Moving Day!

Trip Start Aug 26, 2012
Trip End Dec 22, 2013

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Flag of Kenya  , Rift Valley,
Saturday, September 15, 2012

Today, I had to get up when the roosters called to head to my new volunteer home which was over 8 hrs away near a town called Kilgoris which is in Maasai Mara. Taking into account "Kenyan time" and “Kenyan mis-communication” we actually left about 7:30am. Thankfully because there was three volunteers heading to the same place we were able to get a driver and a decent van. Otherwise it would have been matatu's all the way.

I’ve talked about the roads in Kenya and how incredibly bad they are to travel on due to the rains. Now I will give you a bit of information about the two most popular forms of transportation in Kenya; the matatu and the piggy-piggy.  Matatu’s are essentially used to travel along main roads/highways and piggy-piggys are used to get you to destinations off the main roads.

The matatu is basically a mini-van converted into a mini-bus with 14 passenger seats  which is advertised on the side of the matatu, but never adhered to as there is often 22-24 people crammed in.  There are three rows of three seats each, and a back row with four seats and then a seat beside the driver.  If you are picked up by a matatu and there are no seats left not to worry! You find a piece of wood and place it between the second and third seat in the next available row and ta-dah you have a seat! Then if all the pieces of wood are taken you squish in with the driver and if that is to no avail well then the leave the sliding door open and you can hang stand on the rail and hang onto the roof.  What about your stuff you ask? Well it goes on top of the matatu and tied in. I’ve seen everything tied up there, from suitcases to bags of corn, to mattresses and furniture.  As far as getting by the traffic cops when over capacity….Very easy – pass on a few shillings and all is right.

 Lastly there are not really any defined or advertised stops for the matatu.  You just kind of flag them down when you are on the main road and then either tell the moneytaker/scout where you want to be dropped off or you just hit the roof near your destination and they will pull over and let you off.  From town (any town) just look for a bunch of matatu’s and ask which one is going your way.  The scouts will direct you to the right one. When it’s full, then you get to. I’ve hadn’t had to wait more than 5 mins  so not to bad.

I’ve ridden many a matatu to date but have only ridden a piggy-piggy twice both out of necessity; time or raining. Otherwise they should be avoided.  The majority of men in the hospital due to a leg injury is the result of a piggy-piggy accident.

Goats and cows continue to line the highway as we made our way across to Massai Mara. All were tied to the nearest tree, post or anchored by a rock.  We stopped in Kisumu, about halfway and got to see a tiny piece of Lake Victoria.  The spot we hit seems to be popular for car and truck washing.  Our driver got inspired and asked some kids to wash his van. So while we waited for that we enjoyed a cold soda on the patio.

We were told that after Kisumu, the roads would not be great.  Try to form they were bumpy and we went over one bump so bad that I actually got a tiny bit of whiplash as I was trying to avoid hitting my head on the roof of the van. Aside from that the drive was beautiful and the closer we got to Massai Mara, the more lush the vegetation got. Everything was so green and you could see crops of everything imaginable growing for miles and miles.

Our driver and escort had never been this far south and once we got to the town of Kigoris we had to call and get directions. Well we actually had to call several times because there were no sides and the road we were on was desolate and in really rough shapes. Even the Kenyans with us where shaking their heads.  18kms later on the worst roads I’ve experienced to date we arrived, after getting an escort for the last 2kms from Emmanuel to his home.  Emmanuel is the director of Namunyak Maasai Welfare ( which is an organization that works to alleviate the harshest conditions for the most marginalized individuals in Maasai communities by providing access to education, public health information, micro enterprise development opportunities, and organic farming training.
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