Bits and Pieces of our trip from Kisumu to Lugulu

While packing up on Monday morning, I could not locate my passport.  We looked everywhere in the room and I had given up, resolved that I would have to deal with a difficult situation as best I could.  When I patted my back pocket and found my passport there, I was amazed at God’s providence in restoring that which was lost to me, but also at my lack of memory and basic self management.  I had become the punch line in a series of absent minded professor jokes.

Q. Where did the professor find his missing passport?
A. In his right back pocket, where he normally keeps his wallet.

Or….

Q. Why was the professor unable to turn on the TV with the remote control?
A. He was using the remote for the air conditioning unit.

We had been instructed by John to be ready to leave at 0830.  We left closer to 1000.  Brad explained Kenyan time to me.  My day is divided by the movement of time, and I go from activity to activity based on appointment schedules which dictate when and for how long I will engage in those activities.  To a Kenyan, Brad explained, the day is composed of a series of events which are conducted one at a time, with little concern for how long it will take or what might be missed due to unforeseen delays.  Therefore, for the Kenyan, there is little thought put to being early or late, as folks will just move from one event to the next, expecting to begin the next event when the previous one has been completed.  I am working at applying this model to the events of yesterday, and it does indeed explain a number of the occurrences and my reactions to them.

We passed through a very busy city of Kisumu.  John estimated that between 200,00 and 300,000 live there.  Just outside the city, we began our climb up out of the lowlands surrounding Lake Victoria, into a higher, hilly region of lush vegetation, much of it under cultivation.  We stopped at a place where a sign commemorated the fact that we were standing on the equator.  There was lots of picture taking there.  As we continued north, John discussed the history of the Quakers in this region.  Missionaries from Indiana arrived in the area in the early 1900s and from that start, this large and flourishing community of Friends now exists in Western Kenya.  We pass through many towns and small communities, often seeing signs for Friends schools and churches.  We also saw many pedestrians, bicyclists, matatus (Jam-packed Toyota vans) and pushcarts.  The road was a thoroughfare for sure, with streams of people moving in both directions, in addition to many standing and visiting or waiting.  There were many small commercial establishments on the side of the road, usually grouped into little centres.  Some of these centres were quite busy, and we passed through at least one on market day and there were throngs of people moving about in the large open air market.  I saw mobile phone centers, and pig butcheries and full gospel churches and iron works side by side.  There were many small markets, the Kenyan equivalent of a mini-market, I suppose.  I was most surprised and amazed with the number of church buildings or signs that I saw.  There were many, with many different denominations represented.  It did appear that the Salvation Army had a fairly significant presence, in addition to the Friends.  For sheer numbers though, the small Pentecostal churches dominated.

The road itself was fascinating.  There were substantial speed bumps on the highway, seemingly placed at random.  I would guess that I driver who was unaware of the placement of these obstacles would regret having gone too speedily over the first one, thereby exercising more caution for the remainder of the trip.  The road was often rough, but not terrible.  However, in several places, the potholes were substantial and difficult to navigate, yet John did a wonderful job of driving and I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to ride shotgun, both for the wonderful view I had, and also for the chance to converse with him.  I learned his views on history and commerce, and about his family. Our conversation was interrupted several times by incoming calls on John’s cell phone.  Most of these calls were in regards to when we would arrive at the school.

Our team was expecting to begin at 2:00 pm.  A number of the participants were sitting and waiting for us when we arrived and we learned that they had been instructed to arrive for the workshop at 10:00.  John apologized profusely as he made his opening remarks. We had no time to even gather our thoughts, as our entire team, including non-participating family members, was thrust center stage to be introduced by John almost immediately after our arrival.

Lunch was substantial, with large slabs of ugali accompanying rice, vegetables and beef.  The ugali is considered such a staple, that John said it is often referred to as food and if you eat a meal without it you might say, “we ate, but we had no food.”  I found the ugali to be quite good actually, I like the texture and the taste of the meat broth blended nicely with it to make an enjoyable eating experience.  Now, if we could just get the cafeteria ladies to downsize those portions a bit.  The portions of ugali served compared favorably in size with the native red bricks we saw piled by the side of the road on our way to Lugulu.

Tea was served at the conclusion of our work session, and that light meal consisted of the tea and biscuits and peanuts.  As we were preparing to leave to come to the guest house, John informed us that we were expected to eat dinner as well, which was very similar to lunch, though the vegetable offering changed from the spinach-like green to shredded cabbage, or something akin to it.

After dinner, we got another opportunity to wait, as John’s van would not start.  He diagnosed the problem as a loose battery connection, though we could not find the battery.  After numerous phone calls to the van’s owner, John found the battery, tightened the connection and the van started.  We made it to the guest house and settled in.

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