Friday April 29, 2011

Friday April 29, 2011
This morning we were up at 6:45 am for our ride to the Nairobi bus station.  We are travelling by Easy Coach to Kisumu to sort out and pick up our medicatons.   The rest of the group, seven nurses, will arrive on Saturday night and will travel by rented van and hired driver to Kakamega, our destination, on Sunday.  I have no idea what Aggrey was able to obtain for a van, but it couldn’t have more character than last year’s Toyota van.  I will keep you updated on it.
Aggrey’s nephew, Jerry, told us the ride to Kisum would take about 5 hours.  Somehow, that didn’t mesh with the time we had taken last year, but I thought, oh well, the Easy Coach will be faster than our Toyota van.  Wrong!  Eight hours later, we pulled into Kisumu.  At first the roads weren’t too bad then we got to the pot hole and speed bump section that lasted for the majority of the trip.  We pounded our way until our bums were numb.  Every time, I fell asleep, we would hit a large bump and/or the driver would put on his brakes.  The good thing about the brakes is that they squealed so loudly that you were never in doubt how long it took him to slow down for the speed bumps or for the vehicle in the front of us.
Enough about traffic.  The countryside, especially through the Rift Valley area, is beautiful.  I was amazed at the extent of agriculture in this country.  It is primarily small plots of land growing corn and other small crops.  Even the ditches are hoed by hand and planted for food.  Crossroads are a popular gathering place for the unemployed men, especially, as they congregate and socialize.  The roadsides are bounded by small shops made out of old wood, tin, or tables covered by sacking.  Nothing appears to be wasted here.  If it had a use once, ingenuity would give it another one.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get photos today because of where I was sitting on the bus, but I will try to give you a picture of what it is like here.
We arrived in Kisumu and were met at the bus stop by Sara, one of our nursing partners.  She has been involved with the clinics for the past two years and we are happy to have her with us again.  She arranged and negotiated a taxi for us.  The driver had to leave his spare tires behind so we could get all of our luggage in the vehicle.  The vehicle was very worn with a piece of wire holding the glove box shut.  Like our trip to the bus depot in Nairobi, the driver stopped for a small amount of gas en route to our guest house.  For those who want to know, gas is 120 shillings a litre, about $1.75.  That is a lot as the average labourer makes 100 shillings a day.  Of course, he/she doesn’t have a car.  They are fortunate to have shoes.  I saw a man today walking along the roadside with his toes and ½ of his foot shoved into a pair of too small flip flops.  His heels had to be content with the ground.
We are staying at another ex-convent, St Annes, in Kisumu for the night.  Very plain but clean.

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