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Corona Diaries: Day 61 Stuck In Kenya With No End On The Horizon

Restless in Naivasha.

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Just to recap on the situation here:

Arrived in Kenya from Abidjan on March 12. Stayed in Nairobi for three days. Travelled to Naivasha to self-quarantine and have been here ever since.

A few days after my arrival in Kenya, they imposed a self-quarantine rule. I did mine voluntarily. On March 25th Kenyan airspace for international flights was shut down. Evac flights have since taken out most of the Europeans who wanted to leave.

The week before Easter, they imposed an inter-county travel ban. There are 47 counties in Kenya. Naivasha is in Nakuru county, 100km/60miles from Nairobi.

Life could carry on pretty much as normal. There was no total lockdown. But there were numerous restrictions put in place. Matatus, the mini vans used for transportation were restricted to running at 50% capacity, but the fares were doubled, which had the desired effect of naturally reducing travel. Such a fare hike is tough for many.

Curfew was introduced. 7pm until 5am. The evenings were deathly quiet save the barking of dogs.

Here, the small restaurants are still open but social distancing must be observed. My local eatery has 8 tables and 1 chair per table to maintain the 1.5m social distancing rule. The market was shut down but then re-opened with a limit on those allowed to enter.

The streets were fairly quiet out of fear from corona, lack of money to spend, and the road blocks.

The wearing of masks is mandatory (but not enforced). As is washing of hands before entering any establishment.

Then last Sunday night I noticed things were changing. I hadn’t heard any official report but late into the night trucks were running on the highway despite the 7pm curfew. I went into town the next day and it was busy. Not pre-corona busy but a noticeable increase on the number of cars and other vehicles.

I’d say that 30% of people were not wearing a mask. One Twitter contact said that in Nairobi people face arrest for not wearing one. ‘For the sake of 20KSH’.

Since the mzungu that tested positive for corona in the early stages of the pandemic and was traced back to a resort style hotel here, there have been no further reported cases. Life is pretty relaxed. People became complacent.

One of the sisters in the café said that “Kenyans don’t take this seriously. People are on the street until 10pm,” despite the risk of being caught, given a beating, and a night in the cells and then issued with a 200USD fine. That’s more than a months wages for most people here.

It seems that the transportation of non-essential goods from Nairobi has resumed, which means an increase in motorcycle traffic buzzing around town delivering parcels.

There are more improvised stalls set up to cater for the increased number of people. The people are doing what they can to survive.

I talked to my guys here. Said how ‘busy’ it was. I was told that people are also getting through from Nairobi. I asked the girl here and she said it was common knowledge that people would get the trucks to take them across the county boundaries.

The girls at the café always have more intel. “Getting to Nairobi is easy, if you have money.”

I had already looked at the map. There are 2 county boundaries you must cross to get to Nairobi. And of course there will be ad hoc check points as well. In fact, she said, it was easier than getting in a truck.

“You can just take a normal matatu. It’s just a question of paying at the police check point.”

This is what I wanted to know.

“Just 50bob (KSH), imagine!,” she told me. That’s 50US cents. The price of a small cola here.

“Per person?”

“No. Per vehicle. You want to go?”

“No, I’d get arrested.”

“No you wouldn’t. You’d just have to pay but a bit more than local price.”

It was almost comical.

“But once in Nairobi,” I continued, “where would I stay? I’d be under scrutiny as a new arrival.”

“You are safer here,” we both agreed.

I have no business in Nairobi. Life would be more expensive. Maybe a tad more interesting witnessing some of the protests at Eastleigh where they shut down the district. Nothing going in and nothing going out in an attempt to contain a small corona hotspot. Well, I say nothing going in or out. Containing the spread is not helped by motorcycle taxis bribing police.

I browsed through the newspaper and saw this, which summed up the situation fairly well:

Kenya Covid-19 GuidelinesAnd life here at the guest house? It’s getting some trade. A contractor was here for seven nights. Then four more turned up. The first contractor returned after a few days away.

I am not needing company but it makes me feel less anxious. The guys here have things to do and there is money coming in. Not a huge amount but better than nothing. And, more importantly, the remaining staff get to keep their jobs a while longer.

I have plenty to do. Rewriting old blog posts. Moving my ‘blogging tips’ posts onto a new page, drumming up some fans @NomadicBackpac1, reading. Have not yet needed to re-subscribe to NETFLIX.

I go into town most days, either for breakfast or lunch. The café can use some regular business. I always leave a tip.

But I don’t go further. I could but I don’t.

Last Saturday, a young chap called out, “Mzungu, why you bring corona to Kenya?” He was drunk and a bit too aggressive for my liking. As an ex-staff member at my guest house said, “Not everyone is so welcoming.”

People are not avoiding me when they see me coming. Most barely give me a passing glance. Yet there are a few isolated instances and just now I feel safer if I just go where there are people around.

And the police. I have never had an issue with them. On another trip here, I have asked them before taking photos of road signs or asking for the confirmation of the street name when in Nairobi, but I don’t want to be on a deserted stretch of road where they invent a ‘mister meaner.’

And what do I have to look forward to?

Well, this coming Saturday (May 16), President Kenyatta will announce the situation regarding the ‘lockdown.’ By my reckoning, the 21 day extension will be up.

I am hoping that the travel ban will be lifted. That means my guest house will start getting business. I feel for the guys here. And other hotels can also reopen, not just here. Across Kenya.

I will then be free to travel within Kenya. I have no complaints here but I could do with a change of scenery.

I have paid up until the end of the month. I would go back to the Crescent Island Game Sanctuary, and make a few other day trips too.

My visa extension was granted. I am good until June 29 for the time being. I will be sent an appointment of when I must present my documents for official endorsement. I can’t really understand why it isn’t done electronically but that’s how it is.

Maybe they have issued me with an appointment already. I may have even missed it.

Even if Kenya opens up, I doubt that the border to Uganda will open, but this is just my view.

But I have just checked the news feed. There is quite a hike in the number of cases. It doesn’t bode well.

This is going to go on and on.

Read more of the ‘Stuck in Kenya’ series on Vagabond Journey:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Filed under: Epidemics, Kenya

About the Author:

Long term traveller & content creator. From a small town north of London, England. Earned my travel money as a waiter in Switzerland, as a courier, as a postman (mailman). Former mountain runner and road cyclist. Permanently on the road now, 96 countries and counting. Passion for long haul overland journeys. Blogs at Nomadic Backpacker. has written 7 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support Trevor Warman’s writing on this blog:

Trevor Warman is currently in: Albania

29 comments… add one

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  • Lawrence May 15, 2020, 6:29 pm

    This has gone on much longer than I thought. I remember the good ole days in March when I thought this would all blow over in two weeks. HA!

    Glad you are well.

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    • Trevor Warman May 16, 2020, 2:59 pm

      Thank you. Hope you are too.

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    • Wade Shepard May 16, 2020, 8:19 pm

      That’s what they told us when we started this. Now they’re changing the narrative. There’s some places in the USA saying that they’re not going to re-open until there’s a cure. There may never be a cure!

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    • Trevor Warman May 17, 2020, 6:56 am

      Day 65 .. weeeeeeeeeee

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  • Jeffrey May 16, 2020, 11:23 pm

    Thanks to Wade and Trevor for your posts. I stop by every few days to see how you guys are doing.

    I’m in Ningbo, China, Zhejiang Province, just south of Shanghai. Here in Ningbo, everything is back to normal. Restaurants open and all tables full (slurping and belching resumed), shopping malls packed, and schools prowling with students again. All the construction sites for those cheapo apartment towers are humming (quick to rise, quick to fall apart), the non-stop clanking filling the air once again.

    Some people wear masks, some don’t. At banks and other official places, they’ll still check your temperature and ask for your health code. I don’t have a smartphone, but the university gave me card that substitutes for the QR health code.

    Like Trevor, I’m planning to move on. I’ll be heading to Taiwan as soon as flights resume. My guess is that China is currently entering one of its phases of isolation. I don’t consider this good or bad. It’s just the way it is. China is not a country for foreigners. As you guys know, some countries are, and some aren’t.

    I have to say I’m a bit baffled by what’s going on in the US. Why is it taking so long to open businesses again?

    By the way, Wade, I used to live in Astoria. I left Astoria and the US back in 2013 and I’m still on the road, I guess, like you and Trevor. But I used to have a great weekend bike ride, starting on 34th St. in Astoria, over the Queensborough Bridge, through Central Park and West Harlem, then south along the Hudson near the West Side Highway, all the way to Battery Park, through Chinatown and the Lower East Side, over the Williamsburg Bridge, through Williamsburg and Greenpoint, back into Queens via Long Island City and returning home in Astoria. I called it my Tri-Borough Ride: Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. On a sunny summer weekend day, very nice.

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    • Trevor Warman May 17, 2020, 8:20 am

      Hi thanks for stopping by… what is your story? Student or professor at the university.

      Am grateful to Wade for running 4 articles so far. Am also posting in my own blog, fairly regularly.

      Lockdown here, such that it is, just got extended by 3 more weeks. Am starting my 10th week here. :(((

      A buddy of mine. His wife is TAIWANESE he is Italian. They live in Italy. Just now, u need a passport or min a spouse visa to get in.

      Unsure in europe. Some are saying its neighbouring countries can get in. Germany ain’t letting anyone in other than residents. Others are worried about the delays to getting passports issued … do people actually know that they can soon travel or just wishful thinking? Cos from what i read… its not so free and easy like people are dreaming.

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      • Jeffrey May 17, 2020, 9:24 am

        Trevor,

        I’m a longtime ESL/EFL teacher, mostly in New York City. For three years, here in Zhejiang Province, I taught senior high school students in an international program, but right now I’m taking a break from teaching and studying a little Mandarin at Zhejiang Wanli University in Nngbo.

        You’re right about the confusion. No one really knows what’s going on. I have no idea, really, when I’ll be able to fly to Taiwan. My student visa is valid until the end of July, so I’m hoping flights resume before then.

        I’m glad everything here in Ningbo is busy again. After a couple months of lockdown, I was starting to get a bit batty.

        I’m tired of being in China. I’ve learned a lot, for sure, but daily life in China can really grind a Westerner down. It was worse when I was working with Chinese every day, but I’m still ready to go.

        People say that the Chinese in Taiwan are different from the Chinese on the mainland. God, I hope so.

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        • Wade Shepard May 19, 2020, 8:59 pm

          Yeah, man, totally different. Taiwan is what Chinese people are like without the CCP. I wrote some posts about it when I was staying on Xiamen, which is like 1.5 km away from the Taiwanese Island of Kinmen and is traditionally the same place. Today the cultures are starkly different.

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      • Wade Shepard May 19, 2020, 8:56 pm

        Man, I’m reading some crazy crap that people need to go through if they want to travel to some countries — mandatory app on phone, tracking bracelet. The argument for going out into the mountains like MRP is getting better and better.

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    • Wade Shepard May 19, 2020, 8:48 pm

      Man, that’s a crazy bike ride! That’s like going everywhere. Going to have to follow your route one of these days.

      “My guess is that China is currently entering one of its phases of isolation.”

      I agree. Get out, to go Taiwan. I’d love to follow you there!

      How does it feel to essentially be trapped in China? Would you like to do a post in this series about it? It’s cool if not, but if you did that would be excellent!

      Enjoy the slurping. I sort of miss that sound for some weird reason.

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      • Jeffrey May 19, 2020, 10:23 pm

        Wade,

        I think that ride took about two hours in total. Very easy riding. I’m a city biker in shorts and T-shirt, not a road cyclist in spandex.

        I did read that bikes are now expensive in the US. Supply and demand issues, I guess. When I lived in your neighborhood, there were two bike shops, Tony’s Bicycles and Bike Stop. If they’re open, I bet they’re doing good business. If they’re forced to be closed, that’s bad news for them.

        How does it feel to be trapped in China? Not good. As you know, there is no real rule of law here. If they wanted to detain and disappear me for whatever reason, I would have no legal recourse. Everyone — Chinese and foreigners — lives with that uncertainty. It wears you down. Chinese try to protect themselves by extending their guanxi as far as they can, but even then it usually isn’t enough.

        Even a guy as powerful as Bo Xilai didn’t have strong enough guanxi to stay out of prison. Well, yeah, the bit about his wife killing the English businessman didn’t help. But the corruption angle is laughable, as you know. Show me a Chinese official who hasn’t taken a red envelope and I’ll show you a guy whose IQ should disqualify him for office.

        Foreigners, of course, are sitting ducks. They can be rounded up on any pretext.

        Sure, let me think about the guest post. I’ll try to think of a good way to let everyone see what it’s like on the ground here. What’s odd to me is how everything here in Ningbo has so quickly gone back to normal. When I read your posts from Queens, they seem strange to me. In the US, it’s like the battery is dead and the car won’t start.

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        • Trevor Warman May 20, 2020, 12:53 am

          I’d love to read about how life is. Dt gloss over the gory stuff. The fear of being rounded up.

          Its just really starting here. Massive increase in cases. Lets hope they can contain it, soon.

          That interactive map u sent. Am i meant to click on the country?. Nothing opened…

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  • Trevor Warman May 17, 2020, 6:56 am

    Here is the link:

    https://www.nomadicbackpacker.com/corona-diaries-day-65-stuck-in-naivasha.html

    Lake Victoria, Lake Naivasha, all at record levels after incessant rain, cholera risk, locusts, corona and corrupt coppers. Like is quite a disaster here for the people. Am also getting tired of being stuck.

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    • Jeffrey May 17, 2020, 9:31 am

      Trevor,

      Ah, thanks for the link. I just took a quick stroll around your website. Looks great. I’ll be heading back in now.

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      • Trevor Warman May 17, 2020, 9:36 am

        Thank you. Enjoy.
        Taiwan is totally diff. English is widely spoken. . Shame i was only there 14 days..

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    • Wade Shepard May 19, 2020, 8:54 pm

      Yes, it’s really funny how out of proportion our concern about C19 is when compared to other ailments that we have grown bored of caring about.

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  • MG May 17, 2020, 3:26 pm

    Trevi, noticed your comment to get to Georgia(July 15 open to foreigners), EU & UK (several already open to UK / Schengen / EEA citizens)

    Pardon some advice / experience from Kenya/northern Africa:
    1. To exit Kenya, go south and fly…going North by Land is torture by truck. i paid for seat in truck cabin. At one point in middle of nowhere, driver sees trucks ahead stuck in mud depth about 3/4 of tire. On the right of road is a curved “bypass” road few hundred metres to an intersecting dirt road (T-junction). Driver stops, hangs around few minutes , goes 100m to sit under tree , then some minutes later starts walking away, no communication of purpose / where going. Driver’s assistant (18 to 20yo) doesn’t know anything, then an hour later says driver went to some town/village. Where’s that? How far? 80km That sure added stress, uncertainty. 1 hour becomes 2, then 6, then 8, then twilight, night and morning. No driver. Military truck passes by throws couple cans of fish and condensed milk after telling situation.
    Several trucks pass by going on that curved swath of earth to the cross-road then turning back onto our road beyond the mud area and off they go. 19 trucks do this within 36+ hours.
    Our driver returns 36+ hrs later. Tell him what 19 other trucks with heavy loads did. He says No several times. Finally he agrees to do what other trucks did. Starts the engine onto the flat curved road, a slight short few feet up-slope to the cross-road and he goes slow and stops , we are stuck. ….arrrgghh, this guy doesn;t know how to drive, very timid. Everyone stands around. I find a shovel and start shoveling to make a wedge. Everyone stands around doing nothing. World is full of spectators, like deer with car headlights shining on it stands still.
    No our truck is blocking the “bypass” curve road. ANother truck comes. Get that driver to talk with our driver, finally the other driver sits in our truck puts pedal to the metal gets our truck onto the crossroad. Turns out our driver at 30-35 yo has only driven for 4 months.
    Lessons: ask driver his experience on the particular route, for how long, mud, etc conditions.

    of course, also going north by land, u need the Ethiopian Visa (or Uganda or Sudan). Made it to Djibouti which i call it Djibouti Junkyard as 1 to 2km inside the Dj border was huge amount of used tires, then 1-2km after that was huge amount of dented/smashed car frames , etc.

    2. Flights.
    (a) Nairobi to anywhere in EU/UK …or get to Dubai and from there to Georgia.
    (b) Mombasa … is good ole JetairFly.com or German charter flight co’s operating, u can get to Brussels or Germany

    Regarding Covid statistics,
    1. sure Kenya’s #’s are small … because HARDLY ANY TESTING !
    Kenya 54M ppl , only 43,000 tests.
    Compare to 1.5 to 3.1 Million tests in each of France/Italy/Spain/Germany.

    2. Tanzania ?? 21 covid deaths, 509 cases, but the # of tests is “blank” … Kenya sounds better.

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    • Trevor Warman May 18, 2020, 12:04 am

      Hi, . Yes. I have been Cairo to Cape Town, overland. I know you cant get Etiopian visa going north.

      Problem here now is, since March 25 only evac flights out. And most have already left. Only option just now is to get to UK as no one else is letting in non residents. Not yet. So once they start doing that, ill have more options.

      All borders now closed Uganda Tanzania…

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  • Jeffrey May 17, 2020, 11:22 pm

    Here’s a website giving up-to-date travel information:

    Interactive Coronavirus (Covid-19) Travel Regulations Map (powered by Timatic)”

    Are there any other sources for good information?

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    • Wade Shepard May 19, 2020, 9:06 pm

      Cool. I was looking for a resource like that. Thanks for sharing.

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  • MRP May 18, 2020, 5:20 am

    Hi Trevor

    3 – more – weeks!!!

    Ouch, this is never-ending … Now, it’s all about Latin America – Brazil, Peru, Mexico – as Europe and USA cool down a little. I wonder if, or when, it’s Africa’s turn to blow up. Maybe it’ll escape the numbers? Otherwise lock-down could be months still for travel within Africa.

    Us: we are moving on with van life tomorrow, after 3 weeks in this snow mountain backdrop. Basically, police came again and wanted me to register in their locale, since I becoming long-term here. Off to a lake bordering Sichuan tomorrow.

    Hope you can find a resolution soon, without marrying a lovely local lass 😉

    Regards – Michael.
    .

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    • Trevor Warman May 18, 2020, 10:50 am

      Hi Michael and Wade

      yes its getting a joke now. And i just read that Tanzania is gonna fully open up? Is this a joke too? They had no lockdown, no masks, no handwashing (apparently) and all the truckers coming thru r positive. Fuck if i know whats going on….

      Lots of advice being offered….. like ‘get out’ so i will walk across Africa? No flights… except random evac flights going to places where they dont want foreigners.

      Countries are only accepting their own nationals. An aussie dude i know, with south african residency, married to a Uganda (?) are stuck in Oz. he can fly back to JoBerg, but she cant as she doesnt yet have residency papers.

      A german guy just flown home from Thailand, he sent me the embassy missive. Residents only.

      Taiwan is the same. Thailand, no flights til June 30.

      The procedure for when there are evac flights:

      Assuming you can get a ticket and afford to pay. U have to get permission to travel across county lines. (Naivasha is 2 counties away) and find a willing driver… (though that seems easy. For 50cents u can bribe a copper here)

      U have to find a hotel in Nairobi thats open. You have to get a covid test at one on the clinics in Nairobi. And get ur ass to JKIA before curfew…

      All fun and games here i tell ya. Went to the Lake today to see the floods. Went with a local guy. Took one photo and was seen. :(( good job i was with a Kenyan. barriers set up., as they fished out a body the other day. But my buddy got some shots and i got one of the overflowing sewer lol

      Thank you for the email the mention is awesome!!!!!!!!!!

      Will email u with a bit more stuff.

      Trevor

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      • Wade Shepard May 20, 2020, 8:08 am

        Dude, you should write about going to the flood!

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        • Trevor Warman May 20, 2020, 12:14 pm

          I am

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        • Trevor Warman May 21, 2020, 11:46 am

          https://www.nomadicbackpacker.com/kihoto-flooding-naivasha.html

          People arnt fond of pictures being taken.

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          • Wade Shepard May 21, 2020, 3:29 pm

            Act alpha about it. Like you’re doing a job. Use the camera as a social tool.

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            • Trevor Warman May 22, 2020, 8:05 am

              I wish. 1st point being ALPHA dog aint my style.

              2nd point. It can get crazy here. Kihoto is a mini Kibera. Where i ‘live’ its on a short cut path to Kihoto. The other night, another fatality…

              The neighbouring house.. he’s a BIG MAN here. He told the police he (or his security would) would shoot any one lingering. They said… Go ahead. So the story goes..

              I don’t need to antagonize the locals

              Lets hope Europe opens up more. I checked some ‘official’ pages. Only resident s are allowed in. So until that time, and then i can find a flight out, i am here.

              At least, the ‘permission to travel’ for any evac flight is good for the taxi driver to come home again. and… til now, its only Kenya airways who are demanding a Covid test before flying out.

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    • Wade Shepard May 19, 2020, 9:12 pm

      Haha yes, that’s the way Trevor’s story should end. Dude, go and hook up with the cafe girls and give us a proper end to this story!

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      • Trevor Warman May 20, 2020, 3:23 am

        No ‘happy endings’ likely here, for the time being…..

        The cafe girls want an invitation letter to go to UK, one wants a new lap top for her son. There will be a sick family relative at some point. Mzungu aka the walking ATM

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