WILLEM

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Willem, the doctor, Declercq

He’s not a hitchhiker however he deserves some special attention. Willem will be my companion for the next two months. We met each other when we were 14 and forged an alliance ever since. We started travelling together at the age of 16; riding on a bicycle from Belgium to Italy. Nobody at that time believed we could do it, but we proved them wrong. We both share a passion for motorcycle travel. We drove to Georgia and back and travelled through the Balkan countries by motorcycle.

So when I found out there was another Kawasaki KLR 650 for sale in Kigali, I immediately told Willem. It’s truly amazing to travel alone, but it’s also fun to share the annoyances and joys on the road with a good friend. Traveling as a duo makes you less susceptible to other peoples stories but it gives you a bit more peace of mind if you have to make difficult decisions and you can divide certain tasks, making everything a bit less exhausting.

Willem claims to be an emergency doctor, but I must admit that I believe him. Being a doctor for him is not a job but a lifestyle. I’ve always admired his carefreeness, although it doesn’t apply for his work as a doctor. That is one of the only things he’s always serious about. I’m lucky to have my personal doctor driving next to me the next few weeks. As always when we meet, there is a lot to be told. We catch up with some cold, slightly over priced beers.

Next day we decide to spend our first team building activity, conquering mount Longonot. Longonot is an old cone volcano with an old forest in its crater. We climb up when it’s still early and the harsh light of the equatorial sun doesn’t burn away all the beautiful colors. The views are stunning:

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Charging giraffes in Longonot National Park
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view from mount Longonot

Just when we start our descent an internationally colored flock of Jehova witnesses start to make their way up the mountain. I read somewhere that the Kikuyu tribe climbs mountains (preferably mount Kenya) to come closer to their former Gods. It makes sense to me and I wonder if Jehova’s sheep are trying to do the same.

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view inside the crater of Mount Longonot. There should be very special fauna in the forest below.

After this amazing climb we try to fix a practical inconvenience of mine in Navaisha town. The metal frame to which my motorcycle side boxes are attached is broken on two points on the left side. Finding a welder in Africa is never very difficult. Although that finding a good one can be quite challenging. I address a random guy on the street and he directs me towards a small workshop in an even smaller alley. A guy in a turban claims to be a certified welder and says it should be a piece of cake.

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Maestro welder doing is thing in a back alley of Navaisha town

I have no clue how to weld, so I trust this maestro. He starts right away. First of all I’m happy because it seems not to be alloy, which was my biggest fear (it’s complicated to weld alloy). Secondly the turban guy welds it and miraculously the whole construction fits on my bike again without major adaptations. The turban guy just asks a moderate 500-shilling (5 euro) for his intervention.

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Me, trying to explain what the goal of our trip is. They think we’r mad!

I’m happy as a child because now we’re almost ready to start the biggest adventure of our trip: traveling 700 km off-road to Ethiopia through the Lake Turkana region, the most remote region of Kenya.

To celebrate our success we buy a big fish from lake Navaisha and fry it. The next day we ride to Nairobi to get our passport stamped. There is no border post on the Kenyan side of the border crossing with Ethiopia at Lake Turkana. It’s a border that is rarely used. That makes it quite attractive to us. We’re happy to leave Nairobi’s murderous monday traffic and it’s bureaucracy behind and settle at Lake Nakuru for the night.


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