Sunday, 11 December 2011

10th December 2011

The next day, we paid our 4000 Kenyan Shillings (£28.50) for food and lodging and with our passengers, went on our way. You may recall that we had previously experienced a problem with the passenger window, when it almost fell out – basically, the ledge that it rests on when opening and closing had snapped and we had to glue it back together. Well, this had now broken again, but luckily, we were able to fix it without removing the door panel. The window had to be kept firmly shut though.

This next section of the road was unbelievably rough and before long, Jeremy veered into a ditch on the right, banging us all out of our seats. Well, the car has not been the same since. I think the suspension is a bit bent or, more likely, the shock absorber has broken because the left front wheel-arch is lower than the rest and it now bumps up and down on the slightest mound in the road. After much worry and concern about whether we were to be stranded in the middle of the 34C desert, we finally made it to the place where the road suddenly improved – about 125km before Isiola. We glided along this stretch of road, deposited our passengers at Isiola and continued along the remaining 250KM to Nairobi.

All was going smoothly and we were due to get to our hotel at about 5.30pm, which would be when it was still light. It’s not advisable to be out in a car in the dark in Nairobi as there are many villains just waiting for an opportunity to rob you. Unfortunately, we hot a total gridlock on the road from Thika to Nairobi as there was a lot of road construction work going on. It seemed that the entire traffic entering Nairobi was now crammed into any part of road (or off road) available. The net result was utter chaos, with thousands of cars at every possible angle edging to move forward. Almost 3 hours later, and now very much dark, we were in despair, thinking that we would never get to the hotel. It was also becoming rather dangerous as tempers were fraught and a few fights amongst drivers were beginning to break out. Road rage at its worst. So we clicked on the central locking and I tried to nudge through the congested traffic. We both began to feel a little uneasy as some youths started banging on the car doors and the windows. A man in the next car told us not to open to windows and to keep the locks on as this would be safety away from the ‘very bad people’. I was now desperate to get out of our situation but there was nothing that we could do. We were now also very tired, having driven for around 12 hours now. I was relieved to see some police arrive on the scene and they tried to direct the traffic in whatever way they could. I was instructed to reverse and take the car up a clearer road but to do this, I had to first manoeuvre the car out from my jammed in position. It was impossible to see and people all around were shouting and so Jeremy opened the front passenger car door to help guide me back. Remember that the window was broken and could not be opened. As he opened the door, the central locking was released and within seconds someone opened the back door of the car and grabbed one of our bags and 3 cameras.

As you might imagine, I shouted for help and sounded the car horn continuously in the hope that a policeman would stop the thief. Jeremy ran after the man, and then I felt even more frightened as I was alone in the car and he was alone out there in what can only be described as a hazardous jungle. A policemen directed me to park the car and I asked him to look for Jeremy. Thankfully, neither of us came to any physical harm but sadly, my leather holdall bag  both our passports, driving licences, work permits, 3 cameras, all but 3 bank cards, my watch and various medicines that we had brought out here, had all gone.

Although distraught by what had just gone on, we still had to get out of the traffic jam and find the hotel, which by now, could be anywhere as we didn’t have a clue where we were. We finally got out of the traffic jam and having asked a few times; once a group of prostitutes; we found the hotel and told them what had happened. The hotel staff were really helpful and took us to the police station to report the robbery, waiting there for the hour that it took to take the statement. We finally got to the hotel room just before the room service closed at 10pm. I felt sick with anxiety about what had happened and worry about what would happen now but having not eaten all day, it was necessary to order some food.

The next task was to phone all the credit/debit card banks and report the stolen cards. Irritatingly, O2 pay as you go only allow you to top up £30.00 per 24 hours and you can imagine that this money went very quickly as we waited on the phone for the various banks to process our requests. So we had to use the hotel phone, presumably costing a small fortune.

How do I feel? Pretty fed up and irritated that we managed to get ourselves into this situation. Yes, it can happen to anyone, but we should have put the bag in the boot of the car. At least this way it would have been locked up. But we were tired and should have driven straight through to the hotel in daylight. We didn’t anticipate being held up in the traffic jam until after dark and didn’t realise that the central locking would release when one door was opened. At least we are both safe. But it has left a nasty taste in our mouths. We still have to sort out our passports but it is Sunday today and so this will wait until tomorrow – mind you, predictably, it is a bank holiday here tomorrow so I don’t know if the British High Commission is open. 


  1. Sorry but due to the lack of photographic equipment, there will be a shortage of photos for a while. I will try to make the writing more interesting! Karen (distressed but unharmed) xxx

  2. We really feel for you both, hope the next few days bring some progress with passports etc. When will you leave to drop the Car? Hope that goes Ok thinking of you mum and dad

  3. Karen/Jeremy!! Listen to reason!! Get out of Africa!!! Now!!! Torch the car before you leave!! Africa has nothing to offer you and you two have nothing to offer it that will make any difference whatsoever!!! It will be the same as it ever was!!! Keep your passports on your persons at all times!!! The next thing the donor cultures will have from you are your transplantable organs!!

  4. Really sorry to hear your news. Remember that passports, cameras, bags, money etc are all replaceable despite the hassle and any sentimental value (Ballard, surely not your birthday present bag - oh no!) Shocking at the time I know but very glad you are both okay and safe.
    PS was Jabba in the bag? xxx

  5. Really sorry to hear of your horrible trials and tribulations.
    Hope you are recovering and building up your strength both physically and mentally . I take my hat off to you both but my heart would love to see you come home and maybe make a difference from a another angle.
    You are both very much in our thoughts and glad you are safe. Love Angie & Kevin xx

  6. Thanks so much for your kindness and thoughts. We are very safe here in the hotel and much happier now.
    Sorry Karen; yes, it was my birthday present bag - I loved it so much that it went everywhere with me. Insurance claim though.......
    Jaba is safe and sound in Gimbie - well he was when I left him. Perhaps they have shipped him to an orphanage!!
    Plan: British high commission tomorrow to get passport and then out of here to either Ethiopia (if they give us a visa) or UK if not xxx