Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Journal of a Trekker - Part 1

Well it's taken a while...but here is the first installment of my Africa Trek Journal. The rest will be published (with more photos) over the coming days.

Footsteps of the Maasai Trek, 7-16 October 2007

“Join Maasai tribesmen and seek out your nomadic origins as you take on this majestic bush trek through Africa’s most beautiful region – the Rift Valley. Trek through a landscape of acacia trees, savannah grasslands and volcanoes, passing antelopes, zebras, giraffes and traditional Maasai villages – this is the cradle of mankind”

So said the blurb before we left and what a bush trek it was.

Thanks to your support, my total raised at the end of October stood at £3,293.15. By the end of our trek, the group of 23 as a whole had raised an astonishing £92,000 between us for ActionAid – thankyou.

Sunday 7th October
We are now just over 1 hour from landing in Nairobi to start our ‘challenge of a lifetime’ – events so far having been non-eventful (no traffic on the M25, very quick check in, emotional good byes to the girls, successful meet and greet with fellow passengers and about 2 hours sleep (disturbed). Soon reality will kick in as we are whisked straight from the airport to Narok some 2 hours away and a project visit this afternoon.

An entertaining drive from Nairobi threw up the usual standard of African roads with deviations aplenty and the opportunity to choose which side of the road to drive with regular occurrence. Passing through several villages threw up the hoped for collection of entertaining shop names – of note the Destiny Hotel, butcherys aplenty and what appeared to be the Kenyan equivalent of Weatherspoons – chain of ‘Honey Pot’ pubs – worth a visit? Having left Nairobi in drizzle and mist it was a delight when our route took us past a vantage point giving us views stretching for miles across the Rift Valley – so impressive in fact that astute budding businessmen had set up stalls with goods for sale while you took in the beauty of the ‘3rd World View’…we didn’t stop.

After a brief snooze we headed out to our project visit – Oloontoto Dining Hall at a boarding school some 20kms outside of Narok that serves approximately 500 children (200 of whom are boarders). ActionAid money has helped build a large new kitchen and dining area that now serves as a meeting hall for the whole community as well as a place for the children to eat together indoors. We were shown around the school by the obviously proud head teacher then treated to some wonderful singing and dancing in the hall from groups of both boys and girls. Afterwards as we made our way through the grounds we each received our mob of children who were intent on getting into every photo – 1 or 2 taking particular interest in my hat and sunglasses, another obtaining my ActionAid ID badges and now answering to name of Andrew. We visited their classrooms – brick buildings with desks and blackboards as usual, where I showed them some postcards of London I had brought with me – gone within 5 seconds flat.

Eventually we climbed aboard our buses, waved goodbyes and drove off in a cloud of dust much to the children’s obvious disappointment. We headed back to the hotel stopping briefly for the zebra (and gazelle) crossing.
The children at Oloontoto School

After a quick change of clothes and a drink in the hotel bar, 3 of us took a wander into downtown Narok to see the locals. We found the best policy to be to walk in the middle of the road to avoid cars and trucks using the supposed pavement. The many “Jambos” on the way were followed by inevitable requests for money or pens – not aggressive or pleading – and we found a polite “Habana” (No) would suffice. We ventured into Harry’s bar – a seemingly small cosy tavern from the outside that turned out to be more a German beer hall arrangement without the waitresses but with the hanging meat. We had a quick beer for which we decided on the price then returned to our hotel for ice-breaking games followed by dinner then a drink in the bar before bed – it was gone 9pm after all.

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