on the road to nairobi
By Arlene Batchelder
5 May 2005
The road from Arusha to Nairobi is only 3 hours of actual
driving time. It did not take us 3 hours.... We went through
beautiful scenery, Masai villages, the TZ/Kenya border
and police checks.
We were supposed to leave the ADRA compound at 2 pm. We
actually left at 2:30 pm and had to go into Arusha first
to stop at the bank, the insurance place and the printers.
All business taken care of we were finally off and heading
north along a paved road. Paved with potholes and speed
bumps at odd places. Probably there was a junction of some
path, trail, or family gathering at those places. Occasionally
Max, the driver, didn't see them in time and we all went
airborne. With no seatbelts to keep us in our seats and
almost no shocks left on the vehicle it was quite painful
for me and for the two girls riding in the back. I am thinking
that I will never complain of the pothole in D.C. again
and they are saying "here in TZ the roads are good,
wait till we get to Kenya". That's when I started
The Masai people walking along the road were very colorful.
They were herding goats, cows and donkeys. The kids all
smiled and waved. We saw a group of Impala and I was surprised
at how fast they ran in the wild. I guess in the zoo they
are not running away from Lions. Then we saw my favorite
animal, the giraffe, there were four of them crossing the
road. What a beautiful sight. We also saw one monkey and
Max showed us one of the well that ADRA put in for the
Masai people. It was crowded with happy people. And there
were flies. It took us a few miles of driving with the
windows open to get rid of the flies. I guess you have
to be brought up here to co-exist with flies.
In Europe you can cross over from country and you hardly
know it. There are no stops on the road. Not so here. At
the first road block there was the place to file papers
for leaving TZ with a check of passports. Then the paperwork
for the vehicle had to be checked and we moved on to the
next roadblock. This was an in-between place where the
vehicle was in line for more checks and paperwork and the
rest of us visited the local bathroom. (Bathrooms are another
story.) Then we walked down to the next roadblock where
we actually got our visa's after many questions and checks.
While waiting and walking around for Max and his visa's
and vehicle checks we were constantly accosted by local
salesman. Everything from changing money to buying carved
giraffes, jewelry and cloth. But I was ready for the sales
people. I had learned how to say no and how to bargain.
Finally in the end I did buy some Masai cloth at a good
price. I was going to buy some anyway and we had TZ shillings
It took over an hour to get through the border and finally
we were on our way again. They were right, the road did
get worse and after the first really bad bump I knew I
had to do something about my poor neck constantly being
jarred. It was lucky I bought the Masai cloth. I took it
and rolled it up and used it as a cervical collar. It was
hot, but it stabilized my neck.
We went through four police checks in the last hour of
driving from the border to Maxwell Academy. I don't know
what they were really looking for but they waved us through
after Max spoke to them in Kiswahili.
It was dark when we arrived at the Academy a little before
9 pm. So it seems a three hour drive anywhere else takes
twice as long here in Africa. No one is in a hurry and
there is always something that has to be done first. At
the border one office stopped at 6 pm while they lowered
the flag and saluted. I would have loved to have taken
pictures at the border but I wanted to keep my camera for
the rest of the vacation.
But all in all it was a good trip since we made it here
and that's important thing no matter how long it was on
the road to Nairobi.
Copyright © Arlene Batchelder