As a child, I was a loyal fan of a TV series that I have always felt should have been called “Jack Bauer” , which was instead called “24”.. Can you even say that it was “called” 24? It would be more correct to say that it was “numbered” 24… however, I digress.( As usual. I always seem to digress…. which I am doing again. LOL!) Anyway, as a kid,I was often overwhelmed with the fictional fact that so much happened in one day of Jack Bauer’s life that it took 24 episodes to explain! However, I recently had my own version of Jack Bauer’s 24 Hours that made me realize that it is possible for a day to fill twenty-four episodes.
As an intern, I am the literal hands and feet at the office. I don’t mind. My feet however, have never failed in expressing their feelings towards what they go through daily by means of aches and pains. I am often sent to places outside Nairobi and every single time I go on one of these missions, things happen.
A few weeks ago, I was sent to two places out of Nairobi: Kiserian and Kajiado. For those who are familiar with Kenya you know that Kiserian is in Kajiado and obviously Kajiado is in Kajiado. It is also important that I mention that where I live: Ngong, is also in Kajiado so you can understand my very incorrect assumption that the three places were close to each other. That was the day I learnt that Kajiado County is unreasonably large!!!
My day began at the bus station, where I learned that it takes two buses to get me to Kiserian. So I boarded the first bus to Ngong and then a second one from Ngong to Kiserian. That part of my day was more or less uneventful and then Kiserian happened:
I got to Kiserian in the middle of the day.when the sun is brightest and unfortunately, hottest as well. I was confident I would find the place I was looking for quite easily ,you know,since I had the address with me. I learnt the hard way that no one uses addresses in Kiserian .They all turn the proper nouns given to buildings and locations to make them easy to find, into vague general nouns like: “the brown building” (to describe a building in a place with so much dust that every building is brown) or the petrol station with an acacia tree( in a county that has acacia trees at every petrol station). Long story short, the place I was looking for was in the basement of the building next to the big sign for the bank… or something like that.
After spending less than five minutes in a place that took me two hours to get to and almost half an hour to find,I boarded a matatu to Kajaido. However, en route to Kajiado, I was informed that I had to board one more matatu to get to the ACTUAL Kajiado, the one I was on only went as far as Isinya, which by the way, is still in Kajiado. That was when I learnt that you just don’t board one matatu in Kajiado .Travelling within that county has to be an occasion;number of matatus boarded must be greater than one.
So I got on to one of those old matatus that make an incessant beeping noise like a bomb about to explode. I learnt a bit too late that all the actual seats in the matatu were taken and I would be sitting on a makeshift seat which consisted of a narrow board place between the edges of two seats. Now , anyone who has seen me in person, from head to toe, would understand that a narrow board resting between the edges of two seats is not an actual seat to me. However, I had no choice, so I sat…?? No.. teeter-tottered would be a better word…. so I teeter-tottered on that wooden board as I settled in for the journey to Isinya and to no one’s surprise, the board gave way beneath my blessings. ( Yeah,you just laugh.)
Anyway, I held on to the seat in front of me before gravity had a chance to do what it does put me down. I quickly put the board back in place and figured out a way to sit and carry my own weight. (My back was happy about that…) Now, as Jack Bauer days would have it, nothing is simple: most of the road to Isinya is pothole and dust. Potholes and dust are no good when a bodily blessed African woman who is very allergic to dust is “sitting” on a board resting on the verge of a chair!!! Let’s just say, I struggled to stay upright and off the floor of the matatu.
An hour passes and I seem to be getting the hang of staying on my chair when the beeping turns to burping. When an old beeping matatu becomes an old BURPING matatu, those on board should be very very worried.It was not long before the car came to a halt next to a big acacia tree in the middle of nowhere. Just my luck! Some of the passengers got off to stretch while the driver, who was no mechanic, faked figuring out the problem. While he played at pulling wires and turning knobs, the most interesting passengers on board, three Maasai morans decided to walk to Isinya. I mean, they may have thought to themselves, ” Since the car won’t take us to Isinya, our feet will.” So off they went,swinging their staffs in the air and laughing with one another. I almost joined them.
By some miracle ,the matatu started again and those of us left got into the matatu.A few meters later we picked up the three morans and then the matatu burped and stopped.The second time around I was the first to get out. I was frustrated,I had to get to Kajiado before 5pm, when government offices close. I would walk if I had to.
Just as I was about to set off,the driver suggested that we push the car to see if that would get it going. So one moran,the conductor and a male passenger got of to help me push the matatu. We pushed with all the strength we could muster under the hot sun. We pushed and pushed and pushed.. (sound like child-birth right?.. It sure felt like it) We gave one last push and finally,the Burper roared to life and moved… and moved. We started to jog so as to catch up with it, but it got faster and faster and drove off and left us Good Samaritans in the dust,quite literally.
So there I was in the middle of nowhere with only a moran, the conductor, the other male passenger and just one more large acacia tree for company .My day had just gotten complicated and it was far from over.