14 Falls

Monday was referendum day. Matt, a VSO stationed in Nairobi, Katie, Benard and I took a road-trip.

We set out from Tala Stage:
Tala Stage
The vehicle in the picture above is what I normally refer to as a Matatu but for our trip to 14 Falls we took something like this:
We were squeezed in:
Inside a matatu
These vehicles are licenced for 12 passengers, including the two in the front. We had 16 fee-paying adults in the back with us, and two children.

The ride was bumpy: the road is one of those which is ‘officialy’ paved. It’s not, of course, and thus it’s worse than a maram road: you can’t go grade a paved road, imagine the damage to the grader! And you can’t pave one if the money to pave it has already been ‘spent’.

But it was worth it, this is what we saw after an hour and a bit:
View of the falls

Here’s another view with one of the local kids jumping off.
Kids dive off the falls
They do this when they see visitors and then come asking for money. Danger money I think, I’m told many have lost their lives in this pursuit.

We enlisted the assistance of one of the other locals to show us a route accross the falls…
Mark wades accross

…over of slippery weed and foot-scorchingly hot rocks …
Group photo

… to the other bank, where the view is even better…
Another group photo

…as you can see for yourself:
View of the falls

Our guide turns out to be a bit of a diver himself.
He told us that the pool under this particular jagged rock was safer and we could, if we want….

Yours truly jumps off
I managed to bash my arse on a submerged rock but not too hard. That looked like a 30 foot drop and it seemed to take ages between jumping and hitting the water. The highest jump I’ve ever made without a parachute.

Once we were all in:
Waving in the water
and waving for the camera:
Close up of us waving

We climbed out (with the help of our guide who was, by this time, really earning his pay) and set off over the rocks and gnarled trees at the foot of the falls.

Tree climbing as I’ve never known it:
Mark climbing tree roots

As Katie pointed out, one normaly climbs up the branches of a tree but, as it turns out, the roots work just as well.
Mark climbing tree roots

We posed for photos at the base of the falls too.
Yet another grouop shot

Being with a group and with a guide who knew what he was doing (saved our lives several times during the course of the day) and could operate a camera, made me realise how I normally don’t appear in these pictures.

The return journey was fun, we squeezed into another of those little vans and set off. Half way we stopped for no obvious reason.
“We are going to rest here for a bit”, said the driver as we got clambered out to see what was not happening.

We sat on stones by the side of the road and watched the conductor fiddle with the front indicator lamp on the vehicle. After some long-ish period of time we were under way again with a new passenger or two. Then the new passenger, a lady with a sack, announced that she had left her shopping bag behind in the small town. She shouted at the driver; asked our permission, and back we went. Now you try that with Virgin Railways!

All that was farily normal Kenyan public transport, the thing that made the journeys in both directions unique was drivers’ habbit of stopping every time a vehicle came in the other direction to ask the otgher driver if he’d voted and whether he was an orange or a bananna.