|At the Tanzania-Kenya border in Namanga|
|Goin' bananas at Mto wa Mbu|
Mto wa Mbu literally means "mosquito river". Which is another way of saying malaria. Thank goodness there's deet and Malarone - I used both and feel confident I will not end up with high fever and chills days later on. The locals, mostly Maasai people, are so used to being bitten by mosquitoes they seem to have gotten away with illness - or at least that's what Walter wants me to believe.
Every time I visit a new country, my usual souvenir is just a fridge magnet - easy on the wallet, easy to store, easy to display. I ventured into Mto wa Mabu's market with that in mind. But no sooner have I entered, everyone was pleading for my attention. They were aggressive shopkeepers buzzing like mosquitoes out to suck me dry. I entered one, asking only for magnets yet I was bombarded with repetitious spiels - with the same tenacity as the next several shopkeepers I encountered.
|Maasai village with a looming Mt. Meru in the distance|
We arrive late in the afternoon in Meserani, on the outskirts of Arusha. Our home for the night was the campsite at Meserani Snake Park. Several other overland trucks stop by (i.e. G Adventures, Acacia Africa) and it's interesting to see other "overlanders" since some have been traveling for 3 months or more.
This being a snake park, we were given a tour of the main attraction. Snakes aren't my favorite creatures and looking at two of the world's most deadliest - the green and black mamba commonly found in Tanzania - only solidified my dislike for them. I tried to make 'peace' with a little harmless serpent and prayed no one among its infamous cousins will slither into my tent that night. What do we know, our tents were pitched almost next to these snake cages!
|Our tents at the Snake Park Campsite|
|A snake is not my friend|
Babu prepared us a traditional African dinner - this on our last night as a group. Given the challenging conditions on camping trips, it's amazing how Babu could whip up a really great meal. It only shows what his wealth of outdoor cooking experience can do.
After dinner, we all capped the night by parking our arses on real bar stools at the campsite's Snake Park Bar. Thinking all about mamba snakes got me uneasy so downing a bottle of cold Kilimanjaro beer felt like a tranquilizer as I crawled into my sleeping bag later on.
|Overland trucks at campsite|
The next morning, we had a quick start in order to reach Nairobi before dark. It's about 9-10 hours drive covering 390 kms. Early breakfast meant a quick bite of toasts, banana and a sip of coffee. We even had to make our our packed sandwiches so we didn't have to make a stopover - except for a couple who was catching a flight in Arusha airport and dropping off two other people who were going on a Kilimanjaro trek.
Arusha is a bustling city, almost always busy with conferences involving issues within and outside the East African Community. Not surprisingly, hotels and its related businesses thrive to cater to many diplomats and government bigwigs staying in the city. Our truck crawled with the city traffic, eventually freeing itself on the main highway heading north.
|For reservations, just call their mobile number|
Once done with immigration, we immediately hit the road again. It was a hot day and I drifted between sleep and stupor until I was jolted by Walter who wanted me to see Nairobi's infamous traffic scene unfolding. We were indeed back in Kenya's capital city, where some 3 million souls eke out a living, where construction projects are built by Chinese firms, where even the ghost of its British past have lingered on. Ah...there are lots of roundabouts to deal with as our truck inched closer to our final destination - the Kivi Milimani Hotel.