Day 1,432: Badlands

Sun 02.12.12: The ‘badlands’ of northern Kenyan are not so called because they are full of bandits (although there are probably a few still knocking about), but because they’re no good for farming: dry, arid, dusty – you’d struggle to grow a moustache here (speaking of which, mine has gone, Movember is over). I’ll tell you what they’d be great for, Kenya: building a goddamn road. A nice straight road, made of tarmac, from here to the border with Ethiopia. You know, given that the entire expanse is remarkably flat and devoid of mountains/rivers/cities that may otherwise get in your way. If you ever do the drive down from Cairo to Cape Town, this is the *only* major section of dirt track you’ll come across (I can’t say the same for Casablanca to Cape Town, but that’s another story). But like this time three years ago,…

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Day 1,431: Carry On Nairobi

Sat 01.12.12: So after a night of almost no sleep I find myself in Nairobi, ready to get this 6am bus to the border. For some idiotic reason only known to the Kenyan government, all international buses leave from the area of Eastleigh, aka ‘Little Somalia’. When I was hear three years ago, the roads were all dug up like you would not believe. Some were just massive holes as though they were operating some kind of ‘cut and cover’ operation for a new subway system. Glad to say things have changed massively since I was last here. Oh no, they haven’t. The roads are just as insane as ever. The rest of the city is actually quite respectable. Why they chose to locate there national and international transport hub here of all places is quite beyond my programming. Perhaps they just really want you to…

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Day 1,430: Call My Bluff

Fri 30.11.12: Up at 7am and down to DHL for 8.30pm. Passport – avec Ethiopian visa – in hand (praise be to Lindsey!), I bought a ticket for the bus to Nairobi, leaving at 11am. Well, kind of. After finding out what time the bus left I shopped around the bus station for a better deal, timewise – this bus would get into Nairobi at 11pm. I thought it better to get an overnighter. However, I had been told that the buses north from Nairobi to the Ethiopian border left at 6am, and all the other buses I could find left at 7pm this evening, arriving Nairobi 7am tomorrow: my schedule would be all skew-if. Last time was in Nairobi, since I spent the morning getting my Ethiopian AND Djibouti visas (something that would be double impossible now), I was told that the big bus had…

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Day 1,424: Where It All Began

Sat 24 Nov 12: Today I headed north from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, across the plains of the Serengeti, and yes Mount Kilimanjaro did rise like an empress. Crikey it’s big. Maasai tribes people in their traditional garb trotting along the side of the road, spear in one hand, mobile phone in the order. Welcome to 21st century Africa. I had nothing left to read on this trip, so instead I looked out of the window into my distant past. In a way this is not just a return for me to this particular dusty corner of Planet Earth, this is a return to where it all began. The beginning not of my odyssey, but of humanity’s odyssey. Eons ago, a relative of the Australopithecines stood tall on their hind legs, picked up a bone and began a journey. A journey…

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Day 357: The Hard Slog

23.12.09: Any time frame you are given in Africa, remember to add a few hours, or even days. Matt and I got up at 6am, just in time to jump back on yesterday's truck and crack on towards Ethiopia. The Pixies blasting in my ears and the sun rising to our left it was possibly the best trip I've had in Africa so far. However, our man predicting that we'd be at the border at 9am was ludicrously over-optimistic and we arrived sometime after 11am. So over the border and into Nation 129: Ethiopia. A nation that has had its fair share of publicity, but for all the wrong reasons. The only African nation not to suffer the horrors of colonisation, one could argue that Ethiopia proves that Africa would be just as stuffed up as it is now whether the damn whities had bothered invading…

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Day 356: The Special Bus

22.12.09: Groan. T.I.A. strikes again! The bus we're on is equipped to ferry disabled schoolchildren around in Japan. It is not in any way shape or form designed to survive the horror that is an African highway. With a ground clearance of (let's say) two inches, we bumped, scraped and scratched our way along the road at a respectable five kilometres an hour, dripping oil, water and brake fluid, busting our exhaust, losing fair chunks of metal as we plodded along. We were supposed to get to the border at around 7pm that night. But by 9am we were still at least 24 hours away and going nowhere fast. After losing a couple of hours while the oil leak was plugged (with bubblegum no doubt) we were told that it would take us two hours to get to the next town. It took eight. You see…

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Day 355: Mr Stanley, I Presume

21.12.09: Woke up on the bus, which had come to a halt sometime earlier in downtown Nairobbery. It was 5am as I staggered into a taxi and asked the driver to take me to The Comfort Hotel. There I would meet Matt, who would be my cameraman for the last 10 days of The Odyssey 2009. Brilliantly enough, my contract is up at the end of the year so it's going to be YOUTUBE TASTIC from then on, the only person with a say on what goes up will be big fat me. Woo! More good news from the road: The Odyssey TV show (and yes, for us Brits, it will be called The Odyssey) is going to broadcast on the BBC next year. No obscure cable channels for this little Odysseus. Matt tells me that the Director General of the beeb has actually seen a…

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