Nightmare in Kenya!
Or how our dream honeymoon ended in the worst possible way…
When the worst happens, you see what people are really made of.
Some will be strong for you, even without really having to, and others will just try to evade all responsibility and lie to save their ass.
A difficult decision had to be made. Kenya was not a safe place to be on October 26th, and we couldn’t reach a proper hospital nor an airstrip to get back to Nairobi on a medical flight.
The people around us advised we should cross the border and drive into Tanzania to try to reach Musoma, where they assured there was a hospital with an x-ray machine.
The border-crossing experience wasn’t very pleasant in our condition, but we managed to get cleared to enter the country, despite officers being concerned about our obvious health issues.
PARADISE. After the worst day of our lives, the most beautiful landscape and the brightest and most colourful sunset welcomed us in Tanzania.
Painkillers probably helped, but to us it felt like entering paradise. The people seemed joyful compared to the angry protestors in Kenya, women wore beautifully colored clothes, kids in uniform left their schools and walked cheerful alongside the road (a real road, after 3 days of dirt tracks)…
The drive 3 or 4 hours long, and as night fell, our driver told us we couldn’t make it to the hospital, as it would be closed on arrival. This was probably the second big lie from Ratpanat, since the governement hospital didn’t really close at night, as we learned later. We were taken to lake Victoria, were we boarded a small boat that took us to our next accomodation for the night, while they had time to «arrange» our hospital visit next morning. Truth be told, the hotel in a small island in the lake was one of the most picturesque places we’d see on our trip, and we wouldn’t mind to go back under different circumstances.
Day 4. More lies, more kilometers…
After seeing under the sunrise light what we would be missing, we left on the boat to Musoma in the morning. The hotel manager, another Ratpanat employee, took us to the big, public hospital of the city, the one they call the government hospital. We were left seating alone for around two hours while he said he was going to arrange our tests…
When he came back, he asked for 100.000 kenyan shillings, telling us it was needed in order to be admitted quickly. In other words, he said he needed to bribe someone before we could be seen by a doctor.
Came back an hour later, told us the xray machine was broken (a new lie, as we saw patients going in and out of the xray ward), and took us to a doctor. Without even looking at us, he wrote a couple reports while the Ratpanat guy told him in their language what to write saying we were fine and told us to buy some more painkillers.
We turned against him and asked for the bribe money to be immediately returned. After an argument between him and the doctor, we got part of it back and left the hospital as soon as possible.
What to do now? Who could we trust? You feel helpless in a situation like this.
We were told by our travel insurer that there was an airstrip and a clinic in the Serengeti where they could get Irene’s wound cleaned, and both of us evacuated, but needed some time to arrange it, so we asked our driver to take us there. What we saw on our way through the Serengeti was nothing short of amazing. All you expect from Africa if you’ve seen som nature documentaries. Huge extensions of open savannah. Millions of wildebeest migrating south. The biggest spectacle on earth. The raw nature we’ve seen on TV all our lives was in front of us…
Sadly we were in no condition to enjoy it much, and by the time we arrived to our destination, it was already nighttime and we had to spend the night there also while preparations for our evacuation were made.
Day 5. Serengeti Clinics close on Saturdays
First thing in the morning we were taken to the only clinic in the whole Reserve. Unsurprisingly it was also closed for the weekend. That forced us to drive a few more hours to find a hotel were Irene’s cut could be at least cleaned up by a nurse. We rested a bit there, as we felt wrecked after driving again on dirt and mud tracks to reach the only hospital that had a, in-house clinic. We paid a fortune for it too, as they only treat their guests for free, and they charge twice what they would normally do if they know you have insurance and you are in no condition to argue about it.
Ratpanat’s managers in Spain did all they could that day so that we couldn’t get in touch with police regarding the accident to try to get a report, even going as far as to saying the policemen who took our statement and were in charge of the investigation were fake and only trying to get bribes (not the case, since we’ve been in touch with that police station and officers later, and also the spanish embassy in Nairobi helped us to get from them the report Ratpanat didn’t want us to have).
Back to our accomodation and final preparations and paperwork to be evacuated the next morning.
Day 6. We’re out.
If you’ve read this far, I apologize for the length of this story, and I’ll sum up what happened after. A medical flight took us to Nairobi, and then we got transported to the Nairobi Hospital. We met with the Spanish consul there while we were being comprehensively tested to rule out if we were medically fit to fly.
X rays and CT scans showed small injuries to my cervicals, and a big thoracic hematoma inside Irene’s chest, which luckily didn’t affect any organs. The wounds never got infected despite the harsh conditions of the days after the accident, which is a testament to Dr. Odhiambo and his team’s great efforts. We were deemed fit to fly, and left the country that same night. We don’t usually get a chance to fly first class, but this time it was a doctor’s presciption!
Epilogue: After months of resting, rehabing and healing, we started thinking this couldn’t be the end of our travel life. We wouldn’t leave our passion aside just because of something that can happen anywhere in the world, even at home when you cross a street. And then we booked our tickets to one of the best trips we’ve ever had: Jordan!
More importantly, our friendship with Dr. Enock Odhiambo has grown up to be a partnership in an effort to provide better healthcare in rural areas of Kenya. We are currently working on building a hospital in Kehancha, so head to the Granada-Kehancha Project website to find out more and get involved!