TO NAIROBI AND BACK AGAIN…MINUS THE ‘BACK’

As we pull out of the Kakemga Easy-Coach bus station the sun has completely set for the day and darkness has engulfed the countryside.  With no street lights to be seen until we near Nairobi, the only visible markings of humanity were the sporadic incandescent light bulbs left on outside of the roadside shops, or more commonly the dim glow of the kerosene lamps glowing within.

Tonight, however, the most spectacular show was on display for me as we charged down the road.  Off in the horizon, being impossible to be sure of the distance, a storm system was rolling along in the sky.  While the sky was absolutely blackness, the distant thunder clouds would spontaneously erupt in an explosion of lights, sending streaking bolts of lightning out of the clouds and across the sky.  Each burst of light acted to illuminate the hidden shapes amongst the clouds, creating silhouetted pictures for only the blink of an eye.  I sat there watching the fireworks, transfixed by it beauty, waiting for sleep to overpower the rocking bus and send me off for the night.

And then the bus came to a screeching halt.  People were already gasping as I turned my eyes from the side window to the front windshield to see the drama being lit up by the bus’s headlights.  There was a motorcycle laying on its side in the middle of the road, pieces of the bike laying strewn all around.  The driver was beside it, on his feel and clearly dazed and confused.  He was holding his arms rigid and out to his side, like the poles of a tightrope walker, as he stumbled backwards in short little steps.  I would have assumed that he was drunk from the way he moved, had I not seen the traumatic accident.  Despite the large helmet on his had one could see a blank look on his face as he tried to snap back to reality.  Off to the right of the bike a woman stood screeching where she stood.  She showed no signs of physical trauma on her body, but was clearly effected by the accident in some way.  For what seemed like minutes, but was likely only seconds, this woman continued to convulse with grief and to release a terrifying shriek.  She eventually rushed to the scene to pick up a little blue blanket.  Even now as I write this I still can’t believe what I saw.  Did I actually see a little arm hanging out of the blanket? The hysterical woman was certainly clutching it to her chest like a most precious object.  Before I could get a grip on what I was looking at the woman had ran off, taking her precious wit her.  By that time the driver had returned to his bike and with the help of  some good Samaritans, rolled the mangled ride to the side of the road.  I watched the driver inspect the damage to his means of income as my bus rolled past.  I really hope that the baby is unhurt.

I arrived at the bus stop in Nairobi at 4am, and not being particularly in the mood to get mugged so early in the morning, I grabbed a seat in the terminal to wait for the sun to come up.  On all of the wall mounted TVs the KEnya national new station, KTN, was broadcasting the live CNN coverage of the Newton prayer service, and despite how tired I was at the time, was quite moved by the whole event.  I couldnt help by wonder what this all meant to the Kenyan audience, with it happening halfway around the world in a small American town.  Now, I’m not saying that I’m surprised by the empathetic look in the eyes of everyone around me.  Rather, I was more so surprised that KTN played the entire hour long service from beginning to end, no commercials.  I suppose that some things, like empathy, really are universal.

You know, I should have suspected something was up when the booking agent in Kakamega brushed aside my request to buy a return ticket in advance.  “Just buy one when you are there,” he said.  Now I find myself in Nairobi and the booking agent here is telling me that the return bus for tonight is full, and so is tomorrow mornings, and the one for tomorrow night.  He gives me some line about how they might add more buses to the schedule, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this un-truth is more to pacify the growing crowd behind me than it is a real solution.  So, it would seem that I’m stranded in Nairobi, at least temporarily.  I’ll search around after my meeting for an open seat with any of the other bus lines, but for the time being I’m planted where I am.

The good news is that I have plenty of cash, a fully charged iPod, and a bunch of people in the city that I can call, so I suppose things aren’t too bad.  Seriously though, how am I going to get out of Nairobi?

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