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The bike finally arrives in Africa

Airway Waybills make checking the whereabouts of shipped items very easy. Early on Tuesday morning, I checked that the bike had actually arrived (well, it arrived on Monday afternoon, but there wouldn't have been time to go through all the formalities before closing, so I waited till next morning) then got the Jungle Junction Camp driver to take me out to the airport cargo section, where he waited until it was sure that I'd get the bike that day.

What a bureaucratic bungling mess it was! After dismissing all the "helpers" who crowded me as I arrived as I intended doing it all myself, I went through the following processes. Firstly, I had to get the shipping documentation from the Transglobal (Emirates cargo agent) arrivals counter, WAITING, then give ID to get inside the cargo area proper. They wanted my passport, but I needed it inside late, so gave my out of date International Driving Permit. Off to Customs, or Kenya Revenue Agency, as it is known here. WAITING. No, I couldn't do the paperwork myself, as their computer system works on PIN numbers, which only "agents" can have. So the KRA guy called an agent inside and I negotiated a fee for the use of his PIN. He wanted 2000 Kshillings (A$20) but I stuck at 1500Ksh. Just to write down a number. What a racket!!

No, I had to pay 250 shillings before anything could happen. So led by the purse (so to speak) it was off to the Cashiers office further down the building. WAITING. No, I couldn't pay at the cashiers office, I had to go to the main KRA cashiers office way down at the far end of the cargo area, almost a kilometre away. Off we trundle in the fast rising heat. Pay the 250 Ksh. I buy a cool drink as the agent is getting photocopies of a couple papers. WAITING.

Back to the KRA guy again who gives me some papers to take to the guard at the warehouse gate, who then organises for the bike crate to be brought around to the front gate from wherever it was in the bowels of the building. WAITING, WAITING. It arrives.

OMG! What an enormous crate it is! OK, but I can't have the bike yet - I haven't finished the bureaucracy!

Then I find I need to pay 15,780Ksh for "warehouse fees"! Sheeeesh! $A157 approx to have it in the warehouse overnight??? So it's off to the nearer cashiers office again to pay it. WAITING. Nope, they won't accept US$, must be Ksh. Where is the nearest ATM or Money Exchange? At the arrivals area of the main passenger airport, a taxi ride of some kms away!! Arrrrrgh!! So off we (agent and I) walk, till he drags out his mobile and calls a mate with a "taxi" to take us there.

I jumped out and rushed to the Money Exchange. There my heart plunged through my boots - the rear zippered compartment of my bumbag where I kept the stash was open. My roll of US$ was not there! US$1300!!!!!!!!!! I frantically searched the whole bumbag. It was gone. Oh bugger, what do I do now? I'm thinking. But I scrounged up a few English pounds and some Euros and a few US$ I had in my purse separate from the main roll and turned them into sufficient Ksh to cover what I needed, all the while my mind is racing over all the details posed by this loss.

Back to the cargo area to the cashiers offiice and paid up. Back to the KRA office! WAITING, WAITING!. He'd gone to lunch. He finally turned up and stamped some of my forms. But then they needed to be photocopied. Where's the only photocopier? Way down the other end of the cargo area, 1 km away! I was getting a bit "peeved" by now with all this walking and taxiing about, believe me, as it was by now quite hot. But off we went again, got them copied and walked all the way back.

A couple more stamps, then they were handed off to another guy in KRA to sign off on the Carnet du Passage form. Nope, he didn't know what to do with it! So I explained over and over again that he took and kept the bottom part under the perforation. Nope, he wanted a photocopy as well! Getting the picture here??? Off to the other end of the cargo area yet again to get HIS part photocopied for him! Sheeeeesh! Back again, and he was finally safisfied. "Finished," he said, as he passed the bundle of papers back to me. Finally, I get possession of my bike again.

I paid the agent, after flatly refusing to pay him another "agent's fee" of 2000Ksh!!

I whipped out my screwdriver - which the UK shipping agent had said would be all the tools I needed - and proceeded to unscrew the enormous number of screws around the top panels. No probs, done easily. I attacked the sides and ends. No bloody way were any of those screws gong to unscrew, no matter what effort was applied! By this time, the security guards, the warehouse staff and various hangers-on were all gathered around, some outside the wire mesh screened secure area, seemingly fascinated by what was happening, or not happening, as it happened!

The security guys tried to unscrew it; the warehouse staff tried to unscrew it; a hanger-on came inside the secure area and tried to unscrew it. Nope, it wasn't gonna budge! Hell, what do I do now? A hammer appeared by magic and was applied unsuccessfully. Hmmmmm. What now? A length of pipe with one end flattened (known as a pinch bar in Africa!) appeared, and after judicious amounts of application by the hanger-on and others, one end finally was bashed and heaved off. It became easier then, with the stabilising cross spars coming way easily. Then we just had to get the bike out of the remainder of the crate. Not as easy as it sounds, as there were chunks of wood surrounding the rear tyre, and the bash plate was catching on them when it was rolled backwards.

So they built up the area behind the crate and lifted the bike (and me) up and over the obstructing blocks of wood. It rolled out onto the single-width piece of planking they had put behind it. Plonk! It finally hit the floor, to loud cheering from all the onlookers and staff.

The bike was on African soil, at last!

Then began the arduous task of putting all the bags and panniers back on, as they had been removed and were stashed in the crate around the bike, and reinstalling the mirrors and windscreen. It was then I realised that the GPS didn't have any African maps on it, as I'd reinstalled the UK ones on it. Oh well, I should be able to remember where I need to go, surely?

After a finally handing over of paperwork, I was released, into Africa. I set off for Jungle Junction, and during an extended wait at a roundabout near the city, I saw again some Maribou Storks, nesting in trees in the middle of the roundabout, amongst all the traffic noise, and attempted to take a longdistance photo, but not very successfully, I'm afraid..

They are enormous birds, with wide wingspans.

Eventually, after making a routing mistake in peak hour traffic necessitating almost getting stuck in the city, I made my way along in the direction I thought was right, till I found a servo where I stopped and asked a guy the correct way to JJ. He said "Follow me", and off we went, till he waved me up beside him and pointed towards an intersecting road that I was to take. Once on that road, I knew where I was, and eventually arrived at JJ.

(Thanks, Angela, for the photo)

Later, in discussing my WeeStrom with Paul when they'd returned, I mentioned that I needed to have a bracket made to hold my you-beaut bike video camera that I'd bought just before leaving Oz. He immediately said that he had a bracket that he wasn't, and wouldn't, be using, so it was de-mounted from his bike and relocated onto mine. Then we fiddled with the different little bracket angle pieces that came with the camera, and finally got it all nicely mounted on the left handguard mounting bracket. Not a good place if I happen to drop it on the left side, but I'll just have to be extra careful, or drop it on the right side instead! <G> The camera was fitted onto the bracket and aligned, so all is good. Now I'll be able to capture some of the wonderful scenery through which I'll be travelling, utilising the nice little remote control.

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