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May 18th, 2010 | Africa

Moyale…

The truck breaks down just a short distance from the Al-Yusra Hotel... Not a good start to the day...

When I woke this morning, I felt as though I had been ridden over by a truck, rather than sitting in one for 30 hours… The muscles in my back and shoulders, arms and legs, ached something fierce, and had me reaching for my tube of Deep Heat, and a double dose of Voltaren tablets… Breakfast was a simple affair… Three slices of bread, a Samoosa and two cups of tea… I was kitted up and waiting when the truck arrived, the Captain at the helm, grinning of ear to ear…

Women load firewood onto the backs of their donkeys...

“Salaam!” he cried, showing no side effects after having driven an overloaded truck all the way from Nairobi without stopping for a rest… That Miraa should be bottled and sold everywhere…!!

Barely a 100metres from the hotel, the truck broke down…! The diesel pump had packed up! After only a few minutes of pumping and cursing, and fiddling about with a “22 spanner”, we got going again, only to break down again a short distance further on… This time the “18 spanner” was needed, and the Oil filter was fiddled with, before we got back on the road… We stopped opposite a school, and the truck was reversed up against a sandy embankment, the rear tarpaulin removed, the tailgate lowered, and I got my first good look at the Big Fella…

My first look at the Big Fella after the tarpaulin was drawn back... Not a pretty sight...!!!

Covered in a thick layer of red dust, testament to the harsh conditions we had traveled through the day before...

He was covered in thick red dust, and the wheel rims were coated in a gooey mess of Sprite and sand… Getting him out of the truck proved far easier than when we had to load him from ground level in Nairobi, and minutes later, the Captain shook my hand, promising to come and get my postal address later in the day… Using the compressor I carried with me, it took about half an hour to get the dust blown off the seat and controls… Then with the panniers reattached, I rode back through town and parked under the roof of the hotel.

Things looked a bit better after a few buckets of water and some TLC...

A large crowd gathered around the bike, and the security guard had to chase them away, using the handle of a feather duster to hasten their departure… I asked for a bucket of water and an old rag, and for the next hour cleaned the bike as best I could… Although many of the staff seemed aghast that I wanted to clean the bike myself, I explained that I preferred to do it as it gave me an opportunity to check that everything was in order, and tighten any bolts that might have worked loose during the trip…

The six-storey Al-Yusra Hotel dominates the skyline of Moyale and can be seen from everywhere… The finishing touches are still being put to it, and bags of cement and scaffolding stood in passageways and clogged the entrance into the foyer… Electrical fittings dangled from the ceiling in the corridor leading to the dining area, and workman were still plastering some of the walls in the rooms on the floor where I was staying… Having ridden around town for a while and seen what else there was to offer, I can honestly say that even in its present state of “near-completion”, this hotel is the only one worth staying in if you are passing through Moyale…

Near the hotel, I discovered a “Cyber Café” and logged onto the net to download my mail… The connection was so slow, that I decided not to attempt to upload a post that I had written, preferring to wait until I had better communications available, and heaven knows when that may be…

While I sat watching the Al-Jazeera news channel in the dining room, and alternating this with a burst of writing on my laptop, Kadir wandered into the room and sat down to share a flask of tea with me… I was happy to see him again, and we laughed about our trip up to Moyale, recounting the things we saw…  I gave him my card, so that he could check out the website as he was interested to see where I had been and where I was going…

Spaghetti and a side order of cubed Camel meat...

Dinner was a bowl of cubed Camel meat, and a plate of Spaghetti… Three slices of bread and a cup of tea served as dessert… While other diners wandered in and out of the room, I set about planning my route for the next day…  I decided to go as far as Dilla, 440kms into Ethiopia. Everybody I spoke to said that the roads were in good condition, so I resolved not to leave too early. Many of the locals spend their evening here, watching “C-Grade” soapies, while drinking tea and eating small plates of “snacks”… A young girl went from table to table with a jug of water and a large plastic bowl, wherein diners could wash their hands before and after eating.

The Iman from the mosque behind the hotel changed my plans to sleep until 6.00am, by calling worshippers to prayer at 5.00am… I climbed the stairs to the top of the hotel, and from high above the town, took a few snaps while Rock Pigeons serenaded each other from the rafters of the “Sun Room” above my head… I could see across the border into Ethiopia, where the main road wound past the Immigration and Customs offices and continued to the northern sections of town…

With the bike loaded, staff gathered around to say their goodbyes and wish me well, and then with a final wave, I rode down the bumpy main street, avoiding a flock of goats and a donkey seemingly frozen in place in the middle of the road… I went up to the ATM in town to draw money in order to change it into Ethiopian Birr before crossing the border. I managed to negotiate a very favourable rate, and then took barely a few minutes to get my Carnet and passport stamped on the Kenyan side, before crossing the little bridge into Ethiopia…

The town of Moyale lies spread out below me, the Ethiopian border is in the background...

©GBWT 2010

3 comments to Moyale…

  • Oscar

    Kindly assist me get the contacts for Al Yusra Hotel in Moyale

  • Hi Oscar, I do not have any contact details for them, but I can easily explain how to find the hotel…. If you are riding north, you will come off the dirt, mutter “Thank God” a few times, then ride up into the town on a winding stretch of tar. It will level out in the town square. Turn right and follow the dirt road , take the left hand split about 100 metres later and follow this to the tallest building you can see…!! The hotel is only a few hundred metres away and can be seen from almost any point in Moyale…!! It was still under construction when I passed through more than a year ago, and hopefully all the banging and painting has now been completed…!! R.

  • Alem

    Oh wow! What a wonderful experience you had! 🙂 The pictures are amazing too as they are integral to the story you tell. Proud of you! And keep coming to Ethiopia more often. Moyale people are quite wonderful and hospitable 🙂 Happy travels!

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