Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Note starting and ending points above. Nanyuki is on the equator.
On our drive from Mountain Lodge at Mount Kenya to our next lodge, we passed up this wonderful opportunity for what I am sure was a less expensive place to spend the night. We saw a lot of little "hotels" like this one alongside the main road:
One of the many perks of this trip was that as we drove, there was always something interesting to look at. For example, this woman's odd assortment of clothing was intriguing, as was the green pitcher she held up near her head and the plastic barrel on her back. What would it be like to haul water for daily washing, cooking, and drinking?
Our first stop was Nanyuki, a town of 32,000 situated near the equator. We didn't actually visit the town, which also hosts a British military base and was the location for the POW camp discussed in the previous post, but we did stop "to use the washroom" at 0° latitude, along with quite a few other tour groups. (Our Land Cruisers are the green ones.)

The men and then the women posed in the designated Kodak Moment spot, a circle drawn right on the equator. (Susan, where were you?)
We had crossed the equator on our trip together to Peru five years earlier, so we were already officially "Shellbacks" and not "Slimy Pollywogs," as the uninitiated are called. There are many initiation rituals built up around "crossing the line" that we missed out on during our previous excursion, but that's probably a good thing as they include dressing in drag, eating raw eggs, wearing clothing inside-out and backwards, being locked in stocks and pelted with over-ripe fruit, and so forth.

Entertainment at the equator consisted of a man demonstrating the Coriolis Effect by using a water-filled bowl with a hole in the bottom and a toothpick floating in the water.  On the equator, the water drained straight down.  About fifteen feet south of the equator the water swirled in a clockwise motion as it drained, and at the same distance north of the equator it swirled in a counterclockwise motion.
We could see the direction the water was moving both by watching the toothpick's path on the water's surface and by watching the water come out of the hole in a twisted spiral from the bottom of the bowl.
The Coriolis Effect is much greater at the equator, where the earth's speed of movement is the greatest, and diminishes as one moves towards the poles.

We made our way through the shop towards the washroom, more wary this time.
Back outside, I noticed these weaver bird nests in a nearby acacia tree, something we would see in various forms in many places. (More about them later.) Here they are so big that they look like Japanese lanterns:
We were ready to get back on the road, but not until we stopped to fuel up at Oil Libya. If I calculated correctly, changing Kenyan shillings to dollars and then liters to gallons, gas costs about $5.15/gallon in Kenya right now.
No wonder that outside of Nairobi, most of the vehicles on the road were tourists, and the locals were riding motorcycles. We saw lots of motorcycles, many being used in creative ways. Note, for example, the large bag on the back of the one below:
We started noticing livestock freely grazing at the side of the road--cattle, goats, and sheep. This is something we saw all over Kenya and Tanzania. Usually there was a shepherd, and if there wasn't, the animals were tethered to a stick in the ground.
There is a definite hierarchy for road use in Kenya, and tourist vehicles are pretty much at the bottom of the list:
Kenyan cattle don't look like the fat, lazy cows I'm used to. It's no wonder the Kenyans prefer the meat of their plump little goats.

We saw more stands selling local produce. We had been warned about what we could and could not safely eat while in Africa. Bananas and other fruits with a thick skin that is not eaten were okay, and vegetables that were peeled or boiled were okay. Lettuce was a definite no-no, as were vegetables eaten raw, such as tomatoes. Anything but bottled water was definitely on the Prohibition List. We were told not even to brush our teeth with tap water or to smile in the shower.
A lot of this produce would be verboten:
I hope the HS on the sign below doesn't stand for "high school":
Once out of the "city," we hit some exquisite agricultural areas. Kenya's volcanic soil is very rich:

 . . . and the rainy season had just ended, so the fields were beginning to explode with new growth. Africans love color, and I think the African god of the harvest must also love color:
Occasionally we would drive through a small town or past a well-developed farm, and we would see signs of business:
. . . and religion:
Diocese of Marsabit: A.C.K. St. Peter's Church WASO; Together for Christ
The palm tree is in the way, but I think that is a mural of Christ
standing in a boat and calming the raging sea.
We were surprised to come upon this particular herd:
A caravan of dromedary camels is not what I expected to see in Kenya. Apparently their importance as a meat and milk source in Kenya has grown dramatically in recent years.
The woman herder did not seem to be happy with our photography. Perhaps she is used to getting paid for pictures taken by tourists. 
The further away we got from the main population centers, the poorer the homes looked, although this one does have a more sturdy appearance than most. I love how it is painted with green grass and blue sky, a touch of art and imagination in an unlikely place.

 Next: Sarova Shaba Game Lodge


  1. The camels, in addition to Mt. Kenya, were my favorite sights on the trip between Mountain Lodge and Shaba. I would love to have tried camel milk, cheese, meat, etc. Maybe we can go back.

  2. Those tiny homes, churches, and businesses are a humble contrast to the lush and interesting scenery.

  3. It's amazing that the water would swirl in different directions in such close proximity!

  4. The different buildings in this post are so interesting--from the churches to the wanna-be hotel at the top. And camels? That's a huge surprise!