I’m in Ethiopia and it’s beautiful here. My time in Kenya however felt too short and fast. Charlotte and I covered roughly 1000km in 1 month. I climbed Mount Kenya, walked with Massai warriors and enjoyed the vastness of scenic lands. I will write a blog on my experience of Kenya on my website http://www.mariorigby.com
Ethiopia, although I’ve only been here a few days has great coffee, delicious foods and a very diverse background of African tribes who live along the Great Rift Valley. I will hang out in Addis for 2 weeks where I try to find funds to continue my walk across this cuntry, then begin my Ethiopia to North Sudan walk. I’m really excited to explore this incredibly vibrant and rich country.
On the sad news my most trusting companion Charlotte will be heading back to Berlin for school. She has joined me solidly from Iringa, Tanzania to Moyale, Kenya (border between Kenya and Ethiopia). It won’t be the same without her, the bravest person you could ever meet.
I had the honor of joining Futbol Mas in Kibera, Kenya for a fun football practice session with the local children. It was an eye-opening experience just to walk through Kibera to get to the football pitch. The region is Africa’s largest and the world’s 3rd largest slum consisting of roughly 1.5 million people and home to dump sites that hold foundations for homes in the country. The problem is that the garbage along with human waste is scattered throughout Kibera making it very inhospitable for living conditions. River waters have been contaminated by overflowing garbage.
Fútbol Más help the children of Kibera region forget about the hard conditions surrounding them if even for a split moment. They are introduced to team work, organizational skills, mentorship and most importantly having fun.
To learn more about the organization please follow their Facebook page Futbol Mas Kenya or visit http://www.futbolmas.org/pais-kenia/
Today was the day I was suppose to catch a ride with Lilli Molitor to the border of Namanga region, which splits Tanzania and Kenya apart. This is the area I ended my last walk. Our plan was to walk from the border to Nairobi via the A104 road but before we would leave our bags behind at my buddy Neil’s house. I met Neil the year before in Vilanculos, Mozambique during my journey. Once we met up with Neil he was prepping to climb Mt. Kenya with his friend Lucy, they had just an hour before they had to depart. They both asked if we’d be keen to join, after some back and forth talks with Lilli we decided to climb the mountain with them. That was probably the most last minute mountain climbing decision ever made. However the days ahead of us would tell us it was well worth it.
I’m 31 today and this time last year I celebrated my 30th birthday on a flight to South Africa. With no clue as to what to expect, I had only my faith in humanity and my 10 month long preparations for this 2 year journey. It is now year 1 and it has been a really tough road. I make it appear easy, believe me it is not. The shootings with rebel tribes in Mozambique, the arrests in South Africa, jailed in Malawi, threatened by elephants, hippos and snakes, nearly drowning trying to cross rivers or drowning in the middle of Lake Malawi. I desperately would like to be in a dark quiet room and do nothing for 1 more month.
It’s been hectic, pushing 30 to 50km per day to make up lost time in Nkhata Bay. Impossible to sleep anywhere without children, sometimes of the hundreds bombarding. You want to stay sane and smiling but the tiredness gets to you.
In each village (or random beach) I have to meet with the chief (the guy in the white shirt) and he decides whether I stay or not. Some of these people along this massive lake have never seen a foreigner, so for me to speak English with a black face is completely alien to them.
Today I had some problems with the kayak, where it nearly went sinking 2km out in the lake. That was the scariest moment, forget the 3 – 4 metre high waves, they’re fun. But having your boat sink while adrift can really get your nerves going. I managed to swim ashore (along some rocks) which had me scraped up head to toe, however I survived and managed to save the kayak as well. Lesson well learned.
The biggest obstacles aren’t: nearly drowning in a river, falling off a long board at high speed, drag racing, getting shot at by rebels or dying from heat exhaustion, just to name a few things that have happened. The biggest obstacle has been dealing with people. I had to dance over lava just to receive a kayak that a week ago seemed like an impossible dream, but here I am with the perfect kayak and all because of the generosity of a few amazing people who believed in my cause. I am incredibly grateful for Myburgh and Willie to have given me their kayak to use for the one month it takes to cross the Lake as well as Kay De Silva and Bernie who have helped connect me with these guys and of course everyone else who was a part of this mission. They trusted not only my capabilities but also my spirit of adventure and exploration. It is only through exploration and rugged adventure that you will discover humanity. After a week of hustling and getting turned down at every corner I am now ready to row.
Why is it always the poorest people who have nothing to give but give everything and ask for nothing in return? The answer is for you to discover.
Tomorrow is the first day of a brand new voyage where I will kayak from the bottom to the top of Lake Malawi, eventually arriving in Tanzania. This is an exciting adventure, though I’ve been given many warnings about the grave dangers the lake can throw at me, sudden freak waves that reach 4 to 5 metres, hippos and crocs that lurke along the coasts. These things don’t scare me, it will be a beautiful challenge.
I’ve climbed Mt. Mulanje and I have never felt more haenged before in my life than the last 3 days. My friend Flora I met through Couchsurfing decided to join me last minute and missions climbing and hiking up 3002 metres high. This mountain might seem small compared to the massive 5000m to 8000m mountains but the change of rock climbing and vertical walls made this a fantastic challenge. I’ve made some wonderful videos which I’ll post up soon.
After spending many days alone on the road and in the woods I started to feel like a true nomad, my home was wherever I laid my tent or hung my hammock. I would walk until it became night, just before dawn was the safest time to set camp. I’ve managed to pitch my tent in 5 to 7 minutes now depending on weather conditions and wind. Distance and time no longer mattered, I was only concerned with landmarks like rivers and lakes, that’s where I would settle and shower.
My first sign of civilization was a small town called Humansdorp. It seemed like a well developed town mostly populated with blacks, Indians and coloured people. It was a slightly rough city however it was my midpoint and thus I needed to stock up and rest. The people were kind in the shops, there was a point where I forgot Rafiki (my stick) in a grocery store for about an hour. When I came back for it they have kept it safe for me, that was a great feeling. It seemed everyone in the store knew it was my stick. I ate outside of the police station as that seemed like the only available spot with a path of green grass. After gauging down over a thousand calories I began the second leg of my walk to JB (Jeffrey’s Bay).
The second leg of my walk was roughly 3 hours, short compared to my previous walk that day. I was getting excited though. I heard a lot of good news about JB but I had originally planned to skip it and go straight to PE (Port Elizabeth) and sleep along the national highway. Am I glad I didn’t choose the first option.
Port Elizabeth is a city unlike any I’ve visited in South Africa so far. A city that’s once had its shine and trying to regain its claim for fame – the Windy City. It was an unexpected duration of time for my visit, as I planned to stay for only two days. But by the power of natural order I stayed for a week thanks to the kindness and friendliness of the people in Port Elizabeth.
Walking into PE (Port Elizabeth) seemed to take ages. My timing was off by hours and I didn’t want to walk into an unknown city at night especially in suspicious looking areas. I phoned my contact Sundy who I have been in touch with since back at Wild Spirit. He has promised to look after me for accommodations and meeting with the deputy mayor of PE. Sundy was a referral contact from a friend of mine Eddie Calvert, I met him back in Elim with his family Dianna and their daughter. Eddie is a very resourceful man and true to his word so I knew that Sundy would be a great contact for me.
I stayed with Sundy and his wife for a night at their place. They were of course very welcoming and sadly with the recent passing of their late son, I hope it was a distraction for them to think about something uplifting. Sundy managed to get a lot done in PE, he has called the press and phoned the deputy mayor just to sit and talk with me about racial issues happening here in South Africa. Sundy made all of that happen, I’m truly grateful for also his wife who took the time to drive me to the mall and run errands.
Mario is an explorer currently embarking on a voyage to walk across Africa by foot.