Friday, May 15, 2009

Wednesday 13th – Friday 15th May

Wednesday 13th - Today we were up bright and early and left Arusha to head for Nairobi, where we were due to collect our tyres from the Pannar office.

The ride up to Nairobi was uneventful crossing through the Tanzania / Kenya border was a breeze . Stamping passports and filling in vehicle registration documents took less than 20 minutes.

The road from Arusha to Nairobi is under construction so for most of the way we were traveling on very bumpy, dusty gravel road. Passing groups of brightly dressed Masai men and women at the side of the road and at one small village we came across our first camel train. It gives one the feeling of really being in outer Africa.

We were enjoying the ride on a fairly quiet road when we suddenly had a huge wake up when we got to the Nairobi / Mombassa T Junction. Wow!! What a shock. I have never seen so many trucks, busses and cars on one road at the same time trying to travel in two directions with absolute no regard for rules or lanes. We had trucks coming at us from the front ( Wrong side of the road ) trucks next to us all hooting and driving at breakneck speed, Sitting on a motorcycle riding through this lot was frightening to say the very least. Leaving the BMW Dealer on the Friday night on our send off with everyone watching was far less intimidating than this mess.

At one stage the traffic got so hectic that we decided it was safer to ride through the veld away from the road. Anyway 50 km’s later we got to the dual highway that leads into Nairobi and with a sigh of relief we headed off to Pannar office.

At Pannar we met up with Denson, Tom and Valentine, the friendly and very helpful staff that run the office. Denson informed us that the tyres had landed but would only be clear of customs at 19h00 that night, so after a cup of coffee and some chicken for lunch we were back on our bikes heading for our overnight camp site, Nairobi National Park Camp Ground. Arriving at the camp ground we were met by Helen and Peter the managers that run the camp, Camping is 5 Dollars US and Chalets 25 Dollars US. While talking to Helen and deciding whether to camp or take the sissy option for a chalet, the heavens opened up and the rain came pouring down. No contest, Chalets it was.

Thursday 14th - This morning we headed back to Pannar office and with a huge sigh of relief we saw our tyres had arrived. We had also decided today that we were going to try and sort out our Sudan visas at the Embassy here in Nairobi. We figured that with the local Pannar guy ( Tom ) to help us this would be easier than trying to sort visas in Ethiopia, As originally planed.

To save time we also decided that we would take the bikes to a local Motorcar and Bike dealer and ask them to fit the tryes for us. After dropping the bikes at the dealer we all hopped into a taxi, a small Toyota Corolla, the driver and Howard in the front, Jaco, Tom and I squashed in the back, I felt like a piece of ham on a sandwich squashed between the two big blocks on either side of me . To close the doors Howard had to push them closed from the outside. Anyway traveling by taxi is far better than trying to negotiate the chaos that is Nairobi traffic. First stop Sudan Embassy, After getting the necessary clearance from the Security official at the gate we were in, we took all our documents that we had spent the morning photo copying and filling in and handed them over to Mona, the unsmiling lady behind the desk and with a silent prayer hoped that she would sort out the visas. The first thing she does is take the whole pile of papers from us an drop the lot into a rubbish bin and calmly hands us a single form and says “ Fill In “ … off we go to do this and ten minutes later we are back at her desk to give the forms, only to be told that we need a letter from our SA Embassy ( Which is on the other side of town ) stating that we are SA citizens and there is no problem for us to travel through Sudan. The time is now 11h00 am and the Sudan Embassy closes at 12h00. Smiley tells us that we will have to come back tomorrow! Well I nearly flipped! Thanks to Jaco and his ever friendly smile he asked her if we could at least leave our documents with her so she could at least start the process. She agreed to this.

Off we go again in the taxi at breakneck speed to the SA Embassy. There we met Paula and Helen, Two very helpful and efficient Embassy employers, They both told us that the letter was not necessary, and offered to phone the Sudan Embassy to try and sort out our problem. Eventually they get through to the Attaché in the Sudan Embassy and he says for us to come back and give them our passports and he will arrange our visas. Ladies thank you very much!

Back at the Sudan Embassy the security fellow went off to call our happy Mona. We handed over our passports and was told by Mona to come back tomorrow at 12 to collect our passports and visas. Before we are allowed to leave the security fellow tells us he needs a little something for helping us. (What he did I still don’t know) Except what he is employed to do. Anyway we are in Africa and inside a Sudan Embassy with a huge gate between us and the outside world and the guy with the key is standing between us and this gate. 50 Dollars US slipped into his hand and vanished so fast that you would have missed it if you had blinked. Second’s later the gate is opened and we are out.

Back to the dealer we go to collect the bikes. Shock number two. An invoice is handed to us for the job. An equivalent of R 450 per tyre is asked for. In SA tyre fitting costs about R50 each. And this was done the whole time the dealer is smiling at us and making small talk. Nairobi must be the most chaotic and expensive city in Africa.

Leaving the dealer a lot poorer we headed off to Carnivore a well known restaurant in Nairobi for a late well earned lunch.

Friday 15th - Today we head back to the Sudan Embassy to collect our visas and get back on the road headed for Isiola / Moyale then into Ethiopia, where we hear things are a bit cheaper than Kenya. Hooray for that …