Monday 24 November 2008

2nd November 08

Date: 2nd November 08
Location: Isiolo, Kenya
Weather: Great start to the day, drove through a dust storm, then cold windy evening. 37°c
Status: Shaken to pieces after today’s drive….

Up at 6.30am which brought back memories of the trip down the west coast, Patrick and I were first up and knocked on the big tortoise to wake its inhabitants and slowly the group rolled out of their prospective lairs from their sleep.

After a bite of breakfast we pulled out of the camp site and said our goodbyes to Patrick and Sarah who from here would be driving back south down to SA, the niggling problems they’ve had with the engine overheating still appears to be causing problems and their funds are low so they have to head home unfortunately.

Kees and I filled the trucks with fuel and we all started on the road north out of Isiolo preparing for the worst, the first few kms confirmed that the tarmac surface was gone and replaced by a freshly graded dirt road…ok for a few kms and then it turned into a building site with several tracks all going in the same direction, none of the offering more than the standard corrugations, rocks and dust to our dismay.

The landscape changed from the greener slopes of Mt Kenya into more arid, dusty conditions with green spiky acacia trees everywhere to add to the harsh environment…..although they do look amazing and oh so African! The road however didn’t change that much at all and our average speed didn’t rise above 40kmh the entire day, its so hard when driving to decide whether or not to so slowly over the bumps lessening the impact on the suspension and inhabitants or to drive at 60+ so as to ride the crests of the corrugations and lessen the impact all around….at the expense of grip, steering and braking power!

After the first half, around 140kms, of the journey gone, the villages were becoming fewer with more distance between them and the locals more and more, well local! The tribal groups this far north in Kenya are very striking in their appearance with hugely traditional clothing supported by spears and hunting rifles which give them a frightening appearance and they hate to be photographed…so we didn’t!

The problems of the past with north Kenya have been amongst the tribes in this part of the country and only a few days ago they ignited again to the east of here, it’s common to take a military escort on this road in case of banditry action but we didn’t. In fact thinking about it Bre and I were out on our own pretty much, Kees had left before us in the morning as we had to go and sort out a refund from the camp site and we didn’t catch them until late in the afternoon meaning we spent the entire day by ourselves driving past military posts and the odd vehicle, very exciting!

As we entered the last part of the journey and the area known as the Kaisut Desert it almost appeared to be raining to our east but with an orange tinge, and then it dawned on me that it was actually a dust storm coming our way – the first of the trip! We kept driving along its front edge until it had just about caught us and at its front a number of dust devils were spinning furiously, we stopped just in its path as it swirled around the truck, then the wall of dust hit us darkening the sunshine to twilight and adding a new smell to the air and increasing the temperature inside the truck as we had to close all the windows and vents!

Once out of the other side the sun returned and we continued on our way to Marsabit around 50kms down the track. We turned off the main drag and into Henry’s Place the halfway stop off to the border where the others were waiting for us. Set up camp, cooked a thai green curry, watched a movie then went to bed. Another big day tomorrow then the unknown delights of the people of Ethiopia…..

End of day location: Marsabit, Kenya
Distance covered: 280kms

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