Il Diario di Tinton

{2001-06-23}   Day 30 – Nairobi, Kenya

The day of yesterday was quite interesting. It started off quite mellow, very much like my rest day at Masai Camp. I had some breakfast, then I had some lunch, I think, but stayed at the camp all day. It was a good day to get information, though. I asked Dougy (douglas, big guy who always complains about things)and he gave me a little information about Ethiopia, but not much. Then this beautiful young lady approached me and introduced herself as being Beatrice, and having gone to Ethiopia last september. She told me that I will most likely not find any rides up to Ethiopia, and that I should therefore start planning to go alone. To take a bus to Isiolo, then go to the police station there and ask about truck convoys, or rides, or what the best route to Ethiopia would be. To me it sounds kind of dodgy (as Hugo would say), but even Val, (Brandon, the owner of the camp’s girlfriend) told me that it is definitely possible to do.

Speaking of Val makes me think of a funny anecdote: I told her I was going to take the public bus to Isiolo, and she told me that I do not want to take public busses, as they are dodgy. This time, instead of giving the usual coseting answer, I simply said that I had been on them already. That answer seemed to make her re-evaluate her statement, as if she first thought that I could easily get into trouble, because of not enough experience, but then reconsidered, maybe inspired by the fact that I had tried the buses already. I don’t know why people here tell me that you do not want to do this, you should not do that. But then, when I talk to others, they tell me that that is the best way: To do that “that”, that I was told not to do. But I am coming to believe that some people say somethings because they think you might make good use of these advices, but they might not apply. And it’s up to you to figure out which advices apply, and which do not. To figure out when somebody is talking like a wise man, if he/she really is wise, or just stubborn or egocentric.

But back to Beatrice, and what she was suggesting to do. So then from Isiolo, I can camp there until I find a ride to the city just north about 7 hours, and then I would only be about another 8 hours from the border to Ethiopia. From there, I should be able to find buses to Addis Ababa. Then from there I can get to the Eritrean border, but I don’t know what the conditions are yet.

So now what is left to do is get the Ethiopian and Eritrean visas, get as much info from the embassies as possible, buy a lonely planet guide (I saw the Africa on a shoestring that might be a good one for me), buy the bus tickets to Isiolo and go.

Later in the afternoon I met Oki, who works for “Rough Guides”, a sort of a lonely planet guide. So he is travelling around Kenya staying at all the lodges where he needs to stay, and all paid by the company. He always gets good deals from companies that want to be included in the guide. So we played this game that Dougy found somewhere. Its called [I forget] and has 4 holes on each side, and a bunch of discs that look like checkers men. The rules that Dougy plays are kind of like pool: you hit with the blue disc one of the black or white men in the hope that the one of your colour will fall into a hole. then there is a red man, that is played last.

We played that for a while, Dougy, Oki and me. Then we decided to go to the black cotton, Oki, David and me, that is. David is a civil Engineer and is working on building a new container loading/storage station for Nairobi. he lives in South Africa, but is originally from Australia. so we had a little smoke in David’s car as we were heading off to “The Black Cotton”. Entrance there is 250Ksh, and every drink is 100Ksh. There is a nice dance floor there, with four big speakers incorporated into a cement structure that surrounds the dance floor. Then all around the dance floor there are bars and tables. The DJ sits in the “DJ Box”, which is an elevated room that looks onto the dancing floor. Oki was able to go see it, as Val took him there, but they preferred me not to go in, as Val said that the DJ was kind of anal about people going in. I was not offended at all, and was waiting outside the door at the top of the narrow and shallow steps that led to the DJ box.

The crowd at the black cotton is mixed in color, with many Muzungus. David calls this crowd the “K.C.”, the Kenyan Cowboys. People are not extremely friendly: if you are with someone, and that someone bumps into somebody else, you will not automatically be introduced. There were a few beautiful women, many in groups too, and a large number boys and couples. I ran into Hugo, who told me that I was too slow last night. At the end he admitted that the real problem was that there was nobody that was willing to give me a ride back to the camp site, so they eventually just decided to jet. This, of course, also added to the fact that he was being nice, while his buddies didn’t really care about showing me around at all. I think I like Hugo. He seems to be nice, and pretty straight forward. He seems honest.

After Hugo, I kept on walking around the club, just like I always do at night clubs, buying drinks, getting something to eat, and actually at the food stand, just outside of the club I met this young local couple. They were very nice and I had a good chat with the girl, Anne, and I bought some wings, with some mexican like spicy salsa, which was pretty good. But just as I order, I remember that David said he would give me a ride back, so I go back and look for him to tell him that I am just outside, in case he wants to go, or wants to tell me something. He tells me that he found me (or actually us, Oki and me, since Oki stays at the same campsite too) a ride, this guy called Martin. So I tell Martin that I am outside, in case he needs to tell me something, and they start laughing, David and Martin, as if I was overly concerned about my ride back. Them laughing scared me quite a bit, because I knew I was not too worried about the ride back, since I was trusting David. Now the fact that they were laughing and saying not to worry, that they wont leave for a while and that Martin was going to come look for me before leaving, now that was kind of wierd. I don’t know what it meant, but as it turned out, Martin at about 4am decided to leave, but shortly thereafter, some buddies of his arrived and he decided he would stay longer. So Oki and I just took a taxi home and split it. so now: what was all that “no worries” talk of Martin and David? Oki was right: when he heard that Martin was wanting to stay longer, he thought it would be safest to just leave instead of waiting. I definitely agreed.

At any rate, after my wings, I came back in, had a shot of tequila-boom-boom, then sat at a table/bench facing away from the table towards the dance floor. Then I catch with the corner of my eye this guy I saw at the campsite earlier. He looks like a guy I have met already, I don’t know who, but I really like the way he looks. I don’t necessarily think he is a good person, but I like his image: relatively long hair, very curly and sticking up, borderline messy, with a light black skin and huge eyes. Anyway, he sat with a guy just behind me, on the other side of the table. So I turn around and start to get closer as to initiate a conversation. Immediately he tells me to look the other way. So I do but I see nothing interesting on the dance floor, just people dancing. So I turn again towards him, but again he tells me the same thing, to look the other way. So I look again at the dance floor, again I notice nothing, but this time I understand he does not want me to look at what he is doing. At first I thought he was buying something. But now I am almost convinced that he was actually selling something. When I ran into him later that night, I asked him if he had gotten anything interesting. Without asking any further questions or clarifications about the question, he sort of smiled and answered “No”. He must have being selling something. Oki tells me that he heard from somebody that he is a dodgy character…

That sums up the “black cotton” night. Our trip back to the camp site, had as protagonist our taxi driver, who Oki called Mr. Bean or Charlie Chaplin. Mr. Taxidriver in fact, had quite a few problems: first, when we got into the car, while removing the “taxi” sign that he had on the roof of the car he dropped half of it, so I picked it up for him. Then the car would not start. When it finally started, it stalled. Then it wouldn’t even get any power any more. “ah, the battery” he says, as he is trying to open his door, which does not open, and only with great effort ad expertise and patience he was able to hold up the lock pin, lift the door, and pull the handle from the outside, while at the same time exert a constant force on the door towards the outside of the vehicle, and, finally, pop the door open. Then he completed a short task under the hood, came back in and the car started again. Off we went with the windshield totally fogged up, and the wipers with no rubber and no high beams. Visibility was very scarce. Mr. Taxidriver was not even able to avoid bumps on the road, because he couldn’t see far enough away.

Then we stopped for gas, he put in the exact amount of gas he could buy with our fare, and said “There. That was all my money.” So I added “Well at least you have some gas now, and can drive for a while”, and I got to the conclusion that these taxi drivers probably just give rides just to pay for their gas. When the tank starts getting low, they stop, and try to find somebody to give a ride to, sot that they can fill up the tank.

When we got back, I chilled at Oki’s room for a while, as we had a little to smoke. And we started talking. And talking and talking. And he said some things, like how he could or would never put himself in a position similar to the one I put myself into. He asked me if I was a chicken. He pointed out the problem I have with getting to the point. He actually got to that immediately. I wonder if he is really referring to how I don’t get to the main source of my issue or it is something else, but he claims that life is too short not to be straightforward. I told him that there is nothing that life is not long enough for. I think what he is trying to say it that I open myself too much to strangers, exposing my inner, and being vulnerable. My approach to this is that, yes, this might very well be true, but I have to find out how people can take advantage of my frankness and openness. And when somebody does, that person, of course, will lose all my trust. Oh well. There was more to the conversation but we were kind of out of it, so it was not to coherent neither.


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