Sorry, I should have posted this before my last one, I got carried away with the excitement of having fast internet:-))
17thJune: The weekend in Nairobi was wet and cold and I wanted to get away from my little tent, I phoned Michael in the hope of going to see him on Monday, but it had been raining hard where he was and suggested Tuesday and for me to leave early from Nairobi to get the connection from Nyahururu to Maralal.
We all know the feeling when things just won’t work out, am I doing the right thing I thought, but I wanted to get away more than reconsider what was happening. Charlie said he would pick me up at 8.45 because of the traffic (that’s when I should have been in the CBD), Ok I will go with the flow. When he turned up he said two ladies wanted to be dropped off at some car rental place and we would leave at 8.30 as it was a little bit out of the way, Ok, I will go with the flow, they turned up at 9.00 after Charlie said if they didn’t come now he would call another taxi for them. The journey to their drop off point was free from traffic and as we headed into the city center the queues began to build up, seemingly everywhere, Charlie is quite persistent and kept moving into the side streets to find another route.
We hit an empty dual carriageway and it was empty both sides, a car reversed back and turned in beside Charlie and said there were riots down the road and raced off in the direction we had just come from. Charlie looked at me and said “This is not good for us,” Ok, I will go with the flow. I was about to say we will try tomorrow when cars started coming down our side of the carriageway, Charlie pulled out just before them saying that things might be under control now. 500mtrs down the road we come to a grinding halt in traffic and for the next little while crept forward, passing road blocks, police and army personnel, all with rifles looking very serious. Just then as three young men were passing the car, Charlie translated, one was saying to the other two, “If your heart isn’t into coming away from the riot with something, then why are you here?” Bad advice was Charlies comment, because if they police saw anyone looting, no questions, no warning, they would be just shot, surely an understatement in the circumstances, do it and possibly pass.
He turned down another side road and we move forward closer to our destination, suddenly there were people running up the road towards us and many cars started doing u-turns, including us. I again said to Charlie, we can do this tomorrow, its ok, his reply was firm, “We can’t let things like this change your traveling plans,” and off we went getting closer to our destination all the time. We were in another side street only this time the shops were open and people were going about their day and a few minutes later I was getting loaded up onto a Matatu. If we hadn’t left late this morning we could have easily been in the middle of a riot. God is good, ay!
Again, as before the longest part of the trip was getting out of Nairobi, but going in a different direction made the experience a first time one. We traveled down the road that had all the running people and hastily u-turns and this time it was a bustling throng of traffic, people and completely open shops, it’s surprising what an hour can do. I remember my last journey to Narok in a Matatu, we went down a street that was a kilometer long and all shops were selling car parts, tyres and accessories. This time another long street and may even be as long, this time all selling white goods, phones, camera’s, music , etc, what a great way to shop.
The trip seemed straight forward as we climbed over the ranges and as before I sat behind the driver, but I preferred to look out of the side window, I was too close to him and to seeing the traffic approaching from the opposite direction. These Matatu drivers are prone to overtaking on bends, especially the ones you pray on that nothing is coming the other way, but I draw the line at doing it in thick fog, at times I thought I must have passed and was looking for Fred or anyone who was brighter than me.
Four hours later I arrived in Nyahururu and Michael directed me via a text message to a hotel he stays at and for me to continue my journey tomorrow. It was raining and my back pack strap snapped and my beautiful double blanket, strapped to the back pack ended up in the mud as it was unloaded from the Matatu, bugger. Luckily the hotel wasn’t far (50mtrs) and after I was shown my room started to clean the mud from the blanket, small shower/toilet and you can imagine the mess I was making up the walls etc, anyway I did the best I could, decided throw water all over the walls and toilet to clean up and then they came and told me they had given me the wrong room, what a relieve, that room was to messy and wet.
In the morning I managed to find where the bus (Michael advised me to get a bus as the Matatu would get stuck on route), left from and for 800kes it would leave at 11.00 for the four hour trip to Maralal and seven hours later I arrived, of course that doesn’t include the two hours I sat on the bus while it was being loaded. It is the first bus I have been on that had sawdust and wood shaving on the floor; I mean on purpose, I expected to see chickens moving about, but didn’t. The bus loaded to the hilt, 60 odd people inside sitting and standing, with goods piled high on the top, we set off in the rain at 12.15 and got as far as the service station where it was fueled up and more people got on. I was lucky to get on early and get a seat next to a window that opened that didn’t have bars on it, for that was the only way out in an emergency. I was sitting next to a lovely lady who had a rather large bottom and keep sliding off the slippery seat when we went down a hole or around a corner and would throw herself back into the seat and pin me up against the window, talk about claustrophobia, the seats were definitely meant for two skinny people.
It had been raining for a week and the mud road was treacherous, big holes where vehicles had been stuck, ancient pot holes that hadn’t seen a road grader since the year dot (a little exaggeration), or at least since it was first done. Now this bus was in two parts, it was a truck with a bus body, so the driver was completely isolated from the passengers and although he did a brilliant job getting us through it was like being in the back of a cattle truck and I would swear we nearly tipped over a few times. I noticed when we went down a pot hole the truck cab stayed pretty solid, but the bus part lurched from side to side and being top heavy threw everyone around inside. It was like being on a fairground ride that you wished you hadn’t got on and couldn’t wait for it to end, only I was trapped next to my large friend, whose only saving grace was if the bus did tip over on her side I would have a soft landing, unfortunately if it went the other way she would have squeezed me out of the small window like toothpaste, ah well, such are the perils of life.
There were tiny bridges over the creeks, (now rivers) and at one a brand new truck (you don’t see many of those in Kenya) had misjudged the width and tipped over on its side into one, a man ran alongside the bus shouting for a spanner, but I think he needed a crane. After four hours being held tight against the side of the bus some welcome relief came, a truck was blocking the road so everyone piled out to see what was going on, such a relieve to stretch. Apparently the road was washed away some 50mtrs distant and we all stood around and decided to pee in the bush, I am sure this made the situation worse. All of a sudden a truck came roaring out of the bush, fearing to stop in case he got bogged, that was the sign our driver wanted and headed off into where the truck had appeared from. Everyone started walking further into the bush trying to avoid the wet boggy ground. Lucky me, I had my trusty Muck Boots on and managed to travel the 200mtrs or so without getting wet feet, whereas all the others did unless they took them off (shoes not feet).
We carried on our journey with everyone chatting merrily and relieved to be moving even though the ride was still tortuous and we got stuck a few times, but managed to get out with a little (ok, a lot of) wheel spinning.
It was getting dark and road got a little smoother and it was gone 7.00pm when we finally pulled into Maralal. Because it was dark Michael had arranged for me to stay and have a late meal at the Sunbird Hotel and I managed to get a taxi there (in the end), he also said K&P were staying there and I would meet them in the morning.
I count myself very lucky to get there at all and to have Michael checking up on me to make sure I was alright, all of the way of my journey. I wouldn’t necessarily choose to do it again, but I am glad I did for the experience, for this is how most Kenyans do it all the time.
Thank you Michael.
God is indeed Good