Chapter 7
Kenya & Tanzania
Life is Sheep

Life is Sheep

Baron Brighty von Blixen…


I hope things are well with you all. Here the adventures are seemingly over; East and Southern Africa (south of Mount Kenya, that is) should be relatively easy. I, of course, still manage to add a little spice to things....

I'm presently reading Robert M Pirsig's 'Zen and the Art if Motorcycle Maintenance.' I tried it a few years ago and it was very hard going, mainly because I wasn't sure what planet RMP was from. Now it is much clearer.

The more I ride the wife, the more I'm impressed. I hope, I'm not speaking too soon, but with all the abuse I'm putting her through, she just keeps on truckin' (Editor's Note: Was he speaking too soon!). Babe, we've still got a long way to go though.


Before moving onto the report, more ramblings... Turgut, a Turkish friend from Istanbul, wants to do a cartoon of my adventure... In the mean time, here's a plot for an, I believe, blockbuster film:

I star as myself, a Basil Fawlty/ Victor Meldrew type character, dressed as Baron von Blixen in a pizza deliverer's uniform, in a new vastly improved version of 'Out of Africa', to be called 'Out of Egypt'. The final scene sees me riding into the sunset with a huge dust cloud behind... Shouting "I'm outta here' and 'Zis iz ze real Afrika'. The curtain falls and the audience is left with a rap of Wagner's 'Ride of the Valkyries' and Steppenwolf's 'Born to be Wild'. What do you think???


She is now a 'collector's item'


The 'road' from the Ethiopian border at Moyale to Isiolo (about 50 clicks north of Mount Kenya) can be described as 'challenging'. It took me 5 days to ride 500km. After the first day, I spent the next one in a hamlet called Marsabit, reassembling the wife. She is now a 'collector's item'... bits fall off and I collect them. The 'nice' corrugations caused my sub frame to snap again, the bashplate to fall off, the spotlight on my crash bars to fall off, I stuck a hole in the right-hand rocker cover, causing a little bit of pollution involving engine oil to spill onto the road (3 cheers for metal cement - kindly supplied by a German couple in an Iveco truck) etc etc. After dropping the bike for the 5th time in rather large bolder strewn ruts (the wide Boxer engine and inadequate rubber, as well as my tiredness didn't help matters) meant that I was not the happiest of bunnies.


Then (not the same day!)... 4 hours to travel 2 km through some top mud. With 2 local lads pushing and stopping every 10 or so metres to remove the cement-like clay/ mud that was jamming both wheels (they build houses from it here!!!!) from the wheel arches. I know what the smell of burning asbestos (the clutch) is like.

African Nativity Play


This, by the way, was Christmas Eve and as fate would have it, I ended up at a Catholic mission station in Laisamis, where they did an excellent welding job on the frame and I saw an African Nativity Play with two hundred locals in their best dress and tribal costumes with simulatious translations from Italian to English to Kiswahili to Samburu as well as a satellite telephone linkup with a Church in Bari, Italy! Not bad really. Christmas Day was spent on the road and in the evening in Isiolo repairing a puncture and talking to a French rose-seller/ drug-dealer from Ibiza.

The few days up to New Year's were spent sorting out rubber, servicing the wife and chilling. I got lots of help from Rick of Rick's Bikes and Vic Preston's with repairs and sub-frame strengthening. Thanks guys.

New Year's at Upper Hill Campsite and in a dubious nightclub in Nairobbery was a bit of a non-event, but hey, I could have been at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich!

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Life is cheap


People say about Africa 'Life is cheap'. Slightly adapted, if you say it with a German accent: 'Life is sheep', or possible 'death is sheep' or whatever... In the last report I spoke of gormless goats and docile donkies. I didn't mention suicidal sheep. The problem with sheep is that they have absolutely no brain whatsoever and are quite large, but still very mobile. Goats are small (ish) and if you hit one, it's probably like driving over a pothole. Donkeys tend to be quite immobile and are unlikely to be able to do a swift u-turn and try to take you with them on their death mission.

You've guessed it... I belted a sheep while doing about 80km/h, high-sided it and did a bungyless bungy jump 20 metres down the road and the wife slid upside down for about 15 metres. Luckily there were no handy cars, trees, walls to cause my deceleration. The sheep was as dead as a 'did parrot'. As well as shock, my only injury was where my Psion (now broken) palmtop computer buried itself into my left hip. I was wearing the full gear with Kevlar reinforced cordura clothing and army boots and a good helmet. If you see any idiots in just jeans and a tee shirt, please tell them my story!


I was very lucky to be travelling with Dirk, Kiki and Rocca from Germany in an Unimog. They appeared on the scene and were my saviours. Rick and Vic in Nairobi checked the bike out and did necessary (very minor) repairs. With the cosmetic scaring, the second hand value of the wife is now about the US$1100/750 squids declared on the Carnet de Passage. As she's not for sale, who cares anyway. So children: If you want to collide with a sheep, do it in at least a 10 ton truck and not on a motorcycle!

Ted Simon suggested that if things were going well, you could always run out of fuel deliberately. Things were going well, but I recon my sheep stunt was taking this train of thought a little too far!

Protect you family, use a condom


I saw a couple of amusing signs in Kenya:
'Protect you family, use a condom' and another 'Beware: workers working on the road'...

After my little adventure avec le mouton and generally realising how low in the pecking order I come in the minds of the crazed Kenyan demons that drive matatus (minibuses) and buses, I decided to increase my life expectancy dramatically by leaving Kenya post haste.

The border crossing from Kenya to Tanzania was as uneventful as the crossing from Ethiopia. As it was a public holiday, the Kenyan customs woman wanted some 'overtime money'. I told her I had none (as I had genuinely spent the last of it on fuel) and she let me off!


After passing through Arusha the excellent tar sealed road led to the nicest piste (since the last time I had a nice piste in Ethiopia) to Karatu where I managed to hitch a lift with a very pleasant couple from Holland called Maik and Maaike, in their rented Landcruiser into Ngorogoro Crater. Many nelliefants, hippipottimice, simbas at a kill, a mum and baby rhino and the usual zebras, flamingos, wildebeest etc etc were seen. A top day out, particularly as I now (since my robbery in Jordan) only have a 35-135 lense and so could enjoy the views for what they were without constantly trying to take photos.

The Tanzanians seem to be better drivers than the Kenyans or maybe it has something to do with the police actually doing their job. There were police every 10 or so km on the road to Dar es Salaam. They generally seem to be more relaxed than the Kenyans. It is still, however, a constant pain to have to get the price of everything down from 10 times the market rate to something within the realms of credibility.

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Golden Shower


In Moshi I camped in the garden of the 'Golden Shower' restaurant and had a great view if Mt Kilimanjaro from the tent door in the morning. I am slowly getting used to rising (on travel days) at dawn (6am), because if you're only on the move at ten it's an absolute killer. Being in bed my ten pm helps here too!

In Lushoto, a former German colonial hill station, I stayed (or rather camped) on the ex-golf course at the Lawn's Hotel, allegedly the oldest hotel in Tanzania. On the petrol generator powered satellite TV, I watched Arsenal vs. Sunderland and also the South African version of CNN/BBC News24. The presenter was having a hard time as his producers were pulling a few stunts. He clearly, on prime time TV, mouthed the well know 4-letter f-word. The next night he was still at work!

Carter's Place


That night, I felt very safe, or maybe not. The hotel filled with 2 MPs and a Government Minister, plus flunkies and guards. Guns everywhere. They had been ceremoniously opening a dirt track, errrr sorry, I mean ‘road’, and had many of the traits of western politicians: lots of wind and naff jokes. For the first time in 4 months I walked more than 10 km, to a viewpoint called ‘Carter's Place’. Mr Carter was apparently a Peace Corp volunteer who stayed and went hang gliding (and book writing) from a cliff edge overlooking the Massai plain 1000 metres below. He tried to befriend a hawk (?) to teach him where the thermals were. Neither Carter, nor the hawk, were there to verify this story.

The 350km on excellent tar to Dar es Salaam were easily covered. At the ferry across the estuary I nearly asked somebody what altitude we were at (only kidding!). Dar es Salaam has changed a lot in the past 12 years when I was last here. To the better, I think.

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Africa House Hotel

Zansibar was also negatively different in some ways and in many others timelessly pleasant, enchanting and intriguing. Mass tourism has arrived and with it the money-berserk touts, sellers and drug dealers. Drinking an ice cold Kilimanjaro beer at sunset at the Africa House Hotel made the trip there worthwhile. Before I left England, I visited a creative writing course, at which I wrote a Hemingwayesque short story set just here at the Africa House. I think I described it well, but I'm not sure, as the only copy I had with me, was on the hard disk of the Psion, which is, as I said, kaputtshino.


As an epilogue to this little ditty, I think it's quite useful to make a synopsis of the journey so far and where the road is leading.

So, being the teacher I am here are my marks out of 10 for each country visited ref. bikeability and friendliness of people.

Greece: 7 and 7, Turkey: 8 and 8, Syria: 8 and 10, Jordan: 8 and 5, Israel ??? (I was there sans moto) and 4, Sinai: 8 and 7, Egypt (the rest): 5 and 0, Ethiopia: 9 and 7, Kenya: 6 and 6, Tanzania: 8 and 7.

The route from Dar es Salaam: I have 2 options I think: either Malawi, Mozambique, southern coast of RSA to Cape Town (pick up some things left there by my parents) and then north again to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe and back to Cape Town OR Malawi and the traditional route trough Zim, Bots, Nam and RSA to Cape Town. Any suggestions?



After Cape Town: After my little adventures with bureaucracy and the pleasant, helpful, kind-hearted people in of Egypt, I ain't touching India with a bargepole, well at least, I have no intention of shipping into or out of there. Also cash (or lack of it) means all the shipping connections to India to Australia to the Americas etc etc are out of the question. I can however do one more move and this is very likely to be either to S America and ride north or N America and head south. If I can achieve London to Cape Town and Alaska to Argentina (or vice versa), I recon that would be pretty good. I have heard from everybody how wonderful Latin America and its people are; I'll have to check it out myself. Where's the Berlitz Spanish book?

I won't be writing for a while as Malawi (and Mozambique) are emailially challenged, but I will be in touch when the facilities are there and the rate per hour is affordable.

Hang loose and rubber side down, shiny side up.... as the sheep wouldn't say.

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