We spent a 4 weeks in Kenya, and almost all of it was in Nairobi! One would think that this would have been a great time to relax and unwind, but sadly the opposite was true.
When your mode of transport becomes inoperable, it is stressful, and crossing borders in this condition only compounds this, so it was with relief that we arrived at Jungle Junction, on the raving recommendations of travellers, to rest up and have the bike fixed. Indeed, the bike was worked on, and the primary fault fixed within a number of days, however, it became apparent that more needed to be done, and this is when we hit a wall.
Jungle Junction has a constant flow of overlanders with their various vehicles needing attention. Sadly however, any bike that requires more that superficial attentions tends to go to the bottom of the priority pile. And so we waited. I did some work on it and resolved a fault, desperate for progress. And the stress started to build. The head mechanic, and owner of the establishment, eventually pulled out the stops and worked on a Sunday to resolve the problem. But it didn’t help my levels of stress to hear the bike being referred to as scrap metal! Negative attitudes to a job invariably lead to negative results.
The fault was found and resolved. And despite the sound not being 100%, the machine worked and I wanted to get back on the road. I don’t remember why we delayed the test ride a couple of days, but finally on the Wednesday we were riding to Nakuru, a good distance to ensure that any further problems would have a chance to show. The results of the test told me all was not perfect, but the expense both in time an money thus far was too high, and it would be better to start moving South again.
The Saturday morning, I started to get ready to leave, checked the oil and tappets, the latter because after the still recent (in terms of kilometres) rebuild and suspected valve not seating properly. This is when I discover they had been redone for the compression test and done incorrectly. This was too much for me! utterly desperate to get going, and risk that damage had been done to a valve!
I freaked in a thousand directions, burst in to tears a few times, and generally looked decidedly unstable for about half an hour as I contacted a new mechanic to check the valves, get them ground in properly which we didn’t have the kit to do in Addis. Things that had actually been requested and not done, and whilst it still clearly needed doing had decided to stop wasting money waiting – but now was an absolute necessity to do.
It turns out later, in conversation with another waiting motorcyclists, and perhaps as a result of what was going on with me, that the head mechanic was now saying that he was not prepared to take responsibility for taking apart cylinders and doing valves. Well I wish he had said something like that to me when I arrived! We would have been on the road 2 weeks sooner and saved a lot of money!
The new mechanic, Rick, did a fantastic job with the valves – and thankfully the unseated valve showed no signs of damage and was once again reseated properly. Although the prognosis was a cylinder head replacement would be needed at the end of the trip as a seat was worn.
Finally we found ourselves back on the road and heading South, with an engine that has never sounded so smooth! There were a couple of concerns as we headed for the border to Tanzania, but ultimately my fear of spending any more time in Nairobi kepting biting our heels and we kept going, with Rick accepting my panicky phone calls and putting my mind to rest.
We spent one more night in Kenya, and then crossed the border, an exact month to the day that we crossed the border into Kenya. I have never been so happy to leave a country, and yet so sad that we never really had an opportunity to explore it a little.