05-Mar-2006 -- A half-hearted attempt nets a half successful result.
After a pleasant weekend outing with my brother and his wife at one of the Fish Camp lodges (elevation 3200 meters) in Aberdares National Park, I asked Bob if he would detour on the return to Nairobi, so I could "stand on the Equator". We skirted the town of Nyeri and, at just about the 37 East meridian, turned north on Highway A2.
About 15 km from our goal, Bob suggested we turn off for lunch at the Trout-Tree Restaurant. The Trout-Tree, as the name implies, is cleverly built into an old fig tree in a green spot near the Burguret River. Overlooking the trout farm, we had a delightful meal on the lower of the tree's three open-air decks. Afterwards, we lingered to enjoy the sight of Colobus monkeys scampering through the branches, and occasionally pilfering leftovers from neglected plates. [I understand the monkeys are graduates of the Wildlife Orphanage in Nairobi National Park!] As one website notes: "Be warned though; there may be one problem associated with your visit to the Trout-Tree - finding the enthusiasm to get back on the road!" The afternoon was fast disappearing when we finally pulled ourselves away.
Resuming our drive north, the road veered to the Northeast, and as we reached the Equator, we found 0 37E lay about 7 km to the West. A parking lot straddling the Equator off A2 is ringed on three sides with curio/craft booths, where local entrepreneurs have assembled to take advantage of tourists stopping for a "photo opportunity". Anyone stopping for a picture will quickly be joined by any number of aggressive salesmen hawking their wares: "Let me show you my things; come see Shop #6, the best; where are you from? Ah, Miss-ah-see-pee; my name is Eric, my shop most favorite with Americans; I have many nice things, I give you good price; when you finish with pictures, you come Shop #6, I make you good deal..."
Our GPS, including its margin of error, indicated 0 degrees latitude but was slightly north of the highway sign indicating the Equator. While taking our photos, several herds of underfed cattle and goats passed heading north as their owners continued the life and death search for grass, necessitated by Kenya's year-long drought (which hopefully the showers that began the day I arrived were now bringing to an end).
We made a brief stop at several shops to see if anyone could be helpful in telling us about a road going closer to the nearby Confluence. No luck there. Brother Bob suggested a return to Nairobi before dark might be advisable, as the roads would be crowded with the mass Sunday evening return to the capital, so we gave up and headed south. It was already dark by the time we reached the edge of town, and my brother was certainly right about the congestion!
So, all I can do is to update the incomplete, after-the-fact visit #1 by Dale Stahlecker in February 2001, and post views west toward 0 37E from Highway A2. The main change is the small sign photographed by Dale is now overshadowed by a large double-sided billboard announcing: "You are crossing the Equator".
Continued at 2S 36E.