Saturday 30/09/17: Francis, our driver, is saving money to start a business selling license plates. For the moment though, he’s driving me and two other safari guests out of Nairobi to Nakuru. He’s really friendly and I’m sitting in the front so getting all the chat. I keep forgetting which side of the road they drive on here but I think the drivers do too (it’s the left apparently). It’s a gentle sort of chaos though and everyone seems to bump along quite happily.
I’m meeting the group later today that I’ll spend the next 2.5 weeks with. It’s a bit nerve wracking. We’re going to be in each others’ pockets so I’m hoping everyone’s cool! First though, I’m going to visit an elephant orphanage and a giraffe sanctuary with this mini group before meeting our proper overlanding truck. Baby elephants and giraffes – what’s not to love?!
After much cuteness, we start a three hour journey to meet the rest of the group. The drive is excellent and the busy roadside gives an interesting insight to the lives of everyday Kenyans. People are walking – strolling, wandering, meandering – everywhere. They’re on the side of roads and motorways, just hanging out. No one seems in a rush. Some are bare-footed while others wear wooly hats in the blazing sun. It’s not only walkers that line the streets here though. There’s a man on a bike getting a lift up the hill by hanging on to the side of a slow moving truck; donkeys everywhere pulling little carts or tethered and grazing; the ubiquitous motorbikes with people squished together; Masai shepherds herding their rangy cattle; fruit sellers; sheep; goats; warthogs; ladies in colourful dresses with baskets on their heads. It’s a beautiful concoction of colours and activities.
Conversely, we see many armed security guards at the entrance to a cemetery. Francis tells us that with coffins sometimes costing 150,000 Kenyan shillings (about £1500), the guards are there to prevent coffin thefts – sometimes the people that sell the coffins then arrange for them to be stolen back.
The police here are unpopular. Francis says that even if he was carjacked he wouldn’t go to the police because they are so corrupt. We see them all over the place, sprawling across car seats in ill-fitting uniforms and it’s hard not to take on my new friend’s opinion.
It’s a bit surreal to see Shell’s shiny pecten logo and electronic signs sitting awkwardly amongst the dirt roads and bustle around the corrugated tin shops. Francis says they’re too expensive so regular people get their gas (leaded) from the same rows of shack shops where they get their hair cut or pick up groceries.
As we leave Nairobi further behind, the people thin out and herds of zebra decorate the landscape instead. A herd of camels and cows are walked down from Sudan for grazing. Kenya, so far, is surprisingly green. Not green like Scotland but greener than I’d expected. I wish I’d taken my mom’s advice and packed a rain-jacket!