Hello everyone and greetings from the Kenyan Highlands for my 1st report.
We have been here for over a week, so it is time to send you a report on our African adventure.
We are now resident in the Cathay Hotel in Nakuru, altitude 1800m.
I will go back to the beginning;
Alison and I and Ian and Jenny left NZ on Friday night 8th of November. A direct flight to Dubai. We had 2 days and nights there doing a city tour and hooning around the desert in a Toyota Landcruiser with about 40 other vehicles.
Dubai, an interesting place and full of contrast. 50 years ago it was a little village beside a creek. It is an amalgam of what was 7 independent Arab States that came together to be known as the United Arab Emirates. Got started on the back of oil revenue and is surging ahead with a huge amount of construction and as a financial hub. However, the old has not been entirely lost and on the river are 100’s of coastal traders, wooden and no more than 30mtrs long that shift goods all around the region.
We caught up with Colin and Vicky, Bob and Malcolm in the transit lounge at the airport. The flight to Nairobi was about 5 hrs.
We stayed one night in town and then the guys headed to Nakuru. Vicki, Jenny and Alison stayed in Nairobi with Kathy, the wife of a world board member from Norway for a further 5 nights. There to take in a one-day safari, a giraffe breeding facility where they are rescuing an endangered breed, an elephant orphanage, to the home, now museum of Karen Blixen, author of the book “Out of Africa” and the markets etc.
We, the NZ Team stayed 4 nights at the University complex about 35 minutes out of Nakuru City which has a population of more than 1.5million.
The whereabouts of containers is an issue for everyone. Fortunately, ours turned up the next morning and by midday had been unloaded.
We had to wait another day for unofficial practice ground to be available.
We used that time to rent a twin cab Toyota well sided ute which is ideal for carrying tool boxes, strike poles, spare plough wheels and as it turned out, diesel for the tractors. There is none available on site.
Those who were here in 95, and perhaps there is now only Bruce and John, will recall the tractor park being at a farm workshop area well down the farm. This year because of security concerns it is in the workshop/garage sheds area in the university complex meaning it is a 50 minute tractor trip each way on a very rough road. The grader has been in but ideally needs to have another go at it.
We’ve got away to a good start with practice and to date only the Austrians have ploughs in the ground.
They have chosen to come with steel boards and have a 3 furrow reversible. Needless to say they are and will likely continue to struggle.
Malcolm’s engineering skills are a huge asset to the team.
We have adopted into the team a young Kenyan guy, Alex, who is keen to help. Presented him with a team cap yesterday. His job at the university is as a vehicle washer. 28 years of age and quite badly deformed in both legs from a child hood accident, but he gets about well and has been an absolute gem in helping us with his local knowledge. We reward him for his efforts so feel we adding to the local economy and, in particular, to what will be a very modest family income. Alex, “we need a clean 20 ltr container to take fuel to the tractors.” A short while later he returns with someone with 2. We take one at a cost of 250 shillings. He is the envy of many. Others have asked for caps and boots and a job like Alex has.
Exchange rate; 1000K shillings = NZ$14
Many shipping containers are yet to turn up. It is a 4 day round trip to the port of Mombasa on the East coast. A local freight company has the contract using the same trucks.
Bob, who knows the Irish guys well light heartedly suggested that they could rent our tractors and ploughs on a night shift to get their practice plots done. Their, also light hearted, response, I cannot print here!!!
It will be great site but a lot has yet to be done. They are late with the harvest because of rain. The harvest process is rather laborious. Two smallish Claas and John Deere harvesters do that job and then empty their load onto covers on the ground. The women then bucket the grain into big jute sacks, the guys stitch up and then throw onto the back of trucks.
What we have observed is that there is nothing even or flat about the land to be ploughed. As part of the recent cultivation process a big ripper was used and the following cultivation was minimal. So there is ripper ridges and troughs and wheel marks all through it. Hence a 3 furrow reversible is not the plough to have here.
Although we are close to the equator the altitude means it is not excessively hot except for about 4 hours in the middle of the day. The evenings and early mornings are very pleasant. The locals feel the cold. I have yet to see a male in shorts and have seen very few young women in what we would consider a summer dress. Longs or long dress with heavy upper garments are the rule. We have even seen puffer jackets being worn.
The traffic is chaotic but we have learnt quickly. To date we have only had one motor cyclist run into the back of us--at a stop sign. Probably because the locals don’t normally stop!!!
In this town motorcyclists and tuk-tuks are everywhere and available to rent. Bikes at 50 shillings for anywhere in the town and tuk-tuks for 100s.
Livestock are also everywhere including on the roadsides and on the traffic islands. They seem to be very street wise. We witnessed a herd of cattle coming around a busy roundabout. They were more orderly than the local motorists!!
Although we have had our challenges this is an experience that none of us would have missed for anything. To date we are all thoroughly enjoying it so long as you apply the adage and attitude that “this is Africa.”
NZ Team Manager
Hello everyone. My second report from the highlands of Kenya.
Until next time.
NZ Team Manager
Hello everyone. A quick report from Highlands of Kenya.
We are now well into the official WPO program. Ian and Bob have completed 3 days of practice with just a half day today because of the official opening at 4pm.
The church service was at the Catholic Cathedral involving 1.5 hrs.
The site is taking shape with the static display areas filling with tents and machinery.
Unfortunately, from a ploughing perspective the site is drying out quickly. We are hoping that the competition ploughing area which is on another lower level will continue to hold good moisture, but the grassland practice area has been going back by the day.
A nice story to finish with: Yesterday morning Malcolm and I were making up a fitting for Ian. There is a young lady who is doing a mechanic apprenticeship at the workshop where we were working. We have come to know her well. Her given name is Purity, but because of her smile and an abundance of good looks and positive personality we call her “Perfect”. Even in workshop overalls!!! When we told her that, she just smiled. Any way she came rushing in to where we were working and asked Malcolm if she could borrow his cap. I noted she had a huge smile on her face as she rushed out of the workshop. When Perfect returned the cap about 20 minutes later she told us she had just done an interview with a newspaper journalist and wanted the NZ cap for the photo!!