The Best Laid Plans

On Wednesday, we arrived at the Bungoma Tourist Hotel in Bungoma Western Province at about 4:00 pm, after spending most of the day at the Mabenga Agricultural Technical Center (MATC). We left the Golf Hotel in Kakemega about 9 am and drove a terrible road for awhile until we joined the main east-west highway running between Mombasa and Kampala. Mombasa is the key port of eastern Africa and therefore many large trucks move westward from the coast, through Nairobi and Eldoret, and on to the Ugandan border and to Kampala. From there, points to the south and west in Rwanda and Burundi are also destinations. This highway was much better than the lesser road we had been on. Interestingly, the left hand side of the road was somewhat depressed and rutted as all the heavy traffic was westbound. The trucks coming back were usually empty, as there wasn’t too much in Uganda or the smaller nations that was being trucked back to the coast. We passed numerous fuel, cargo and container trucks on this road.

On Tuesday, the day we left Kisumu to come to the Western Province, John had been contacted by the Principal of the MATC. She told John that she had overbooked space at her Center and would not have room to accommodate the 100 people that John expected to be there. She suggested that John relocate his event (on one day’s notice). John told her that was unacceptable and that we were coming and therefore she better be ready for us. We arrived at the lovely site of the MATC in mid morning on Wednesday (10-March). This is an agricultural training center where farmers come in for short courses in a variety of techniques and enterprises. The Center also serves as a meeting site for numerous other groups. John and Eloise and I met with the Principal, Madame X (we were never introduced to one another). While Eloise and I sat, John and the Principal engaged in a polite game of subtle negotiation. John inquired about what was happening at the Center, when would our meeting room be established and how many people could be accommodated there. I was not quite sure after the meeting as to our status. John seemed to think that we would be moving into a meeting room at lunch that was being used by another group.

As a result of this meeting, we were given a small meeting area to use as a registration center. Eloise and I assisted Judy (John’s assistant) and Henry (a Yearly Meeting Education Secretary) in the preparation of registration packets. After the set up was complete, I went for a walk on the grounds. I met Dick Filippo, the Farm Manager. He told me about the operation of the Center and how they worked the ground, cared for demonstration animals and offered training for the farmers. I enjoyed my visit and told Dick that I would come back for a tour later in the week.

AT 11:00, we took tea in the dining hall. About five participants had shown up. We sat around, and one by one, additional participants had shown up. At about 1 pm, it was apparent to John that space was not going to open up. I sat in on a strategy session he had with Henry and James, another Educational Secretary. John told James and Henry to manage the participants while he made other arrangements. John knew a professor whose husband owned a hotel in Bungoma, about 20 minutes away from us by car. John spoke with this man, the owner of the Bungoma Tourist Hotel and he agreed that he had conference space and accommodations for 75 people. John conferred with the participants, who by now numbered about 35.

Once the decision was made to move the workshop, John and James and Henry worked at organizing rides. We posted signs, I informed the security guard, the office and kitchen staff that we were moving. I remained behind with a group of about one dozen. John would come back for us after everyone was situated in the new locale and the luggage was removed from the back of the truck. Our group of twelve moved to the highway and waited. While standing there, our group grew by several as a couple of more participants were hailed by ones in our group. One of these was a woman who had arrived on the back of a bicycle taxi. They joined us in waiting. One lady came by in a big Mercedes sedan and took four of our party. That left about 10 of us waiting for John to return. He finally came. Henry and I got in the back, along with another man, and all the rest were able to get in the front of the truck.

So, upon arriving at the Bungoma Tourist Hotel, with our numbers growing to about 40, we had lunch at 4:00 pm and began our workshop. I received this day another lesson in being fluid and making adjustments in plans.

Explore posts in the same categories: Africa

One Comment on “The Best Laid Plans”

  1. Odeke Isaac Says:

    so i can get conference facilities in tourist hotel Bungoma

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