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Pole to Pole

Day 95: Nairobi

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleApart from being an extremely helpful place, Chetan's store displays none of the colonial snobbishness I had associated with safari-ism. He is just as happy to sell you a tape of local tribal music, or a 'Wild Thing' T-shirt, or a 'Horny Friends' bag.

Outside, many of the city's buildings are being draped in the national colours for Kenyatta Day, tomorrow's national holiday in honour of the man who led Kenya to independence from the British twenty-eight years ago.

Like Colpro the outfitters and the Republic of Kenya, Abercrombie and Kent have been in business for almost thirty years. Their safari stores are located in a solid stone-walled building in one of the burgeoning industrial estates around Nairobi. Here two Isuzu trucks are being loaded up with the eleven and a half tons of equipment we shall need over the next three days. Travel-hardened wooden and tin crates are filled with everything from toilet paper and fresh-cut flowers to hot-water bottles and cases of Blanc de Blancs. In the storeroom are rows of trestle tables, bed frames and barbecues, sackfuls of mallets, shelves of hurricane lamps and coathangers, piles of doormats and shovels and lavatory seats. There is even a wood-framed double bed. 'Usually reserved for honeymooners,' explains Martin, who is in charge of our preparations.

The drive to the Mara can be tricky, with dirt roads for most of the way. Martin is anxious to get the big trucks off as soon as possible.

'In the last four years the rains have gone crazy.' (They call rain 'rains' out here, but elephants they call 'elephant'.)

This year they are expected two weeks early, which could mean tomorrow, and an eight-hour journey to the camp can take as long as four days in bad weather.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 95
  • Country/sea: Kenya
  • Place: Nairobi
  • Book page no: 206

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