Longboarding across Kenya to raise awareness for UBC Sauder Africa Initiative: Social Entrepreneurship 101 and spreading the message of change through education, international co-operation, and social development.
Education is a right, not a privilege. Working together, we can create a more just world for all.
Here at Skate4Kenya, we want to be innovative and reach as many people as we can. If we limited our fundraising to more traditional static channels and soliciting funds from our friends and family alone, we would be VERY hard pressed to reach a wide enough audience to meet our $20,000 goal.
Soooooo, we decided we would try out some crowdfunding. We’re using a platform called Indie Go Go and you can find our project here: http://www.indiegogo.com/skate4Kenya. By using this web-based platform, whenever our friends and family (the people who usually help us get the first few dollars in) make a donation or share the Indie Go Go project page our reach increases because this gets spread both through their social networks and because our ‘clout’ increases with Indie Go Go.
This makes for a double shot of attention – we get one hit for you sharing our project on Facebook, twitter, etc and another because Indie Go Go will promote us to their network, on the homepage, in newsletters, and their social web so more people can see what we’ve done and make the choice to show their support.
PLEASE even if you can’t make a donation, that’s okay, really! WHAT WE NEED YOU TO DO though, is SHARE our project page, http://www.indiegogo.com/skate4Kenya, with your network by going to our page, http://www.indiegogo.com/skate4Kenya, and sharing us on your facebook profile, tweet about us, email your friends and family, and so on and so forth.
We pushed nearly 500km to get your attention – now we just want you to push a button and share our story.
Thanks for helping!!
Bruised, battered, beaten and broken – we sound in great shape, huh?! It sounds worse thank it is. If all the on road abuse wasn’t enough – Rob screwed up. No Kenyan greenhorn, he should have known better, but on the morning of Day 6 Rob drank the water.
I had made a similar mistake a couple weeks back after Val’s birthday, but I had hours of Kenya Cane to blame. Rob simply grabbed a glass at breakfast from the pitcher on the counter. We had similar results. Sometime around 5am I woke up to the horrid smells and sounds of a broken man on all fours over our squat toilet. I’ll save you the details, but Rob was ‘bum sick’.
Like I said in the last post – Nothing Stops Us! He spent the better part of the next 3 hours confined to our ‘shit and shower’ taking care of himself. Martina offered him some tablets to easy his pain and we hit breakfast – only dry toast and banana’s for Rob.
We suited up, packed up the car and Fred took us to the 50 Km marker. The team was concerned about Rob, but I just kept saying, ‘there’s nothing a 50 Kilometer skate won’t fix.’ Trooper that he is, we pushed off to end what we started. We both agreed we’ve not had a harder day. Winds were strong as they had been, the sun was blasting, hill climbs and speed bumps persisted and we were both just mangled. It was also very tough mentally to skate the 10 kilometers back to where we had been staying to start the day.
What was most interesting about Day 7 was the change in climate and ecology we witnessed. We seen a lot of “plains’ and desert like conditions for the majority of the distance – hot and dry. But the last 50 really shifted it to hot and humid. The air got saltier, there were Palm Trees everywhere, more lush greens and watering holes. The humidity and heat was actually tough because we just had to adjust and keep pushing.
The other notable part of the day was our first real cruisable down hill since my crash in Salama. We were pretty disappointed with the down hills and the wind making us have to push any ones we did find considering the drop in elevation from Nairobi to Mombasa. Everything was gradual a we were tired of it.
Finally, on the last leg of the trip we got an amazing, smooth 4 LANE (!) section of quick down hill to rip off and it was majestic. From the top of the winding road we could see out over a lush green valley to the water. We took it down, stopped at the end for some smiles and hugs and pushed the remaining few kilometers to the end of the shoulder.
As we entered the outskirts of Mombasa we reached an extremely industrial area with no where to skate. What was left of a road was dominated by monster trucks and we wanted nothing to do with it. We got picked up by the team and immediately entered DENSE traffic – like nothing I’d ever experienced before.
Rob passed out in the car and we took turns making jokes and taking photos. I’m sure after ‘bum sickness’ he had the life sucked out of him for the day. We decided wisely to skip out on ‘Mombasa’ and head to the Diana Beach, a suberb beach community about 20 kilometers and a quick ferry ride from the center of town. What we got was one of the most beautiful white sandy ‘tropical’ beach paradise’s I’ve ever experienced in my life.
We found a nice, but cheap, ‘resort’ that came with breakfast, tea and dinner, had real bathrooms and a swimming pool and checked in for a few days of rest and recouperation at the beach.
We still cannont believe we survived!
Thanks to everyone who has been supporting and spreading the word. We might be done the skate, but we’re not done fundraising. We’ll be coming out with photos and videos of the trip over the comming weeks and really need your continued attention and support to get the centre for entrepreneurship up and running for this years students to get the support they need to finish building their plans.
Many thanks to Megan Stewart for helping spread the word and covering our Longboard Trek! (Link to Story)
Entrepreneurs skate and ski for African development
Funds will go towards business training centre in Kenya
by Megan Stewart, Vancouver Courier, September 1, 2010
Les Robertson and Rob Foxall are crossing Kenya from the capital to the coast on four small but robust urethane wheels. Justin Long packed freestyle skis to a 16,000-foot summit to descend a disappearing glacier.
These Vancouver entrepreneurs are pursuing extreme and exhausting feats in the name of social enterprise–the business of making money and making change.
“If my blood, sweat and tears will encourage my peers and network to perk up and pay attention enough to give–then sweat, bleed and cry I will,” wrote Robertson from rural Kenya earlier this week during the Skate4Kenya trek.
A UBC Sauder School of Business graduate, both men will longboard skateboarding from Nairobi to Mombasa, 440 kilometres to the east, in support of a business training centre for young entrepreneurs in Kenya.
The graduate program runs a course called Social Enterprise 101, which under the guidance of associate professor Nancy Langton, connected business mentorship and opportunity with youth living in one of the continent’s largest slums.
Robertson and Foxall, both riding longboards made in North Vancouver by Rayne, are raising $20,000 to open a business training centre year round.
They also hope Kenyans will take note of their example. “Westerners are not just about ‘aid,’” said Robertson. “We are invested in the positive growth of the nation and its people.”
His aspiration is that “global entrepreneurial citizens” will grow out of their efforts to teach fundamental business skills.
He said a lot of the Kenyans he meets through the Sauder program want to create socially beneficial businesses such as garbage collection, eco-tourism, educational programs for street kids, safe toilets in underdeveloped neighbourhoods, and a text messaging service that delivers pre-natal and maternal health care to mothers.
“In Kenya… any business creates a social benefit because the economics of it help drive prosperity. Entrepreneurship–self sustenance–will help end poverty,” he said.
“The biggest misnomer is that a social business cannot or does not turn a profit. Social does not necessarily mean purely not-for-profit or charity.”
By tackling the challenge of distance and over-land trekking, Robertson says he shows his commitment to his cause and draws attention to it.
Justin Long shares this sentiment.
In June he ascended the Stanley Plateau Glacier in Uganda, widely considered one of the most dangerous summits in Africa, to raise money for children’s health and support a Ugandan hospital.
When he reached the peak, he strapped on a pair of skis.
He couldn’t see 15 feet ahead because of fog, but the visibility was not the greatest challenge. “The glacier is breaking apart,” he said once back in Vancouver. “There were crevasses on either side of me.”
A lack of fresh water threatens to become a major health concern in eastern Africa, said Long, who is a Nevada resident in his fourth year at SFU.
He aspires to climb and ski the most perilous peaks on each continent to show others that giving a little support to a worthwhile cause is straightforward but significant.
“It’s a dangerous thing to do, but the danger element is a great way to get people involved,” he said.
Fundraising demands a little blood, sweat and tears. The adrenaline is a bonus.© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier
Please join our journey through our website, follow us on twitter and like our facebook fan page. And please support Social Entrepreneurship 101 and our goals with your generous, tax deductible, contributions. (Fund T589 – Social Entrepreneurship 101: Africa)
Day 5 presented a frustrating obstacle. We never had planned to drive anywhere and then have to backtrack. What happened to Tsavo!? Well, this quickly became a secondary issue. As we woke up the next morning, our support car was broken down and we had no way of getting back to ‘Tsavo’ anyways.
As we pushed the car out of our guest house parking lot – it’s important to note, this is a ‘push start’ car most of the time anyways, (Kenya, ha!) – we found a mechanic in the back alley. Between the ‘mechanic’ and I, we figured out the problem, there was an arc between the wires and the engine that prevented the spark and the engine starting. Mechanic speak for no power, no fire, no go. How did we find this out? Well, considering all 30 (seriously, this is Kenya) ‘mechanics’ that came by had a different opinion I did not agree with, I finally got into the engine, put my hand on the distributor and proceeded to shock the hell out of my hand finding the arc! Not fun.
After a few hours and some band-aid repairs we got the mighty Peugot up and running again, but we’d lost half a day. Speaking to more locals, it became very clear that going back to Tsavo would be a bad idea. Between the animals and the criminals, everyone, impressed we had made it safetly this far, recommended we just move on from Voi. Goals change, so we changed our goal. We were not here to have anything bad happen, it wouldn’t be helpful to skate4kenya, the Sauder Africa Inititative or any of our objectives. It was time to leave from Voi.
Voi was still about 150 Kilometers to Mombasa, so we would have at least 2 more solid days. We strapped up, loaded up on water and headed back out on the road. I spent the better part of my morning angry about Tsavo and anry about the car. It’s not as if our plans weren’t fluid and flexible, but I wanted to skate it all – heck I still skated after crashing outside Salama!
Hitting some of the heaviest headwinds yet and more uphills (were there going to be any real downhills!!) took my mind of anger and focused it on pushing and sweating to climb and move forward. The speed bumps we first encounteres yesterday just kept coming as well and we had to either smash through them or roll around them. The speed bumps would prove to create the next real obstacle of the day.
About 40 kilmometers outside Voi, Val, Rob, and I (in the order from back to front) were rolling on the edge of the Mombasa highway rather than directly on the shoulder, avoiding the speed bumps to make some better and easier time. There was intermittent traffic, but nothin too heavy. Vehicles pass each other and us with ease normally in the 2 lane road. When there was 2-way traffic, we headed back onto the full shoulder to give way. We’d had mixed experiences with traffic, some honked friendly and waved or gave us the thumbs up and some honked angry and sped up to show their contempt. Others would slow to ask what we were doing and applaud and others would slow and yell, finger and throw garbage at us, telling us to get off the road. I think we’d agree, 80 percent were ok and generally friendly or confused by the Mzungus.
Today was not my day. As we skated in the order I described, a bus, the WORST and most dangerous vehicles on the road, came honking wildly. There was NO other traffic. I didn’t notice Val and Rob being forced off to the shoulder behind me as the ‘MODERN COAST‘ bus gunned down on them and I didn’t hear them yelling. I just trodded along exhausted and gave the old right hand thumbs up and waved the bus by. THERE WERE NO OTHER CARS. Something just sounded wrong, I turned and as I turned a hopped off my deck to avoid the speeding bus behind me. He was too close and too fast and clipped my outstretched right arm and hand, smashing my hand, knuckles and fingers.
Blood everywhere, I yelled for the guys to call the support car, which wasn’t more than half a kilometer away. I was FURIOUS!!! These busses were the WORST as it was, but this one aimed for us – literally. He couldn’t have gotten any closer if he tried without leaving the road and hitting the speedbump shoulder! With the car there I started to wash and antiseptic swab, but saw another Modern Coast bus coming. I got out into the road and blocked his path – this one would have to kill me to get by. He opened his door and I just started in on him and demanded the info for the company and the bus ahead. Who was I kidding, this is Africa. He was terrified (I didn’t realize Fred was behind me with my machete) and said they have no radios and he has no idea what bus it was, they just leave on a schedule and arrive as they get there – yeah, as FAST as they can!
After collecting the info and letting him go, I just walked off from my team and shrunk to the curb. I was angry, depressed and just ready to quit. The bus I stopped made it clear to us that they knew about the Mzungus and had seen us before. The bus that hit me knew – if this one saw us, then the other had seen us as well. Total bullshit!
I sat on the edge between the shoulder and dirt for a good 20 minutes watching a rural man herd his goats and a group of traditionally dressed boys chatting with the team. It was the first time since we left Nairobi that I wanted this to be over. Falling in Salama was my own stupidity and lack of experience, getting cussed out, having garbae thrown at us and then gettin hit by the bus was somethin completely different. Ultimately, we couldn’t stop. If he had seen us before, he would surely see us again on his way back and that, in my mind would be enough – you can not stop us. I picked up my deck, thanked the team for the bandages and just started pushing again, Rob in chase.
After another hour, hand throbbing, no town in sight and no clear indication when we should end for the day or where we would stay, it was getting late and time to get off the road for the day. It was the right decision regardless. Half a kilometer down the road the shoulder ended and there was no way we would be able to push without a shoulder for safety. The bus incident was not the only evidence we couldn’t be ‘on’ the road full time.
The decision was made to keep driving till we found a place to stay and start pushing again in the morning wherever the shoulder returned. It finally returned about 50 kilometers from Mombasa at the edge of a town called Mariakani. Rather than go all the way into town, there was a guest house here on the outskirts with a Choma attached to it. We negotiated a price for the rooms, dinner and breakfast and decided to stay here.
My hand was a wreck, but I was alive. Even the cold shower wasn’t going to get me down tonight. Tomorrow we would return to the 50 kilometer mark and the ‘safety’ of the shoulder and make our final push for the finish.
If Day 4 had been one of the sweetest and at one of the best places we could have hoped for, Day 5 also began that way and ended in one of the most frustrating ways.
Breakfast was included in our lodging and turned out to be the best meal we could have imagined – even out of all the time I’ve spent in Kenya the past two years! We were served in a ‘dinning room’, first fresh fruit and juice, then coffee/tea, and then spanish omletes, bacon, sausage and real toast (real because toast here usually means white bread, not toasted). The whole meal really spoiled us!
Enjoying our surprise, we got off to a bit of a late start into the National Park, but planned for a 50 Km push into Tsavo in the middle. Martina tried to find a place to stay through the hotel in Mtito Andei, but their sister location was in Voi – 90Km and too far in the heat and wind that persisted. They recommended a new safari lodge just 2km past Tsavo, so that’s what we set for.
The day as a whole was fine. The least traffic we had experienced and few people because it was a Park. We came across some Baboons again and got really lucky with a small heard of Zebras which ran away, beside and then across the road in front of us. Overall, our biggest issue was the wind again and a new obstacle, these nasty speed bumps.
We realized the speed bumps were to stop drivers from passing each other on the shoulder at high speed, definitely a good thing. We could see the results of crashes everwhere – pieces of car, windshields etc. all over the should. The speed bumps for us were a huge hassle though because they came up like 2×4′s every 50 yards or so. We could just hit some of the more rounded and pop over them, but this cost momentum and was hard on our already worn out legs and feet. The best method was to roll up onto the edge of the road – a smooth transition – and back down onto the shoulder on the otherside of the log. This cost some momentum as well, but was much easier and quicker. Problem was, this put us up onto the road and we had to be all the more careful if there were vehicles near by.
It was Rob’s turn to bleed today. The trick with the speedbumps was getting up some speed as you made the transition. Exhausted from the trek, Rob hit a tranny too slow and I didn’t notice. I came over way faster and we clipped wheels in the meter of shoulder space we had to work with, sending Rob crashing. We now share matching bloody elbows, both because of me!
At times, plans need to be adjusted. Life, like business planning, is an iteration. Here in Kenya, that need to be flexible and open to the unexpected, no matter how hard you try and account for things, is a must. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating. To look at a paper map, or my Google GPS map, Tsavo is a bigger town. And logic, seeing as it is in the middle of the National Park, the name of all gates and right on the edge of the Game Reserve, makes it seem like there is a town. THERE IS NO TOWN! There is a gate, and inside the Park there are a couple Safari lodges (aka Expensive $$$$), but no town, meaning no where for us to stay.
The Park Rangers just kept telling us its not safe here, you should not go through here. We knew that seeing Zebras meant there is a pretty good chance the predators could be around too, but what we hadn’t accounted for was that the next town, about 15 Km from ‘Tsavo’ was a prison town and also ‘not safe’. We had only one shot, the ‘new’ hotel 2 Km from ‘Tsavo’ they told us about in Mtito Andei. We pushed on to and found the ‘Man Eaters Lodge’. Hiked (impossible to skate and barely drivable) the 1Km off the road to the lodge to find it deserted with the one person there looking to extort 3 times the price of our previous lodging PER PERSON.
Kaiboshed, we had few choices. It was unsafe to stay in the Park, unsafe to stay in the prison town, and there was nowhere else to stay. We were forced to drive the 40 Km to Voi to find something. Rob and I were very agitated.
Exhausted and frustrated, we luckily found a nice, cheap place to stay in Voi with comfortable beds and arguably the best bathrooms of the trip so far. We grabbed a late dinner and crashed hard. Tomorrow, we’ll pick up where we left off.
The team all said Day 4 would be the hardest, but they meant for me and because of my crash. Turns out it was the hardest for all of us, but because of heavy head winds. We were only shooting for Mtito Andei and the mouth of the National Park, around 45 Kilmoters, but it felt like 80! The hardest day also had one of the sweetest endings though.
We kicked off Day 4 with a solid breakfast of eggs, toast, tea and fruit at our little guest house with the biggest beds, all of us well rested and fed. My day got rough early. As I changed bandages on my stitches the top rope came undone and I had to tie it back up again before putting the fresh ones on. NOT FUN! I’ve smashed myself up good plenty of times before, but this was a little much.
Kibwezi was about 2 Kilometers off the main Mombasa highway and on a very un-skateable dirt/broken pavement/gravel road. Fred took Rob and I out to the highway, while Martina and Val headed to the store for more water and snacks. Amazingly, Rob and I got a send off from a pack of Baboons 100 yards outside town on our first hill climb of the day. We knew we had to watch out as we got to the park, but we expexted it at the end of the day, not right away. Seems they were more afraid of us than cars, but what a way to start! Despite the solid sleep, it was hot early, the wind was blowing right at us and my muscles were sore. Rob on the other hand was pumping and pulled away early, wind and all.
The road to Mtito Andei itself was not terrible. More tar and gravel, but overall we could roll, avoiding the usual broken windows, tire chunks, roadkill, and loose gravel/dirt on the shoulder. Even though we were dropping elevation to get the ocean, the hills kept rolling in, only today, they seemed to be more our friend than enemy. The wind was so strong, that we had to push through the downhills and valleys and the uphills seemed to offer some windbreak. I’ve never imagined I would have to push so hard DOWNHILL! The traffic we hated so much yesterday was a welcomed windbreak as well and even a boost from behind, giving us an extra step when we couldn’t seem to get a break otherwise.
Overall we still made the 10 Km/Hr we’ve been averaging. I lucked out and caught a ride holding onto the back of a farm tracktor up the final hill into town (every town seems to be at the top of a hill! Ha). When we reached Mtito Andei we really were disappointed. It had been a long hard, hot, windy day and we were spent, but the town seemed like Makindu or Salama – a truck stop! We didn’t want to spend the night in squalor and I needed to clean my road rash. This was supposed to be the mouth of the Park, which means Mzungu Safari goers and should mean some nicer accomodations.
We finally lucked out and found a sweet little ‘resort’ like hotel just at the edge of town. It was pricey compared to the places we found the last two nights, but we’d really been lucking out. What it gained in price, we also gained in amenities. This place was off the road to make it nice and quiet, came with breakfast, had a swimming pool, huge comfortable beds, and the best bathrooms yet – Martina even got a bathtub! We really felt spoiled.
Fred, Val and I headed to the pool. I only hung my aching feet in, afraid to get my stitches wet and have to retie again, but Val dove right in. Most hilarious for the journey so far was finding out Fred’s a beginner swimmer and Val and I forced him in and taught him how to hold his breath and kick – sorry Fred, but good work! After some nap time we headed across the street to what we all would agree was the BEST roadside chicken BBQ shack – maybe some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had. The cook had an awesome attitude and made us huge plates at local prices, FINALLY not Mzungu’ed!
So like I said, tough day on the road, sweet ending overall. Tomorrow it’s time to get into the Park and head 60ish Kilometers to Tsavo for Day 5.
Keep pushing! That’s what everyone keeps saying and that’s what we did. The guest house in Emali was really clean, comfortable and friendly and a little hard to leave after the Crash of Day 2, but Day 3 arrived all the same and it was time to move on. We set a medium and a stretch goal – Makindu (47 km) or Kibwezi (70 km) – really just depending on how tired and sore we were.
Day 3 was rather uneventful except the heat and the traffic. Never did we expect the volume of cars, buses and trucks of all sizes FLYING up and down the road with such reckless abandon (excuse the cliche). Literally, these vehicles were pushing each other and as a result, us, off the road to pass each other no matter where on the road they were – up/down hill, blind corner, straight away or anything else. On more than one occassion Rob and I were forced to jump off our decks, even though we were ALREADY all the way over on the shoulder. They just didn’t care where they drove!
Aside from the traffic, it was simply just hot. There’s zero shelter on the road to Mombasa in this region and it’s rather desert like. We just had to keep pushing and pounding water. The condition of the road and shoulder also got worse. Day 1 + 2 we were mostly blessed with easy surfaces, this was more rocky, patchy and much less smooth, so besides the heat we simply hard to work harder.
Team Kenya started to jump in a lot more on Day 3 too. Fred and Val are eager to learn to longboard and took advantage of the rolling hills to work on their skills. Its pretty funny for Rob and I to come up a hill and see them working their way along. Martina seems to love driving, so with her at the wheel and one of the guys coaching her right hand drive, the other is usually trying to rip off a kilometer or two without getting hit by a vehicle or ending up in the nursing home like me.
We reached Makindu in decent time – around 3pm – and needed to get out of the blistering sun. The town didn’t sit right for any of us and was rather littered with garbage, drunks and trucks. A true truck stop, not a town and certainly not the warmth of Emali. We had some great Pilau, beans and chapati (a safe, cheap, staple meal), charged up on some water and decided we were going to push on. Emali spoiled us and we just couldn’t stand to settle – Kibwezi was a real town.
I won’t lie, we were a little too ambitious with Kibwezi. Between the late start to the day, heat, frustrating traffic and aching bodies (probably mine more than Rob’s) we simply could’t get to Kibwezi fast enough. Rob and I kept pushing, but the sun kept setting. Team Kenya found an even better guest house than the night before and turned around to get us from the road before dark and we had skipped the final couple Kilometers to town by car. Turns out the town was actually off the highway by a bit, so this was a safe idea.
The guest house was really awesome, like something you might find in Mexico or Hawaii, and we each had out own rooms (Fred and Val decided to bunk together) with satelite TV, huge beds, fans, and hot showers and toilets! A much needed comfortable night for REALLY cheap and far from the uneasiness Makindu offered.
Next stop – Mtito Andei (45 km) and the mouth of the National Park.
Despite the squalor, after a rather extreme Day 1, we had a pretty good sleep and got up for a breakfast of more beans and chapati, with chai/coffee, in the same little shack we ate in for dinner. Even with two legit Kenyans on our team, we’re still getting Mzungu prices, but only slightly.
Salama, as it happens, is at the top of a rather significant plateau. From the map, we drop around 3000 feet over the next 50 kilometers to our next planned stop of Emali. The biggest drop seems to happen right as you leave Salama on a long winding, steep road. This is not the newish, smooth (even with some gravel and shredded tires/road kill) shoulder we rode most of the way into town. This is tar and gravel with an earth and stone shoulder and vehicles flying down with reckless abandon.
It was bound to happen. I was cold and had no opportunity to warm myself up for the downhill. Wearing knee, elbow and wrist pads and a helmet, shorts, tshirt and my backpack, Rob and I headed downhill cautiously, one foot down to slide, brake and keep a managable speed. Balls took over brains and about 5 minutes into the most rediculous hill of my life, I lifted my brake and decided to go. Bad idea!
About 150 yards of full throttle, I was well beyond my experience and had no way of control or brake. I could feel the wobble and the tar’n'gravel under my wheels starting to throw me and I decided to head to the softest spot I could find on the shoulder in full superman. Pulled the best Ninja roll I could manage and tried to save my body as best I could. I’m sure it could have been worse.
Covered in dirt and gravel in and out of my clothes and pack, the impact managed to rip my knee and elbow pad down on my right side and I was gushing from both through the dirt. I had road rash down my right shoulder, back and hip and had shredded my shorts. Rob caught up and did the most logical thing – videotaped and took pictures! I texted the support team who was still in Salama 15 minutes away.
After cleaning and bandaging up – thanks Martina, Valentine, and Fred! – I refused to give up and still rolled the rest of the way down the monster that tried to eat me with Rob in the lead and both of us on the brakes. We tucked out the tail end of the ride and were blessed with mostly flat roads and overcast the rest of the day.
42 kilometers later we made it to Emali and took me to a Nursing Home Hospital. I was the first Mzungu they have had in the ‘Operating Theater’ and wow was it a show. The doc gave me 3 stitches that look like rope and everyone in the place made a stop in to see if I bleed the same. The ‘nurse’ answered her cellphone more than once and I’m pretty sure she was telling them all about me.
Emali was way different than Salama – colorful fruit stands, lots of friendly people, and a real town, not just a road stop. We found the nicest, cleanest, family owned/run/ and lived in guest house with bright colorful rooms, in-room toilets and hot showers. Nothing made me happier after the day I had had. They even made us the best home-cooked chicken, Ugali, beans, and Skumawiki dinner and we all went to bed stuffed and happy.
Next stop – maybe Makindu (47km) maybe Kibwezi (70km) all depends on how bruised and battered I am when I wake up.
Rob and I are not pro’s by any definition, but we certainly feel like champs today. We had set a goal to average 35/45 kilometers a day, hoping to make Mombasa in 15 days max. For whatever reason, sitting with our support team and looking at the map the night before we left, I opened my big mouth and declared Salama as the day 1 goal – about 84 Kilometers!!
Well, somehow, someway, we made it, and in just under 8 hours with stops for food, water, sore muscles and a few jokes!!
Day 1 was a big day of learning, as I said, WE ARE NOT PRO’s lol. Rob and I both have trouble pushing with our off foot, but as a matter of necessity, we just got better. I feel very comfortable on my off foot now and only. Realized it was getting almost automatic around hour 6. We’ve also gotten pretty brave on the downhills. Everyone told us the road to Mombasa was rather flat, and maybe it will get better, but so far its been rolling hills, with bigger ups and more gradual downs – in our exhausted opinion of course. But honestly we were not getting many speedy downs.
Happily, by the end of the day, we did find some mighty hills to tuck, and then realized how inexperience were at that too. There is A LOT of gravel, dead stuff, and chunks of tire on the shoulders we ride on, despite the quality of the pavement beneath it. Speed wobble and obstacles makes for a pretty sketchy downhill, but we managed to keep it together, brave a few tucks, get some good speed and much needed adrenaline for the next climb and have a lot of fun doing it. Needless to say, we’re both happy we invested in helmets and pads, we just hope we don’t actually put them to use in a crash!
It’s also important to note that we have met only the friendliest and most welcoming Kenyans all along the road. From the honks, waves and thumbs up of all the drivers, to them making room for us on the shoulder (something I am told is NOT normal), to the people we have met in the little towns. We are, of course, called crazy Mzungus, but that’s to be expexted. Everyone wants to come out and see the Demonseed decks, ask how its going, hear about us and where we’re from and then they wish us safety. When the support team comes looking for us, everyone tries to help and points to where they last saw the Mzungus. But this is all consistent to our experiences in Nairobi – Kenyans are a warm and friendly bunch – that’s a big part why we love coming here and have made great friends!
After all that pushing, we checked in with the support team – who has been amazing – and hit up the ‘hotel’ they found us a few hours before to crash in. It’s everything you would expect of a small Kenyan stop over – not so clean, bare walls, slat doors, squat toilets, no hot water (not even running water until this morning, lol), and attached to a bar/choma that blasted music all night and into this morning as I woke up. I was so exhausted I didn’t even really noticed. Shoveled some beans, cabbage, chicken stew and chapati into my gullet , washed it down with some Stoney Tangawiz and made my way to a Tiger Balm rub down and a deep sleep.
All in all, Day 1 was a big success and a seriously high bar for the rest of the push to live up to. We’re not so ambitious today. The next best stop is 50 Kilometers from here and after that is a little over 90. We’re shooting for 50 a town called Emali.
Here’s hoping Day 2 is at least as good as Day 1 otherwise.
I arrived in Nairobi from Brussels rather late at night and was welcomed by my friend Fred who has been a big supporter of the Sauder Africa Initiative here in Kenya for a few years – he’s also a grad of the program. First thing we did, hit up Kenyan fried chicken and chips. So good! They rotisserie the chicken first to get it all juicy and then stuff it in the deep frier to crispy it up on the outside – amazing! (I also had to have my favourite soft drink, Stoney Tangawiz)
After a good nights sleep, I headed out on my Rayne Demonseed. Here’s my first video blog from Nairobi.
In 2007/2008, post election violence left many dead and many more homeless. Thankfully, the feared August 2010 Constitutional Vote turned out to be actively peaceful. I truly believe Kenyans have a new, interconnected, peaceful mentality and renewed opportunity for development and positive growth through this democracy.
Skate4Kenya is scheduled to depart August 22nd!
@asminchen hey! just uploaded some of the last pictures. Now I need to edit a ton of video!!
RT @raynelongboards @emperor_of_cats: My Rayne Demonseed Dee-Lite and me...Everywhere we go #wegotogether. <--- US TOO!! #longboarding
@cstempp @RayneLongboards SO STOKED to see our shirt out there. An original MADE in #KENYA. 1 of 20!! Thanks.
RT @SE101Africa: New Blog Post: Sauder Africa Initiative is looking for additional travelling team members http://ow.ly/1bZy2K
RT @RayneLongboards: #RayneContest cut off @10AM PST, 1 random winner picked from RTs --> WINNER is @cstempp pls DM for details! < ...
RT @se101africa: #Nairobi Slum Kids Rap About Recycling, 'Trash is Cash' http://ow.ly/3CkAg #Kenya #Socent #Recycling #Kibera
NEW PHOTOS: http://ow.ly/3rp4b << Day 3: Kibwezi to Mtito Ande >> #SocEnt #UBC #Kenya #Africa #Longboarding
@MalakaiKingston Thanks for the follow!!
Nice -> RT @raynelongboards: RT @KashLS: omg. did you say #longboarding? Rock on #University of #Illinois http://ow.ly/3q1z4 <- great work!
RT @se101africa: Our guest house in Nairobio iss actually right near an anti-corruption office. Nevertheless, as you might have......