Hotel California

Hotel California 1Essential for a motorcycle trip around the world: a running motorbike. Call it a wise purchase, proper maintenance or just good luck, but the only problem that we have experienced so far is a leaking gasket between the tank and the fuel pump (knock, knock, knock***). Not everyone has the same experience. Ross practically had to rebuild his bike in Ethiopia and now Irish has problems with his bike. Halfway through the Turkana route the alternator of his bike stopped, as a result of which his battery stopped charging after which his bike stopped. To repair or replace the alternator along the way was not an option. The solution? The battery of a Toyota Land Cruiser….

In Illeret he bought such a battery, a huge box weighing over 20 kilos. Additional kilos you would rather not take on the back of your motorbike riding the sandy paths along Lake Turkana, but you have to do something! Ross -aka McGuyver- ingeniously managed to connect the battery to the engine. The first day the battery was charged by a friendly gentleman who drove around with the battery in his car for a few hours. With the charged battery Irish could cover about 300km. Without turning off the engine and without stopping, because if you have to restart the bike or if the fan kicks in while you’re standing still, the battery will be empty soon. Every evening he brought the battery to a shop to have it charged. The next morning, he could then continue driving another 300km.

This morning we hear Irish leave on the bike of Ross to ride to the centre of Nyahururu to pick up his charged battery. One of the Kenyan Hotel California 11athletes in his tracksuit on the back as his fixer. Peter and I have breakfast and start packing so we can leave as soon as he gets back. But unfortunately, the owner of the kiosk had charged the battery until he closed his shop (at 19:00) and then pulled out the plug. It was not until 07:00 that morning that he continued charging, assuming that would be enough. But there was not nearly enough power in the battery to start the bike, let alone to drive to Nairobi. He should try again in a few hours.

Because we only leave a few hours later, we take our time to have breakfast and we pack even slower than we usually do. While we are packing, the athlete friend of Irish comes back with a journalist. The man works for a travel magazine and would like to write an article about the motorcycle trip of Irish. Once on the campsite his face lights up when he sees another three motorbikes, a hammock, two tents and ’Mzungu’ boiling eggs on a gas stove and drinking coffee from plastic soup bowls. He walks round us while he clicks his camera and he takes pictures of absolutely everything. He interviews Irish and asks him to throw back his hair as he Hotel California 13poses next to his motorcycle. Then he takes a picture with us and the athlete, the athlete with the motorbikes, himself with the bikes and finally, a group picture with the bikes. That should give him one great article!

After the interview, Irish goes to the kiosk again, to come back a little later with a battery that is just sufficiently charged to drive for a while. He could probably use it to start his bike, but then driving might be a problem. With some jumper cables, a car and a friendly guy, the bike starts and we can leave. From Nyahururu we drive a beautiful road through the hills with a few lovely curves. We again pass the equator (this time from north to south again after Peter and I went back north at Mt Kenya). For Ross and Irish it is the first time during this trip that they cross the equator. Reason enough to stop and make a picture.

Then we drive a route that Peter and I already drove before, through Nakuru and Naivasha on to Nairobi. We again enjoy the wonderful Hotel California 12view we have over the Great Rift Valley. We stop only one other time to refuel, to eat and to put on our rain suits. Fortunately Irish also finds a friendly motorist here with jumper cables to start his bike. At the end of the afternoon we sway between the busy traffic in Nairobi to the neighbourhood “Karen”, back to Jungle Junction. Just in front of the gate Irish’ bike stops. What a timing!

As we enter the driveway of Jungle Junction Chris comes to meet us. “Problems?”, he asks. A logical question, because that is often a reason why travelers are back on the campsite within two weeks. But no, we do not have any problems, we just want to spend some time with our friends. But this time we only stay a few days, I assure him, then we will move on. Chris gets a mysterious smile on his face: “We’ll see ….”

Once we have parked our motorbikes, we notice that we are not the only ones this time. There are two BMW bikes, a F650GS (twin) that still looks really nice and a lovely BMW F650GS Dakar on a jack with a lot of parts missing. We find the owners on the terrace behind a row of empty beer bottles. We meet the Germans ‘Ollie’ and Thomas and the Namibian fiancée of Thomas, Martha.

Hotel California 9Ollie will fly back home that night after a motorcycle trip of a few months through Africa. He will leave his motorbike -the one on the jack- at JJ’s so Chris can patch it up it for the next leg of the journey. The nice BMW belongs to Thomas and Martha. Thomas has been living in South-Africa for some time where he deals in motorcycles and guides motorcycle tours in Southern Africa. He had previously sold this BMW to a biker from Taiwan who had ridden it from South Africa to Kenya. The Taiwanese biker went home and Thomas came to pick up the bike and ride it back to South Africe to sell it there. Together with his fiancée Martha as a pillion.

Before we know it, Ross, Irish, Peter and I join them for a cold beer, still wearing our gear. Pitching the tent can wait! A great atmosphere and the beginning of a long first night in Nairobi.

The next day I take a seat at the terrace to make use of the high-speed Internet. Meanwhile, Peter does some maintenance on our bikes and then bends with Ross and Irish over their BMW’s. After a ‘busy’ day we all join Thomas and Martha for a delicious Namibian stew with lamb and rice. Delicious! The beers keep coming, the stories become more exciting and the jokes louder. And it does not stop. At dusk four motorbikes drive up the Jungle Junction driveway. Four Suzuki DR650s with South African number plates that belong to Trevor, Shane, Kyle and Garth who drive from Cape Town to Cairo in the record time of two months. After they have eaten something, they pull up a chair and tell us their tough stories.

Hotel CaliforniaAt some point, Irish takes out his foldable(!) guitar from the big orange suitcase on his motorcycle! There is a hinge in the neck of the guitar allowing the guitar fold up so “small” it fits on his bike! He just has so straighten the neck, tune it and then he is ready to play. Great! Irish has a beautiful voice and gives us goosebumps with his beautiful songs. When it is time for him to take a sip of his beer, Garth shifts on the seat next to him. He asks if he may have a go…. He also turns out to be as gifted guitar player. Together they play some great songs: beautiful singer-songwriter songs, classics by The Rolling Stones and The Eagles, blues songs with matching deep voice and bawdy sailor songs. A great end to a second long night at Jungle Junction.

The next morning the bulletin board in the reception shows the menu for the day: “Friday = BBQ night”. That sounds good, we stay another day! Everyone signs up for tender T-Bone Steak. And the group gets even bigger, because in addition to the 10 motorcycle riders Brett and Yvon have now joined as well. This South-African/German couple makes a journey through Africa in a Land Rover with beautiful (rooftop)tent construction. From South Africa up to Kenya and then counter-clockwise back to the south. Furthermore, Konrad also joins us. Along with his adopted son Mundi, Konrad is almost part of the furniture at Jungle Junction. For more than five months he is working through the adoption process in Nairobi. His wife and their eldest son have already gone back home, while he awaits the final paperwork with Mundi.

Hotel California 7That night Chris turns the enormous slabs of meat while we enjoy the delicious salads. It is a loud bunch that is only quiet as the first pieces of meat are on the table. After that it is back loud again, with jokes, motorcycle talk, beautiful guitar music, Zulu-cabaret, lots of cold drinks and a big campfire. Another long night in the Kenyan capital.

Our departure date is becoming increasingly blurred. The “few days” we would stay already passed and we do not think about leaving yet. There is something to do every day. But we are not the only ones, the others also keep adjusting their departure date. Irish is still waiting for parts for his motorcycle so he will stay some days anyway, but the others do not really have an excuse. It is fun and no one is really in a hurry. Chris begins to laugh as he hears us postpone our departure: “Hahaha, this place is like Hotel California:” You can checkout any time you like, But you can never leave!”

The next morning the four South Africans are the first to leave. They ‘must’ go on because they are on a tight schedule and have “only” two Hotel California 6months to get from Cape Town to Cairo.

Then Peter and Ross also get on the bikes. Not to leave, but to ride around town. Ross’ bikes has been fixed, so they can go for a tour, “play” around. At the beginning of the evening they return at the campsite with a big smile on their faces. Through various gravel roads they had arrived at the entrance of Nairobi National Park. They were allowed to drive the Sheldricks Elephants Shelter, but could not enter the park. But that did not spoil the fun, because they still say ‘wild animals’ and enjoyed the view over the savannah. So beautiful and so special that it is almost in Nairobi.

After three long evenings everyone needs some sleep. After we ate together (this time Thai Curry made by Irish) everybody gets to bed early. The next day, everyone returns to the order of the day. And for travelers this consists of: maintenance on bikes and gear, charging electrical equipment, work on the blogs,Hotel California 4 updating Facebook, backing up photos, reading about the next destination, copying series and films, exchanging routes and facilities, shopping and visiting the tourist sites.

Thomas and Martha are then the first to leave. To Tanzania, Malawi and further south. A day later we say goodbye to Ross. He leaves on an Kenyan ‘adventure’. We stay a few more days. In those days I take guitar lessons from Irish, we cook a Mexican dish for the remaining friends, we get a tour around the Land Rover of Brett and Yvon and we are have lunch with Wouter, Agnes and Seth. Then we really pack our stuff, we check out and actually leave our Hotel California. “Goodbye Jungle Junction, bye Nairobi, on to Uganda!”

 Click here to view the photos.

Distance to Jungle Junction (Part II): 14,646 km (9,100 miles)

***Touch wood , you never know :)

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| Leonie | AFRICA, Kenya

4 Reacties (Comments) - Hotel California

  1. Irish Dave

    Love it, fantastic writing and beautiful stories, brings back so many good memories with you guys, ride safe and have the trip of a lifetime.

  2. Mirjam

    Fijn he, om een Honda te rijden 😀 ;-).

    Wat heerlijk om te lezen dat jullie zo enorm genieten en zoveel leuke en interessante mensen ontmoeten! ‘Keep up the good work’ en lekker blijven genieten :-).

    Liefs, Mip

  3. Mulle

    I envy you. When we were at JJ’s we were nearly alone there. But you are right: It’s like Hotel California…. If you go back there again (hopefully not) say hello to Chris from us!

  4. joke en janleen boutkam

    Hoi Leonie en Peter,
    Wat een heerlijke verhalen mogen wij toch weer meebeleven via jullie blog.
    Ik voel me wel wat saai met mij motor van Rockanje naar de AKZO VV.
    Ondanks dat blijft een motor een avontuurlijk vervoer middel. Dat jullie maar veel mooie en veilige motor kilometers mogen maken. We kijken nu al uit naar een nieuw hoofdstuk.
    Gr Joke en Janleen.