We’ve been camping directly at Lake Victoria today. When we arrived at camp, the whiteboard announced that we could camp anywhere we liked, but were recommended not to put up our tents underneath the so-called sausage trees (to avoid potential injuries from falling sausages).
So we all tried to find shady spots underneath the non-sausage trees, yet ideally not too far away from the trucks (to avoid unnecessary walking, as well as to keep an eye on our items). By the time I arrived at camp, the best spots had been taken already. So I put up my tent a bit further away from our trucks, yet closer to the bathrooms.
Late afternoon, the sky turned dark and cloudy at times, and we could see thunder further away. However, it seemed like we had a chance that the bad weather would not reach us—wishful thinking.
By the time of our riders’ meeting, we had all made sure to put our rain flysheets onto our tents, just in case. While having dinner, the first raindrops started falling from the sky. I ran back to my tent to find an alternative place to hang my washing.
With my washing line—wet clothes hung on it—I ran towards a roofed area. All of a sudden, a dog jumped out of nowhere, barked and fleshed its teeth at me. While cycling, we’re advised to stop in case of dog attacks. In this case, however, I saw that the dog was on a line tied to a pole. There was probably a reason for that! I sprinted as fast as I could, hoping that the line was short enough. Lucky me—the dog didn’t catch me.
Without any other option to hang my washing in a rain-protected area, I just dropped it inside my tent. By the time I walked back over to dinner, our groups’ emergency rain cover plan was in full execution. Camping chairs had already been stored safely inside the truck, food tables re-positioned underneath the truck’s rain protection tarp (the only function of which so far on our tour had been to provide some rare shade from the sun).
Within seconds, the rain converted into a torrential downpour. We all gathered underneath the tarp for whatever protection we could get. The night had turned pitch black, only interrupted by lightening. It was hard to hear each other amidst the heavy rain and occasional thunder. How long would this take? No one knew, but most of us were ready to hold it out. Those who had started drinking before dinner did a runner to the bar area.
Within minutes, big puddles of muddy water collected all over our campsite. Our feet no longer stood dry on top of the grass, but submerged within murky puddles of water. Then came the desperate realisation: this is not going to stop anytime soon!
People sprinted to safe their gear and tents. Those tents that had been put up first in—supposedly—prime spots were threatening to get flooded by ankle-high water. A few tents had to be relocated in a nightly action of desperation. More than a few of us ended up soaked with rain water from top to toe.
I was fortunate that the spot of my tent was on a somewhat raised area. Water and mud had still collected all around it and squeezed in between the tent and ground sheet, yet didn’t threaten to flood the interior—yet.
Fortunately, the rain would eventually subside after about an hour and spare us from further flooding. Packing up our tents in the morning would be a messy affair, but—with a little bit of preparation, organization and the right gear—most of us managed to keep the insides of our bags as well as all our other gear relatively clean and dry.
However, we’ve all learnt the lesson—watch where you put up your tent. So far, avoiding sun and wind (and the odd sausages) had seemed like the best strategy. Now we have more more aspect to consider.
Stage 27: Londiani – Kisumu (Kenya), 137km
Road & traffic condition:
We’ve been cycling through the Kenyan western highlands today, past green fields and tea plantations.
Up there, we’ve had a lot less traffic and an excellent hard shoulder to cycle on for most of the day.
The roads were so good, the cows so well-nourished and the fields so green with more needle-like than palm trees at times, that we might as well have been cycling through the Swiss or Austrian alps.
At other times, near the tea plantations and villages, the scenery reminded me of the Cameroon Highlands in Malaysia where they also grow tea.
After lunch, we were spoilt today with a 20+km descent on almost perfect tar. Some people went crazy on the downhill. I’ve stuck with my intentions to go slow, but would overtake others again on the lowlands—each our different strengths.
Only when we reached the lowlands, and especially ahead and in the town of Kisumu, traffic picked up again significantly (yet slow-driving).
We’ve been camping up in the western highlands above 2,500m of altitude. The temperature up there was nice and cool while cycling (and a little bit chilly with cold fingers again while packing up our tents).
As we dropped in altitude during our long downhill descent, it got markedly hotter and more humid the lower we went.
Down in the lowlands and at camp, it was very humid. Even in the shade and without moving, my skin remained moist at all times.
Spaghetti bolognese and salad. Our best bolognese so far—no more chutney in the sauce 🙂
Followed by an absolutely irresistible apple pie. I had planned to stay clear of all these sugar loads going forward. However, stuck in torrential downpour underneath our small rain protection tarp, all of us gathered on tight space around the food tables, eating to kill time seemed like a reasonable choice. Yummy!
On a more local note, plantains seem to be quite popular around here as a staple starch. At least we’ve seen lots of plantains on the way.
It doesn’t really fit the culinary section, but—same as the plantains—I also found these bags of charcoal for sale along the road worth a photo:
#1: Most of us agreed that the ride today through the highlands has been the most scenic so far, and we definitely all enjoyed the long downhill.
#2: Our first torrential rain at camp—we all seemed to take our fate with humor, even those who had to relocate their tents in a nightly action of gear-saving desperation.
#3: Accidents and incidents of our new sectional riders:
- One of our sectional riders lost her passport and, unfortunately, had to fly back to Nairobi and cancel her tour because of that (because there would have been no way to sort it out by the time we cross into Uganda). Valerie—we’re sad to see you go. It was nice meeting you!
- Another female sectional rider had been unfortunate to have an accident and strain a ligament on her first day, barely 20km into the ride out of Nairobi! Good news is that even though she was expected to be off the bike for ten days, she seems to have recovered well enough to cycle again tomorrow—safe riding Suzy!
- Yet another female sectional rider had been in hospital the past days due to a condition that had started prior to the tour. Fortunately, she has recovered and re-joined us again tonight. Erin—welcome back!
I had left my MacBook outside underneath a roof for charging throughout dinner and the first half hour of our downpour. Then I started worrying whether it was safe, and eventually decided to do a runner in the downpour, across water puddles in the dark. Better getting wet myself than risking a broken laptop! When I reached the roofed area, Peter from New Zealand (who had joined us in Nairobi together with his daughter Cath) had saved my MacBook already and moved it away from the rain.
“I’m so glad you’re here” I was relieved, “thank you so much!”
“Don’t get excited too soon,” he cautioned, “it was all wet already when I came.”
Opening my fully functioning and fully charged MacBook later on might as well have been the highlight of my day!