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Entry 31 // Ridin' dirty in Kenya

Update by: Luke | March 15th, 2011

Today the plan is to leave Tanzania and enter Kenya. We will be aiming for the Capitol Nairobi. There is a famous overlanders compound there called Jungle Junction. It is ran by a couple of Germans, Chris and his wife. It is only about 200 miles from our current campsite, so that means we can casually pack up our stuff grab some breakfast and take our time to get there. Not being in a rush is a treat. So we do just that. eat our breakfast fuel up and clean the windshields. "Z" pumps at the gas station.We hop on the road. There is only 100 miles seperating us from Kenya. Along the way we spot some kids playing hacky sack, but they are not using a hacky sack. They are using a ball which is made out of rubber chords. It's about the size of a softball, maybe bigger. We stop to check it out. We have lots of time today. We play with the kids for a minute or two, then I get out the real hacky sack. These kids have never used one of these, but they are good so we teach them a game called numbers. Basically what you do is, you start at 1, and then add 1 each turn. For example. Nick kicks the ball once. The next kid has to kick the ball 2 times, the next 3 the next 4 and so on. Nick was out at 8, I was out at 10. But there was a battle for the win. It was down to two kids, and they got in the 50's. Unbelievable. It was a fun little game and we took off.

Nautrally we are going to see another tipped over semi truck. This one was strange, the truck was facing UPHILLl on the INSIDE corner of the road. How does this stuff happen? After the town Arusha, the road is being rebuilt. All the bridges are down, now, but in between it is mostly crushed rock and dusty gravel. Africa is being less primitive every day.

The oldThe new. It's strange how drastic the scenery can change in just 100 miles. Along the way it starts getting dusty and deserty. We see many of these mini-tornatos.We pull up to the small border town seperating Tanzania from Kenya. We drive around looking for a gas station to get rid of all our old Tanzania Shillings. None to be found, oh well. We go to the border and get our passport exit stamps at Imigration. At customs a worker takes our tempary vehicle import pappers away and says we are all good. Next we find a currency of exchange and ATM. I change my money into Kenya currency. Nick gets Tanzanian Shilings from the ATM then exchanges it to Kenya Currency. We walk over to the Kenya side. $25 USD gets you into Kenya. We don't have USD. We always just carry local currency. They will not take local currency. By now this is no suprise. It's just a shame that a country will not accept it's own currency that it prints. Back to the currency of exchange building. Nick transfers some Kenya into USD. By now if you are paying attention, Nick went from USD > Tanzania via ATM fees/exchange rate, then Tanzania to Kenya, and now Kenya back to USD. Not the most efficent way to go about it. Anyway, we got the stamp. We are not legal. Now for our bikes and we are good to go.

Well, this part of the story deserves a new paragraph. I forget exactly the rules from highschool about paragraphs, 3-5 sentances on average, a thesis sentance to start off with, supporting sentances in the body, then a wrap it up sentance at the end. By now this paragraph is ruined so I'll start a new one, but the irony is, I think I just typed up a fairly good example of a paragraph.

We go to customs and ask what we need to import the bikes. They say we need Caranets. We know this is what they want, but maybe we can do somthing else. You see we have done this entire trip so far with out caranets. Let me back up a minute. A caranet is a document backed by money somewhere that guarentees the visiting country that you will not sell or leave your vehicle in that visiting country. So why didn't we get a Caranet? The reason is money. In America your options to get a Caranet are very limited. Just to get one you have to go through the Canadian Automotive Assiotion. I know that doesn't seam to make sense, but wait till you hear the fees. A Caranet fee is $800. You never get that back. Then you have to put in the taxable value of the vehicle. This is so if you don't remove the vehicle from the visiting country that country calls your Caranet and gets that taxable money. Now here is where it gets interesting. Egypt is a goofy country and requires 800% of the taxable value. That means that the total cost for a carnet for our bikes would be $10,000 each. That means that we would each have to put $10,000 in a special bank account. Granted, if everything goes to plan and there are no problems you would get everything back when you return minus the $800 caranet fee. So now you can see why we don't have this document. We don't have $10,000 to risk on this piece of paper.

American Caranets must be different, beause we are the only travelers we have met without a carnet. Everyone else has a type of Carnet insurance. That means that they just pay a little amount upfront to get the Carnet and have insurance to cover the actual $10,000 carnet fee. This is a much better way to do it, but that is not possible in America.

Moving on...so we don't have a Caranet...whatever...

The office man is confused on how to help us. He claims he has never dealt with people without a Caranet so we all go to talk to his boss. The boss is really friendly and nice. Ok, we can probably get something done here. He starts talking about how awesome America is because we have rules and regulations and follow them to a "T" He says Kenya needs to be more like us. He says the only legal way for us to do this is to get a temp transport visa for the bikes. He makes some phone calls to 3rd party agents. On the phone he lectures the agents for trying to break the rules and puts on a huge show for us to see how noble he is. We want the agents to break or bend the rules. We want to just pay a small fee and get through. It's obvious that we do not want to sell our bikes in Kenya. We try to explain this, but he says we have no way to prove intentions which of course he is right.

We go back to the office of the customs guy and he calls a friend. The friend comes over and we start talking business. The customs man makes us talk about side because he wants nothing to do with this. This is where is starts to get shady. We are negoating a price to get temporary bike papers. The guy wants way too much. He is asking for $300 a bike. That's $600 total. Way too much. The main head boss told us that it should be no more than $100 a bike. The 3rd party guy says $200 per bike is his final offer. We say no, and walk away. We head down the street to grab a coke and relax. We need to figure out how to work through this problem. Hey even better than Coke. They have Mt. Dew. This is my first one in two months. After 30 minutes with food and soda in us, we are ready to deal with the people again. The customs guy gives us an idea to have both of the bikes put on the same paperwork. This way the agent will only do one set of documents for $200 with both bikes on them. The agent relucently agrees to this. We walk over to his "office" I took a picture of this with my phone, but lost it during the import. It was a shared office. One guy was using a type writer. Our guy was using a computer with Windows 95 on it. Nick doesn't even know what that is. There is a printer, a desk, and enough dust to finger in "wash me" anywhere you wanted. Believe it or not this computer was getting on the internet. Slow, but it was getting on. After 2 hours the guy says he can't do it. His boss doesn't have enough money to cover the bond that we need during the transit. No big deal he says, he hands us over to his buddy. Everyone at the border is in Kahuts. Now comes another problem. This guy doesn't want the $200. He is demanding more. He wants $400 a bike. I tell him it's not going to happen. $200 or nothing. He wants to do the paper work, then talk about money. I don't play that game. We have to settle on a price before hand. I don't want to sit around 2 more hours and then negoatate. He won't do $200 and we won't do $400 so we tell him no.

Now what do we do? Do we drive to a different boarder? Do we try back here tomorrow? Do we just drive through? A street heckler comes up and tells us to leave, and come back later. He will show us a sneak path across the boarder. We are obviously not interested in that for so many reason. So now we feel like Tom Hanks in "The Terminal" We are in no mans zone. We have been stamped out of Tanzania, but can not get our bikes stamped into Kenya. We decide to try to just drive through the gate into Kenya and see what happens.

The gate into Kenya is shut. Not locked, but shut. No gaurds are in site. There are posts in the ground keeping cars out, but allowing people and bikes to pass through. We are bikes, so we pass through. Now we are in Kenya. Nervous, we continue on. About 10 miles down the road there is a police checkpoint like always. We slow down and wave. They just wave us through. We start to relax a bit. We are in Kenya. Jungle Junction is only 100 miles away. We are riding dirty in Kenya.

I'm starting to relax a bit now. I take a picture of the powerlines that are in rough shape.We take the Nairobi by-pass road to get to Jungle Junction. It is in really rough shape. Pot holes everywhere, and drivers that don't check blind spots. It's tough passing people that only have their eyes on pot holes and are swerving left and right. We pass an abandoned amusement park. We must be getting close.Signs like this crack me up. I think a lot of things don't translate well in English.Finally before dark (we only drive during the day) we pull into Jungle Junction. It's great to be here. We ask about dining options and they direct us to a mall where we happy ablige. Who would have though 2 hours ago, while sitting at the border that we would be eating mall pizza right now? That's the update. Kind of strange, kind of weird.






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