Kenya - In The Cab
Thu 6 Nov
It had been raining hard through the night at Marsabit, the highland oasis in Kenya's northern territory. It was still quite dark and foggy when I left the guesthouse and picked my way carefully through the muddy puddled streets to find the lorry.
At 0550 the driver's assistant came, unlocked the cab, started the engine and started wiping the condensation off the windscreen. The sunshade strip proudly proclaimed the "Gunners". I had negotiated with the driver that I could ride this second day in the cab. Despite the thrill of being "closer" to everything on top there was also comfort to consider. Matters were complicated when the driver heard what I had paid at Isiolo (double the locals' price). In Kenya a "broker" in each town sells places and takes his percentage before handing over a wad of notes to the driver. It transpired that the broker had cheated the driver of at least half my fare. Nevertheless he wanted me to pay again - to sit in the front, which I was happy to do. After all this, I was trumped by the "owner" of the goods we were carrying who seemed to have an automatic right to the "proper" passenger seat so I ended up in the middle with compromised legroom. To add further to my discomfort I had the radio loudspeaker blaring above my head, which meant the African on each side of me had to shout their conversation to each other.
We had the radio news at least every half an hour, sometimes in English. The driver was most keen to hear the Arsenal result in the European Cup from the night before. When I imparted to him that they are the closest Premiership team to my home in London but I didn't support them he became quite irritable. Soon he was telling me just how angry he was with Mr Blair and what he would do if he ever came to London. Bush was understandable (if not justified) as he needed to take revenge for his father, he needs the oil, and he is "not clever". Blair on the other hand is an intelligent man and ought to know better.
We soon left the rich vegetation around Marsabit and back into the barren wasteland of desert scrub. Nevertheless there were people around mostly moving large numbers of camels, sheep or cattle. The driver considered buying a sheep and was shocked to discover they cost more than in his hometown. At one stage we watched a large lone ostrich picking its way across some rocky land. I think it was probably wild.
We stopped for early lunch at Sololo, a Kenyan town so close to the border that I was treated to a regional speciality of savoury pancakes and meat sauce.
After several blind bends (where apparently the "bandits" usually are) we pulled into Moyale (Kenyan side). It was around 1345; in 7hrs of driving we had covered 260km.
The lorry dropped me at the road junction; straight on for Ethiopia.
Kenya - In The Cab