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Memories of my travels between 1972 and 1982

Monday, 9 May 2011

May 9th: Lokichar in Northern Kenya

On May 9th 1980 I was in Lokichar in north-western Kenya.  I had been to Lake Turkana and was trying to get back to Nairobi.

The day before I'd managed to get from Kalakol on Lake Turkana to Lodwar by early afternoon and with no prospect of a ride south that day, checked back into the squalor of the Mombasa Hotel and had lunch.  Then I walked past the Turkwell River and went out for a walk into the scrub desert around the town, realising that this might be my last chance to be on my own in the wild of Africa.  It was very hot and there wasn't much to see, but wild plants were flowering in the wetter areas after the recent rain. 

I wrote up the next two days of travel when I reached Nairobi.
Near The Norwegian Road Camp:  My picture
The day began early, sitting waiting under the tree with the Turkana outside the Mombasa Hotel, and there wasn't a lot of activity.  I was afraid that I might get a truck which only would go into the mountains after dark.  The first truck to enter Lodwar coming from the north was going to Lohori but could take me to Lokichar, and I jumped at the idea, thinking that a Land-Rover lift was more likely out of Lokichar.  The driver was a bit of a smart Alec in check trousers, the truck a new Bedford 4WD, donated by the Free Kenya of Hunger Campaign or some such.  The truck spent an hour and a half going round various spots in Lodwar doing errands, speaking to people, and I was frustrated and full of resentment.  The ride was crowded and uncomfortable with a light awkward load in the middle.  About two kilometres before Lokichar the bolt on the steering arm sheered and we veered sharply off the road and were lucky not to topple over, I can still feel the bruise on my left thigh.  I jumped off and could see the truck at a crazy angle.  We sat around in the hot midday sun a bit, then began to walk to Lokichar which was closer than I had feared.  I made straight for the truck shop enjoying the feeling of walking in the desert, and of being alive.  I had a beer, beans and chapatti in the Lozenges restaurant which had been closed on my way up north.  Then along came John and Jill in a Land-Rover and they took me to Nairobi.  In convoy with two Spaniards once we had caught up with them, they headed for the Norwegian Road Camp (near the beginning of the mountains) where we spent the night, in cold Norwegian surroundings, cooking a meal and having quite a good time.  The next day we continued on to Kapenguria, rather than risk the Baringo side road, probably wisely, and I meekly accepted a free ride to Nairobi,  The road hrough the Marich pass was wet and treacherous but the climb up the mountains was just as exhilarating as I'd remembered and drier than I'd feared.
Jill had been teaching in Southern Sudan and John Ryle had been researching a book in Rumbek.  I was gaining a determination to see if I could get to Southern Sudan as a teacher for September. 

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