Well what can I say, it seems almost repetitive to say we were stuck on the side of the road, but there we were, making a run for the border with a day to spare, and we lost all power. First I thought it we had run out of fuel, but topping it up, it was clear that it wasn’t. Then I thought is was compression, and discovered one of the cylinders was full of fuel.
Whilst I suspected all wasn’t well with the bike, I really believed we would make it to the border and didn’t top up the phone card and couldn’t even contact the mechanic to see what else I could do. So every vehicle that passed, I flagged down and asked for a tow to the border, but none were going that far, so the best option was to return to Yebello. It eventually turned out to be the French tourists in their 4×4 with guide and driver who passed us on the road earlier, who we stopped to have a chat with, who had passed us again and were now on their way back to Yabello for the night, who towed our sorry bike to a place where a truck would be much easier to find should we need one to get to the border.
Armed with phone credit, I got in touch with Mick our mechanic, who instructed me to clean carbs thoroughly, and check the timing device. Carbs cleaned just as it got dark, and no improvement in the bike. The next morning, I checked the interrupter and that seemed fine too. So without further consultation, I arranged a truck. Getting across the border was a higher priority now.
Truck found, price agreed, I thought we would be on road to Kenya, but 3 hours later, we found ourselves outside the house of the local transport official where her mother was persuaded to allow the driver to complete the necessary documents and sign it in her absence. The legality obviously questionable, but when you in a hurry, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Finally we were on the road to Moyales with Ethiopian folk music quietly playing in the back ground, whilst I tried to ignore the vulnerability of the situation we were in terms of crossing the border handicapped by a bike that didn’t work.
As soon as we arrived, with 2 hours to spare, the haggling commenced on how much for a bunch of guys to get the bike off the truck and local fixer/guide/helper/money changer extraordinaire made himself known and pointed me in all the right directions to documents stamped, fingerprints taken and photos logged. Surprisingly, Ethiopia customs and immigration processed us quickly, and by 4.30pm I was encouraging the bike pushers to push harder to get the bike up the hill to the Kenyan customs and immigration.
Finally we were in Kenya, and a feeling of safe in terms of visas! The next day, I worked on the bike, still on the side of the road. I sent the tank off to be cleaned, double/triple cleaned the carbs, and changed the oil yet again. So back to the timer, and found that it had moved about half a cm. Right on the border of Kenya and Ethiopia as not the place to find solutions, and despite the best efforts of the local mechanic, he clearly didn’t have tools or the right experience, and so another truck was arranged and it was time to go the Jungle Junction in Nairobi where a good mechanic and a great location beckoned us.