Restless in Naivasha.
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.
“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:
And 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:
About the Author: Trevor Warman
World Traveller – Global Nomad. Former electronic technician, racing cyclist, barman, mountain runner and mailman. Now perpetual vagabond. Blogs at Nomadic Backpacker. Trevor Warman has written 10 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
Trevor Warman is currently in: CDMX Mexico
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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?
May 18, 2020, 5:20 am
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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