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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Kenya Take Two – Part 2 – Kembu Camp, Fisherman’s Camp (Lake Naivasha) & Karen Camp (Karen, Nairobi)

So I woke up at Naiberi Camp on the morning of 8th October feeling a little bit older and not one little bit wiser. As I brushed my teeth in the mirror, I swear I saw a new wrinkle pop its way into existence on my forehead. A few more white hairs were noticeable in my otherwise ginger beard and my hairline on my forehead had made good overnight progress in its race to get to the back of my head. The good news was, I woke up after my 30th birthday without a hangover...the same couldn't be said for Chris and Homeless...who stayed up at the bar being entertained by Raj until about 4am...we weren't due to move on until early afternoon anyway, so the fellas had time to recover.

There was very little cleaning up for us to do after The AK Party as Gab had got up early and done everything so the gang spent the morning exploring the grounds or chilling by the pool. I found a chameleon on the path down to the pool and freaked out the superstitious local bar staff by wearing him on my shoulder. They told me he was poisonous but I was pretty sure I was safe.

Finally on the road again, we drove to a place called "Kembu Camp" - a campsite on a working farm overlooking the Great Rift Valley. (If you look on their website, it says: "Altitude 7250 feet i.e. no Malaria." In other words, it was a cool place both metaphorically and literally.) Kenj and I (cook group that night) flipped some awesome burgers for everybody (tuna steaks for the faux veggies) which were scoffed down as Chris told us about a possible excursion the next day – a game drive in Lake Nakuru National Park. About half opted to go for this, whilst the other half (including Lara and I) chose to stay with the truck and head straight to Fisherman's Camp on the shores of Lake Naivasha (where the others would eventually catch up with us again after their safari).

The guys who were going to the Lake had an early start in a minibus but none of us heard them leaving. However...there was some kind of international kids cross-country meet going on and it seemed like most of the schools were also staying at Kembu Camp. When they got up, any chance for a rare lie-in went out of the window as hoards of kids on the cusp of puberty ran around the place in excitement at all of the farm animals. I couldn't decide what was worse: the cow that was mooing incessantly overnight as it had its leg caught in some rope, or the over-enthusiastic young lad running around, seemingly leading the charge with the other kids but in desperate need of some ball droppage. The morning wasn't all bad though: Chris had arranged for some fresh milk to be brought to us...straight from the cow's udders! You don't know how good this was in our tea after months of the powdered stuff.

Onwards we went to Fisherman's Camp where we spent the day chilling under the tarp on Ruby's side (it thundered all afternoon and it threatened to rain but the clouds never delivered) and taking in the surroundings (the food here was really good by the way – the fishburger is highly recommended).The rest of the passengers arrived late in the afternoon and joined us in the bar to watch a bit of sport (it usually ends up being rugby given the Antipodeans have the majority vote on the truck).

Laraldo and I were just chilling when Kay beckoned us over to where she was sitting at the bar...long story short: she got talking to the girl next to her who happened to be from Guernsey and happened to be the younger sister of a girl Lara and I know very well! They say it's a small world and this sort of thing has happened a few times to us now (at The Sleeping Camel in Mali we met a guy who used to work with my old man in Guern and we met a Jersey guy on another Af Trails truck in Zambia) but Guernsey is a very, VERY small place for 70,000 people to live. If you're a Guernseyman and happen to bump into somebody from Guernsey on your travels, chances are that if you're not related to them ("ma mother's ma sister" - said in a hick accent) you'll know them or know of them. Before long we were eating dinner – an absolute feast cooked up by Pat and Kimbo.

After dinner, Berbs, Kenj and I went back to the bar via the camp perimeter at the lake shore. Kenji's LED Mag-lite helped us see an adolescent hippo just chilling within metres of the fence. He didn't like having the torch shone on him so we didn't hang around (our regular driver, Marjane has an horrific story about hippos from this campsite).

The following day, a few of the bozos went off on some of the various excursions that were available from the campsite (e.g. cycling around Crater Lake or doing a 'game walk' with an opportunity to see fish eagles being fed – the photographers on our truck salivated at this latter prospect). Again, having had our fill of wildlife and game parks in recent weeks, Laraldo and I didn't feel the need to fork out for these so again chose to stay at camp. I'm not entirely sure whether I regret turning down activities like this – you may think we're mad if you're reading this from back home, but the east coast leg of the trip has been so eventful and excursion-heavy that you sometimes need a break...or at least your wallet does. The reviews the other passengers gave us for these trips were very mixed, but we got the impression that we didn't miss out on anything too spectacular.

Once everybody was back at camp, we shot off back towards Karen (where we'd stayed for one night before going into Uganda) via an awesome viewpoint (called "Escarpment Viewpoint") over the Great Rift Valley (where a few of us bought some wooly hats from the local shepherds) for our week long stay-over in this Nairobi (-an?) suburb. This was a momentous occasion – it was our last journey in "Ruby".

Son gets the iPod ready.

The whole trip we'd known that Ruby was the last of a dying breed. The Af Trails fleet had been slowly renewed over the space of a year or so and Ruby was the only veteran left (the nature of the Ultimate Trans trip is that she's on the road too long to make it easy to 'retire' her). As we neared Karen CampSon hunted down 'Ruby" by The Kaiser Chiefs (our anthem) on her iPod and we literally blasted the thing out of the truck stereo. All 17 or 18 of us (I've lost count of how many of us there are) sang the chorus at the top of our lungs, stomping our feet and punching the roof in time with the beat; head torches were worn and put on flash and red mode to add to the ambience. I think we played it about three or four times in a row; the other guests at Karen Camp surely muttered "There goes the neighbourhood" as we pulled in. The hairs on the back of my neck were genuinely standing on end – I (and in fact, all of us) have personified Ruby throughout the whole trip and this fitting send-off marked the end of an era.


Kay in mid-chorus!

Kimbo and the boys (Gab, Berbs & Pat) banging the roof to the beat in the back and the girls singing in the foreground.

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