bad Karma

| Kenya

For days now, I’d been wondering where the four Australian cyclists were, hoping I would get to pass them once again and have my dose of Australian humour. Just like last time, I met them on entering Moyle Township. Passing the two guys I’m travelling with I overtook the cyclists, laughing! A cheer erupts and we all pulled off the road to have a chat. I hadn’t seen these guys since Sudan and was keen to find out if they had been keeping up the massive daily kilometres in this mountainous country. They were about to celebrate their third country of the trip with an honorary beer at the next bar. That sounded like a perfect idea, we decided to join them.The three of us decided to go and find a place to stay and wait for the others to catch up.

Following the GPS directions to the camp site, we navigated through the town, crossed a bridge, but suddenly everyone jumped up and started yelling at us from all sides! Then the traffic started to come directly at us. What was going on? Just as I was thinking this, I clicked. We had just crossed the border! We were now inside Kenya. Quickly turning around we see the Australians entering customs, laughing at us.   The border crossing was by far the easiest I’ve come across in months! Passport stamped in seconds, customs only took a couple of minutes because I stole a chair and placed a sticker alongside all the other overlanders mark – kind of like a dog marking its territory.  

The Kenyan side was just as good we were done in minutes. No bribe, no taxes and no hassles just good old smiles and a whole lot of jokes!We found the nicest hotel in the city. I spent more money than I was hoping but I did want a nice shower and a comfortable bed. The other option was staying for free at the police station where they only supplied a long drop toilet. It was sure nice to be in some sort of comfort for one night even though I couldn’t get the hot water to work.

We discovered that all the cars and trucks leave as early as possible in the morning to make it to the next big town during day light hours. We would follow suit and travel in the daily convoy with everyone else. I don’t like to leave people behind when you make a plan, but I felt as if the Germans hadn’t made an attempt to catch up with us. Even after receiving a message they would be there in two days, I still felt guilty when we decided to leave them behind.In the past few countries I’ve tried very hard to make sure I fill up with petrol before leaving a country and exchanging any left over money. I did manage to exchange money despite the one of the guys telling the exchange guys to go away and leave us alone. I cheerily asked ‘hey brother, before you go, what’s your exchange rate?’ I agreed to the rate and changed all my Ethiopia money except a few small notes and coins I wanted to keep for memories. One of the guys followed suit! I couldn’t believe it, after he told the guy to sod off he’s now interested in exchanging money!

In the excitement of meeting the Australians and getting confused with the border, we didn’t fill up with petrol before we crossed over. In the morning, we discovered that was a bad move. The locals were trying to charge us three times the price of petrol in any other city. Angry, we discuss with the police what the price should be. We returned with better knowledge and bargaining power. We screwed the price down to 180 Kenya shillings (KSH) ($1.80??? USD) from 300 ksh.We rode over to the corrugated shed that also sold bananas, and all began to fill up.

I finished first, only requiring 10 litres. I paid the money at the agreed price and waited for the others to finish.  One guy finished behind me but the guy filling his bike decided he wanted to change the price back. I did a quick calculation, the money he gave him was slightly too much so I stood on my pegs, standing taller than the crowd surrounding us and yelled at my team member to just forget the change, just drive away.The guy in front of me was the last to finish. I waited patiently for him to finish so I could also drive away from the crowd of people. We move away from everyone, but for some reason the crowd was angry and were following us.

I parked my bike outside the surging angry group of locals forming around the last guy to fill up. I ask the other guy (who has a helmet intercom with the other guy) ‘what happened?’‘He was angry at them for ripping us off and decided he shouldn’t have to pay, you and I paid enough for everyone.’‘What?’ I asked again – I couldn’t believe my ears ‘We agreed to the price, we should pay the price.’Lucky for him the army stepped in and helped to mediate the situation. I sat on my bike, engine running. Did he forget we are in a dangerous area? I was fuming, why was he not only putting himself in danger, but all of us and especially because I had decided to join the group for safety – not to get into more trouble! The guy paid the money, but the other guy in the group was quick to realise he paid way too much and followed the petrol guy back to his shop and demanded the money back. Again the army followed, he had his money returned to him. Now, they were both angry at the guy for being dishonest. This was becoming a bit of a joke, I thought to myself sitting on my bike off to one side. He pays the guy once again, and the army told us to just go, get the hell out of here. I bet they were wondering what the hell they had stepped into too.We drove off, over some beautiful dirt road, lined with low line scrubby bush.

Excited by the scenery I danced closely behind the leader. Slow down Danielle, what happens if he comes off and I am forced to drive over the top of him! Slowing down, I struggle to keep to that low 40km an hour pace. We enter into a village, one that lacked people. Everyone had gone during the rebel uproar. Some houses were boarded up, some the wind  blew the curtains out through the empty window frames.Just as we were about to leave the eerie place we were stopped at a police check point. I looked around me and couldn’t help feeling a shiver run up my spine. No one but the police, a handful of locals and us in this village, anything could happen.

I stop just a motorcycle length back from the guys, just enough to hear what was happening but enough to say I’m not with them. I cannot believe it, this isn’t who I am. I swore to myself I will never leave people if we agree to travel together.  Now, after the petrol incident, I’m thinking of breaking my own rule and ditching these guys on my first chance.‘Go back to Moyale’ the army officer bellowed at one of the guys‘Why?’ He relied‘You haven’t paid for the petrol’What? I thought. ‘I thought he had paid for the petrol?’ looking at his brother‘He didn’t pay the whole amount after the guy ran off with more money then he should have’.You have to be kidding, that was his fault – I really wanted to say this out loud but I bit my tongue and kept it to myself, lets watch and see how this pan’s out but meanwhile it just got worse.‘What are you looking at?’ called one of the locals‘What fucker?’ called back my first team member‘Did you just call me fucker? You’re the only fucker around here!’‘Ok, that’s enough!’ said the army officer‘He’s the fucker around here, didn’t even pay for his petrol’Please drop this. I thought to myself, these two get really angry really quickly.‘You must return to Moyale to pay for the fuel’ the officer said, trying to get into control of the situation.‘Look, I’ll give you the 400 KSh to give to the guy, would that be ok?’Radioing back to Moyale, he conferred with his superior, who told him it would be fine. He paid the money and we could carry on.

This actually reminds me of Mongolia! Heart pounding, I can feel excitement tingle through my body

We continued along the dirt road, stopping occasionally to take a short break or fix something on one of the big bikes. Then finally we reached the half way point! We took a longer break and two of us ate some local food. I frowned at the one who didn’t eat anything. ‘You should eat something, a banana, biscuits – just something to keep your energy up’‘I’ll be ok, I’m feeling fine’. I shake my head, remembering when I use to think like that back on my first trip and getting absolutely exhausted, finding myself getting lost in the Cambodian jungle and falling off at a drop of a hat. This is going to be a fun afternoon!

Sitting on the leaders tail isnt going to make him go faster. I stopped to take this picture to hopefully gain some distance between us – it turned out that I made up the distance quite quickly and was once again on his tail.

We left the village with 90kms to Marsibit, a good size village with a few guesthouses. The large overloaded trucks were still passing us. I couldn’t seem to push the group to move a bit faster and in the afternoon heat, I could feel my bike starting to cook. Now, we had to stop every hour to let my bike cool down. I just wish we could travel just a bit faster and we shouldn’t have to do this. Then something happened, it was like a switch that someone turned on…

I had the front guy falling off his bike in front of me, I looked in the rear mirror to make sure I wasn’t about  to be crashed into if I stopped, to find the guy behind me is falling off. With the guys swearing about the shitty road, we lift the bikes back upright and carry on. But a few meters on another one hits the ground and then again! This was becoming ridiculous! Then they gave up. Sitting in the dirt, under our bikes for some sort of shade, they refused to move an inch more.Looking up the road I could see a flat area off to one side of the road with a couple of guys working in the fields with a truck. I suggested we drive 5kms down there and ask if they can take the bikes to Marsibit. They refused. No, we will stay until a truck passes. Taking a walk around I couldn’t find even a slightly cleared spot to set up the tents if we ended up camping the night. One guy suggested we could light a fire to keep the hyenas away – I shake my head again and said we will have a serious situation then, the whole desert would be on fire with this super dry grass and this strong wind.

And this is where it all ended, here on the side of the road. I’m completely gutted I couldn’t ride the rest of the way. 

After two hours of sitting and waiting, a truck finally arrives. I sat back and let the guy negotiate the price for the bikes to be loaded on. I refused to go on the back of a truck but they refused to let me travel on my own. With my arm twisted, I got my bike loaded onto the truck first, it was a good thing I did because, when the second bike went on, I could hear things breaking. When the third bike got loaded, everyone could hear metal breaking along with the plastic windscreen. I winced, wondering how my bike is going to hold up to this over the next 60kms. We arrived into Marsibit at midnight. The bikes got unloaded, I didn’t even bother to look at the damage in the dark, I pitched my tent and let the guys (for once) arrange food and some beer before hitting the sack. Tomorrow, I said to the guys, I’m taking a day off. I need to sort out my bike and just relax a bit. They agreed we all needed a day off and a good sleep in.