Meltdown Madness - Nairobi to Arusha (Too slow for photos day) March 25 2014
This section of our tour seemed to whizz passed us in comparison to a month in Ethiopia. We crossed the border from Moyale, Ethiopia into Moyale, Kenya. In this area there is often disputes between the two places as they fight over the border limits. Several times on past TDA expeditions riders have not been able to ride in this area due to the conflict. By scouting ahead of the riders, our tour director was given the all clear from local authorities that we were safe to cycle. Upon arriving in Kenya we also picked up three security guards due to nomads who are on the look out for tourists and their possessions. We had absolutely no problems crossing through Northern Kenya; accept for the horrendous road conditions!
The name of this section of the tour is called Meltdown Madness. After the roads in Ethiopia, I was not sure how the bumps could get any worse, but I was quickly proven wrong as we started to cross through the Dida Galgalu lava rock desert. Huge rocks were scattered all over the dirt path. We also encountered a far bit of road construction; within the not so distance future this section of the tour might need to find a new name! I cannot imagine several years ago when all of the kilometers would have been on the bumpy old dirt trails through northern Kenya.
Masai herders and their families inhabited most of this area. Lots of beautifully beaded men, women and children were seen along the road. Arriving in a town called Marsabit (said to resemble Mars) there were also lots of Somali tribes at the local market.
As we headed further south and the desert began to disappear our campsites began to greatly improve. Leaving behind lots of sand in dirt we were able to shower in lodges that were equipped to handle over land tourists. Trust me, it is a real novelty to have a cold bottle of water or juice after a long day on the bike, a cold shower was really something. Until this point of the tour showering was really only available on rest days. Due to the vast amount of tourism in Kenya, there are a lot more facilities available- I might even call them luxurious in comparison to the bush camps we slept at throughout Ethiopia.
We convoyed into Nairobi, which was also quick interesting. The traffic in this city is crazy, so I took my chances and volunteered to help patrol traffic, which means stopping cars that try to cut off our 35-person bike convoy. A bit of a dangerous position at times, but helped to keep me occupied. Sitting in traffic is never fun, but in stopping traffic I am able to talk and wave to locals. It was great to spend some time in Nairobi visiting with friends and going on a tour of Kibera, a slum with over 1 million people.
Two days out of Kenya we crossed the border into Tanzania and travelled into Arusha where I met my sister and was able to visit Peace Matunda! The children at the orphanage and school have grown since I was there in 2011, but they are still as precious as ever. It was great to meet with Kaaya and Jackie in order to discuss future plans for December 2014 when the children will attend Secondary School. We determined that it would cost about 1100USD the first year and about 700USD for the next three years of the children’s secondary school. Thus, the goal of 12,000USD that I want to raise while on the tour will help four children attend secondary school. In Tanzania the Standard 7 students write standardized exams and then need to apply to three high schools.. The government determines where the children are sent to secondary school, and offers scholarships to students who achieve high results. There is the potential for some of the Peace Matunda children to receive scholarships. The student who I am currently working on sponsoring is Jennifer Charles. Jennifer lives in a small house with her grandparents and her younger brother, Ibrahim. Jennifer’s parents abandoned the children shortly after Ibrahim was born. The NIST community has supported Jennifer’s family since our visit in 2011 so I am very happy that we will be able to continue to support Jennifer into the next stage of her life. While chatting with Kaaya and Jackie, it became very clear that there are a lot of students at Peace Matunda who have a similar situation to Jennifer. In trying to raise 12,000USD I hope to send four students to secondary school for four years.
Biking out of Arusha was really special for me. Kaaya the founder of Peace Matunda, decided to join me along with his cousin and my dear friend Bella Six. Also along for the ride was my amazing sister, Kayleigh. It was wonderful to bike along side these three very special people! Kayleigh and Kaaya were able to bike 35km outside Arusha before taking a bus back to Peace Matunda. Bella Six continued with me to lunch at 65km, when in started to torrential down pour, he decided to also head back home!
After Arusha we headed off road through Tanzania. I will write a separate blog post for out amazing mountain biking; 7 day off road days into Mbeya, Tanzania.