The Road Much Traveled

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

My trips to Kenya have always turned me into a story teller, because everywhere you turn there is moment waiting to be told to someone. My early travels to the country often left me speechless, because I was never prepared for the unusual, at least to this American city girl, events or sightings.

Some of the most unusual things one can see here are the things that you witness as you travel along the roads, be they the rocky dirt paths, paved streets, or highways. It seems I had forgotten about the unusual travelers along the the road. Being that I haven’t been in Kenya since 2012, there were a few things I forgot, though I don’t know how. Maybe I didn’t forget, I just put them in the back of my mind until I witnessed them the other day.

For instance, as we traveled up a dirt path (and it is really consider a road to somewhere) to the Bishop’s wife’s restaurant we had to pause and give the right away to the herd of goats that were coming from market. The last thing you want to do is hit someones’ heard. It could spell death, or at the least a major fine or fight. So the driver yielded to the goats until the road was clear again. .

This is always funner when traveling down the highway and you have to slam on breaks for a cow or a herd crossing. Yes, a herdsman will cross his cattle across a busy intercity highway. And yes, you will yield all right to the herd and the herdsman.

And even stranger event happened once as I was taking a taxi from a city to the village. Seldom is a taxi used by one passenger here, but rather a group of people. The group can be in size of 4 to 10 or 12 people. Don’t ask how a car can hold 12 people. Just now it can in this part of the world. So once while traveling, the driver stopped to pick up passengers. As I looked in the mirror I noticed  a rather odd looking passenger looking at me from the boot of the car. I turned around to see if I was really seeing what I thought I had seen…yes, a goat was looking at me and talking! I quickly pulled out my video camera and started videoing I knew no one would believe me otherwise.

During my nearly week of stay here in Kenya I have encountered many herd crossings and yielding the right away to the goats and cows. No matter how in a hurry we were, we gave way to the other travelers along the way. I’m curious to know how much road have some of those herds traveled in a weeks timing. Travel to market, travel to varies grazing land, or  just traveling…those are some serious travelers.

 

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Goats leaving market in Kiserian

 

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A narrow road shared with the herd and oncoming driver.

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Goats crossing the highway

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Back Here After Four Years

What a difference time can make. It has been a little over four years since I’ve last set foot in the East African country of Kenya. On Tuesday, February 28 I arrived on familiar soil to a place that has undergone several changes and upgrades.

First noticeable change, though I knew about it, was the airport. The Jomo Kenyatta airport had a major explosion and fire nearly four years ago. That required the international section to undergo a major much needed renovation. Prior to the upgrade the airport seemed to be locked in the 60’s or 70’s, very gloomy and old. So it was nice to see a newer looking airport, though going through immigration and customs was still very slow and confusing…not much had changed there. For the first time I’ll make use of the airports domestic terminal later in the month when I travel to and from the coast. Being out of practice and getting a little older (that excuse seem to work for everyone else), I’m just not in the mood for the nine hour bus trip to the coast and nine hours back.

Of course there were a few other changes I noticed as I traveled to my hotel that night, and later the next day as I traveled to the home of my host. There are new business hotels that hopefully will remain economical for those traveling to this extremely expensive country for those traveling solo. For a nice safe and clean hotel one can expect to  pay a minimum of $160 a night for a single room. And that just starting out. Want a stay at the American hotels like Hilton or Holiday Inn, then look to pay around $230, and you that may not include breakfast or internet.

The major upgrade, thanks to the Chinese who also own some of the new business hotels, is the road improvements. The Chinese have been very busy upgrading Kenya’s roads and highways. Years ago the Germans had made major contribution to the upgrade of the main highway between Nairobi and Mombasa, which was desperately needed as the journey is already long and tedious.  Now the the Chinese have taken over all major road work. And whether the roads are quality will remain to be seen, but they are very nice for now.

Unfortunately, the driving is still as scary as ever. I’m trying to embrace the custom and sit back and enjoy each trip…but while I’m in the Nairobi area I’m staying put as much as possible and just enjoy the lovely home of my host.

Young Masai Men Gathering After Service

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This picture was taken in 2012. I found the way they gathered and communicated, often without saying a word, with each other very interesting.

From Maasailand

The mother of our host in one of the Masai villages.  #Kenya

The mother of our host in one of the Masai villages.
#Kenya

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