Our arrival in Nairobi was not under great conditions! As soon as we settled at JJ's, we started to inquire about the road north and the news was not good: the rains destroyed parts of the road, leaving behind deep ruts; bikers falling multiple times, even though they were much lighter than we were, with reports of one biker fracturing his arm 4 times in the same day in 4 different places. We then inquired at the Ethiopian Embassy about the visa and they asked us (again) about the Carnet de Passage!!! Without that, they said, no visa is possible. I cannot believe that I got so much trouble with this Carnet with an African registered bike!
Now we were virtually stranded, half way through Africa and with not much time to spare, as we were rushing to get to Europe before Christmas. After all possible solutions debated, I decided to head to Nairobi airport to see what options I have to ship the bike out. We went to Turkish Airlines Cargo and with tremendous headaches, we managed to find a spot on their Cargo Plane from Nairobi to Istanbul. The day I took the bike was the worse day of our trip so far: it took me 6 hours to fight with the corrupt officials at the airport to be able to ship this bike out. First, they said I need to crate the bike, I said no: "Roll on, roll off!" I shouted, pushing my luck. After a while, they said OK, but I need to pay by volume and told me the volume is that of a car... I started to lose my cool and I took a tape measure and measured it myself, coming down in volume by more than half of what they initially said. Then, they said I need to remove the fuel and the battery. I said, there is no fuel and I remove no battery, but just disconnect 1 terminal. Then they decided that the bike needed to be first imported in the country and pay the import taxes and then be exported. This is when I lost it: I went to the top officials and started threatening that if they don't let me go I will make sure I go on the news channels and tell everyone how corrupt they are... why import a foreign vehicle that was in the country for a short while only to export it few hours later? Eventually, when they saw that I am not giving up, the top official from Turkish airline came down personally and told me that things will work out due to my determination and maybe threats. But, no one from the airport wants to pack my bike. I told him, I will pack it myself. So, they gave me a Turkish Airline vest and I went all the way to the plane and loaded and strapped down my own bike on the platform and left the airport. I was ready to faint...
We flew with Turkish Airlines few hours after the cargo plane, so we virtually arrived in Istanbul together with our bike. I must say here that among the great corruption and manipulation in Nairobi, we discovered a young lady, a cargo agent who fought for us like a tigress and eventually got the better of the big guys. Her name is Elizabeth and for reasons that need no explanation I will not disclose her full details, but if any of you are ever in need to ship your bike from Nairobi, let me know and I will give you her email to save you some headaches.
Once we arrived in Istanbul, I was shocked how fast and headache free the process was at the Cargo Terminal. I was wondering around the area, not knowing exactly what to do when a couple of Turkish guys saw me and came, took my papers and within 1 hour, my bike was out of the terminal. There were Customs agents there that helped me and never asked anything in return and they personally took care that I was served with coffee, tea, biscuits, etc while I was waiting. I could not believe how fast things work there, after the stress I endured in Nairobi. Thank you Turkey and Turkish Airlines for an amazing efficiency!
Below, you will find some photos of Turkey (although we spent few days, as we were heading for Greece for warmer weather. From the 40 degrees of Dar Es Salaam, the change was too fast to 4 degrees in Turkey and we literally froze ourselves. For me, it felt very good, but Carmen was not that impressed!
Entering Greece was a pleasure: the landscapes, the weather, and most of all, the people, which I think are some of the most hospitable and friendly people you will find in Europe. I don't think we ever ate anywhere without receiving free drinks and free desserts. We once were looking to buy some oranges and asked the local restaurant owner where we can buy some and he turned to some of his customers and they said: "Oh, we owned citrus farms, come with us". Within minutes, we picked 25 kg of oranges, mandarin, grapefruit and lemons and he did not want any money. He looked at me and he said: "This is who Greek people are and look at what the West did to the Greek people". I was very sad by his suffering, as we can see how the country is under recession but the resilience and beauty of these people will eventually win back the world to them. We are in love with Greece so far and we will restlessly tell everyone to come visit it.
Enjoy the photos, we enjoy Europe so far!