When I drove up from South Africa to Egypt with Sharita before the tour started, once in a while I would see the back lights of the truck that she was driving (our lunch truck now) blinking on one of its sides. Most of the times, she was showing me either some animal by the road, or some of the exact places where the Tour d´Afrique usually camps. I would drive always imagining the Tour rolling through those places. How the locals would react, how the camp would be set up, how the place would feel. Some places stick out more than others. Malawi piqued my interest, so did Ethiopia. But the roads of northern Kenya were in my imagination even before that, from following blogs from previous TDA´s. Like the Blue Nile gorge, or the 207 km day in Botswana, this stretch of road is one of the most legendary and feared stretches on the entire tour. Heroes are born here.
Moyale is the beginning of this devastating path. Somehow the word corrugation seems woefully inadequate to describe the state of this road. This is a stretch of sharp boulders and loose gravel that happens to be traveled by vehicles, and is therefore called a road.
Many of the places we travel on this route are remote, but Northern Kenya has a harsh, merciless feel to it, one wonders how people even live here. “What do the animals eat here?” was a common question among the group today. Just before dinner a caravan of 7 or 8 camels past the camp, and one quickly appreciates the value of those gentle beasts in this desolate place.
As I rode on the truck through these roads today, I recognized many of the places where we were on the transit drive, and some of the places that were chaotic looked pretty calm and vice-versa. For a few minutes, I was taken back to some nice memories from that long drive up to Cairo, and thought about all the good times we had, and in which ways it was being different or similar to what I had imagined.
A warm breeze swings through camp this evening. Only the sounds or crickets breaks the silence. An untainted star lit sky sits above our heads. Watching the stars, I wonder if I will ever be back to these places and what it’s going to be like. How the locals will react, how the camp will be set up, how the place will feel.
Tomorrow the most brutal stretch of road on the TDA awaits!