Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thoroughbreds: Camels in Maralal

UPDATE: Bedan, he of the Men of Nyahururu, placed 7th in the 10k in Rio.  No lie, I was pulling hard for him to get a medal.

Now back to tales of Africa, collected over a year ago now and delivered in the rudest of inconsistent schedules.

So...I got on this bus to Maralal, which is the gateway to the desolate northwest Kenya beyond it.  Two buses travel the unpaved road per day, and are responsible for transporting nearly all the goods flowing north.  No wonder it looked like this outside and in.

That's a picture from above me, looking down.  Packages filled every gap up to my waist.  The box in the lower left hand corner with the man's hand on it is filled with chickens.  Yeah, chickens.  The lady whose lower face can be seen on the left, got into a fight over the package of chickens with the woman on my right, to whom the chickens belonged, because of the chicken dust we were all supposedly sucking down.  It's amazing that I don't understand a word of Kiswahili but I could pick up on the hand signals for "crazy chicken lady killing us all with her dangerous chicken dust".

This delightful view is what I saw for 5 hours, knowing full well the potholes were coming and being completely unable to do anything about them.

But occasionally I got see a Samburu man protecting his cattle, or hanging with his buddies.

This bus ride might deserve it's own post - all bus rides in Africa tend to deserve their own post - but in awesomeness is totally trumped by what I found in Maralal.

Annually in early August Maralal hosts a camel derby, the longest race of which is 40k.  It's more an attention thing than a money thing so no child jockeys like in the Middle East.   Here's a jockey with his mount.

Unfortunately the town books full well in advance, so I couldn't stay for the races.  Otherwise I would have been in the AMATEUR RACE!!!  For like US$20, they put you on a camel and let you race (20k, I think).  Bucket list, people.  Bucket. List.

So anyway, I ran way out of town at dawn to the Maralal Camel Club, to meet the camels.  The racing camels are really anti-hands, which isn't surprising since all hands do all day is hit them.  But if you put your face out...

KISSES!  And cuddling too.

After I finished making out with the camels, I ran back to town and got on a bus.  But not before they ran the camels through town on a training run, and I saw this Samburu woman.

Like Nyahururu, I wish I had stayed longer.

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