"How long will the busride take?"
“Here to Isiolo? Um, shouldn’t be more than twelve or thirteen hours…”
Mhmm, sure. And horses can fly.
We’ve finished walking Kenya and are now ready to tackle Ethiopia. There’s a hitch though: we can only get our visas in Nairobi. Oh, and they wouldn’t give them to us when we were there a month ago (come back when you’re ready to enter). Sigh. So, it’s time to bus/hitchhike it back to the capitol. Having just walked this road, I can assure you of the bumpy, dusty, nightmare this is going to be. Well, the road becomes paved just a wee bit before Isiolo, where a friend of ours lives, and we decide that thumbing this stretch is simply out of the question. This leaves the bus option. Straight shot from here to there… how bad can it be, really?
We get up just in time to hear the first call to prayer (5am) and stumble out to the corner. Departure is only half an hour late- which, by African standards, is miraculously early. We’ve not moved for more than a couple minutes before we reach our first police checkpoint. They proceed to ID all 60 of us, inspect all the luggage compartments, pull various passengers off to collect bribes, yada yada… typical African police routine. Almost half an hour later, we’re rolling once again. Seven kilometers later, we meet another checkpoint, and repeat the process all over again. It’s gonna be a long day.
Fast forward a couple hours. Then hit the pause button for a couple more as we wait for someone to deliver us a new wheel. Deliver a new wheel?!?! Yeah, flat tires are pretty common out here in the rock and the bush, and our bus simply isn’t equipped to handle such formalities.
Rolling (I should say bouncing) once again. Checkpoint. Rolling. Checkpoint. Rolling. Exhaust pipe falls off. Wait around for pipe to cool down and then toss it in the hold. Rolling. Checkpoint. Rolling. Stop for 3 hours to weld pipe back on and have dinner (I forgot to mention, we stopped for lunch somewhere way back when). Rolling. Checkpoint. Start. Stop. What? the bus is on fire? That’s fine, everyone, just stay in your seats. Oh, it’s not on fire now. OK, keep rolling. Checkpoint. Rolling. Another flat tire, with accompanying two hour delay. Rolling. Checkpoint. Rolling…
About five in the morning, we finally pull into Isiolo, find our friend’s house, and fall exhausted asleep.