It’s been quite an eventful week for OTA. On Monday Kenya held its long-awaited election. Francis arrived at his polling station at 4am ready to vote early so we could leave on our next adventure. But alas, it was not to happen. Twelve hours later, suffering from sunstroke and dehydration, he submitted his vote and I unpacked my bag for another night in Nairobi.
So on Tuesday, this time it was me to leave at 4am to pick up Francis and this time start on our next adventure.
Currently we are on our way to Windhoek, capital of Nairobi. It’s a cool 4000km from Nairobi as the crow flies. But of course, travelling as the crow flies takes us on all sorts of interesting roads. So we take a longer route in the interests of saving time – this is Africa!
Our early start on Tuesday paid off and by evening we were in Chalinze. Although satisfied with our progress, we did feel that the Tanzanian police stationed every 5km (it seemed!) were hindering us somewhat. Of course some police are necessary on a major highway to control speed and occasionally check documents. But checking the presence of our fire extinguisher and asking who we were voting for in Kenya (that was the real reason for the pull over) constituted, to me, a waste of time.
Wednesday got a little more interesting when we lost the water pump. Even on the major highways, the roads are riddled with potholes and, especially in Tanzania, the buses and trucks don’t mind overtaking on blind corners and pushing smaller vehicles off the road – a bit terrifying at times!
Francis came the rescue and, once procured (from the town 60km away and the first one that arrived did not fit), he popped it in and we were away.
Dinner that night does deserve comment before we continue. Chips mayai (chips with a couple of eggs fried over them – I imagine a fantastic hangover cure, but otherwise a heart attack on a plate) and chicken, also fried. In East Africa you get a choice of chook: broilers are normal chickens; African racing chickens are the one you see roaming the streets – tough old birds! This night we got no choice; African racing chicken it was. Francis’ comment sums up the jaw-breaking experience perfectly: “Oh, I thought it was a bone, but it is meat!”
Thursday was our Malawi marathon. We crossed the border, meeting some friends from another tour company at the border post. After getting past all the police checks in northern Malawi we were free to move. And we did! We drive all through the night, while I introduced Francis to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on an audio book. That was about 12 hours we spent in Malawi, arriving at the Zambian border around 3am. We snatched a couple of hours sleep in the supermarket car park in Chipata before continuing through Zambia – this is NOT how we run tours with our guests, please note!
So we zoomed through Zambia on Friday and entered Namibia on Saturday. At last we reached Windhoek this morning after 5116 km where we were so happy to meet a hot shower and a comfortable bed. Now, refreshed and ready for the next three weeks, we will meet our guests this afternoon. Stay tuned next week as the story continues (of saner and more interesting travelling).