Il Diario di Tinton

Indeed we did leave at 6am, but not Africa time, rather real time. It happened. And off we went. this was the hardest day of all, the reason being that I was still on top with the freight and the mass of people, and the road was not tarmac, or rather it was a dirt road. That’s when my cold got worse. We stopped about 4 times to change tires, it was always the rear right side that had problems. and they way they were doing things, I’m surprised we only sopped 4 times. First it was the outside tire, then tie inside then the inside tire was put outside, and the outside, inside. Then the outside tire again. Every stop was from 30-90 minutes. depending on how many times they had to put the tire back on to figure out they had to take it off again.

The ride wa spectacular, though. Being in the truck, and being the truck so crowded, I could not see much, but where I was, I liked it a lot. Also, we picked up some military/security guards, with guns which were very alert. What Mike was saying was kind of bullshit: He was saying that there are no convoys and that there is no problem up here. But instead there is: I have seen convoys of 3-4 trucks, and every time we stopped because of a puncture, other people would stop there too, to fix up what they had to fix up, so they didn’t have to stop in an area alone. Talking to the military guys, they told me that maybe like 3% of the trips get mugged. And it usually happens when it rains, the trucks get stuck in the mud and the people come. out of bushes, and steal valuables from passengers, because they don’t know how to drive a truck according to the military guy) I have a hard time believing this, because there are Mitsubishi trucks (most of them are the same model, I think somebody gave them these tuck somehow, but I don’t know the exact story) and these truck are really easy to drive: they have 5 gears only and the only thing they have different from cars, is the brakes.

At any rate, also locals hopped on the truck for a brief stretch, and these ladies were dressed sort of like Masai, but I don’t think they were Masai. I think they were from a different tribe.. They were wearing basically nothing, but a blanket, sort of like the Masai blanket I got. and they looked really old, but in a weird way: They had deep and many wrinkles, but the skin was not looking too old.. The wrinkles were limited to were they had wrinkles. It seemed like they didn’t get too many extra wrinkles. It was just that the ones that they had got bigger and deeper. I wonder what their age was. But these women were able to climb on top of the truck and were travelling on top with the cargo no problem.

After plenty stops, we finally arrived in Marsabit, a 277km drive which took us about 12 hours.

The scenaries, the deserts, and the skies were marvelous though. At some point, some guy suggested that we would have slept there that night(because of the frequent tire problems) and I was very excited by the idea. But on the other side, I was thinking that I was a little scared and that it might have been safer to sleep on the truck, rather than pitching my tent. But all this did not happen.

Instead we arrived in Marsabit, and I stayed at this lodge, in the same room with the driver. The people at the lodge were very nice and gave me some medicine for the nasal congestion I was having. Also the driver said that I could stay and sit inside the cabin the next day, instead of having to stay with the cargo. The night went quite well, the driver didnt’ really snore at all.

{2001-06-27}   Day 34 – Isiolo, Kenya

So waking up around 10:30 does not help someone who wants to leave early. But that was OK as well. I was able to finish talking to Mike, since he decided to stay in and not go to work, and was trying to help Steve work the brand new scanner, purchased the day before. Then eventually, it started to be close to 1PM, and I knew I wanted to be in Eastleigh at around 2PM so I started to get nervous. And I was nervous not only because of the time. It was mainly because I did not want to leave.

This is what Mike told me just before leaving. He was telling me these things just before I left. Since he came from north, and was going south, he could tell me were to go to stay, and how much to pay and who to talk to in some towns.

Mike was making fun of me, which was a good thing. He was making fun of my ideals, and of how I had packed. As a matter of fact, he is right: my ideals are not ideal for this kind of traveling, and my packing is also not ideal for the go around and visit sort of travel. Just to see things, it is a very good idea to have a sleeping bag, some clothes, medication kit, and beauty case. That’s it. All the rest is way too much. Also the tent is too much in a continent like this, where you can find hotel rooms for 2USD/night.. Unless you wanna go out in nature and camp, (but then you also need a guide of some sort) having a tent is just a big heavy thing. Not advisable. Also the cooking stuff. I have the impression that I am not going to need it. I might need it this summer back in Italy, but not for the moment, down there, where I am traveling from one city to the next. Yes I decided to just travel and not see. I don’t’ feel packed properly for seeing and driving around. Also, I do not have the time to do so. I mean, we all know I could take the time, but I prefer not to. I want to spend time in Italy, and my goal on this trip was to travel north, to go home via land, so that is what I should be doing. Then I also have to stop in Israel, so I better hit the road.

After all this thinking, I get my stuff ready, and prepare to hop on a cab and go to Eastleigh to catch a truck to Moyale. Everyone was telling me that this was going to be the hard part of the trip, but I wasn’t not scared outside, rather I was scared inside.

Once in Eastleigh, I find a truck, hop on it, and pay 1000Ksh to stay on the top, with the cargo, which happened to be a shit-load of school notebooks. After having waited for about 1 hour for a tire to arrive, a new one that is, we finally leave, and stop at the gas station where the driver gets convinced by the rowdy (a kid that works for the truck driver, and takes care of all the minute things like cleaning up, , changing tires, and such) to change the tire before we leave for Isiolo, so we do. In the process of changing it, somehow, the air tube gets pinched. The theory is that the rowdy screwed up and pinched the tube while putting it in. But I don’t think this is what happened: the tube was not pinched where you would think the rowdy could have pinched it. I think they tire was soled with a an air tube that was already pinched. At any rate, we wasted about 4 hours at the gas station, because of this tire. The truck equipage was very incompetent, and were doing most things wrong, braking a few valves of the air tube, and other things.

Then we finally took off. And the trip to Isiolo was OK, but very cold. The road was a tarmac (as they say here) road, and we ended up sleeping in a dodgy hotel in Isiolo. I got many many cold, much of it, because there were too many people on the truck and my stuff was behind all of them. As I didn’t want to disturb them, I didn’t go for my stuff. But I soon felt the consequences of this decision as I caught a cold.

But the bed was OK, a small room, looked like a jail cellar, and I sort of slept OK, but I knew I could not sleep long since we were going to take off at 6am.

I am coming to the conclusion that the people here are used to working their asses off. They could come to america and work 3 jobs easy. And they are used to doing it for their whole lives, then reaching age of retirement without a penny, or actually with some money, but nothing close to western money. Some people work all the time, and still after 30-40 years of working they cannot even afford 100USD.

I picked up my passport VISA and went to see if I could get a VISA for Sudan. I talked to Mike, and he told me that he came through Sudan no problem. . He is actually from Romania, and has spent the last 4 years on the road, 2 years in Egypt some month in Turkey, and now a few month in Nairobi. He uses the internet to travel: he designs webpages, and since now there is internet everywhere, when he runs out of money, he makes sure he ends up in a big city, then goes to see if there is somebody who wants a webpage, by showing them the pages he has done so far. And since he is pretty good, he always gets a job. Then, he leaves again . But now he has to go back home for Christmas. And then he will go again, travel.

At any rate, he told me to go through Sudan, that there is no problem. The only problem is the VISA. It takes at least 3 days and 4 photos, with letter of reccomdation from your own embassy. I tried to get it in Nairobi, but they told me that they only issue business VISAs. Then, as I was walking down the stairs o leave, I remembered never to assume anything, so I went back upstairs to bthe Sudan embassy lady, and asked her if it was possible at all to get a tourist visa, and she told me to try in Addis Ababa, as they might issue them there.

Then, when I came home that night, I talked to Mike about it, and we was very surprised: He said that that was very funny since they issued a VISA to a guy from Holland about a few weeks ago. Then I told Mike that the lady at the embassy also told me that they had not been issuing tourist visas since january first and that I had not told her my nationality until after she told me that they don’t issue VISAs for tourism. Maybe she recognized my accent as being from America?

The evening was a lazy one. After a chicken dinner at the hostel, and after playing around with Mike to try to get the scanner to work, I went to bed , already thinking to leave the next morning.

{2001-06-25}   Day 32 – Nairobi,Kenya

I decided to change campsite, as the Nairobi Park Services was too far away from the city, and I had to get some stuff done. So I went with Oki and Smiley in the morning downtown: Oki went for his Safari, to Masaai-Mara, and I got dropped off at the backpackers hostel ( ), were Steve, the owner, is very cynical, but mainly sarcastic. This is one of the main reasons why Oki does not like him. I think he is OK, and yes, very sarcastic all the time, but not always, and there are moments were he is not. Nonetheless, maybe Oki is right, not to trusts him.

This campsite is like 15 minutes walk from downtown, and 10 mins from the Ethiopian embassy. Being finally Monday, I go in the morning to drop off my passport and $70 at their embassy. Then I proceed for downtown with Martin, a high school student from Sudan. He told me that in Sudan the situation is not too good, but it is not too dangerous either. What I should watch out for is the southern part, at the border: he strongly suggested me not to cross the border Sudan/Ethiopia via Land. but to Fly into Khartoum from Addis Ababa instead.

Then he told me that if I want to go to Ethiopia, I need to go to Islee (which then turned out to be Eastleigh) and take a truck there. And he asked if I wanted to go there. I must remember that I as soon as I ran into him, just outside the embassy, I told him I could not give him any money. and he said it was all right. So he took me to the bus stop, we hopped on the bus, I paid the $0.50 cents fair for both of us, and we went to Eastleigh. This is a dodgy Ethiopian neighbourhood, but after some asking, we finally found out that I can leave for Moyale from there by showing up around noon and hopping on a truck: 1000Ksh to sit in the cabin, and Ksh500 to sit on the truck with the cargo.Then we came back to downtown, and had lunch, and then he had to go back to school, since he only was allowed to skip school in the morning to go get his passport stuff done.

So I concluded my Nairobi dive by going to an internet cafe’, installing winzip, teraterm and ttssh, and doing all my stuff. is still down. I don’t know what is happening. Also acd told me in an old email that I had yet not read that he had still not received my money, which kind of worries me.

Then I went to this other place,, were Martin took me earlier, for international calls: they only charge 100Ksh/min istead of 200. So I went there around 3pm and called Jeff at 7912657. But being there an 8 hours difference, it was about 7am for him, and nobody picked up the phone. I left a message. This was kind of disappointing since I was expecting him to be home, or at least to pick up the phone.

Whatever. I walked back to the hostel, where I met three girls, that had just finished a tour from Cape town: one from GB, and two from Australia, that were going to GB to work or study. A fourth girl was being very asocial and reading her book i a corner.

Then it was dinner time, and as I was eating the fried fish with chips with one of the girls, I saw two guys go in the back with backpacks: they turned out to bo Yaron and Yani, the Israeli brothers. They took showers, then, as I was just done eating, they were going down the street to this place called Buffalo Bill’s to have something to eat and they asked me if I wanted to go. I had to finish my beer, so I did, and then we went. They had something to eat, and I had a shot of whisky, which was supposed to cost like Ksh250 but the waiter screwed up and gave me 2 shots, without me knowing it. So when the bill came, it was a problem, because I had already drunken the whisky, and I didn’t want to pay for Ksh500. but at the end I paid 350, and he was going to put the other 150. I think I did the right thing: After all I did drink two shots, and he should pay something, or rather most of the extra shot, since it was him who screwed up by telling me that the whisky would have been 250. So this way, I paid a little and he paid most of it, as to pay for his mistake. And I got two shots for a better price this way.

Then the Israeli brothers, went to change some money at the hotel next door, and we came back at Buffalo Bill’s bar, called the horseshoe bar, to play some pool. As it turned out, the bar was a whore bar, and the pool table had a waiting list of 13 people. So we hung out there for a little bit, I got some attention from some ladies, and then we all left. Actually, a funny anecdote happened: as we signed up for pool, we were standing just by it, and didn’t realize that we were actually obstructing the view of the pool table to a man dressed up in a suite. So the man told Yaron: “What makes you think that I actually want you to stand there?” And the girl with him agreed. I was like “Wooohhha” In my mind and headed towards the door where I hung out with the door man for a while and told him about the arrogance of the man in the suite. he knew the man, and he pointed out that he has problems: men who are always alone (and in fact he was alone, just with the girl) must have problems. So I went back in and enjoyed the crowd and the beautiful ladies wanting to give me massages. I refused: it would be too much for the first night, and plus I had company waiting outside.

So we came back, and that’s when Yaron and Yaniv actually put their credibility/reliability to a strong test: When we came back, Steve was doing some accountancy work on the computer and was already tired and ready to go to sleep. The two brothers approached him asking him where they could buy some wooden carving curios. So Steve started to show them s few places on the map. And since this was taking a long time, I went outside to look at the stars and smoke a little. When I left, Steve had told them about two places and showed them how to get their with a map. When I came back, the brothers were still there, but this time Steve had showed them more places, and had also revolutionized the way he was giving directions: he whipped out some postcards of Nairobi and was showing them where the shops were on the postcards! Eventually Steve got fed up and “come on guys, let me finish up here”. As a matter of fact, they were able to have Steve procrastinate fora good 45 minutes while tired. When they came into my room, I told them “Banita, banita!”, as they built upon their credibility/reliability level.

Tomorrow Oki is going to Masai-Mara national park for free, instead of paying $50/day plus $17/day park fees, which totals $280. I was thinking of going with him, but I think I should not. Just a few hours ago I was thinking while taking a dump that I don’t want to leave this country with the impression that I have seen it and don’t want to come back. I just want to get that “oh, yes, I’ve travelled through Africa, but didn’t see much. yes I met some people, but I would be glad to go again and cover more interesting places”. I would like to come back with Mec and Jeff…

So today was pretty boring: just sitting around at the camp doing little, like playing carrom and pool. Night finally came and it was time to eat. They were showing James Bond The world is not enough on TV. Pretty nice. Then, all of a sudden, Smiley noticed some blood on the floor: it was one of the dogs, Fire, who was bleeding from her leg. So Brandon, the owner, was promptly called, but he was having dinner and did not want to be disturbed. There was a lot of tension now at the camp site. People didn’t like the way Brandon just didn’t come back to take care of the problem.

One lady tried to medicate the wound by wrapping it with some medical gauze, but she didn’t tie it tight enough, so she didn’t stop the bleeding at all. Fortunately, at the same time, another man wa trying to find some vet and succeeded. Fire was taken to the vet and the vet said that 1 artery and 2 veins were cut by probably some form of knife. At this point, when the bar lady translated these words from Swahili to English, the camp site entered alarm mode: somebody is trying to break in and is damaging/hurting the dogs. So the guards armed themselves with their strong, and dangerous bow and arrow, and went around the site to check if somebody was there. But they didnt’ find anybody. In the meanwhile, James Bond continued on the screen and eventually finished. I was kind of scared that if someone was breaking in, I might be the one to suffer the most since I was the only tent pitched on the lawn. And the lady barlady was telling me not to say these hings, that it’s just silly. So then I asked why she looked worried, and she said that if they break in she might very well be the first one to go, since they will want to come inside and raid the office. So I laughed and recognized this behaviour as a characteristic female one. and asked her about it, but she just laughed and said nothing.

I finally decided to have the last beer and go to bed, when The perfect Murder came on. So I watched a little of it, but it was too Hollywood, so I finally decided to go to bed. At this time, Oki was developing a new theory about the cut leg: Since there are no blood traces on the floor outside, maybe she got hurt inside with something sharp. This would eliminate the break in danger which, they thought, was threatening them. I slept in the tent and all went all right.

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.

So I wake up with the noise of the big group packing up and leaving. I am lazy, so I roll around for a while, then wake up, do some cleaning around and morning-tent-organizing, and then by the time I walk out of the tent, the big english group had already left.

I start packing up my tent, under the rain, and my stuff, while still in the tent, then I go out in a moment of non rain. The intermittent Tanzanian rain. I notice a tent , a new one, with a motorcycle next to it, and I meet the owner, who had also just gotten out of his tent. He is from south Africa and is travelling south I belive. but he told me that there were about 6 people from the big group that were gong back to Nairobi, and that I probably could have gotten a ride with them. But they were going on a shuttle anyway, so whatever.

He seems to be preparing to leave, so I ask if I can get a ride to town. he agrees, and gives me a helmet, and tries to start the motorcycle, which doesn not start. So he tells me to start walking, that we will check the spark plug to see if he can fix the problem, that seems to be new. So I started walking, and after about 5-10 minutes I find in front of a Matatu bus asking if I wanted a ride. I asked if they were going downtown, and hopped on. the ride was 150Tsh. not bad.

Now I just had to follow the plan b I had prepared the day before, so I went to change some money, then I went to the telephone house, to call Adam and home. The procedure there is operator assisted: you write on a piece of paper the number you want to call, the lady operator makes the call and tells you to what cabin she will connect you to.Then you go in the cabin, pick up the phone, and she waits until the other side picks up, then starts her CASIO digital stopwatch for the duration of the call.

I called Adam. He didn’t seem to be too excited that I called.; I don’t know why. Maybe he was but I could not tell. At any rate, I told him I would have called him from Arusha, and I did.

Then I went to exchange money again, to a new place, because I wanted to buy some Ksh (Kenyan shilling) and I even decided to go back to the first place, because the rates there were a lot lower.So I did, and on the way back, i met another street guy, that said that his brother worked at Riverside, the shuttle I was planning in taking, that I had heard was very good. And he took me there. I bought a ticket, left my bag there, and followed the guy, whose name I forget ( I belive its Ibrahim), to the internet cafe’, where I did some of that.

Ibrahim waited outside. Then I had something to eat, and Ibrahim started talking to me about girls and drinking and bars. First he said to pay attention in Nairobi at bars for people putting stuff in your drinks. He told me the story of the Japanese guy.

The ride to Nairobi started perfectly on time and was pretty smooth. I really enjoyed all the landscapes. When we stopped at the border, the women, of some tribe, I don’t know if they were Masai or not, but they were very insisting. and sticking stuff in my face. But some women understood what I was saying or that I did not want and respected that and pulled back smiling. Others did not. but a lot of them had big big pierced or stretched ear lobes.

The second half of the ride was a little bit more social. AT any rate I got to Nairobi, and to the Nairobi Park Services camp site, since I could not get to the other one, suggested by the guy at the bar at the Masai camp site. It was called something like Appeil. The taxi driver, recommended by the shuttle driver ripped me off by asking me for 2000Ksh instead of about 1000. But the camp site is OK, so I stayed and met some people while sitting at the bar. These are white locals, and they told me how they had no idea about getting to Ethiopia and who to ask. Then they were going some place, and one of them asked me if I wanted to go. I said yes, then he asked members of the group if I could come along. they did not seem to be to excited about the idea, but eventually they agreed and told me to come along.

And I told them I had to drop off some money and exchange some, so I went and did it, and by the time I was done, they were gone. what a shame. I would have liked to go and do some Nairobi night life. So after that I really did not do much but talk to Smiley, an auto electrician that works here. He is also the local taxi service.

At some time along the night I found my self on a hand made long chair, pondering about how there are different types of learning methods. You can learn something just by hearing about it, without needing to live it. That is really good. Or you can learn something or rather you might need to live to believe, and then once you have experienced, then you understand better. and learn. but you then learn the whole field, not just that one thing. So, you get screwed once, then you sort of learn how not to get screwed any more . But then there is also a stage where you have to get screwed for all different things, like getting robbed, falling into a trap, or getting mugged. There is a a stage where you have to learn everything or you will not know how to do it. And that is pretty bad already. Then there is the worse stage, or class of people: those who never learn. No matter what happens or how often. I think I fall in to the second category.

So I just brushed my teeth, then cleaned some grass from stems and seeds, and smoked a little and went to sleep.

Today I basically chilled. I didn’t know what to do, because yesterday I just went to bed without planning. I woke up around 11am, wrote the last 3 days of this book, and organized somethings, fixed my pouch, and finally at almost 1pm I went for lunch and breakfast and started to see how I could get out of there and move on. The plan was not too bad: go down town, buy a ticket on a shuttle bus, ad leave. And since I was in town, I could have also done some internet and exchange some money.

The guy I met yesterday and talked about physics, he was apparently part of this safari group, and was waiting for his group to get back. I saw him today, as he was preparing dinner for the group, that still had not arrived.

When the group came back, one guy started talking to me and saying how there are two groups and some people are going to Dar the next day and some are not. Then I started putting in the drawing book the rules for the bao game. As it turns out, they guy I had just met, was called Bill and today was Bill’s birthday, and the game I was writing rules for, I ended up playing with Zachery ( )which made me live through quite an interesting experience.


Zachery, in fact, as you can see from his website, is 34 and has a few kids. He first started to be a priest. But soon God made his future turn around, and he quickly became a mount Kilimanjaro guide climber. Then one day he met these americans, a couple, that were very interested in him and believed in him. So they wanted to help him start his business. After climbing the mountain with him, they went back to america, and the Americans assisted and sponsored his business: they fist send some money for the office, then some for computers, and Zach slowly built up a name in the internet too, being served by the american friends.

One day the americans decided to go back to Tanzania to see how Zach had spent the money. When they saw that the business was actually there, they were surprised but happy.

We played bao together and as we were playing I started having serious doubts about the rules, as I feared.

The night then proceeded with Zach being extremely drunk on coffee and double whisky ( he had 7 of them) and paid some for some ladies, and half one for me, and at the time of paying the bill, he was giving Adolfa very hard time. That was funny and interesting the way Adolf was looking at him, knowing that he had money, and was just extremely patient. Then one of the Englishmen came to pay too, and this guy was ready for some serious bargaining. Being to drunk, he was obviously unable to see that that was a place were you could not bargain, at the most he could get a discount, since the ir group was very big. So the bartender gave him a discount, but the man insisted more and more and wanted to drop the price. But Adolf could not bend, because he knew that any more discount than what he gave already, it would have had to come out of his pocket. Eventually the drunk Englishman paid and left.

After all this I went to bed.

Not too much sleep on the boat. Not really. At 6am we had already arrived, and since we went to bed late, we didn’t really get too much sleep. Leaving the boat was interesting: on the way out I ran into the kids that I hung out with in the VIP lounge, and they helped me out too: they offered me a cup of coffee for 50Tsh on the street by the port, then walked me to the dala-dala and paid the guy 100Tsh to go to Ubungo, where the bus station for Arusha was. At the dala-dala bus stop, a bunch of people approach me, and a cop is there too. I tell him my problem, he talks to the kids, tells me to follow him and as he goes away, he pulls with him the storm of kids trying to convince him to be elected. He is fairly quiet and at last turns around towards me, and says: “This one: follow this guy here”. So I did. And he took me straight to the ticketing office, were they were asking me for 40,000Tsh, but seemed to be happy when I gave them only 20USD. I boarded the bus, it was 7:20am, and the bus left at 9:20am, instead of 8am.

The bus ride was pretty interesting. The most painful part was the beginning sitting for 2 hours in the bus with no air, or very little of it, and heat. But once they got going, things changed a little. It was airier. It was a very long trip though: 580km, 10hours which makes average cruise velocity 58km/h, much faster than the 33km/h of the train.

Towards the end I met Zumbezi, or something like that ( i wrote the name on my hand, so I would not forget, but then before I wrote it down for real, I had to wash my hands with dish washing detergent (in order to eat, I didn’t have soap, they didn’t, so they just gave me the dish detergent, in powder) so it was all gone), who made me get off at a big hotel, came with me, showed me where to change money, hooked my up with a campsite and a TAXI driver, then sneaked a ride with me on it.

And that is how I got where I am now, at the Masai Camp ($3/night). Which opens a whole new Masai world. See, the Masai is a tribe here, one of the only tribes to have maintained their tradition. They are the tribe that people always talk about the one where they circumcise at the age of 12 with a knife and no pain killer, and the boy has to smile during the operation, and they do the same for the woman where they cut off the clitoris, so they don’t want to fuck as much. ‘Cuz what happened was that once the men had to go away for a big fight or hunt, they stayed away a long time, maybe about one year. And when they got back, many wives had children or were pregnant from somebody else. The wives explained that they were doing it just for sex, not to betray the husband. So as a way to stop that, they decided to remove their clitoris.

Then, also, if you are not home, and I am your friend, then I can come into your house, and if your wife is there, I can stick my dagger on the door, put my hat on it, and fuck your wife. If you come home, and see the hat, you have to wait outside, until they are done. And this same tribe lives with cattle and does not farm, but only eats meat and cheese, they dress funny and always have a stick and are very skinny,. They kind of remind me of samurai.. And they remind me too of the American “equivalent”, the Amish people, because the Masai also don’t use technology and like to move from one place to the other and have their dress code.

Then I met a couple of Canadians, who had just climbed the Kilimanjaro

Then I talked to the bartender, Adolf, and then to Joseph, a kid that was working here and sitting at the bar chatting away. then I started talking to Joseph, and it started with politics, then if finally got to Ohm’s law, for some reason as we were trying to calculate or to see how to calculate how to warm up the windshield of a car with a resistance. Then that took us it incandescent light bulbs, and Neon light, then the came back to thermodynamics discussing how you can defrost the windshield also by sing a/c instead of hot air.

Then Adolf hooked me up by asking Isaac for some grass, and Isaac, security Masai guy, gave me 5 rolls of packed stuff. which i promptly put in my hat and on my head. And that night ended pretty much like that. We then went to bed and I slept in my tent.

Today I woke up in the bed, by the Norwegian, whom I told to wake me up in the morning. I had breakfast with them, then I started to play Bao with Adam, who was teaching me how to play. I immediately wanted a board myself, so I decided to buy one. myself. Then packed my stuff and checked out, with a damage of like 44USD. The beach in this place was absolutely marvelous. Ladies were always on it collecting see weed to export to the Japanese, who like to eat it.

I was basically waiting for Adam to be ready, so we cold go. This didn’t happened until after lunch,though. And when he said we were ready to go, I asked if we wanted to smoke some ganja, so we went and did it on the beach. But it was a lot, and he ended up not smoking any, basically. So i had to do it all. or almost, and was smashed, then we walked to the dala-dala stop, and that was very hard, maybe because when you are stoned your heart is racing quite a bit, and maybe also because it was very hot, and I had to carry the heavy backpack and such.

At any rate, at the bus stop we met this guy, who seemed to be one of Adams buddies, and he started talking in Swahili, and I was going crazy, as the language was tripping me out: it sounded like Genuese, or Portuguese, but I couldn’t understand a word (not that I can understand a word of Genuese or Portuguese, but the point was that it sounded very familiar, yet it was very distant). I could relate with their expressions, and Adam’s buddy said that from the way I laugh he sometimes thinks that I understand what they are saying, and I replied that when I laugh it’s because I think I understand too.

Then we hopped on the back of the pickup truck with seats and roof, I mean on the dala-dala, and headed off for the city of Zanzibar. The ride was silent. i was just really stoned and looking outside at the vegetation that , as it was winter, it was all green, like intensely dense and green. And I thought to myself:”thank god it’s Winter! In the summer how is it? Like you have to leave because the vegetation just takes over?” But then again I was stoned, so I don’t know how much this thought was important.

These are the rules for the Game of Bao, which I have purchased today with Adam in Zanzibar. I have written the rules myself, and, since they are quite complicated, I have probably forgotten something here and there. But I wrote them immediately, so I would not forget. If somebody has the exact rules, please email me or drop a comment.

Once in the city, we get off at the port, to go buy the ticket. I decided not to stay another night on the island, and instead to save money and ride the ferry at night. That way I get 2 pigeons with one stone: a place to stay, and the ferry all for $25.

We headed for a beer. On the way, I got convinced by a street bum to buy another elephant tail hair bracelet (which was used) for 1000Tsh. Then we stopped for the beer in stone town, which is just like our old city in Genova, maybe smaller, with the streets better maintained, or less old. We stopped at a bar, just in front of a bureau of change, that I mistakenly did not use, and i bought Adam some 3 beers, gave him 1000Tsh, just because I had “lots of them”, and gave him 2000Tsh, so he could buy a chicken alive, for his family. I was in fact going to buy him some food at the bar, but then he thought about it, and told me just to give him 2000Tsh, that way he can buy the chicken, and I can still have some change for the night ferry.

Then he started to talk about what I should do and that I am now on my own life, and should therefore watch it. He basically preached and told me what an idiot I had been with the rastafarian (I had told him the story while at the beach smoking), and how I just wasted another 1000Tsh for the street guy. He talked ant talked, and I was silent, had nothing to say. He also told me about his salary, and how it is not enough, and never will be enough. I was trying to tell him that also when it is enough, people here can’t save, because the rest of the family comes to collect it, but this seemed to be a thought that he didn’t too much pick up , as he was mainly concerned about my safety. He wanted me to call once I get to Arusha.

I was very touched by this conversation. He was talking to me like a parent of family friend, giving me advices and telling me stories that are just like the ones somebody who loves you would give you.

Then we went for a walk. He decided he would walk with me back to the port, as he thought I would get lost, or so something stupid again. On the way we had some kebab sort of thing, for 100Tsh each, and it was great. Very good. Then he departed, and went home. I turned around and headed back toward the port, at the ticket counter, were I had left my luggage.

I sat on the curb, next to some street people, this time aware of what they were and who they wanted (or the other way around but it works both ways). The one guy next to me on the right was clearly tripping on heroin. They obviously started a conversation, and I was chill about it all. After a while, I decided to have a smoke, and as soon as I pulled out the tobacco, they swarmed. Everyone wanted a smoke, so I started rolling, and rolled like 4 or 5 cigarettes, and then called it quits. and said no to the others. I recognized one guy who seemed to be nice in the group, he was Arabic, ad he was actually the one who suggested to stop rolling by saying out loud”OK last one guys, last one for everyone!” and I agreed. We all had the smoke, then I asked at the counter if it was time to board, she said yes, and I went in to pick up my backpack, dropped the 12V stabilized 3Amp transformer, and headed for boarding.

The boat trip was very nice: they put us in the VIP lounge, basically all the tourists, with some kids that were friends of who worked there. I met the tourists, who were two couples, one from England, this guy who came down to work for 6 months, and now is sort of traveling back to his research city, which I think was Arusha, but I am not certain. The other couple, he was South African, and she was Californian. He had climbed the Kilimanjaro last year and paid $900 for it. And we started hanging out and playing the Bao game. Then some locals saw us play and were watching and started to correct as were making mistakes in rules and moves. So then I played with one of them and the game lasted for ever, but I won. then they played against each other and it lasted a lot less. Then I rolled one and 3 of us went outside and smoked it. Then I threw or better flicked the but in the wind and the wind caught it, and it started accelerating more and going further, and the one guy said [something]-colea! Which they didn’t know how to explain, so I insisted, and it turned out to be acceleration. So then I whipped out that acceleration was the measure of gravity and stepped into a whole new world of conversation: Up until now They didn’t know what acceleration, measure or gravity meant. So I started to explain. Measure was easy, gravity a little less, but I think they got it pretty well. I also explained to them that acceleration is measure in m/s^2, and what that meant and they seemed to get it pretty well. Then it was late and we went to bed. In the VIP lounge with air conditioning and mattress on the floor.

et cetera
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