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It Never Rains

Posted by on May 22, 2012

We woke up in the wee hours of the morning to the worst storm we’ve experienced on this trip. The rain was pouring down on the island and instantly we knew the already rough day ahead would get progressively worse if the cloudburst did not subside by morning.  We ended up on this isle somewhere on Lake Victoria by fluke – a series of unforeseen events lead us here and ahead of us was only one way out; the road less (or hardly ever) travelled.

The six hour delay of the ferry from Mwanza caused us to lose an entire day which meant that we needed to get off this wet island and really push our own limits in order to make it in time. The train from Kisumu in Kenya leaves for Nairobi on Tuesdays (covering the ‘deadly highway” which we can’t drive), by now it was Monday morning and we had to take another ferry off the island, cross a border and drive 400 km to get there. A difficult task but not impossible.

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By morning the rain had stopped, the ferry to the mainland was on time and it seemed that we could make it in time for the train until we were hit with a downpour of a different kind – bad luck…

We hit the pothole full on, a big pothole too! The rear wheel slid from under us and the man next to the road with his back towards us did not notice us until Guillaume started screaming and something triggered the bike’s hooter. We slid across the wet, dirt road, sideways and missed the poor fellow with a couple of centimetre. As if on display the toppled over bike then made a 90° turn, threw me off and paraded to a quick halt right in front of him. I’m not sure who got the biggest shock, us or him.

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We were fine, he was fine, the bike was fine(ish) and we drove off an hour later, everything duck taped back into its place on the bike and a couple of adhesive bandages on the few scrapes we got.  The road was shit to say the least but we were hopeful.

On a bad day we usually get it all at once and this day was not any different. When the potholes in the road where finally replaced by tarmac it only lasted for about 10 minutes before we hit the gravel again. Road works – another pain in our already uncomfortable asses. So we drove and drove and drove in dust and sand without making a lot of progress – our broken side pannier dragging in the dirt behind us and our spirits just as low. When we finally got to tarmac again, the bike had had enough. With a screech and tug it very simply told us “no more”.

It was the middle of nowhere, halfway up a pass and a long way from help. So we pushed, god knows why but that seemed like the only option, until two lovely men stopped to help us.

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In east Africa delivery bikes are about as abundant as potholes which means every town has a couple of fundis. Turns out it was the sprocket and an hour later we were up and running again.

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We knew we’d never make Kisumu in time, it was late in the afternoon, it was about to start raining again and we had yet to cross the border and cover another 200km… so we simply took a bus straight to Nairobi with Pole Pole tucked in the luggage compartment. It was s first for us and for the bus too!

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We had a rough day and a long sleepless night on the bus, we had also made it back to Nairobi having gone full circle around Lake Victoria! When it comes to adversity it never rains, it pours but as usual all the bad luck, potholes, bruises, dust, silly sprockets and broken parts just added extra enjoyment to our adventure… it is rainy season after all.

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