13-Apr-2007 -- I decided to take five men from the church I pastor and go confluence hunting as a day off. The Confluence I was after was where the Equator intersects with longitude 34E. Starting from Kisumu, where we live, we came to a small fishing village called Osieko. At Osieko our road ended and I estimated that we were about 2 ½ kilometers from the Confluence. Maps were showing the Confluence right on the shoreline of Lake Victoria. However, since I didn't know if the Confluence was in the water or on land, we opted to pursue by boat.
We discovered that the heavy wooden boat and its 15-hp. motor we wanted to rent were owned by separate individuals. The co-op that managed the beach also wanted a cut of my money. It took some time to negotiate a price that we could all agree on; about $ 20.
After buying fuel for the boat we were on our way. The overcast sky and lake blended together perfectly so that the horizon was invisible. Although Google Earth showed the Confluence to be right on the shoreline, in reality, the Confluence was about 1,100 feet (335 m) inland. I had anticipated this because I knew that the water level of the lake has gone down in the last five years.
I was concerned about hippos. These huge beasts look clumsy, slow, and harmless but they are not! They kill more people in Kenya than any other animal and I was not interested in becoming a statistic. I was also mildly concerned about the possibility of snakes. I have friends who cut reeds by the lake shore, who have seen huge snakes, so I knew there was at least a slight possibility of seeing one. It all added to the excitement!
The shoreline looked pretty unfriendly at this point. I thought of another time when I was on the lake with my friend, Tommy Wagler, shooting pictures of birds. We were quietly and slowly gliding up to some reeds on the shore in hopes of getting a picture of a small bird, when suddenly a mama hippo, protecting her baby gave a very loud, angry snort. A hippo snort is similar to a pig grunt only it is deeper and much louder. We wasted no time in backing off. I didn't want to repeat that experience.
One of the men in the group suggested that we dock the boat at a fishing village of thatched houses several hundred yards south of the Confluence, then try to reach the point by foot. We followed a narrow canal for several hundred feet inland that led to the edge of the village. After greeting curious villagers we headed off on a small footpath leading in the direction of the Confluence. At one point we took our shoes off to walk through several inches of muddy water. After walking for about ten minutes we zeroed in on the exact spot. The men crowded around to see the zeros on my GPS. What fun! I was very happy that we were able to zero in on the Confluence since it was right on the edge of the swampy area between the lake and the mainland. Ten feet further west would have been a real challenge!
We were back at our vehicle by noon. On the way home we stopped at the burial place and home of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the first vice president of Kenya. After a tour of the museum we ate our lunch of popcorn, cookies, bananas, and milk on the lawn before heading home.