Hello Friends:

A couple of you have asked for a report on my latest trip in which I travel as a backpacker thru Kenya.

Here goes.

Kenya took several months to plan for, mainly I had to gather info and get in good enough shape to carry

a backpack with around 40 pounds. I took a tent, 2 quart pressure cooker (for high altitude), a second

smaller pack for me to carry while I employed someone to carry the large one, warm clothes , rain clothes

borrowed from Nick, sleeping bag etc. Iíll spare you more details on the preparations.

I took a short hop to Dubai, the glittering Las Vegas of the Gulf, to connect to Nairobi on Kenya Airways

at 2 AM. The flight was grossly overbooked, as are all African flights I was to learn, and I was bumped.

My ticket was a cheap excursion fare so no hotel. I found a comfy spot in the vast airport to sleep, on the

floor near some Pakistanis suffering the same fate by Pakistan Airways, another third world airline that

overbooks, cancels flights etc. The following night at 2AM I was still at the airport, got on my flight and

landed in Nairobi around breakfast time. Looking for a taxi in the chaotic terminal I encountered the "fake

taxi men", simply people with cars who pretend to be taxi drivers and undercut the real taxiís fares. The

legit taxi men hate these guys and sometimes fights break out in the terminal while confused passengers

stand around wondering who the hell the real guys are and what the fuss is about. I took a fake into town,

mentioning the Iqbal hotel, suggested by Lonely Planet as a low price backpacker place. The driver told

me this hotel was famous for robberies and refused to take me there, saying he would feel terrible if I were

robbed and killed. We argued, as we dodged thru Nairobi traffic, the man insisting I go to a place he

suggested, and I just as adamant. Finally he gave in and dropped me at the Iqbal, missing out on a nice

commission he gets for diverting passengers to the other place.

The Iqbal is a Muslim Hotel, which means it has no bar and is not a brothel, which is what most cheap

hotels in Africa amount to. A room is $5 per nite, bathroom down the hall, hot water for about 2 hours

each morning, and good central location, just right for a humble backpacker. I stayed here two nights,

shopping for groceries to take on my first trek to Mt Kenya, figuring out where the bus stations were,

buying books and a map for the trek etc.

Two days later I left Nairobi to go to Nayaruru, or Thompsons Falls, a small town NW of Nairobi. TFalls

is at elevation 7600 feet, a good place to hike around for a few days and try to get my pitiful sea level

lungs in shape for Mt Kenya, the second highest mt in Africa, about 1000 feet lower than Kilimanjaro. I

went to the lovely old Thompson Falls Lodge, built in colonial times (1930s) just above a roaring 200 foot

waterfall. They had camping available in a beautiful shady spot, three bucks a nite. The weather was spring

like, in the 70s with light showers most afternoons. The terrain was hilly, much like the Appalachian

foothills or the Ozarks, heavily wooded with corn fields here and there .The Lodge had a cozy lounge area

with a roaring fire, which was welcome in the evening as a respite from a cold tent, plus a bar of course.

This place is one degree north of the equator so the days and nights are almost the same length, even in

summer. This means it got dark at 6 PM and you have to figure out something to do until 6 AM, and in a

tent alone it gets a little tedious. So the Lodge was welcome.

I nursed a Tusker beer along, reading the newspaper and chatting with the other guests. One lady I met

was in charge of a Christian group doing good deeds around the area and trying to raise money to buy the

Lodge from its owner, a member of Kenyaís Parliament. This guy was tricky. She said he had not paid the

staff at the Lodge for 4 months, that they were living on tips and IOUs. He also ran ads in the paper in

Nairobi for "Hotel and Restaurant School" . After paying fees the students were bussed to the Lodge and

the "school" consisted of them working there for free. Youíve never seen people more grateful for tips than

the staff at this place! I met a retired man from Texas who had raised money to bring over a shipping

container of water pumps , and was travelling around installing them in villages. He had paid over $10000

in bribes to corrupt Kenyan officials during the past months to import his pumps and get permits to do his

good work. He said his donors were pretty fed up with their money being used this way. Kenya is corrupt,

even by African standards, and many charities have taken their money elsewhere where it is more effective.

During the day I took day hikes up nearby hills to get acclimated , rather nervous about walking alone

down little forest paths but encountered no trouble.

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Picture 1: Green hills of Africa, around Thompsons Falls.

After two days at T-Falls I took a matatu to Naru Moru, on the west flank of Mt Kenya , a grimy little

town at around 8500 feet. A matatu is a Nissan or Toyota minivan used as a bus, and they cram as many as

20 adults in one plus a few kids. In general two or three sit with the driver, then there are four bench seats

with 4 on each, with kids on laps, plus two or three crouched over by the sliding door. It is a sweating,

heaving nightmare to ride in. I always bought two places, for me and my large pack. Many have names

emblazoned across the front such as "Bob Marley" or even "Monica Lewinsky". The things constantly hunt

for passengers ( or victims) so when a couple get off and you can breathe a bit they are quickly replaced. If

this sounds bad even worse are converted pickups with bench seats in the back and a canvas cover. These

horrible things are crammed like the cattle cars going to Auschwitz, plus cargo on top, plus people hanging

on the back, and sometimes even people sitting on the cab dangling their feet in the drivers face.

Fortunately the trip to Naru Moru was short and I arrived in fair shape and was at once surrounded by

people wanting work as guides on the mountain; quite a crowd collected, most of them drunks. I sat and

chatted with one named Stanley. He seemed to know his stuff so I explained that I needed a porter to carry

the large pack, that I would carry a small one, Iíd do the cooking and weíd sleep in my tent. He wanted $7

per day and we agreed I gave him some grocery money and we agreed to meet in the morning.

The next morning Stanley shows up with his friend Joel and the groceries. Turns out Stanley cant go, but

Joel seems capable so I pay 5 days wages in advance , plus money for a pickup to take us to the park gate,

the trailhead. Stanley has bought a nice beef roast , some bacon( Iím starved for this of course), potatoes,

rice, onions, tomatoes, passion fruit , a fist size chunk of lard wrapped in newspaper, a 5 pound sack of

corn meal plus some other mystery packages I have no time to examine. At the park gate we unload, pay

park fees and divide up the load between Joel and me. Joel is a simple farmer in his late thirties, six feet or

so, skinny and strong as a bull, with reasonably good English. We cram as many of the groceries as we can

into the large pack. Then we strap onto it Joels bundle, which looks like an old fashioned laundry bag

covered with patches, containing his sleeping bag and a few odds and ends. He struggles to stand under this

massive load which must be 60 pounds. I cram more groceries into my day pack which tips the scales at a

manly 20 pounds. Each of us carries grocery bags in one hand, his with loaves of bread and mine a box of

eggs packed in sawdust. I am really pumped, very excited, months of planning finally realized. We are

off to climb Mt Kenya.

We start walking climbing steadily thru forest draped with spanish moss, it looks like Louisiana with

hills. We catch up with a large group of British high school kids , climbing the mountain as part of a

summer spent in Kenya helping children and seeing the country. We leave the forest and enter thick

bamboo , still walking on a wide easy path. That afternoon we camp at a place called Met Station at 9500

feet. We camp by the Brits in a clearing in the bamboo. I carve off some of the roast and make a tasty beef

stew in the pressure cooker, using as many of the heavy veggies as I can. Boiling anything above 7000 feet

is almost impossible, so that means no rice, beans or potatoes. Under pressure the stuff cooks in a jiffy, rice

or taters in 10 minutes, brown beans in 30. The Brits are having some kind of freeze dried powder meals

that you dissolve in hot water, looks pretty awful. Some cute monkeys venture into the camp and entertain

everyone. The Brits have several porters that Joel knows so he sleeps with them in a porter shack in the

clearing, I have the tent to myself.

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Picture 2: My little green tent next to the Brits at Met Station, porter hut behind.

In the morning we fall into our routine. I get up first and make instant coffee, Joel has his tea and I boil

some eggs., saving the bacon for seasoning the beans later in the trip. Joel breaks everything he touches so I

cook, take down the tent etc, the man is clumsy and there is no way to repair a tent zipper or a broken

stove. I load up the packs and we are off, still carrying the grocery bags but they are lighter. The climb

steepens as we enter grassy meadows above the bamboo. The path is muddy and steep but the scenery is

great as we plod along . The Brits go ahead of us. After lunch the slog thru mud continues but it clouds up

and starts to rain. I put on rain gear but Joel doesnít have any and his laundry bag is getting wet. We decide

to camp at a spot he knows along a river but its pouring when we get there and Joel is wet and shivering.

It takes me a few minutes to put up the tent and he crawls in the wet tent, gets in his cheap, smelly

sleeping bag and tries to get warm. I feel sorry for the guy, his equipment is so inadequate. The rain

continues so I crawl in too, get in my bag and we huddle together like Biblical shepherds but his smell is so

rank I can hardly stand it. I suspect he never washes his old gear for fear it will fall apart. The rain slacks

in a while so I make another stew and we eat well, then turn in . Heís really cold so I spend the night as

close to Joel as I can stand.

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Picture 3: Joel warms up with his tea after a cold nite by the river. Note the weird alpine plants like huge


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Picture 4: I call this plant the "It" Plant after the character in the Adams Family. These ice age plants only

exist on a few mountains in East Africa.

Next morning is cloudy but no rain so after breakfast ( hot rice with milk and sugar) I pack the wet gear.

Joel relaxes while I do this . Then off we go and in just two hours we are at McKinders camp at 13500 feet,

several nice cabins plus tent area. We are above tree line so no fire wood. We see the Brits here, they got

here the day before and are having a rest day. The day is glorious and we see the summit for the first time

towering above us at almost 18000 feet. That night the British group is told to be ready to leave at 1AM for

the lowest of the three summits, called Point Lennana. This route crosses some snow and mud patches so

itís best to walk it at night before the sun thaws it. As planned the Brits wake everyone up at one and off

they go, a string of flashlights moving up the mountain , quite a sight. I decide to sleep in .

The Brits are back from the summit at 9, Joel and I are packed and head north , doing a clockwise circle

around the mountain staying between 13500 and 14500 feet, much easier for two old men. We walk to a

place called Kami Hut on the north flank, a popular base camp for rock climbing parties. When we arrive a

Belgian couple is there preparing to climb Batian, one of the two high summits, a steep and dangerous task

requiring rock climbing skills. Another tent belongs to two Alaskans who are on Batian and are just visible

as two specks as they cut steps in a glacier high above. Their porters watch with binoculars. That nite we

had brown beans and bacon in the pressure cooker, not bad.

Next morning the Belgians are altitude sick and unable to begin their climb. They have come up too high

too fast and should descend (Tom and Margaret had this in Pakistan and we rushed them back down the

mountain). We say so long and continue our circle of the mountain, this time to the east flank where we

camp at Mintoís Hut, by a small lake. My stove is giving me trouble, the kerosene from Kenya is dirty and

it keeps conking out, so the beans are a little hard. Joel doesnít complain too much. I get up early and fix

some rice for breakfast in driving sleet, no fun, when Joel walks up with a 2 pound rainbow trout! Some

poachers passed thru at dawn and gave it to him, so now I had to cook it. I heated some lard while he cut it

up, we had no cornmeal or flour left so in it went. The stove conked out and wouldnít relight so Joel took

the fish to some porters camped nearby who were cooking their own fish and had a vat of oil boiling on a

massive stove. Breakfast was saved and Joel got a good tip.

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Picture 5: Clouds drift up into a deep canyon by Mintos Hut.

After breakfast we began our descent toward the town of Chogoria on the eastern flank of Mt Kenya. We

walked on the rim of a spectacular canyon, just a tremendous view. By early afternoon we got to a rustic

lodge at the end of the dirt road going down to Chogoria. Our choice was to walk 30 kilos (20 miles) the

next day to the town or take a jeep, and you must walk the full 30 since there is no camping along the road

due to danger from buffaloes. Joel could probably do 30 but no way I could so we agreed on a price with

the jeep driver and off we went. The jeep was an old British Land Rover with 4WD AND tire chains and I

soon saw why, the road was a sea of mud. We descended back thru the bamboo zone, the jeep grinding

along thru the mud . At places bamboo had been cut to make a mat to help jeeps coming up the mountain.

We saw one of these brave souls, a driver and four bamboo cutters/pushers struggling to get a jeep up to the

lodge to meet a German party. It looked impossible, descending was hard enough. Thank God we did not

try to walk it.

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Picture 6: Looks like Louisiana but itís Africa. Along Chogoria route, Mt Kenya

We got to the hotel in Chogoria in an hour or so and had a celebration dinner. Joel ordered a kilo of

beef , no veggies and no bones, and a Tusker beer, and I had some soup. The pressure cooker was heard in

the kitchen, which in Kenya means the cook is preparing something as tough as an old boot and is trying to

make it edible. Joelís beef arrived and another beer, and then he asked for another, and finally a fourth " to

help me sleep". He slept well, the simple old soul, and the next morning I needed to get to the bank to

change money and pay him, so he could catch a matatu home. The bank was about a mile away and all

taxis were out of commission due to the quagmire road, so I walked. Seemed the entire town was out on

foot doing their best to get thru the red muck . There were only 2 or 3 jeeps with tire chains able to climb

the hills into town and they were packed. The bank entrance had a steel grate for scraping mud off, then

another grate for more cleaning, then a box of sawdust for MORE cleaning , plus a full time cleaning man

inside with a mop and it was still a mess. Mud is truly the curse of East Africa.

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Picture 7: Cutting bamboo to improve the road.

Joel took off with his money, earning about $10 per day plus the beef and the beers. I found a matatu to

Nairobi and collapsed at the good old Iqbal. My clothes were filthy and no laundry could be dried due to

rain, but it was good to be back in a city so I treated myself to a nice curry for a buck . I had left extra clean

clothes there and they felt great, plus I had a boy clean my boots for a quarter. That nite I went to see

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" in a huge, beautiful theatre with an old-fashioned balcony. There were

only 3 patrons, an Italian , his Yugoslav friend and me, not a big hit in Kenya. A movie is 2 bucks, just too

much for most folks in the current recession. People are flat broke. At a fish and chips place almost nobody

orders the one dollar fish and chips, they just get chips , for 20 cents. That was a problem for me since you

donít know how long the fish has been sitting around waiting for a big spender like me to buy it.

Two days later I was off again , this time to western Kenya over by Lake Victoria and the border with

Uganda. I took only the large pack and left the cold weather clothes at the hotel, Iíd had enough walking in

the sleet. I took a bus west to Eldoret, then got a matatu to the town of Kakamega, near the Kakamega

Forest Reserve, the last bit of rainforest in Kenya. I got to Kakamega, a small farming town, about dark,

found a hotel, and was looking for a place to eat when I ran into a friendly Canadian. This chap was about

my age and had decided to chuck it all and was living with a Kenyan woman and writing a novel, by lamp

light I guess since her house had no electricity. He suggested I try nayoma choma, a type of Kenyan

barbecue, at a place called Frankos. This place had an entire sheep carcass hanging on a hook next to the

grill and the guy sliced off as much as you wanted and grilled it ; served with beer and rice it was tasty.

The next morning I felt like hiking so I took off toward the Forest. It was about 12 kilometers (8 miles)

from town on a muddy ( of course) road thru several villages. Dozens of women and children were

carrying bundles of wood on their heads for cooking, so as I walked to the forest the forest was walking to

me. A white man ( called a wuzungu in Swahili) on foot is quite a spectacle in Kenya, so as I walked along

everyone came out to stare and many said "jambo", which is hello; it was a very friendly area. They see

white people sometimes but usually zooming by in safari vans and jeeps, so to see one on foot you can get

a look at, well, thatís something. After about 3000 jambos I got to the forest rest house which was a fourplex

cabin on pilings in a forest clearing, monkeys in the trees and all. One unit had been taken over by a

swarm of bees and two were taken by American monkey researchers so I took the fourth. One of the

researchers told me the forest was safe, no snakes, leeches, ticks or chiggers. I expected tropical forests in

Africa to be full of hazards so this was a surprise. She said not to confront or photograph illegal wood

cutters ( they all have machetes) which sounded like very good advice.

The next morning I was ready to explore the forest. The place claimed to have hiking trails so I hired a

guide and off we went. But there was a problem. 200 yards from the rest house the guide admitted the trails

on the map were gone, reclaimed by the forest, kaput. There were trails here and there made by cattle and

wood cutters, but that was it. I said OK, show me where the trail used to be. We walked a half mile or so

north, entered a large meadow grazed by cattle, then he showed me the faint trail entering the forest on the

far side of the meadow. It looked useable so I sent him back and plunged ahead, taking compass bearings

and GPS readings every 10 minutes or so. The trail started to descend and as expected I came to a deep

muddy creek, the bridge destroyed. It was wading time and as I was removing my boots I was startled by a

commotion in the woods behind me. It was a large animal coming closer so I got off the trail and stood in

the woods, ridiculous with one boot off, and waited, expecting a buffalo. It was a milk cow , driven down

the trail by a small boy. His eyes bugged out when he saw me by the creek but he didnít pause an instant,

climbing on the cows back as the animal plunged thru the creek and continued on his way. I decided to

head back to the meadow, where I had a pleasant walk, then back to the rest house. Enough of the rain


The next day I went back to Kakamega town, had some goat at Frankos (very bony) and caught a matatu

north to the town of Kitale. I found a place called Sirikwa Safaris Guesthouse, an old colonial farmhouse

operated as a B&B and campsite, recommended by Lonely Planet. A 60ish white Kenyan lady named Jane

Barnley owns the place , it is an acre or so, all thatís left of an extensive family farm. She looks and sounds

like Margaret Thatcher, very amusing and hospitable. A Dutch church group of 15 or so , mostly in their

20s, were camped there and I set up nearby. The Dutch were building a church in a nearby village and were

very devout but friendly. Mrs Barnley arranged a guide for me and in the morning Gabriel arrived (not the

angel, the guide was named Gabriel) and we were off for a day hike. Gabriel was a school teacher, well

educated and a good companion. He was Ugandan, and told me some stories about the evil dictator Idi

Amin who trashed the place in the Ď70s. For example, the guy hated cripples and rounded them up ,

promising them land and jobs, then murdered thousands and dumped them in Lake Victoria. Still today

Ugandans wonít eat fish from the lake, itís too painful. We strolled all morning thru the green Cherengani

Hills , mostly maize fields with a few trees. Same the following day but harder, walking around 12 miles .

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Picture 8: Hereís Gabriel with a view of the Cherengani Hills.

The next day I was travelling again, going still further north toward the border with Sudan to an area called

Marich Pass. There is civil war in Sudan so this is as far north as you can go unless youíre with the UN or

some kind of aid group. I went in an infamous converted pickup matatu, a mightmare trip that scared me

to death. The back of the truck was packed with groaning sweating bodies, like a scene from Schindlers

List. Then they stopped and started piling lumber and plastic pipe on top of the thing, then sacks of grain,

making it top heavy, plus a couple of guys sat on top of the cab. I could hardly see anything of the scenery,

just elbows and heads as we swayed on the curves. At one point a luxury safari truck like a winnebago

followed us, and we were such a sight a tourist leaned out the window and shot a video. Finally the beast

spat me out at a dusty village and I walked to the camping site. Going from the Barnleys to this area is like

going from Northern California to West Texas. Marich is warm semi-desert, thorn bushes, cactii, poor soil

that supports goats and a few skinny cattle. I camped at a research and teaching center run by a British

anthropologist, right next to the people in the safari truck, who were amazed that a white guy was buried

somewhere inside that matatu. I asked for a guide and the next morning went walking with Ben, a very

nice Kenyan about 20.

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Picture 10: Ben at Marich Pass, note the cactus. Looks like the Texas hill country.

Ben suggested we climb a nearby mountain so off we went. He wore cheap flip-flop sandals and I asked if

he could manage OK, which was a dumb question, and he just laughed. Most of the villagers we passed

were barefoot or in flip flops so I guess he was well equipped. It got hot as we climbed, we were at only

2500 feet elevation and 4 degrees north of the equator, and soon my water was nearly gone and I was

sweating profusely. Ben carried a liter of water and hadnít even taken a sip yet but I knew better than drink

his water (all Kenya water is polluted and should be treated with iodine, a rule I strictly observe). We

stopped to rest at around 5400 feet elevation, and the summit was just above us, maybe 600 feet more to

climb, but I was beat , so we turned back. A man my age doesnít need to kill himself climbing mountains.

We returned to camp. That nite it rained hard and the river by the campsite rose with a tremendous surge of

water, almost a flash flood. Every few minutes a large standing wave would rise up out of the river and roar

like a waterfall, breaking in the upstream direction, then die down.

The next morning I did a bit of exploring on my own , then packed and decided to head back south, to the

lush green mountains and cooler weather. I hiked into town in search of a matatu and after 2 hours wait a

Nissan van stopped, crammed full. The driver hopped out, shoved my pack into the rear hatch & tied the

door closed and gave me a little wooden stool to sit on like a milking stool, shoved up against the sliding

door. The people inside were Sudanese refugees travelling under UN protection, and the driver was making

a bit of extra money picking me up. Did I mention the traffic cops in Kenya? They are poorly paid, so they

pick a spot on the highway, set up a roadblock and collect "fines" from matatus. Each matatu pays a dollar

or so and is allowed to pass. They do a little policing in the process but the main task is to collect money.

When my Sudanese matatu was stopped in addition to the "fine" all the refugees had to produce travel

documents, I was ignored. By noon I was in the large farming town of Kitale and got a luxurious $8 room

at the Bongo Hotel, and had a beer at the Bongo Bar next door, quite a nice break from camping.

Next morning I took a big bus to the town of Nakuru, near the famous lake Nakuru, then a matatu out of

town to a dairy farm called Nightingales. This area around Nakuru is the most fertile in Kenya and looks

like Illinois with a backdrop of mountains painted on the horizon. It is level enough for mechanized

farming and they grow wheat, maize , you name it. The dairy is owned by the Nightingale family ( white

3rd generation Kenyans) and they have an acre or two of beautiful camping surrounding a lively bar under

a thatched roof, with darts, a library, good music, the works. The dairy is several hundred acres with

modern machines, quite a show place for Africa. The area used to be Kenyaís breadbasket but many of the

surrounding farms have been abandoned, several owned by corrupt Nairobi politicians who got them for

nothing when white farmers were run off in the 60ís. The Nightingales managed to hang on and now run a

showplace operation, employ a hundred or so people, and the crooks in the capital are afraid to mess with

them. I set up my tent and relaxed at the bar with a cold Tusker beer.

The next morning I got fresh whole milk and eggs for breakfast, delicious. The owner found me a guide

named Danka and we set off to climb the Manungai volcano and look at its famous crater. We caught a

ride to Nakuru with the owner and she dropped us off at the end of the paved road at the base of the

mountain. Danka was a devout Christian , very nice young man in his 20s. The day was spectacular and

after climbing steadily for about two hours we came to the observation shack and gift shop on the summit.

The crater is beautiful, the result of a Mt St Helens type explosion of one side of the volcano several

thousand years ago. The crater is 1400 feet deep measured from the summit and we started descending on

a steep trail. About half way down we took a side trail and helped by some shepherd boys walked back up

to the crater rim . Then we walked thru maize fields down to the paved road, caught a matatu to town then

another back out to the dairy. A Tusker was most welcome and I grilled a steak I bought in town.

The next day I decided to visit Lake Nakuru, a major safari destination. I had not seen any of the famous

animal parks, which is what most people come here for, so it was time. You can only tour this park in a car

due to the large animals so Danka and I set off to find a taxi in Nakuru town. I made a deal with a taxi for

5 bucks an hour with three hour minimum, and off we went. The park surrounds Lake Nakuru, which is

famous for its flamingoes, and has the usual zebra, buffalo, giraffe, lions etc. I paid the park fee ($25 per

day for me, a dollar for Kenyans, what a rip) , and we drove around the lake following safari vans and

jeeps with names like "Ultimate Safari" and "Gametrackers" painted on the side. Millions of flamingoes

cover this lake at times forming pink patches acres in size, plus pellicans, fish eagles, storks and so on, a

birders paradise. And of course I saw the usual animals. My three hours was up and we went back to town.

The next morning I broke camp, said goodbye to the friendly bartender and went into Nakuru town to

find a hotel. That afternoon I walked once again up to Manungai crater, by myself, and had a great

afternoon. I checked my Hotmail, there was nothing from Nance and the kids, who at that time were on

their way from Eureka Springs to Turkey, but I didnít know this and thought they were ignoring me. I

caught a bus to Nairobi the next morning and returned to clean clothes at the good old Iqbal, and had a

dollar curry at the Taj Curry House next door. Bliss.

Two days left before my flight home, what to do. I wanted to see the site of the US embassy bombing in

Nairobi by Osama Bin Laden Ďs gang . The building is gone , replaced by a nice memorial park. Pictures at

the park were painful to see. Turns out the bombers tried to drive their pickup into the high rise embassy

building basement garage but were stopped by Marines. The bombers opened fire but the brave Marines

held their ground and the bombers set off 500 pounds of high explosive just outside the embassy. The

embassy was a modern reinforced building and reflected the blast onto a seven story building next door

housing a bunch of offices and shops, and that building collapsed due to shoddy construction. Sixty were

killed here, all Kenyan. The blast also was reflected onto the crowded street and caught a crammed full city

bus stopped in traffic with horrible results. The bomb killed 200 Kenyans, only a dozen Americans. Itís a

sobering place to visit. The next day was shopping day and I visited several bookstores.

The trip home was, as expected, a nightmare. I arrived at the Nairobi airport for my trip to Dubai and

learned the flight was grossly overbooked. The flight originated in Lagos, Nigeria, the corruption capital of

the world, and the rumor was people had bribed their way on board, taking seats that the computer showed

were available. Kenya Airways refused to bump these people. They asked for volunteers to spend a night

at the Intercontinental and get $100 to fly tomorrow, about a dozen of us said OK, seeing the hopelessness

of the situation. One girl going to Hong Kong had been bumped the day before and they bumped her again

so she got 2 nights of fancy hotel. We took a van to the Hotel where I spent a nite of incredible luxury.

Did some more shopping the next day, got to the airport and actually got a boarding pass, although I heard

another dozen people were bumped and sent to the hotel. Landed in Dubai around 2AM and crashed on the

floor, then caught my flight to Doha at 2PM that day. And I got some Hotmail from Margaret saying they

were in Turkey having a great time so I could quit worrying.