|Title:||the good the bad and the ugly|
|Location:||marsabit, kenya (1381 m)|
|Text:||50 908 kilometres on the road
somebody knocked at my door and called for me to open. what time was it? i looked at my watch and realized that it was just past two in the middle of the night. i don't open doors at night.
"what do you want?" i shouted. the man outside mumbled something about night guard and motorbike. that got me worried. i looked outside the window and saw only a skinny young man who's features were hardly visible in the dim light. i took my knife and opened the door, just a gap, blocking it there with my foot.
"guard wants chew!"
he was an ugly wiry little youth with a face that would have perfectly marked 'the bad guy' in any cheap movie.
"something wrong with the bike?" i asked naively
"guard wants chew," he repeated, "quat! you give me money!"
"tell him to get his fucking quat himself," i shouted at him, unable to control my anger, "i want to sleep, it will be a hard day tomorrow!".
"you shout at me because i am black, you are a racist!" he yelled at me. "guard need quat to stay awake. maybe otherwise your bike is not safe! fuck you, white man…" and he continued to abuse me for a while and by the way he acted i knew that he was stoned or drunk, probably both.
after slamming the door into his face i congratulated myself for not using the knife in my trembling hand and went back to bed.
but sleep was difficult now. i had virtually become the new night guard as i woke up with every noise. i would then rush to the window only to see three safely parked bikes in the otherwise empty backyard.
the hotel manager apologized and told me he was sorry for the incident but i wasn't convinced. i believe to remember similar stories from isiolo, a lawless seeming small town at the edge of the desert, at the end of the tar road. something out of a 'wild west' movie, the good the bad and the ugly…
but the bad news was yet to come: it started to rain as soon as we mounted the bikes and i remembered all warnings and advices for the piste ahead: "the road to moyale is not as bad as everybody says. you must have seen worse on your trip, don't worry. but don't drive it when it rains! it will be a terribly muddy and near impassable.
well, it rained. but i only had four days before my visa expired. isiolo was no option and there was only one way: forward!
"don't worry," people told us, "it's just the regional rain around mount kenya. after a few kilometres, when you're entering the desert, it will stop" it made sense, and why worry anyway!
driving was slow and difficult. the mud was thick and soft, but not slippery. it simply slowed us down. at archer's post, the last settlement before the desert, i could see the clouds extending all the way to the horizon. it had stopped raining, but it was clear that this was more than just a regional weather pattern around the mountain.
after about 50 kilometres a lorry was stuck in the mud. the men told us that the road would improve after another 100 kilometres, that it would become drier. before we drove on one of them told me: "when you arrive in your country tell your government to fix our road! you see how we struggle here". 'i'll tell my president when i see him next time,' i thought…
the road became drier and the last 80 kilometres to marsabit were a fantastic ride through one of the most amazing landscapes. we were speeding down the great piste, stopping only occasionally.
at a little restaurant in tiny village they tried to charge us more than twice the correct price. "menu price from last year," the waiter said triumphantly as his pointed to the hand scribbled menu on the wall where it said 'menu 2003'. "now 2004, more expensive!" we put the money according to 2003 on the table and left.
"my knife is sharper than a blade" the young man at the door told us, showing off his machete, as we went outside. we ignored him and nobody bothered us when we left.
a nicer encounter was with the rendille people we met on the way. (or were they samburu? i never manage to distinguish them). they approached us when we took a break to drink some water.
the men were dressed up in red and wore amazing beaded necklaces and head covers. with their long braided hair they looked like models for a "greetings from kenya" postcard.
the girls were equally impressive with their countless beaded necklaces. large and well arranged as the necklaces were they almost served as a shirt, partially hiding their breast. they had strings dangling from their necks to which all kinds of objects were attached: coins, keys, aluminium tops from cola cans, and empty bullet casings. i was especially fascinated by their ritual scars which went around their bellies and backs like an erotic belt.
as always, people on the road (especially the children) were fascinated by 'trevor', my rubber snake, which hung out lazily from my tank bag. they are usually shocked at first, then amused. but even after they realize that it's just plastic they're weary and jumped when i said "buuuhhh".
we were exhausted and happy when we finally go to marsabit, which lies in a green mountainous area, slightly elevated from the brown desert. apart from the rain and the mud the piste from isiolo had been easy and beautiful, much better than the ones in central tanzania.
but that could change tomorrow. the road to moyale has a reputation as being one of the worst in africa with its big sharp stones all the way. i am not really worried about the road though. i just hope it won't rain!