Instead of Ashes, the Oil of Gladness | Part 3/7
In the middle of the night a storm came up that kept me well awake for the rest of it. Luckily no unwanted visitors made their appearance! A guy from another Dutch Overland group that camped about 500m away, wasn’t that lucky. He went to bed with a scorpion and woke up with a headache in his middle finger! Nothing that a hanky soaked in petrol can’t solve in Africa (the cold dims the pain they say). Me and a guy with a AK47 bummed a ride with this truck all the way to Lodwar. They do not allow you to travel through this area without an armed guard/ soldier to protect you against Sudanese bandits on the way up … serious stuff! Finally I waved the Dutch goodbye to settle in a friendly place just outside of Lodwar that has been run by local women for many years. This would be my base to work from for the next week. Since I’ve come all this way, my prayer was to make it to Lake Turkana. But transport was a bit of a roomer here … and then the bandits still loomed!
Courtesy vehicle (and drivers!) at the place where I stayed in Lodwar. How would I make it to the Lake?
A woman’s hands as she mended the clay wall outside my room
Taking a break in bandit zone on the way to Lodwar
Every morning I would get up way before sunrise and walk to where the people were. Some were collecting water, some wood, others started to play. I tried to blend in as much as possible to capture the realness of these people. With the unbearable heat during the day, I only had a limited time in the morning and evening to capture life in Turkana world. It was a real honour to see.
Daytime was spend inside to escape the heat and to keep my films at the lowest temperature possible.
I still don’t know how it happened, but I managed to meet a American missionary doctor and his family in town one day. They had to make a few rounds in the area the next day and asked if I wanted to join them. Lake Turkana wasn’t too far from one of the posts! Perhaps if there were time and daylight left after all their rounds, they could try and take me …
I was up earlier than normal and made my way to the dedicated point of meeting. They were waiting for me and we set off into the dessert. First stop was a clinic in the middle of nowhere. The local doctor seemed quite intrigued with my camera – he might have started a wedding photography business on the side by now!
Like most things in Africa, it took a long time to get from one place to another. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Meeting these people’s needs were far more important than my own. We went passed an old Roman Catholic church which style made me feel like we were somewhere in Greece. This one was just in the middle of the dessert. Also an oasis to some.
A few more hours, more jeep tracks and much more heat … and then finally, just as the sun started to prepare for bed, it spread out before me. I have arrived at Lake Turkana!
From nowhere they started to appear. The local herdsmen brought their camels to drink before the night, families started to appear to collect water together, the last washing got rinsed out, birds started to return to their coolness for the night. A beautiful African ecosystem and community at its best.
Tomorrow: How Adri and I met at Kisumu Airport and how I took her to a place I fell in love with in 1997.