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Lost in Eldoret & The Kindness of Strangers

I’ve commented many times how small Eldoret seems after being here for awhile. Yesterday I decided to venture a little out of town on my bike and see if I can find a hidden restaurant or enclave of ex-pats. I found the football (soccer) field which had a market in the parking lot. I then turned down a dirt road that paralleled Uganda Road. Dirt roads are not that unusual as only about ¼ of the roads are paved. As I went down this road I kept coming to dead ends. I passed a group of 20 houses that would be considered a housing development in the US. Each house was about 300 square feet with farm animals roaming freely and very few cars. On this bumpy dirt road I discovered that my bike was built more for paved roads and the chain came off. As I worked to get the chain started on the back spoke, an older man stopped to help. He quickly popped off the cover from the front spoke and attached the chain. He only spoke about 20 words of English but told me that I was his “brother” and pointed out where he lived. I thought this was very interesting and wondered how he came to this conclusion. He pointed the way to Uganda Road following a fence around a steel plant. I used one of my few Kaswahili phrases, “Asante Sana” (thank you very much) and gave him 100 shillings. He seemed very happy.

As I road along a walking path along this fence I heard the chain come off again. This time the chain had broken. I pulled it free and for the first time in Kenya felt uneasy about my situation. I was miles from the main road if I backtracked. I decided to follow the old man’s directions and continue forward. I quickly found that I was in the middle of more houses in a place that mazungus (white people) don’t commonly stroll through especially pushing a bike. I kept walking and continued to ask directions to Uganda Road. Probably every group of kids in the village called out to me “Mazungu how are you?”. I called out “Sawa” (OK) but really wanted them to call a helicopter to come get me. Many times I saw men working under cars in their yard and thought about how my grandfather Joe Saxon would have fit into this place. I eventually made it out to the main road. I remembered passing this road when I took a trip to western Kenya and saying to myself that I would never go down that road. I eventually found a gas station and someone to fix my chain.

While I was waiting to get my bike fixed, I went to one of the two restaurants that serve brewed coffee. All of that African coffee must be exported because most restaurants serve Necafe instant (yuck). A woman from a group of older Americans came up to my table asking what I was doing in Kenya. I ask myself the same question some days. It turns out she is associated with the University of Indiana House where many American medical students stay while they work on an exchange residency program. She took my e-mail address and said that she will invite me over. They have functions on the 4th of July and Thanksgiving. It looks like my trip did end with me finding a group of ex-pats afterall.

Posted by bjmccrudden 01:26 Archived in Kenya

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I am so glad you found your way back and you found kind people. I think you will think about this before you go out by yourself again. Be careful lu

by Aunt Fran

Very exciting and interesting day and a little scary. It shows that there are good people everywhere. However, I agree with what your Aunt Fran said. Your comment "wanted them to call a helicopter to come get me" gave me a good hearty laugh.

by Mark

You are too brave, BJ! Interesting but a bit dangerous. Glad you find your way back!

by Marina

Stay safe, BJ! Appreciate your relating your experiences in Kenya. It's an election year - be glad you don't have US media access! Happy upcoming Labor Day. Cheers, Lynn H.

by Lynn

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