Just returned from a weekend trip at Hell's Gate, Naivasha. Sounds more stunning than the name suggests. Trixie and I decided to meet in a central location on Friday afternoon, to get a matatu to Naivasha. I navigated my way down Ronald Ongala street, past the hellish noise of shouting matatu touts, through the markets pumping out music from the eighties to compete against background noise. How more people don't suffer from sensori-neural hearing loss, I don't know. I had to cover my ears just to survive the noise pollution. Everyone else looked perfectly at home with the 80 decibel noise.
Just as my nerves were about to give way, I sought peace and tranquillity at a petrol station. Only people with cars can enter, so the majority are pedestrians, I perched myself between two petrol pumps and waited for Trixita to arrive. A guard- even the petrol pumps have guards- approached and asked me to move, unaccustomed as he was to Muzungus standing between petrol pumps. Luckily Trixie arrived and we shoved ourselves past the crowd, towards the ticket stand, yelling to get heard. We chose our seats in front, so as to save our sanity.
I chose the paralysis seat, half seat with a bar across, near certain death if there is a road accident, a step up from the seats behind...
The views were spectacular once we pulled out of Nairobbery. Lush rolling hills, large plateaus and green green life. The matatu driver took the usual risks- driving on the wrong side of the road, overtaking on bends. They must give out free Driver's Licences here as they did in Ireland in the old days, as people here drive dodgily. Not that I'm an expert or anything, but overtaking with no view of the road in front is nearly certain to cause an accident
I did mention to the driver more than once
"Oh is that wise. You can't see around that bend"
"pole pole, whats the rush?"
He ignored me, of course, or pretended he didn't understand. I will have to alter my accent here as very few people see to understand what I am on about
Then soon after arrival, we change matatus for round two- another back breaking experience from Naivasha town to the Lake. A man approached carrying everything he could possibly sell that day. We wore about 6 hats, several necklaces, odds and ends, all around his neck. He was not impressed when I took a photo of him. But what a sight all the same. A one man shop.
We past several flower farms along the way. Employers no doubt from Europe, in trouble recently for contributing to the Lake pollution. Several fish were found floating dead on the surface of the lake. We past the miserable huts of the lowly paid workers- one room huts, with sheet coverings for doors, a vast difference from the wealthy entrepreneurs who drive in Lland rovers, milking the profits afforded from meagre wages paid to the backbreaking work of local flower pickers
When we finally arrived at the camp. I had to bargain for my bed, something I always like to do after a long matatu trip. We did land on our feet however, managing to sleep in the wing of the owner's cottage as all beds were sold out...to Swedish students. It suited me, a colonial room for two with bathtub ...nice
That night as I sipped my beer, two volunteers joined me at the restaurant overlooking the Lake. An Indian volunteer spoke of his homeland at the foot of the Himalayas and seemed stuck on the idea that Muslim Indians had more interest in Pakistan than India.
As he put it " it's as if they come to my father's house, eat our food, sleep in our beds..they even die in India and still they cheer for Pakistan in the cricket
He repeated this analogy several times in case i didn't get it the first time.
I decided to divert to another subject- travelling in Afghanistan. We were lost in stories of travels past when suddenly in the corner of my eye, I spotted a huge black insect crawling up my knee- a cross between a spider and a giant hairy spiky sea urchin. I flicked it and it wouldn't budge. Then I started to scream, and lept to a nearby chair.
Other travellers were just shaking the stress of Nairobi from their shoulders when I went leaping across them, diving into to one of the nearby chairs. What a sight! I don't know which is scarier; a giant African insect or a screaming leaping Irish woman raving about the insect. You make up your own minds..but it was huge and not a incy wincy spider or caterpillar
Anyway, my heart raced for one hour, so I decided to head back to the cottage to calm my nerves. I'm in Africa now. Massive insects are all part of this wonderful continent.
The following day, five of us headed off in bikes around Hells Gate National Park..a beautiful track lead the way past zebras, war hogs and gazelle. We stopped briefly for photos and then off to Hell- the gears or brakes didn't work but what to do except keep peddling. We hired a guide at the entrance to the gorge, and hiked past lower and upper gorges, lifting ourselves up and down rocks, sliding down ridges, with beautifully coloured craggy edges on the rock
A wonderful sunny day, great to feel part of nature. We past a boy herding his goats, a Masai warrior, dressed in a brightly coloured kanga. By the time we made our way back to the bikes, I was exhausted and had little energy for the 8 km journey.
That night we rested at the restaurant, swapping travellers tales and sipping red wine..no insects this time, except Hippo who had made their way to the edge of the camp, on the other side of the electric fence
Next trip- Lake Baringo for more wild life spotting- hopefully this time, from a distance....