Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 157 - Moshi, Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya

Well,  the last leg of the journey and one final border crossing.  I keyed-in a place called Jungle Junction in Nairobi into the GPS and off I went.  The route took me through Arusha and then north to the border.  Most of the road was paved, except for areas of road construction.  The Chinese are hard at work paving a lot of the major roads in Africa, including this one.  They say that there is only one section of unpaved road between Cairo, Egypt and Cape Town, South Africa and that lies north of Nairobi and continues on to Moyale at the Ethiopian border.  This 500 km stretch is known as one of the worst; lots of rocks, sand, gravel and corrugations.  I had spoken to several travelers who had just come down from there.  It takes two to three days to travel that stretch.  Maybe next time.

 One of the many detour routes north to the border

The border crossing, as has become the norm here in Africa, as far as ease and the typical ghetto feel (more so the further north you go), was a snap.  They even had a proper booth for money changing with all the daily exchange rates posted on a board.  Another 40 USD for third-party insurance, which I believe goes directly into the pockets of these agents, as they always seem to be the best dressed individuals at the border. 
160 km to go to Nairobi and I’m thinking, wow, no flats the entire 35000 km.  100 km outside of Nairobi I noticed the bike behaving strangely, the back end felt very loose.  I dismissed it for a second thinking it was the grooves in the road but thought it was not right so I decided to pull over and have a look.  A flat!!  It just so happens that I had pulled over in a small village with a road side tire changer about 50 feet down the road.  Instantly a crowd of 20 people gathered around the bike, curiously inspecting the machine and some even trying to help with the flat.  I unloaded all the gear and opened the panniers to get the tools and a spare tube out.  The first thing that came to mind was all the stories you hear about things getting pinched off the bike or out of a car and I figured there was no way to control this or even keep an eye on my things.

I went to work on removing the tire and took it to the tire changer, all my tools and gear lying around the bike.  Oh well, if something gets stolen it wouldn't be the end of the world.  I asked about the cost and he only wanted 200 schillings (3USD) to fix the flat.  There’s no way I’m spending an hour doing this myself.  15 minutes later it was done.  I put everything back together and all the tools and gear away without a single item missing.  Even had a Maasai man point with his stick to an item half buried in the sand.  I have come to the conclusion that there are a few travelers out there spreading urban myths via the Internet and chat rooms like on Lonely Planet and these are the things that people read and get scared out of doing adventure travel.  Too bad.  Granted, there are situations that happen, but for the most part it’s a temporary lag in common sense that has landed you in that predicament. 

The crowd gathering around the bike.

Arrived at the Jungle Junction destination in a somewhat somber mood.  Sigh.


  1. Good news on the tire! Thanks for the update.

  2. Keep on trucking I very much enjoy reading your adventure, I met Rob C at the BMW swap meet in Grans Rapids, MI last summer & have been hooked ever since.

  3. TaylorMad, thanks for the support and I hope to see you at the next GR BMW swap meet. I am sure I will have some extra stuff to get rid of.

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