Kenya – what a unique environment

11 06 2011

By Hussain Lalani

Hi! Sorry for the delay in posting but enjoy!

 

6/5/2011

 

From the time we first stepped on to Kenyan soil, we have been quite fortunate. The lines during customs were very manageable, all of our luggage arrived safely to Nairobi airport, and we luckily caught a local flight to Kisumu 9 hours earlier than expected!

During our first full day in Kunya village, we took a tour of the village and some of the projects Mama na Dada (the NGO) is working on. We were all treated very nicely and generously welcomed at every place we visited whether the dispensary, primary/secondary school, or daycare. In fact, signing the visitor’s book was something we were forced to do, in a good way!

Means of public transportation have been the most intriguing thing to me so far because they are completely different than the cars, buses, and subways used in the US :

  • Motor bikes – these are frequently used to travel short distances between villages, carrying 2 passengers. The drivers here avoid bumps and rocks on dirt roads when possible which makes for a relatively smooth and enjoyable ride as the wind blows up against your skin. I’ve enjoyed my few bike rides, except for the one where the driver ran out of fuel half way through the ride. I saw red numbers flash “4…3…2…1” as the bike came to a halt. Not to worry, I tagged along with my friends who were on a motor bike behind us and we managed to fit 4 people on a bike without falling off!
  • “Tuk Tuk” – a three wheeled car similar to a rickshaw that is used predominantly in cities to travel from place to place. Cities, like Kisumu, are distinct from villages and I have yet to see a tuk tuk in Kunya
  • “Matatu” – vans that are filled with 18 people in a relatively small space and used to travel long distances. We took a matatu from Rageng’ni, a town nearby Kunya, to Luongo Kitano to take a scenic 45 minute ferry ride through Lake Victoria passing beautiful mountain-like hills to Mbita point, a mainland area where we spent our Saturday

Not only are the means of transportation interesting, they employ many hard-working Kenyans and inherently introduce lots of competition for passengers! Being an obvious foreigner to Kenya, many motor bike and matatu drivers have tried convincing me to hop on for a ride even when I’m just walking on the main road. AND their English has been quite good for a town where Luo, a tribal language, is the norm!

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