2nd Nov ; Ben and the Tortoise crew left the campsite around 7.30 and were off on the long trekk back to the UK.
Patrick and I stood waving them off for the last time - we would see them all again some time, but propably never as a group!
Now it is just the 2 of us again.
Missing the mad group already, we packed everything away and started to crawl back to Nairobi.
At the equater there are a string of curio shops - with plenty of time on our hands we stopped and had a look around.
We ended up buying a necklace and presents for my family.
As we got to the last shop, we had both had enough of being hassled, but went in anyway. The owners name was Jerome, and the first thing he said was "I will swap your hairband for anything in the shop".
OK, he had my attention!!!
As I walked around, Patrick had had enough and was walking out of the door, when Jerome offered me a mask in exchange for my hairband!!
Now he really has my attention!!!!
After a bit of negotiation Patrick and I walked of with 2 masks and a mug in exchange for my hairband and "a small small amount of shillings"!
Pleased with our bits we drove back to Niarobi.
Ben and Bre had mentioned before they left that they had managed to get some DVD's from a hawker, for a very good price, with some good films on them.
As we had got back early we went off in search of these hawkers! Well we found them outside a shopping centre - and they swarmed us - but they did had a good selection of DVD's.
Patrick and I spent the next 45mins looking through all of them and picking out some good ones for us and as gifts. The price the hawker gave us was laughable!!!!
He told us they were 4 times what Ben had paid - so laughing we handed them back and went to get out of the car and leave.
Suddenly the price started to drop, Patrick evenually managed to get the price down to same as Ben had paid, so we took them.
Back at Wildebeest camp, Lynita (one of the owners) was unpacking some shopping she had got from the Massi Market. There was some very very nice stuff, so that was it, we were off again looking for the market!!
Here we managed to finish off all of our "family shopping" and get some nice stuff for the house we do not have!!!!
For the last 10 month we had not got any curios for us or the family but in 1 day we had manged to get everyone something and lots for us too!!!!!!
3rd Oct ; Monday morning and the traffic was very bad again - so we waited at the camp until about 10 then headed off to Magama Holdings to talk to Titch.
After much talking, fan pulling and face pulling, Patrick convinced Titch that the clutch on the fan needed to be changed. Titch started to make calls to try and source the clutch - his man said that it was possilbe but may take some time.
So Patrick and I went off for a drive. We ended up back at the shopping centre with the hawkers and got MORE DVD's!!!
Patrick could wait no more and phoned to see what was going on. They were having problems finding the clutch and would not be able to get it until tomorrow now.
So back to Wildebeest camp, where we meet up with Gus and his girlfriend who were travelling from Sweden to Cape Town in a landy the same colour as Ben's.
After chat and a drink, it was time to watch one of the thousands of films on the DVD's.
The laptop went into the tent, followed by the huge pile of DVD's us. We sat for a good 30 mins deciding what to watch, finally choose Hancock, got comfy and watched.
We were both plesently suprised at the visual and sound quality of the DVD!!!!
4th Nov ; Was woken up by everyone in the camp going to breakfast at the same time! My goodnees people came make a lot of noise in the mornings!!!
Patrick went and watched some TV and I sat in the tent 'people watching' whilst they crowds slowly thinned. Only then did we even atempt to get breakfast!
I spent the morning repacking the car so that all of the curio's could be put away, so that they would not get damaged.
Patrick was busy doing the daily checks and noticed that there was oil on the floor. So he clambers under the car and come out with a dreadfully look on his face - he then broke the news that the rear shocks were leaking oil and so would need to be replaced AND there was a waterleak from around the jubilee clip holding the hose onto the radiator.
WHAT ELSE CAN GO WRONG WITH THIS BLOODY CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My suggestion was to burn her and claim the insurance - Patrick was not too convinced with this idea.
His solution was far to male - replace the shocks with the old ones we have as spares, change the water pump (just for good measure) and put a new jubilee clip on the hose.
To be honest at this point I would have happily gone for my option!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Titch phoned to say that the part had come in and we could go down and get it.
Just when we though life with the car could not get any worse - it was the wrong part!
The rest of the day was spent waiting for the correct part to arrive whilst they were busy with the water pump, clip and shocks.
Just when we thought things could not get any worse, Titch tells us that we can not get the clutch unless we import it from Japan.
This is not an option because Patrick has only got a 30 day visa!!!!!!
So we do the next best thing - immobilise the clutch to the overheating.
5th Nov ; Today is the day we test the clutch to see if it has stopped the overheating. A very good option is to drive to the Maasai Mara for 2 days.
As you head out of Nairobi toward the Mara there is a nice long up hill to test the car. So up we drive, Patrick does not mess around and pushes her up the hill. As we get to the top the temp guage twitches slighty and settles to her normal running temp again.
All looking good so far!!
The drive down the escarpment is amazing!! The views over the Rift Valley seem to go on for ever, as do the row of Curio shops selling "views over the escarpment".
The road to the Mara is BAD!!! It starts off as good tar down the escarpment, becomes potholed tar, then badly filled potholed tar and finally a dusty dirt road - all of this within 30km!!!!
Just as I am starting to loose hope of ever getting to the Mara in one piece I see a sign saying "DRIVE WITH CARE - ROAD WORKS FOR THE NEXT 10KM'S" wow the road might actually improve.
But no it was not to be, 25km's after the sign I have not seen a single workman or any hint of work being done.
So when I see another sign, Im not suprised when after driving 30km's past it - still no hint of road works!!!
By the time I see a third sign, I have given up all hope of the road getting any better. But just to prove me wrong just past the third sign there is new smooth tar with men busy laying more.
For the next few km's we have got nice new tar but alas it does not last very long, and we are jolted back onto rough potholed crap.
As if the crap road is not enough, now there are slow steady uphill climbs to deal with, and guess what - she overheated!
Now we have both had enough and pull of onto the side of the road ready to cry!
So slowly slowly we crawl up the hills, hoping each one is going to be the last.
When things could not get any worse, we turn a corner and realise that we are driving towards a colossal tunderstorm!
Luckily for the rest of the way to the Mara we stalk the storm, driving in its aftermarth.
After a painfully slow drive on crap roads we arrive at Maasai Mara.
It was worth the drive - huge expanses of open grass land savannah with innumerable herds of game everywhere.
The park did not close for another 2 hours so, with Gerty guiding us, we drove around and were rewarded with a huge variety of wildlife.
Coming around one corner we drove into the biggest herd of Buffalo either of us have ever seen.
Patrick stopped and turned off the car as we were engulfed by the herd, including the biggest Bull Buffalo we had seen.
He was huge and just stood next to the car looking at us - that was a bit unnerving because he wsa almost at eye level!!
The herd moved on - in their time obviously - Patrick carried on around the Mara.
Suddenly I shouted "STOP", I think Patrick had a heartattack, but I had seen a cat of some sort walking off down one of the side roads. So reversing, Patricks wants to know what all of the fuss is about, as he says this he sees the cat too - it was a Serval.
The Seval was stalking something in the long grass, as we watched he stalked, crouched and pounced on something, and came walking out of the grass with a rodent in his mouth - WOW!!!!!!!!!!
Very happy with the game seen, we started the drive to the Campsite for the night.
Driving along Patrick is given 2 more heartattcks when I see a group of 4 male Lions laying next to the raod and then a bit further on a family of lions in the grass.
Spent the night at Acacia Campsite, which we thought could be reached from within the park. We were wrong, the road to the campsite had been closed so you can only get tot he camp if you exit the park and drive through the village outside! Great, it was starting to get dark at 6.30pm and and we had to be out of the Mara before 7pm. Patrick put foot and we were going well until suddenly out of nowhere appeared a HUGE Bull ellephant!
Slamming on brakes we slowed down, very aware of the size of the boys tusks and the fact he was 50m infront of the car.
There were 2 options, drive slowly past or wait until he moves on - Patrick decided on the first option, so we slowly slowly drove past, the Ellie just stood there and watched us pass!!!
Very relieved, we arrived at the campsite, and sorted out dinner.
Patrick went off for a hot shower while I put stuff away to the sound of Ellies growling and trumpetting!
On my way back from the shower the Ellies get louder, but worse, a Hyena cries from, what sounds like, 100m away!!
I poop myself, run to the tent, manage to drop the soap down the back of the spare tyre on the way and clamber up the ladder into the tent.
Patrick is sitting calm as can be in the tent, asking me if I heared the Hyenas and didnt it sound close!!!!
6th Nov ; During the night the tent was subjected to a battering from a heavy downpour, followed closly by a thunderstorm!
We were awoken by the roars of Lions and growls of Ellies - both of which sounded very close to the tent!!
Slowly we left our warm cocoon and climbed down into 12degrees of dark drizzly morning - Im sure there was Lion and Ellie watching us pack away the tent!!!
Arrived at the entrance gate to the Mara at opening time and were off for another game drive.
There was already a lot of white minibusses driving tourists around.
They are a pain in the arse - but have thier uses as we later found out.
For the first 20mins we did not see much because it was grey, overcast and drizzling - the animals have more sense that we do and stayed in bed!!
Suddenly all of the 'Tourist Taxi's' roared off in the same direction, this could mean only one thing, they had found something!!
Patrick turned into a rally driver and followed the Taxi's off of the main road onto flooded dirt roads.
Just as Patrick was cursing the Taxi's for taking us on a wild goose chase, a Lioness stagger across infront of the car. She is dragging a fresh kill along, followed closely by 3 cubs and another Lioness!
After the Lioness's, Patrick and I are keen to go to the river to try and see some of the Wildebeest Migration.
Would you believe it, there was a huge herd of the on the OTHER side of the river, they had already crossed and we had missed it by a couple of hours!!!!
But what was left was carnage!! The edge of the river was worn away from all of the hooves, there were enormous Crocs, bloated with food, basking on the rivers edge and stiff carcasses floating down the river.
It was amazing! The Wildebeest were stood on the other side of the river watching us!!!
Wanting to get away from the Taxi's and gamedrive trucks Patrick decided to take one of the smaller tracks back to the Talek gate.
All was going very well, lots of game, wide open spaces and no other people! At last alone in the Mara watching game.
As with everything we have done over the last few weeks everything went wrong!!!!!!!!
I spotted a large Lion ambling across the savannah towards a bush, as we got closer there were 5 Lioness's reclining in the shade, where the Lion joined them.
Pleased with seeing more Lions we weren't too worried when the road got wetter UNTIL Patrick noticed that the track was black cotton soil.
Full attention on the track we fishtail and slipslide our way along. All is going well for about 2km's, until the back of the car does its own thing, we do a complete donut and end up facing the way we have just come!!
Much swearing and shuffling later we are facing the right way, slipsliding again!!
Black cotton soil had to have the last laugh though, and we lost it agian, ending up sideways in the track with Patrick trying to drive forwards and the car happy to crab down the track!
Within seconds we were stuck, could not go forwards or back, this induced lots of naughty F words and hat throwing from Patrick!!
He got out to have a look and it was not good! The back wheels were in the track but the front wheels had gone off to the left of the track meaning that she was pulling herself sideways along the track whilst digging deeper into the soil.
Out came the spade and Patrick started to dig whilst I kept my eye peeled for any unwanted visitors - we were only a few km's away from where the Lions were!!!
As quickly as we could, both of us collected twigs to pack under the wheels and got back to the car.
I stood out of the way while Patrick swore excessivly and revered the shit out of the car!!!!!!!!!!!
Finally after several back and forwards shuffles she came out of the rut. Patrick carried on reversing until he was out of the super soft soil and then drove through the grass next to the track.
I jumped back in and we were off again.
Approaching the gate the amount of game increased again making the drive a bit more tolerable.
Exiting the gate the long slow treck back to Nairobi started.
Guess what - more rain, more black cotton soil, this time on an uphill, and more swearing!
It was the most stressful, slippery shitty road to have to drive in the wet!!
We got stuck coming out of a hole, but by this time Patrick had learnt to rock back and forwards and when going forward reeve the hell out of the car - it worked, we got out!!!!!!!!!!
After 30km's of hell we reach recently graded dirt road - big cheers came from the car!!
All way going well for 15km's then the road fell apart. It morphed into flooded washed away mud.
So what followed was another naughty word inducing road, leading us into another thunderstorm!
Like a mirage, pristine tar came into view through the hazey rain. Cries of OMG TAR emminated from the car as we sped back to Wildebeest camp for a good nights sleep.
7th Nov ; Patrick's neck had seazed up overnight and he could not move his head. He made me rub Voltoral gel into his neck until my arms cramped, it seemed to work and we went for breakfast.
Patricks neck carried on improving until he jumped off of the car after putting the tent away and jarred it. He was doubled over in pain cursing himself for being so stupid.
No rest for the wicked (or injured) we went to see Jessy at Jass 4x4 garage to get a second opinion on the car.
The first thing he said was that it is not a cracked cylider head otherwise the car would over heat all of the time, it was more likely to be the fan clutch.
As he popped the bonnet, Patrick told him that we had had it immobilised and so it was not the problem.
Jessy grabs the fan and moves it!!! What the .......
The welding Titch had done had broken so the clutch was free running again!!!
Jessy was more than willing to re-weld it for us, BUT they did not have any electricity and did dnot know when it would be back on!
With Patrick unable to move I drive us back to Wildebeest camp and wait for Jessy to ring us.
Great, the first time Patrick lets me drive the car and I have to drive through Nairobi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We talk to Jessy and the electric still has not come on and it looks like he will not able to do the welding until after the weekend now.
Car booked in for 8.30am monday, we now have another weekend in Nairobi.