Thursday, 28 May 2009

Kenya Trip May 2009 Part 9

28/5/09 Thursday

The matatu – what an inspiration! For the uninitiated, this is a public bus service using minibuses, usually Toyotas, fitted with 14 passenger seats and which often carry up to 20 passengers plus driver and tout (conductor).

One of the good points is that the fare is cheap. From where I am staying to town, about 2km, the fare is 20/-, less than 20p. OK, it is not comfortable, the passenger next to you may be carrying a couple of chickens, or there may be five of you sharing three seats, so if you are not of ample behind, you could find yourself slipping down between seats.

If you are sitting near the sliding door, where the tout hangs on by his fingernails, when someone at the back wants to get out, nearly everyone has to get out!

Obviously, the best seats are the two next to the driver. I foolishly thought that the door was there to hold me in as we careered around right-hand bends. I was wrong. I was there to keep the door shut!

Some of these vehicles are in quite good condition, but the majority are little less than scrap metal on wheels. Note that I said wheels, not tyres.

Then there is the motorcycle taxi. These are prolific in Kisii and are usually Chinese-built 125cc two-stroke machines. They will take one or two (occasionally three) passengers. Fortunately, they cannot go fast, although 40 kph seems it.

Generally, these machines are in better condition than the matatus – maybe that is because they are a more recent phenomenon in town.

Both the above charge about 10/- per kilometre.


It didn’t rain in Kisii yesterday, and although it was damp ad misty when I got up this morning, the sun is now shining, albeit, weakly.

We have not collected rainwater from the roof and so are running short. There is a borehole at the bottom of the hill, but lugging up 50 litre containers, two at the time, is hard work, something that I am not capable of doing, being mildly disabled.


I have just about acclimatized to the altitude and can get up the steep slope to the main road without stopping for breath. It’s a shame I am leaving for Coast on Monday!

It is a shame for another reason. Every time I come to Kisii, I hope to get several projects started. As with last time, I have failed miserably. But at least the kids have cleared the ground and we have sown seed for nine different vegetables.

We sowed a few at the house as well. They have sprouted already and I am worried that in the heat, they will bolt to seed before anyone gets the chance to eat them.

I intend to pop up to the shamba this afternoon to see how the seedlings are doing there. They have been covered with banana leaves since they were sown last Sunday, so it may be time to take the covers off.

I am also thinking about building a wood frame over the seed bed so that we can protect the seedlings from the harshest of the sun by laying banana leaves over them, although the seed bed is fairly well protected by the trees surrounding it, avocados, bananas, mangos and guava, as well as a couple of non fruit-bearing varieties.

I will be sorry to leave Kisii, but at least I have a last weekend up at Twiga, to see these brave kids smiling and laughing, forgetting their hard lives for a couple of hours.

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