so there we were in busia… after the first
epic-public-transportation-day wondering if our new “friend” was really going to show up in the morning to “help” us get to the bus park or not.
i had (stupidly?) given her my mobile number the evening before just before she left our room. thinking that like many people who have taken my number, that she would text or call or, more likely, beep me at some point–but certainly not the next day.
oh, i was wrong.
while i was having tea in the hoteli that morning my phone began to ring. over. and over. and over.
i put the phone on silent–not sure if i wanted to answer, or if we should just try to make a quiet get away.
i did not answer any of her calls/beeps until after i had got back up to the room to discuss with mel.
we didn’t *really* decide until we were all collected and downstairs looking for a taxi to kisumu.
one of the ladies in the hoteli told me that there was a
transportation strike–and that the matatus (14 passenger vans serving as taxis) were not running that day.
regardless, she had the fellow who was butchering meat go try to flag down a taxi for us. (he went, machete still in hand. no time like the present?) he managed to flag one with space but they wanted each of us to pay 1,500 kenya shillings. that is ASTRONOMICAL. like at least five times the price it should cost. so, we declined.
somewhere between getting downstairs and turning down that taxi i’d called our friend–and she said that she was “on the way coming.” now, for those of you who do not have experience with
east-african-english…this could mean darn near anything. from literally being a few seconds away, to just now getting dressed. its really anyone’s guess what that means for each individual person at that particular moment in time.
we probably waited for 30 minutes until she showed up. with toddler in arms. toddler SCREAMED and CRIED upon seeing us. so, that was fun.
she then wanted us to take photos with the kid. and with her.
the day before she had told us that she has a shop that sells dvds near the taxi park in mbale. she now told us that she also has a dvd shop here near this taxi park…and that we should stop by there on the way to the bus. we declined, saying that we would really like to get moving–especially with this matatu strike.
we each boarded our own boda-boda.
mel and i ended up at the taxi park with-in a few seconds of the other. our friend was no where in sight.
this wouldn’t have been a problem IF she didn’t have mel’s bag full of gifts for people.
so. i called her.
she had apparently gone to her shop, and wanted to send someone to come get us. i asked how far it was she said “okay. just wait.”
she then appeared from the swirling eddy of people that is a taxi park, and started to take us toward her shop.
i protested. “shouldn’t we see if there is a bus? we REALLY would like to get moving.”
so she asked around, and it would appear that the only bus at the moment going to kisimu was full. and that the next one would be there in about 45 minutes.
“good, you can come to the shop then.” she said.
we were then practically held hostage in this woman’s dvd shop. i wanted to exchange some more money, so an even more shady exchange went down out of the eyes of everyone. again down some random allyway. at one point, it crossed my mind, “something really bad could happen right now.” but the dude was old, and i had my wits about me. everything was fine and i got another great exchange rate. but. shady. nonetheless.
i purchased our tickets from the conductor, and the woman gave him her phone number so he could beep her when the bus came.
back to mel in the dvd shop with the woman’s brother and her kid. (at least, at this point, the kid had stopped WAILING!)
we endured our imprisonment, bought some dvds (ugh) and were eventually sprung when the phone call came, “the bus is here.” PTL.
we schlepped our things to the bus, boarded and settled in. FINALLY we were on our own like actual adults. it was nice.
and the the bus hit a cow.
and it was tragic.
but no one else seemed to mind.
never. ever. a dull moment in east-africa!