Feeling: THE ROAD
So; lads on tour.
Well, not really lads. More like 16 persons of all ages from all kinds of countries and I’d say there will be no debauchery like you’d find on a rager. But hey, you never know; I reckon Marion from Country Cork has a wild streak that will shine through after a beer or two.
So Serengeti Trail: Nairobi to Kisii to Serengeti to Ngogonroro Crater to Arusha and back to Nairobi. A border crossing Day Two in Tanzania. All led by Clara, a native African tour guide, with a driver and cook along for the ride (well, one actually doing the ride really. I mean, he’s the driver).
Yesterday ‘twas Day One and meant a lot of time on the safari truck. Pretty hammered from my 46 hour journey from Cambridge door to Nairobi hotel, I actually embraced being stationary to take multiple naps. There were some stop offs at a Kisii family home for lunch, a supermarket for supplies and then a resort for the night – last instance in comfy beds and wifi range before the camping begins.
Day Two: another day of some serious km’s. we stopped at the soap stone store to see the carvers and sanders and painters in action (I got a couple of trinkets of course) then came the border crossing.
It wasn’t actually too hellish – apparently you can be there for up to three hours, while we were there for about one. When you cross between the East African countries it is imperative you have the yellow fever vaccine and the offical vaccination passport to prove it – one of the Norwegian guys only had his cert of all injections. While the Norwegian embassy state this is valid, the Tanzanian men manning the desk did not. Norway boy was not going to be allowed through – until he slipped them a sly 50 USD note and suddenly the paper was very much fine. When in Africa, always have some notes on hand for a touch of bribery when required.
We reached Tempo Beach at Lake Victoria, our residence for the night, and put up our tents. Then the option came of a bike tour around the village – 13 out of 16 of us were in.
My gosh – I have to say, now the morning after, I have a very tender fanny region. With the bumpy African road, the very non-brake-working bike and the sudden turns from the guide, it was a very jolty and sweaty experience. But so, so fun.
We went past the port, through the village, everyone waving and calling out “Mzumd!” (white), through the markets, into the outskirts where people were living. Children chased us and came and stared – I think I was especially alien with blonde hair and white skin (well more pink at this stage from trying to hustle up hills on 8th gear). One little boy came up and rubbed my arm; apparently, the guide told me after, he was trying to see if the white would come off (though to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if a bit of Bondi did; having a wedding two days before I came overseas, I had a tan up, and not bringing any exfoliating gloves means I’m a touch scaly atm).
The guide then took us ALL to his house to show us his water maker thing, where a big crowd of children, um, crowded round. I held my phone out to indicate taking a selfie with them and they went NUTS – excitedly screaming and leaping around, especially when I showed them themselves on my phone after.
Back to camp, dinner, bed.
Some interesting tit bits I’ve picked up thus far:
⁃ Up until a year or two ago, the legal age to marry in Kenya was 24 for a female, 26 for a male. But what with globalisation and all such stuff, the government brought it down to 20 and 21.
⁃ There are 43 tribes in Africa
⁃ It’s a polygamist continent. Kenya was changed to be so as of a few years ago – reason mainly stemming from the fact that in the past when big name politicians died, all sorts of women would hustle out of the woodwork laying claim to inheritance causing a whole lot of embarrassment. So to save face, it was decided multiple wives were to be legalised to save surprises at the other end of things. This is only the way of men with as many wives as they like, while Mozambique is the only country that goes both ways and allows women to treat themselves to as many husbands as they please.
⁃ In the last decade there has been a massive move of women empowerment, with lots of programmes working towards equal grounds for the sexes. But this has meant a certain element of neglect of males, and as of the last 18 months or so there are many calls to “Remember the boy child”.
⁃ Particularly with the Kisii culture, there is still the belief that once a woman finds a husband she becomes a housewife. Clara told us of her uncle, one of the country’s top lawyers, and her aunt, a fully qualified doctor, and how the uncle made the wife stop her work as it was seen as an insult that he couldn’t bring in enough money to support her and their family on his own. It’s not that way all over the country, but in some of the tribal ways a woman working is a no-no.
⁃ Clara asked us if we knew what a “sponsor” was – waving away all answers as to a support for staying in another country or money funding an event, she said a “sponsor” is what they call a sugar daddy. A friend of hers has four sponsors, all married men who have her on the side and pay for her living and appearance costs and what not. When I get home and someone says, “He sponsors me” it’s going to take on a whole new meaning.
⁃ The roads are all bumpy with potholes and rises and ridges and crevices and caves – going for a drive is called, “an African massage”.
⁃ I love it – the driver and cook sit just below in the truck and listen to their jams and I realised just before that all the songs have the lyrics and tunes of Adele, Justin Bieber, so forth, but are all laid over an African beat so there’s the drumming and what not in there too. As I write this Wrecking Ball is hustling out of the speaker, and I have to say it’s a very different feel to the OG – kind of Miley atop a drum set in the jungle rather than girating on a demolition tool.
⁃ I can know sincerely say I know what Akon has been referring to when he talks of “big booties” – the girls here have the nicest and perkiest bums I have ever seen.