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Pole to Pole

Day 96: Nairobi to the Masai Mara

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleUp at 5.15. On the move, away from the world of CNN and English newspapers and telephone access to life at home.

Pulling back the curtains, I can make out the dark clouds which have hung over the capital these past few days with still no sign of them emptying. Below me a border of white, purple, orange and blue bougainvillea almost obscures the chain-link fence which, like the corridor outside my room, is patrolled by guards with nightsticks.

I'm reunited with Wendy and Kalului and our caravan sets off at 6.30. The streets of Nairobi are quiet on this Kenyatta Day holiday, but as the sun rises and we head north along the Trans-African highway, the roads soon fill up with the tearaway minibuses they call Matatus, whose names indicate their driving style - 'Exocet', 'Sidewinder', and most ironic of all in view of their appalling accident record, 'Gateway to Heaven'.

Up and over a string of fertile valleys and cultivated hillsides, where roses, carnations and poinsettias are grown to be sold in Europe. Behind neatly trimmed hedges is a picture postcard tea plantation, with rows of green bushes radiating from a cluster of low red-roofed buildings. It looks like a country without a care in the world, yet so many here feel it is heading into serious political trouble.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 96
  • Country/sea: Kenya
  • Place: Nairobi
  • Book page no: 206

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