This Is Africa, Northern Kenya, Kenya

Until You Hit The Asphalt

| Kenya

I froze as I climbed out of my tent in the morning. Staring at my bike I was completely shocked into silence. My bike looks like shit. What happened? Oh yeah I was forced to load it onto an overloaded truck last night, and endure a 6 hour ride crammed in like sardines on top of sacks of cumin ready for sale at the market. It seemed like a dream to me and I kind of wished it was! Leaving Moyale at 8 am and arriving at Marsabit at mid-night! It should have only taken nine hours to ride that distance.

When I left Australia 18 months ago, I had left with a beautiful bike. One that was clean, tidy and where white, was actually white! Now, my bike has undergone 18months of sun, sand, dirt and now a truck ride that has done more damage to my bike in six hours than I have ever done to all my bikes I’ve ever owned put together! Before I even think about it, before I start to freak out, I need to take a leak or I’ll have to do some extra washing I wasn’t predicting.

After my breakfast, after checking my emails, after a walk around the village I come back to my bike and take another look at it. Noting all the things that had changed or broken on my poor baby. Tail light was nearly snapped off and the wires going to the tail light had broken . Number plate numbers has nearly scraped off. Alternator cover has been scraped. One front indicator has been snapped off. One mirror lock nut has snapped. The other mirror top ball joint casing has a huge crack in it. One handle bar grip is nearly ripped off. Another thing I noticed was a few really deep gouges at the back of my engine, where the swing arm attaches onto. The only thing I could think of was a huge stone got in there somehow and then got stuck between the engine and swing arm while I was riding along yesterday.

Parachute houses, it seemed like all the houses were  built like this. I took a peek into this house and discovered it was just a empty kitchen with one gas cooker and nothing else. 

None of this was anything major, it was just annoying little things that makes my life a little harder. I started to straighten everything up. The two guys came along to help me repair my bike, as they felt like it was their fault our bikes were in such bad shape (Their bikes were in a really bad condition especially the last bike to be loaded). One guy took my indicator bracket off to be cut down to fit back on my bike but just a little shorter. The other guy pulled out a pipe clamp and fixed it onto my mirror to make it useable once again. I fiddled around and got my tail light straightened out but I’ll wait until Nairobi to fix the wiring. After a couple of hours, my bike was fixed up but looked still shabby and a bit Frankenstein-ish.

The Teacher on the broken limping bike. 

The Mechanic, the amazing rider who wanted to come with me on my whole trip.

I sat down with an expat girl who was trying to find a lift out to Lake Turkana with her friend.  We got chatting, and I ended up telling her all about what had happened yesterday at the Moyale border.  As I told the story, her and her friends eyebrows started to rise in surprise. ‘Do you know that in Northern Kenya, they are not bias to crowd prosecution?’ ‘No’ I replied completely taken back, now fully understanding the seriousness to the situation yesterday and how lucky we all were. Later that day, I quietly tell the others what I learnt. ‘I’m glad you told me, sometimes I can get out of hand!’ Don’t I already know that! I thought to myself

The guys were adamant to never set foot on another dirt road. I was adamant never to go on a back of a pickup truck unless I or my motorcycle was damaged. They had spent the day trying to organise a truck to the asphalt 100km south of Marsabit. They ended up finding two young guys to ride their bikes. One was a mechanic and the other was a teacher /guide, and also a friend of two Americans we met on the truck to Marsabit who use to live in a small village not far from where the asphalt starts.

The  Mechanic and I 
I was to ride with these guys, but I said to the owners of the bikes ‘I will ride with them, but by no means am I responsible for your bikes or your gear. If they decide to turn off the main road and drive down a dusty dirt road, I’m not following!’ They agreed I won’t be responsible for their bikes.

As it turned out, I did follow the guys down a small dusty road to a small village. But not because I thought they were about to steal the motorcycles, but because I was having so much fun with these two guys. They were not only a mechanic and a teacher but two amazing riders, with great sense of humour and huge hearts! I followed them down this dusty road, lined with rocks or you wouldn’t have known it was a road. We arrive at two buildings sitting in a large empty field. Children come running out to greet us, the teachers struggle to round them back up and shove them back through the doors into the classrooms. Two stayed behind. They were the teacher’s children and he hadn’t seen them in over a month.  A moment I had to capture.

One of the Drivers and his children out side the school.
The sick bike broke down several times, and the teacher who was riding it struggled to keep the revs up high enough to wobble through the deep sandy sections. I was extremely sick to death of this bike, but also extremely proud of the teacher to be able to get the heavy thing through the sand without falling off. We arrived at the meeting point, where the two others were waiting for us. They had passed us riding on the public bus while we were trying to fix yet another problem on one of the bikes.

The two Dutch guys jump on the two locals overwhelming them with questions all about the ride, the bike and if they had any problems. I interrupted and asked if they wanted a cold drink and something to eat. I was annoyed. The two Dutch guys were not showing any gratitude to the two locals. I silently wished I that I was continuing on with the two local guys. My attention got turned towards the two Americans I had met on the truck. They had just introduced me to an elder in the village and shown me a picture of him when he was in his 30’s. Wow, I felt so honoured at meeting such a distinguished man that obviously meant so much to the American couple. They were about to walk for two days up a dry river bed to a village where they had spent many years living just after university.

Me, and My bike! 

I just can not get over how beautiful Northern Kenya is like.

Driving off on the boring smooth asphalt, I realised I should have asked if I could have joined them. An opportunity to visit a rural village, staying in a local traditional hut, with men and women dressed in little cloth but weighed down in layers of beads around their necks, arms and ankles. I too wanted to dress up in the local clothing,  that is, until I passed a woman exposing her sagging breast! Oh well, it was a missed opportunity. I hope I will never repeat that again.