Kenya Through Laurra’s Eyes

Guest Post: Laurra McGregor

Imagine traveling up an old timber road in the mountains, or down an abandoned dirt road to a secret fishing spot. It’s dusty, dirty & bumpy. Now add a pothole every foot or two and two speed bumps every mile or so, and you have half of an idea of what most Kenyan roads outside of Nairobi are like.

Traveling out here between Narok & Kakamega involves the tremendous & frequent shaking of your body. It reminds me of a very run down roller coaster that you’re just sure is going to run off the tracks at any minute. I joke with my Kenyan friends that my intestines are now in my chest & my heart is located near my pelvis from all this shaking.

I have no idea how cars last more than three years here. I hear drive shafts snap & axles breaking in my sleep. I cannot figure out if it’s better to go fast or slow–and I’ve had drivers do both–I believe they’re both equally terrible ways to travel because they both involve cars on Kenyan roads.

What I’m really interested in doing is taking a “Picky Picky”, one of the millions of motorcycles running through this country’s streets, nearing colliding with everything, but thankfully (that I’ve seen) never succeeding. Deb & I saw a group of eight people on a Picky a Picky today, and I can only write that because I took a picture for proof. Seven of them were children, three up front, then the dad, and four more behind him. They’re the best & cheapest mode of travel. A dear (and older, she’s 70 this year) friend of Val’s met us for lunch today, arriving on a Picky Picky. Everyone does it, so I just may try it.

Another thing that makes driving difficult here, after the unimaginably horrible roads, the thousands of Picky Pickies vying for road space, and very brazen drivers, are the animals that decide to join you on the roadway. For as stupid as chickens are, I’ve never seen one cross the road to get to the other side. I have, however, had the car slow down for baboons, drive around cows, and even seen a pig think about joining the ranks of the vehicle world. My favorite animal experience, though, was the one hundred goats being herded through traffic at rush hour in Nairobi. Two guys, two sticks, and a hundred goats against a thousand cars at 5pm. Nothing like it.

In Kenya, they drive on the other side of the road. When they can, they drive very fast, and as Deb says, we’re playing a constant game of chicken. Some of you do not know Deb, but she is one of the most laid back people I know–which I make up for in spades & is one reason why we are well matched as friends. When Deb jumps in her seat at oncoming traffic, well, then you know there’s a problem.

Finally, never in my life have I seen more roads under construction. They are everywhere! To get where you’re going, you must drive right next to the construction on the terrible, gigantic hole-ridden path at a slight angle with your windows rolled up tight against the red dust & pollution. You pass hand painted signs on pieces of wood that say “diversion” or “deviation” with a droopy arrow pointing in the direction you’re already driving. I will never again complain about roadwork in the states. Yes, I saw the same problem I see back home–six guys and one shovel–but at least our roads get completed & completed well.

I’m just finishing up a forty-five minute plane flight from Kisumu to Nairobi, which, when you drive it, takes six hours due to the atrocious roads. My personal prayer for Kenya is that they figure out their transportation problems.

Okay, enough of that!

Today I had the amazing experience of passing over the equator, & dining at a very posh restaurant on the shores of Lake Victoria. For me, a geography & social studies teacher, this was a monumental experience.

There was a dilapidated sign next to the road marking the equator. If Val hadn’t pointed it out & asked our driver to stop, I wouldn’t have noticed it. (Thank you Val!!) Deb & I had our picture taken & I took a moment to consider where I was. My dad & grandfather had always dreamed about passing over the equator on New Year’s Eve on a ship, but it never came to pass. So Daddy, I was definitely thinking if you & Papa today.

We drove from there to Hippo Point at Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria!! Lake Victoria!! It was a beautiful, warm day with a gentle breeze & the resort where we had lunch was five star food & service.

Val’s dear friend Dina met us there for lunch, and we laughed & heard funny stories about her life. Old friends, there’s nothing like it–I loved watching the two of them enjoy each other thoroughly. Towards the end of our lunch, two absolutely lovely young ladies, newer friends of Richard & Val, came to meet us & pray with us. These two young sisters, Gagan & Erin, are enthusiastic new believers who really brought joy to our afternoon. They are beautiful inside & out, and I loved listening to their faith journey.

I don’t want to forget to mention that this morning we said our last goodbyes to Deb & her parents’ close friends who live in Kakamega. They are all part of WorldCOMP in one way or another. What a loving, kind group of people that I was very blessed to meet.

One more word about the people I’ve met here…

We’ve had two drivers while we’ve been here, both WorldCOMP staff. These are two men I wish were in my family’s life back home. I believe they would become very good friends of Matt’s & I would love having them around. They are Mesh & Harun.

Mesh is a jokester with a welcoming laugh & smile. You immediately love him! He takes great pictures documenting what we’re doing–but we have to keep him at a 3 picture minimum per situation or he’ll take 20. He has a wonderful wife named Susan who I just fell in love with right away. He has a darling three year old daughter named Pendo, and Susan’s expecting in June. Love that family.

Harun is Lucy’s son, and he also has a great smile & personality. He took such great care of us when we were in Masai country (he’s half Masai himself) & I felt well protected & cared for. I will meet his wife tomorrow. He’s got a boy & a girl but I won’t be able to meet them unfortunately. Hopefully someday.

I’m not doing these men justice because I’m so darned tired, so I’ll just say, I thank God for being able to get to know them. They are a cut above the rest. By far.

As always, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your prayers!! I feel them!! Thank you for praying for my family, as they’ve also needed & appreciated your prayers.

Also, thanks for your encouraging emails. They really mean a lot to me.

Tomorrow we visit the orphanage & the tuition free Christian school that WorldCOMP supports in the slums of Nairobi. We’ll be starting early & ending late with a dinner with WorldCOMP staff. So excited to share my day with you tomorrow night.

God Bless!!!