Kenya map:
Nairobi, Kenya
Jan 15, 2005

I've recently received emails expressing concern about my health.  Sorry for the confusion - My stomach problems are all gone.  I've been healthy for quite a while, just very behind on my writing.  The stomach problems mentioned in the Uganda journal entries were from months ago. 

Nairobi has the best hospitals in East Africa.  I arrived and went straight away for a battery stool tests.  All of them came back negative.  It seems that the massive doses of antibiotics must have killed everything.  I'll never know exactly what I had and what I didn't have, but at least I was finally healthy.  My stomach was still far from perfect, but time away from spicy food and street food of questionable sanitation let my stomach slowly repair itself. 

I escaped Kampala, but didn't make it far.  I arrived in Nairobi and my momentum hit a dead stop - It took two months and I still haven.t escaped Nairobi.  I'm finishing up this journal entry as I'm on my way out of town.  My brother asked me what my daily life is like when traveling.  It varies, depending on where I am.  In Nairobi, my life wasn.t much different than an unemployed slacker anywhere.  I would wake up late.  Un-showered and unshaven, I'd head into the living room for breakfast and to see what was on TV.  As the .world traveler., the biggest difference between me and the unemployed slacker is that new interesting people from all over the world would be in my living room every morning. 

I promised myself that I wouldn't leave Nairobi until after I had caught up on my journal.  Unfortunately, the backpacker hostel in Nairobi was a terrible place to get work done.  I had no private space to work since I was living in a dorm.  The common area was the only place to work, but it had a TV and endless other distractions.  Work that should have taken a bit more than a week, took months.

But I think the break was good for me.  On the last trip, I burned out after traveling for a year and headed home.  This time, I burned out, rested up and am now ready to charge forward again.  The backpacker hostel in Nairobi was a bad place to work, but it was a great place to hang out.  It had a very nice family atmosphere, and I made some good friends there.  I'm healthy.  I'm recharged.  I'm ready for new adventures. 


Corruption Free Zone

I left Kampala with a half-assed plan to go to the Kenyan coast.  I wasn't particularly inspired.  The coast is described as beautiful, amazing and relaxing.  But, it is also described as expensive and touristy.  After all the expensive national parks of East Africa, I decided that I needed something adventurous and cheap.  I pulled out a big map of East Africa and found a tiny road that seemed to lead from Lodwar in Northern Kenya into Ethiopia [map]. Lonely Planet makes no mention of this route, so it sounded just like what I was looking for - I only had to find out if it was possible.

Lonely Planet's thorntree bulletin board is my favorite source for travel info.  It's built up of a community of thousands of experienced travelers and you can get almost any travel question answered there - but not this one.  Two people sent their stories of traveling up the east coast of Lake Turkana to Ethiopia (I'm going up the west coast).  They both traveled in their own Landrovers.  One truck made it across the border after bribing the border guard $7.  The other truck was turned back despite offering a $100 bribe.  No one knew anything about my potential route. My next stop was the Ethiopian embassy.  I picked up an Ethiopian visa, and spoke with Belachew Chaka, the 2nd secretary consul.  He told me that an official border had opened up at Lake Turkana 6 months ago.  But, that's all the info that he had for me.  I still didn't know if this route was possible, or if anyone has ever attempted it, but I decided to go for it!

All that I know was that it's going to be hot as hell and there is no regular transportation past Lodwar.  It is also, by far, the farthest that I've ever been off the beaten path.  I.m guessing that it is going to be very tough traveling, but hopefully interesting.  It should also be a good warm-up for my attempt to forge a path through Eastern Siberia.

I was in the guesthouse and wavering on buying insurance, when I had a bit of good luck.  An Irish guy, named Tim showed up.  He works in Lodwar, at the Catholic Diocese.  He was the perfect person to answer some of my questions.  He told me of a hotel owned by the transportation manager for the Catholic Diocese.  The transportation manager is probably the best guy in Kenya for getting up to the moment security updates for North-western Kenya.  With his input I'll be able to make a solid educated decision if the route is safe enough to proceed.  Tim also told me of an African Catholic priest that heads up to Lokitaung every few weeks.  [Lokitaung not shown on the map is a tiny village only 30 miles from Ethiopian border].  I may be able to hitch a ride with the priest.  If that.s the case it.ll solve most of my problems.  Now, I.ll only have to figure out the last 50 miles to the first of the villages in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia.  I suppose, if necessary, I'll make the trip with a rented camel and armed guard.

After two months in Nairobi, I suppose I have to say a few words about it.  The terrible reputation of "Nairoberry" is undeserved.  It isn't the safest place in the world, but it isn't much more dangerous than many other big cities.  I felt perfectly comfortable carrying my laptop around downtown, though I did have the common sense to disguise it.  I wouldn't recommend spending two months in Nairobi, but it's not a bad place to visit for a few days.  Downtown is full of cyber-cafes, skyscrapers and yuppie coffee shops.  At night, there are a number of good discos.  And, of course, don't miss the giraffe center. 

My stay in Nairobi included both Halloween and New Years.  Halloween was a bizarre little affair with s'mores and no costumes.  New Years Eve a bit more exciting, but far from epic.  New Years Eve at 7pm, I was watching the tsunami death count continue to rise.  I hardly felt in a partying mood.  But then a cute blonde handed me a double rum and coke and an hour later I was feeling much better.  A bar is conveniently next to the guesthouse.  A group from the guesthouse went there for dinner and stayed for drinks.  New Years at the bar was the same as always - just more so.  There were more tourists, more expats, more hookers and well...  less clothing on the hookers.  Calling the bar girls hookers is actually a misnomer - some are hookers, some are looking for sugar daddies, and perhaps some are actually looking for love.  But, the bar does have lots of girls.  Usually, they're somewhat conservatively dressed.  Not New Years.  One girl was wearing a mesh shirt and no bra, but she was an exception.  In general, the miniskirts were a lot shorter, the pants a lot tighter and the cleavage pushed up as high as possible.  The music selection was, as expected in an African expat bar, bizarre.  They had a mostly an 80's mix, with some country, and some soul thrown in.  Playing pool with a hooker listening to "Party like it's 1999" followed by "Pyromania" is I suppose how I'll have to remember New Years 2005. 

We had a plan to move on to the world-famous restaurant and bar "Carnivore".  I was still up and drinking at 4am, but everyone else had passed out.  I considered heading over to Carnivore by myself, but I didn.t have enough cash left for a taxi.  That might have been a good thing.  I had a final rum and passed out too. 


The 'Treehouse' guesthouse/restaurant/disco


My 'office' on Ko Chang

So that's it.  I'm finally caught up on my writing.  It's time for me to leave Nairobi.  I'm heading off towards the middle of nowhere.  I.ll do my best to keep you updated, but I don't know when or if I'll find an internet connection.  I may not be able to post journal entries or respond to email until I reach Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.  I.m sure that when I arrive I.ll have some great photos and stories to tell.

Two final things:

First I'd like to say "goodbye" to the Treehouse on Ko Chang, Thailand.  It was of my favorite bar/restaurant/guesthouse in the world - it was really a beautiful spot.  Unfortunately, It has been torn down in the name of progress. 

Secondly, I'd like to remind everyone that if you enjoy this journal, please leave comments.  If nothing else just say "hi".  I'm far more inspired to write when I know that people are reading. 


Comments
K. Irvin Madsen - Jan 22, 2005

Adam, Once again I enjoyed reading your article.
Travel with expanded awareness.
Irv - Cincinnati


GLADYS SIEFERT - Jan 22, 2005

HI ADAM.  IM A FRIEND OF YOUR PARENTS DO ENJOY YOUR WEB SITE ITS GREAT YOUR TRAVELS ARE SO INTERESTING IM 86 STILL TRAVELING BUT NOT TO THE UNUSUAL PLACES THAT YOU GO.  IM JEALOUS.  KEEP WRITING .

--

Gladys,

Nice to meet you.  Keep on traveling and enjoying life.  :-)

-Adam


barce - Jan 22, 2005

Hi Adam, Lodwar to Ethiopia definitely sounds like your kind of route.  Have fun! 


Casey Fenton - Jan 22, 2005

Hearing about adventures like this is totally inspiring...  keep blazing the trail!


mo - Jan 23, 2005

hey adam! 
i always read when you post!

i'm sorry you'll be off with not much word for 6 weeks.  but *finally* you get your 'road that no one else has taken before' route.  i'm so excited for you!  have a safe and crazy journey.  oh yeah!  i got a new job...  i'm the book buyer for good vibrations.  i'll save some smut for your next return to the states ;)

good luck cookie!

mo


Ann - Jan 25, 2005

Hey Adam!  I finally started reading the new journal entries-Congrats on escaping the Backpacker and Salama.  Take all of us with you as you head to Ethiopia.
Ann


abby - Jan 29, 2005

Dear adam how are you how is life inn Ethiopia we are real sad for death of laptop but God will give you another for you, but can you give me that to make it i can be work with it.
cheers,
abby


laura - Feb 06, 2005

I'm not quite sure how we got on your mailing list, but I really enjoy the pictures and reading the journal entries.  My husband and I used to travel quite a bit, but are currently fairly booring as we are tied down a bit more with our 2-year old son!  It's great to keep up the adventurous spirit through your journals though!


Jim - Feb 15, 2005

Hi and good luck!  I'm sitting here Seattle on a rainy night watching an Austin Power's rerun while surfing and ended up reading about your adventurous trip...have fun!


Kenneth - Mar 09, 2005

Adam, Just wanted to thank you for penning this piece -- it's a nice escape for those of us not currently traveling and a continuing motivation to get back out there.

Cheers,
Kenneth
Denver


Alexander McLean - Mar 14, 2005


Your journal makes for fascinating reading, very enjoyable.

I love east africa so its great to read about your travels when I cant be there.

Best wishes

Alexander
London uk


Ricki - May 16, 2005

Hi Adam, don't know if you will remember me but we met in Nairobi at Backpackers, first week on December.  I critiqued your website and gave you tips on the design.  Anyhoo, I hope you are well and I'm glad to see you have made it out of Nairobi.  Kevin and I have been home for 4 months and still can't get the travel bug out of our system.  We are heading out on a new adventure at the end of this month.  But this time we are exploring our own county - East coast of Canada - Nova Scotia & P.E.I.  Anyway, just thought I would drop a line and see how you are.  If you get a chance, drop me a line.
Take care. 

Ricki-Lee Fossenier

--

Of course I remember you.  I really apprecitated the design help.  And, I sent you a longer response in email. 

-Adam


LK - May 04, 2006

Very interesting :) Thank you very much for this site!  I really admire what youre doing!  Keep us updated :)


Carlos - Feb 11, 2008

Hi Adam.  I very much enjoyed this journal entry, which I found by sheer chance.  Are you still traveling/writing?  Please advise.  How did it go on that unusual route to Ethiopia?

--

> Are you still traveling/writing?

The answer is yes and no.  After many years of traveling, I've decided that I'm going to settle down in Nicaragua, and try to set up an artist colony of sorts (www.floatingman.org).  But I'm still writing about my adventures - new journals from Nicaragua should start appearing tomorrow.

> How did it go on that unusual route to Ethiopia?

The short answer is that I found the tourist route in Tanzania and Kenya to be very disappointing.  And so I set out to go somewhere where there were no tourists at all.  I looked at a map, saw a very remote border crossing, and decided that is where I needed to go. 

It was an amazing trip.  You can read about the whole thing starting right here:

Leaving Nairobi

-Adam


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