67 – I, Human cattle (Addis to Nairobi – part 4)

Mon 1st Feb, Nur Plaza, Isiolo, Kenya
Woke up at 6.30am when they moved to unload the cargo. The locals remaining on the truck through the night got off with us and went off to find breakfast. I had mine too. Milk tea (in a mug like in Somaliland and not in those tiny chai cups elsewhere!) and mandazi, a slightly sweet bread thingy.

Here’s the plan for each of our groups. I was to go to Isiolo, and i ‘reserved’ my spot by leaving my backpack on the truck. The truck then went off elsewhere to unload. The three aussies wanted to go to Isiolo as well, but their bags were with them at the hotel where they spent the night. Bartek and Marcin wanted Lake Turkana, heading west from Marsabit. And Hilal was trying to get to Logologo, an hour south along the Marsabit-Isiolo road.

However, as usual, Africa time meant the truck didn’t reappear to set off. Hilal arranged to hitch a pickup since her’s was a short distance down the road, but even that didn’t materialise till a couple hours later than the appointed pickup time. Said bye to her. By lunchtime, we had all congregated outside one eating place, waiting for transport out. The Polish guys’ inquiries of transport to Lake Turkana met with laughter and “you can try” and “maybe in the evening”. A helpful fellow tells the Aussies a cattle truck is coming from the north into town and they should wait at the main road for the truck. Me, even though we are going the same way, i am unable to join them, since my bag was on the first truck, which was nowhere to be found…After more than an hour though, the Aussies were back at the eating place, tired of waiting for their non-existent truck. No one could give a straight answer to whether there would be a truck out. “Maybe there will be. Or maybe there won’t be” was the best i could get out of everyone. The fellow locals on board yesterday’s truck were also sitting in the eating place, so i figured as long as they were calm, it would be fine to just follow their lead.

Someone then mentioned the truck may not leave today, which led to the locals on board’s leader to go on a frantic hunt for the truck, to no avail. Finally at 3, the truck reappeared, we all, in spite of our plans, figured this is the best and only option out of town and all trooped to the truck now parked on the main road.

They told us the truck wasn’t leaving today. Instead, there was another truck, empty, going south. We will go on that truck (400 KSH each). Well, it started empty, by the time we set off at 4pm, it was a human cargo truck, and we were the human cattle. Passengers from all over town popped up and were seated in the container area, as well as on the metal railings on the roof.

We set off, and compared to the relatively comfortable ride yesterday on sacks of onions, this one was a minor nightmare. First the load was much less, so the driver sped through the rough bumpy road, resulting in all of us flying all over the inside of the truck. Secondly, there were no more sacks to absorb the bumpy shocks, so we got the full brunt during the journey. And thirdly, the dust, oh my! Since we were near the base of the truck, the dust was getting into the truck like nobody’s business. My nostrils were complaining, everyone was covered in dust. And it only became better when i slipped head first into my sleeping bag. That got rid of the dust, but it was too uncomfortable to do anything but hold on to the railings for dear life.

Reached Isiolo, thoroughly exhausted at 12.30am. We were beset by accomodation touts who offered to show us hotels. Too tired to argue, they led the way to an overpriced Nur Plaza Hotel (600 KSH for a double room). We bunked 3 to a room, me with the Poles.

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