As we still haven’t got ourselves a car, we are doing a lot of travelling using other forms of transport. David often uses his bike which is quite straightforward and once he even went on a piki-piki but as it was fairly hair-raising and without a motorbike helmet, once was really enough. Most of our other journeys either start or finish on foot for a variety of reasons ranging from timing through to the inaccessibility of certain locations. The middle bits of our journeys are often a bit of an adventure.
The other day we went to the ACK offices. It had rained, so we set off in our wellies and then we took a tuk tuk. We negotiated the price with the help of another driver, using a mixture of Kenyan English and Kiswahili. Our driver then wiped the mud from his previous journey off the seat and in we climbed. Now the tuk tuk is quite an extraordinary piece of design. Three wheels on a metal and wooden frame with a canvas roof and sides (which hang down when it’s raining….. the driver has to push them out of the way when he wants to see what’s coming). The sounding of a horn is common practice here (understatement of the year!) and now we know why, “let them know you’re coming especially if they can’t see you or you can’t see them” is the general rule of thumb. The tuk tuk has no suspension so it’s a very bumpy ride but the best bit is the engine. In order to start it, the driver has to go to the back and use a piece of rope, just like we used to do with the lawn mowers of our youth!
Yesterday after tramping back from the ADS offices to the main road, we decided to catch a matatu. The quality of a matatu journey all depends on the character of both the driver and the tout. In times past we have had crazy rides but yesterday was great. We agreed the price and were put, like honoured guests, into the front seat next to the driver, who didn’t speak to us at all. Unlike the shouting that so often accompanies a journey on a matatu as the tout tries to drum up trade, all was quiet until just as we were about to pull out….a car shot onto the verge in front of us and out leapt our recently acquired friend who happens to be a local police inspector . We met him at the Roman Catholic Diocesan Justice and Peace department a few weeks ago and he is quite a character. David has spent time with him at his office and has developed a real soft spot for him. As the greetings and farewells were conducted loudly in Kiswahili, the matatu driver, tout and even some of the passengers all suddenly perked up and started talking to us. So off we set for what was a short but fun trip and we were safely dropped at the junction with our road.
Wellies on, we picked our way through the mud towards home and we chatted about the Marabou Storks we saw the other day who also travel on foot, looking to all intents and purposes like they are teetering along on high heels….with the advent of the rainy season, our travelling adventures will now no doubt increase but regardless of what the coming journeys might hold it is so good to be here!