(55) Cruising into country number 16
Monday 15th April – Wednesday 17th April
It was so nice to have a lay in each morning in the guest house in Kericho but the cleaning ladies made sure we didn’t stay in bed too long. During the 3 days we were there we did plenty of washing and the balcony rails which caught the sun every morning were prime drying space. It became a bit of a battle ground between Sharon, Hanae and the cleaning ladies to see who could get their washed clothes on it the fastest. Needless to say the cleaning ladies would normally win as they were better at getting up in the mornings.
Kericho was a busy town with bustling streets. Everyone was friendly and it felt a nice town to be relaxing in. We soon located a supermarket that sold cake and beer and we were set for a few rest days ; )
Hanae and Shaz enjoying a beer or two
We spent time catching up on the blog. Choosing the photos is a lengthy task mainly because we want to include them all! It’s always a nice job though because we can recall each day with its scenery and challenges. We found an internet café in the town with reasonable speed so went there a few times to catch up on things.
Tim and Hanae went off one morning to find a welder who could adapt Hanae’s rear rack so instead of carrying all the weight on the top, she could fit it on the side which would hopefully stop her bike falling over so often. After 2 hours work and £4 was handed over, a tough looking rack was fixed to Hanae’s bike. Tim also did some maintenance work on the bikes; he managed to fix a re-occurring puncture on Sharon’s bike and get Hanae’s break to work again. Hanae also had her backpack mended. Tim smiled as she negotiated the price adding ‘I like Kenya!’ It proved an effective tactic. It had turned out to be a relaxing but productive few days.
Thursday 18th April
Sharon woke first. Tim was in a deep sleep forgetting where he was and he said it was like being woken on a Monday morning when you could really do with another day off. We managed to get our things loaded and were ready to go quite quickly considering we had to carry all our things down 2 flights of stairs. Sharon finished off her Weetabix which had been a great change from bread and jam. We said good bye to the owner and thanked the welder whose workshop was opposite, for doing Hanae’s rack. It had been a nice break and a well overdue one.
We climbed the steep hill with heavy legs and picked up fuel before re-joining the highway. We descended a short while before climbing a long hill which we hadn’t expected. As we climbed we over-looked many tea plantations which the area was famous for. We waved to the ladies picking tea knowing it was probably a lot harder work than it looked.
Ladies picking tea
It wasn’t long before we reached the top and looked down over a wide deep valley.
We enjoyed the descent trying to avoid all the pot holes. We picked up some fresh pineapple strips from a street seller and not long after Sharon’s back wheel punctured. It seemed to take ages to fix as the glue was like water and still wouldn’t stick anything. We changed the tube only to find the spare had a puncture as well. We walked the 100 metres to a small workshop where they sold glue and patches before riding on to find a lunch stop.
We spotted a small shop and a tree with shade so got the stove out and cooked yet more potatoes with noodles and brought a soda from the shop. It was almost comical when we asked the price – the owner looked away and said a price we knew was higher than normal. When Tim questioned her she wouldn’t look at him! We enjoyed our lunch with our over- priced sodas, fixed the puncture from earlier and got going.
We passed many tractors with their trailers full of sugar cane and watched as the locals pulled pieces off the back.
Sugar cane delivery
We were making good progress so stopped for a cup of milky tea- made the Kenyan way. We only had 15 miles to go to get to Kisumi where we planned to stay the night, so we got going. The road was under construction so we made our way slowly along it, ridingon and off the old road trying to avoid the worst of the traffic. It was getting really busy and we soon arrived on the outskirts of the town. As we drew closer to the centre Tim spotted a policeman by some gates on a motorbike. He stopped him and asked if we could camp in the grounds to which he replied ‘I don’t see why not but you would need to ask the chief’. We rode in and Sharon spoke to the chief who agreed. We were soon in the main teaching hall with tents up and stove on the go. We chatted with a couple of police staff and made dinner.
Proudly showing off the police flag
There was a huge increase in Mosquitos and we had noticed a sign when approaching the town announcing it to be a malaria area. We needed to be extra careful. We did cover up but still managed to acquire a couple of bites. We played Abba to distract them and went to bed with a glow bug in the tent which we accidentally squashed thinking it was a mozzie.
Friday 19th April
We were both enjoying a deep sleep in the safety of the police training room when we heard a vehicle pull up which lit the room and the inside of the tent. We ignored it at first but then there was another, and another, then voices – lots of them. Suddenly the hall light came on which was followed by loads of footsteps and busy chatter. It was 1am and we couldn’t work out what was going on. Tim popped his head out the tent door to see around 80 uniformed soldiers with their guns, lying out mattresses around us. After some time we heard Hanae being asked if she would like to move to the women’s quarter. She said yes as the mountain of men and mattresses dwarfed her tiny tent. After what seemed an age the lights went out and the chatter eased.
We did sleep ok but by 5.30 the chatter slowly got louder as they started to pack. We packed our kit too and managed to get the tent down and find out what was going on. They told us the President was coming to town that morning to attend a funeral and they were there for security. We greeted the chief who apologised for the number of soldiers who shared our room. We weren’t sure if he knew they were coming when he agreed we could stay.
‘Morning all – notice Sharon still hiding inside the tent!’
Want a lift – these guys would take passengers around the town
We started to climb out of the valley up a long steady climb which when we looked back we could get our first proper view of Lake Victoria. The road continued to rise and fall which made it tough going but the scenery had turned more tropical and very beautiful. There were many small farms with neat lawns in front and ladies lining the roads selling there wares. We passed many nice towns and people greeted us with a wave which made us feel sad to be soon leaving Kenya.
We stopped at a small stall to buy a soda and we played with the kids and the youngest came and sat on Tim’s lap. Hanae took some photos of them and we had fun showing them on the camera. We covered another 10 miles but still feeling a thirst we stopped for a cup of tea. We bought onions and some mendaza (pancakes) before riding on to find a good lunch stop.
Enjoying a Kenyan cuppa
Crossing the Equator again this time heading north -we were heading north-west to the Ugandan border.
Stopping for snacks
We were all feeling tired and descended into a small village and had lunch under a large tree with big red blossom. The descent didn’t last long and we were soon climbing again. We were within 30 miles of the Kenyan/Ugandan border so started looking for a good place to camp. We asked 2-3 people if we could camp on their land only to be turned away which was really unusual. We reached the outskirts of a town where we spotted a kind looking girl who said we could camp in front of the family home.Brender was 18 and looking after her younger siblings of which there were 6. Her mum was on her way home from work and Brender called her to check it was ok. We cooked tea on their lawn after Brender fetched us 20 litres of water and we sat watching the flashes of a storm heading in and fire flies flashing in the darkness like sparks from a large fire which made it look magical.
Saturday 20th April
The rain didn’t last long but it was enough to cool us to a perfect temperature. We woke and were soon greeted by Brender. She was lovely and on school holiday but had to return early for exams. We said our thanks and waved goodbye and rode the 18 miles along a pretty road to the border.
Passing pretty hedgerows
We stopped for a coke to use up the last of our change. As we approached we started to feel sad to be leaving. Kenya had been challenging but yet kind and we would miss all the smiling faces, the waves and the ‘how are you’s?’
We arrived at immigration in the town of Busia hoping it would be an easy transition. 45 minutes later, we had 2 month visas in our passports (at a cost of $40 each) and we arrived in Uganda – country number 16. It was hard to imagine what we had achieved, yet here we were. The first impression was how many more cyclists there were. We should feel at home!
On Ugandan soil
The people were instantly friendly and also wore very brightly coloured clothes in a landscape of paddy fields which made for a great backdrop.
Enjoying the flat road
The landscape was much flatter which made the going easier and we soon arrived in a small town to pick up a few supplies. It wasn’t long before a large storm had caught us up so we quickly took shelter in a ladies house.Sharon was a few minutes behind and had felt a tingle from a lightning strike that was very close which frightened the life out of her. We waited for around an hour and by this time it was getting dark.
After the storm
We made it to the big town on the map only to find there was no police station or hotel. With it now dark we asked around and a man said there was a hotel about 5 miles away. We rode on into the darkness with trucks whistling past us. It wasn’t long before we spotted a church with a school next door and decided to call in. As we approached a man came towards us – he was Pastor George. We asked if there was anywhere inside we could camp and he said we were welcome to camp in the school classrooms would be perfect for us. A few of the teachers joined us and they cleared a space and we arranged to meet at the church in the morning for the 8am service. We were all shattered so once tea was done we went to bed happy to have successfully crossed the border into country number 16 – Uganda!