Saturday, November 11, 2017

Intrepid Travel Gorillas & Game Parks - Day 15


There was mist over the Nile when we rose this morning – “I’ve never seen so many dawns,” someone said plaintively. We headed out of camp at 6.45am, rattling a bit more around the truck because four of our number headed off early this morning to Entebbe airport, one couple going to Mauritius for some R&R, the other making the connection with their next Intrepid tour, to the Serengeti.
The rest of us continued retracing our steps back towards the tour’s end tomorrow in Nairobi; tonight’s destination is the camp at Eldoret - it already seems an age ago that we stayed there on Day 3. Everyone is now looking forward to their next journey – Serengeti, Cape Town, Mauritius, or home – and few of them paid much attention any more to the cavalcade of African life parading past our windows, preferring to read, nap, write, chat.
I don’t know when, if ever, I will be back in Africa, so I remained glued to the window, still fascinated by the sights, despite their being (now) so familiar: Masai cattle chewing their cud on roundabouts as trucks rattle past; women bent double sweeping the dirt with hand-besoms or working with babies tied to their backs; security guards leaning against walls, guns slung over their shoulders; kids playing with footballs, in the ditches or doing Saturday chores, the littler ones waving excitedly from the verandas of their homes; goats fossicking, chickens scratching; four-poster beds, metal doors and window grilles on display outside dark, poky shops; stacks of plastic-wrapped mattresses (also often seen rolled up being transported on the backs of motorbikes); carpenters, mechanics and welders at work beside the road; people hacking with mattocks at the orange soil, surrounded by green luxuriance; lines of washing strung between trees, done in plastic basins on the ground, with water carried in the ubiquitous yellow jerry-cans; and everywhere people, walking, cycling, with loads on their heads or on their backs, working, watching over cattle, or just sitting. 
One of the more frequent advertisements plastered across the fronts of the terraces of shops is for a brand of paint, the slogan ‘Colour Your World’. Pretty superfluous instruction here, I reckon.
We reached the border crossing, lurching and swaying again across old bridge over the river and up to the Kenyan side, driver Ben negotiating a tight 90-degree turn around a truck that he judged to a nicety. The formalities this time included taking our temperatures and actually checking the yellow fever certificates that have been ignored so far – the ebola outbreak in Uganda is the reason for that. We changed our money back via the fat jolly man with a fat wad of notes in his hand who came onto the bus, and then we were on our way again, urging Ben to get ahead of the Exodus Travels truck that we shared Adrift with last night, and which is heading to the same site tonight in Eldoret. There was some anxiety that they might beat us to the upgrades – though not on my part, natch: it’s the last night for tenting and I planned to finish as I began.
And so the journey continued, as before, with the foreground so absorbing it was easy to ignore the backdrop of green hills or wide plains, the occasional rocky outcrop, and a big, big sky. Lunch was in the grounds of a tatty little hotel with smelly loos and a sad skinny cat who mutely begged as we ate our final – yay! – standard lunch of sliced tomato, cucumber, pepper and onion, with grated carrot and cheese (livened up in my case with mixed mayo and peanut butter) and crumbly bread. The cat appreciated the cheese, and also the Spam that I took for the first time for his sake, which I hope didn’t disagree with him afterwards (I haven't eaten it for precisely that reason).
We pressed on, into Eldoret where a detour was necessary because of the funeral of an Archbishop, attended by the President (who has already held us up once before on this tour). It was when I’d watched a man wheeling a bicycle along the street with a load of stacked firewood on the back fully 2 metres high, and only as he disappeared thought I should have taken a photo, that I realised how standard I’ve come to consider such sights.
I put my tent up unaided this time and got the shower to work properly: it’s only taken two weeks to get the routine straight. Same goes for the others. We did the post-lunch clear-up of washing up and flapping in eight minutes flat, so we’re clearly now a well-practised team - either that, or the four who left this morning have been holding us back all this time. 

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