Typed up: on Egypt Air flight to Cairo, Internet Cafe in Cairo, Morad's home in Cairo
Posted from: Morad's home in Cairo
Our matatu ride from Naivasha to Nakuru was painless and took about an hour. The only excitement was that they couldn't get the trunk open once we got there. Eventually our bags were retrieved by going under the rear seat. Not having a map, we went with one of the many locals trying to help us, who walked us to Mt. Sinai Hotel (which is where we asked to go). I proceeded to tip him way too much (Ksh 100; we could've gotten a tuk-tuk ride for that much), but that's why we're tourists.
The hotel gave us a roof-top room, and from the flat area there we had a great view of the town, and we could see the lake in the distance. Better yet, we could even spot some spots of pink on the lake, which is the main reason people come to Nakuru. I also had my best laundry session of the trip there. There was a nice sized tub which I could put in the sink, so I didn't have to bend over and could fit a lot of clothes at once. Right next there were clothes lines. And while washing you had this wonderful view. The room was pretty nice as well. Clean, and everything worked.
About 15 minutes after we arrived we were met by Linus/Lunus Njuguna, a sales representative for Pega Tours & Travel Agencies, who sold us a half day safari to Lake Naivasha. Despite the fact that it was Sunday, somebody from the hotel had notified him of the arriving mzungu, and he'd gotten off his couch and over here in record time. As all Kenyans, he was immaculately dressed. The price was good (after a little haggling) and we ended up enjoying the driver and the safari. You can call him at +254-0721-715120.
That night we slept very poorly due to club noise, so it hurt even more to get up at 5:30 am for our safari. It was raining pretty hard, so we worried that our safari might suffer. It was great, though. It was just us in a small vehicle with a big opening in the roof, together with Peter our driver. It did rain a bit early on, and we even closed the roof for around 10 minutes, but I don't think it affected the animals any. We started out driving through a grassy/foresty area looking for leopards, but we did not see any. We did see some nice herds of water buffalo, zebra and impala. We also spotted a few red buck.
But the main attraction were the birds, and after what felt like forever (but was probably only an hour or so) Peter drove us to the lake. We were on a (hard) mud flat next to the lake, and just saw lots of flamingoes. That was expected. We did not expect to see similarly huge numbers of pelicans, lots of storks, and quite a lot of other birds. It was simply awesome. Take some time to see the pictures, and especially look at the movies. We drove around the lake, stopping at all the places where large amounts of flamingos congregate. We also got to see a hyena "hunt" flamingos. Because there are just a few real predators in the park, they do not get enough food from carcasses. To make up for it they run through a flock of flamingoes, hoping for a sick or hurt one for an easy meal. This makes all the flamingoes take to the air at once, which is quite a sight.
We also saw quite a few white rhinos, and we were able to get quite close to them. We even saw 2 babies and they did not seem to be bothered much by the presence of our car. We also saw some Rothschild giraffes, which you can identify by their long white socks. Finally there were the obligatory vervet monkeys. We really enjoyed this safari, although due to a mostly sleepless night we were ready for it to be over about an hour before we really did finish.
After the safari we asked to be dropped off at the Waterbuck Hotel, which I chose because it was away from the town center and thus away from the noise. Our guidebook listed it as being a bit expensive, and when we got there it turned out to be even more expensive than that. But in no mood to shop around we took it. The room was nice and big, with a TV that got barely any reception, and a nice private bathroom.
In the afternoon I walked around looking for a place to buy some water because the hotel water was very overpriced. I did not find a good place, but I passed a place which had a mural advertising fitness, aerobics, but also weight training. Curious I walked in and through the window I saw a squat rack. I asked the guy how much it was to stop by, and it was cheap. So I returned to the hotel, changed, and walked over to lift some weights. I talked to George, the owner (I think), who used to be a competitive body builder. He told me how his brother lives in Pittsburgh, but the US government won't give him a visa to go visit him.
The equipment was not as nice as the stuff I had at home, but it worked well for the light weights I use. The bar was just a 1-inch slightly bowed piece of steel, with no markings or knurling, and hose clamps to keep the weight from shifting in too much. The weight was a mixture of 1-inch plates. The squat rack just had many pegs to adjust to different heights, which worked out well. Aside from that they had various isolation machines for leg press, bent rows, etc.
The next day we discover Wool Matt, which is a lot like Wal Mart packed into a smaller buildings. They sold groceries, rugs, motor cycles, machetes, clothes, etc. We bought a few things, but I was really happy about the belt I got. I've been annoyed at the belt I picked up in the US almost since I got it because it wouldn't buckle right. It was a heavy cotton belt, with no holes, and I figured it would be washable and that was good. It probably is, but I didn't wear it enough that I needed it. Now I have a Spanish leather belt like any other, and it stays on.
In the afternoon we met up with Peter from Germany (not our tour guide). We had met him at the Mt. Sinai hotel and decided to go see the Menengai Crater together. It's close to town, so we would just hire a taxi to take us there, wait maybe an hour, and return. Easily said, and almost as easily done. Peter is an expert at haggling, but the taxi driver won't budge. We end up paying a little bit more than we'd like, which is OK. The car is a piece of crap, and that is not OK. Once on the dirt road outside of town, the car cannot make it up a section of the road. The driver tried several times, until the engine started steaming. He told us he'd drive us back to town where we could get another cab but we never made it that far.
He reversed down the hill, then tried to turn around but jammed his tailpipe into some hard dirt. It was totally clogged with dirt, and hanging on the ground now. No problem, he just took off the tail pipe. It's not really essential to the car driving. But that was enough to convince him to not drive us any further. He called a friend cab driver of his to take us the rest of the way. The friend came after a while and his car was nice and reliable. He took us to the crater without any problems.
We got there just in time to see some beautiful late afternoon light on the surrounding hills. Some clouds prevented the light from getting into the crater, but the view was still worth it. Inside the crater you could see lava rock formations covered with greenery, and lots of plumes of smoke drifting up. The smoke was from people making charcoal, which is a popular but destructive business for Kenya's poor. Afterwards we ate an excellent dinner at Gilani's in town. It's a little bit pricey, but totally worth it. It's the best restaurant of our trip so far.
To top off the day we took our first boda-boda ride back to the hotel. A boda-boda is a 1-person bike taxi. It has a nice cushion above the rear wheel, some hand holds below the saddle, and sometimes a place to put your feet as well. It's pretty cheap (if you haggle just a little), and a surprisingly comfortable ride. It's my favorite form of transportation so far. You get a chance to talk one on one with the "driver," look around without windows in the way, and you're not crammed into a small space. Perfect.
Then we spent an additional 2.5 days in Nakuru just relaxing, doing nothing. We both needed it, and Nakuru had plenty of facilities. Danielle spent an afternoon at the Merica Hotel swimming pool, while I spent some extra time at the Internet Cafe. We switched hotels to Tas Hotel, which was still nice but significantly cheaper than Waterbuck. I worked out once more, meeting a few of the same people who were there before. Danielle got a haircut at a salon. She commented on some of the people who had been there for many hours getting the really fine braids put in their hair. The only other entertaining thing in my notes is that we ate at a Chinese restaurant which had on the menu "fried fish that look like squirrel." Sadly the price prevented us from ordering it.
Finally on Friday we took the bus to Kakamega.
Workouts. 9/8 tried to find 5RM of squat (145), press (55), deadlift (155). 9/10 planned to do a Starting Strength workout, but my quads were totally shot. Work sets: squat (all failed) 5x155F, 5x145F, 5x135F, press 3x5x55, deadlift 5x155.