Tag Archives: matatu

August 16 & 17

Today is a city day so I got up at like 7:20 and had an egg and chai and then went to pack my bag.

Last night Isaiah, Alpha and Benja’s brother, asked if he could accompany me to Nanyuki and since I didn’t have a problem with it I stopped by his house this morning to pick him up and confirm with his parents that it was in fact okay. There was no Isaiah at home, but there was a Lilian, Alpha, Moses, and Eunice (the mother). Apparently Isaiah had already made his way into town to meet me; he didn’t follow instructions. Franco was also meeting me in town, so this was about to get awkward.

Franco has been wanting to go to Nanyuki with me, but Isaiah asked the most recently and I haven’t really connected with him yet. I also think Isaiah has a lot of potential, he just needs a bit more confidence. Franco never mentioned that his dad, Joseph, was going to give him some money to accompany me until we were ready to leave. I’M SORRY I’M NOT A MIND READER! I thought he was going to cry when he found out Isaiah was going; I felt terrible, but I can’t satisfy everyone all the time–being white is a genetic thing, not a super power.

John, the same person that brought me the last time, brought both Isaiah and me this time as well, on his bodaboda (motorbike) of course. We had to stop in Il Polei to fix the shock and then twenty minutes later we pulled off on the side of the road for the two of them to pee.

There was a bit of a communication barrier between Isaiah and I. Eventually after we did our own things for the afternoon we met back and checked into the hotel and watched some of the worst soap operas I’ve ever seen, among them was The Young and the Restless. We didn’t watch that, apparently Isaiah prefers Spanish soaps that have been dubbed over in English. However, if we are being honest here…I got sucked in. Between Soy Tu Duena, Tahidi High, and Spider I couldn’t keep up with it all as hard as I tried, but I was entertained.

Dinner took place at Nyama Choma, the same place we had lunch, but that was fine; I tried something new–BEEF STEW. They told me it was all actual meat so I took their word for it.

That night I fell asleep to yet another soap and woke up around 3 AM to BBC World News and watched two rounds of that and finally fell back asleep. This boy, he woke up at 6:30. Me oh my. I slept till about 7 AM and then got ready. I think he would have sat there all day watching television if I had let him.

I bet you can’t guess where we had breakfast. Oh, that’s right…Nyama Choma…again. It’s really okay though. We followed that with a trip to the super market so we could buy as mcuh there as possible so I wouldn’t be taken advantage of. They didn’t have spaghetti so we went elsewhere. I found the nicest woman who found 20 kgs of spaghetti for me and then gave me two suckers for free because we bought so much. Honestly, we probably paid as much as she makes in two days.

I tried buying pork sausage at the butcher, but he was almost impossible to communicate with. He opened his freezer to show me beef sausage and my gag reflex went into action. There was unpackaged meat frozen to the sides covered in frost bite. Plus there was the smell. I followed my final gag with, “That’s not really what I’m looking for, but thank you!” So we went back to Nakumatt, the supermarket, which is basically made for westerners in the area and bought nicely packaged and labeled pork sausage.

Going to the super market was a really neat experience because I don’t think Isaiah had ever seen anything like it. He couldn’t believe all the flavors of yogurt! We left with 15 thick sausage links, mango juice, a new volleyball, water, and two Mars ice cream bars. Great success.

After buying what we could where there were set prices it was to the actual market we went. Mangos, cilantro, onions, passion fruits, green onions, garlic–nom, nom, nom.

The ride home on the matatu solidfied my distaste for them. We waited about two and a half hours for it to fill up, the drive drove at the speed of light there every possible hole in the road, we picked up every single person on the side of the road even though we were already five people over capacity, AND there was a goat whose smell was nauseating. Oh, my window wouldn’t open either so if I had thrown up it would have been all over me as well as the Maasai woman and baby next to me; I can’t even begin to imagine what she would have done.

I was so thankful to be home. Isaiah and I rushed up the hill and then to our respective homes to change for football. Paulo and Franco had already left so Joshua walked me. He doesn’t really comprehend English at all. I had our neighbor tell him that we had to stop by Isaiah’s to get him… We get to Isaiah and not only is he still there, but so are his brothers and cousins…Practice started two hours ago…


Day 5: August 3

What a day yesterday was. I woke up at 5:15 am to hike into town and catch a matatu to the nearest city, Nanyuki. I had to go buy a soccer ball and some water and also figure out what was wrong with my phone; I hadn’t contacted my parents since being here.

The trip into town took about an hour and a half this time compared to four the last time. I ended up buying  a new phone for 2000 Ksh (about $20), that way I would be able to charge it and everything in the town close to where I live. I bought a “Nokia” that feels like it something I played with when I was three. I used quotes around the brand because I don’t think it is legitimate; instead, I contend that it’s one of many cheap Chinese imitations that have flooded the market. The sides are a bright red plastic and give the illusion that there are volume buttons, but they don’t exist, the same with the imaginary usb port. I can’t figure out how to change the volume, so I just used speakerphone.

We had chai in a really nice place on the second story of a building, but the chai was the same as what we drink where I’m staying. Then, Joseph took me down some kind of sketchy hallway to a place for fruit salad (I hadn’t had any fruit since being here) and fresh mango juice. It was delicious, except I’m not a fan of the avocado texture with the other fruits. The juice was incredibly fresh, literally straight from the mango!

I managed to get everything I needed after standing in line for the ATM twice; I didn’t put enough zeros–I’ll probably never have that problem again in my life.

In one store I found a “Teach Yourself Swahili” book that I’ve already started using. I also packed my bag with bananas and a pineapple to take home.

I almost managed to fall asleep on the matatu on the journey home until we stopped and someone sat on my lap and remained there for the next thirty minutes; I should mention that it was a grown man. It’s hard to recover from that. He was extremely close; I could have caught mono. There were 15 people, three children, and two babies in a matatu with 12 seats, including the driver.

Ah! I almost forgot to mention that I saw a herd of giraffes grazing with a zebra from afar. I also managed to see an elephant’s ears flopping in the trees. Up close I saw this specific type of gazelle that stand on their hind legs to eat from the trees. All of those sightings were truly remarkable. I think I might have been the most excited passenger on the matatu until we saw the elephant and a few other passengers showed some emotion.

Needless to say, I slept very well last night. I went to bed around 9 and woke up at 7:30. Living the Maasai life, I’d say.

Part Two: Day 1

Written July 30th, 2011

Yesterday’s post got interrupted by a conversation with Joe, the coordinator of the Kenya Volunteering Solutions division. He came in and asked if I was ready to go to Maasailand after we had established earlier that morning that we were going to talk about various options around Nairobi.

I asked him where I would be, what I would be doing, if they spoke English, etc. I have to admit, I was a little terrified. I didn’t even receive an orientation, he just took me to get a sim card and mosquito net and then dropped me off to catch a car.

Yesterday was spent on a matatu (public transit here, similar to a trotro in Ghana) practically all day. Joe had made plans to have me sent about 8 hours north of Nairobi into the Bush; I had no idea where I was headed.

The matatu from Nairobi to Nanyuki took about 5 hours and on it I met the nicest woman ever who went by Penelope or Petty. Like me, she was white, but she had lived in Kenya since she was a child and is now a “cit” or citizen. She travels around the country as a freelance nurse doing odd jobs for the elderly. Petty might have also been the fiercest environmentalist I have had the pleasure of meeting. She told me stories of her family’s horse racing days while intermittently pointing out all the sites she knew.

Petty and I parted ways around Mt. Kenya where she was going to settle in the foothills with a woman who needed a little TLC.

Once I made it to Nanyuki, I met Joseph who I soon came to know as my “Kenyan father.” He needed to pick up a few things to prepare for my stay so I sat on another matatu waiting for him and for it to fill up so we could begin the second leg of our trek into the Central Highlands, aka the bush. The road out of Nanyuki was paved for about 15 minutes, but it was so bad people had created a side road made of dirt. We then came to an all dirt road that took us to where I would be staying, Doldol. Upon our arrival, I was taken to a lodge, probably the sketchiest I have ever seen, and greeted by three of Joseph’s sons. Should I even mention that one of the son’s was carrying an ax? The same one that would stay the night with me because it was too risky for me to make the 45 minute walk through the bush to reach their house.

Elephants in these parts are wild and will not put up with human interferences. Joseph was once thrown about 10 feet by one and lost his memory for four hours because he was trying to get one of his property.

The morning after I arrived in Doldol, we walked to their house. There’s a main hut with a kitchen, bedfroom for 8 people, a gathering area, and then a shed, where I would be staying with two of the boys. They have quite a bit of land with a variety of crops and cacti. I guess I should also mention that these are traditional houses made of mud and cow dung. Two dogs, Kurra and Lotto, a cat, calf, and cow that wears a bell also make up part of the family.

Sam G

I absolutely dig adventure and travel!


Verbal tantrums of a writer & an anxious spectator of life.


Madison's renderings of teaching and learning