Monday, February 22, 2016

Road Trip to Wote

Wote is a small rural town in Makueni County in Eastern Kenya. Its a two hour drive east of Nairobi and a seven hour drive from Edoret the town I live. Its also home to one of my close friends here in Eldoret, Dr Musa. My friend was very excited for me to meet her mother and brother so I joined them on an exciting and unforgettable roadtrip to Wote. 


The first part of the trip is the standard Eldoret to Nairobi highway. We stopped at Kikopey a famous roadside dining experience. Kikopey is known for its wide selection of nyama choma. They thrown almost anything on the grill. Chicken, cow, goat, intestine, kidneys, liver you name it. There are many stalls to choose from. Each of them offer samples. Hanging in the window are carcass of cows and goats. Its a bit overwhelming for a recovering vegetarian. 



After a satisfying meal we smashed back into the small car and headed to Wote. On the way to Wote we stopped in Machakos to pick up a card for Dr Musa's brother. It was just before the national exams for primary school children. Its ceremonial to give them an over-sized card and school supplies before exams. Dr Musa also decided to pick up a pair of shoes.

We headed off to Wote, or at least in the direction we thought Wote was in. We drove about two hours through the arid terrain, passing many small rural towns. Finally our driver, Vinny, realized we were not anywhere near Wote. We stopped in one of the small towns and asked a gentleman which direction Wote was. He shook his head, its about three hours the opposite direction. We had to head back to Machakos and then take a different road. 


The Shortcut
We were already late and three more hours on the road seemed long. There has to be a short cut. I opened google maps and found Wote. Sure enough there was a road that took a more direct path to Wote from where we were. Determined we set off for this shortcut. 

The shortcut happened to be a dirt road (rough road) that took us through the hilly dry terrain. All of a sudden we heard a pop and the car began to lean to one side. We all hopped out of the car to find one of our wheels had blown out. The view was beautiful so I decided to take a small hike up while we decided what to do. 


Where our tire popped
A piki-piki drove by and told us there was a town only around the corner. We drove with the flat tire a couple minutes to a small town that had to be a population of 50. We stopped near a shop under the shade of a small tree and let Vinny change the spare tire. At the same time Musa and I went off in search for a cold drinks for the three of us.

Of course it was dangerous to drive without a spare so we asked around for someone who could mend the tire. There was nothing in this town so we headed on our way hoping the next town would have more services. 



In the next town we found a tire repair place. Dr Musa and I decided to take a tour of the town while the tire was being fixed. We wandered through the dry town. It was very hot and there was barely any shade. Donkeys walked around carrying buckets of water and milk from place to place. Ladies sold clothing and vegetables from small wooden stalls. A woman sat with her baby under the shade of a building. Drawn to babies, I walked over and started playing with the baby boy. The mom got up from the seat, handed me her baby and walked off without a word. 



I sat down on the chair with the baby on my lap. I was hoping she did not just leave me with her baby forever. At one point a man from a nearby shop came out and took my picture with the baby. He ran back into his shop. Minutes later he came back out with a printed picture with a "pintrest" style boarder. 

The man fixing the tire finally gave up. He said the puncture was too big to fix. I sat for couple more minutes, I was getting worried the mother would not comeback. Soon I saw her in a shop across the way. I carried the baby over to her. I thanked her for letting me play with her son and gave her the picture of me and him to the mom as a keepsake. 



We headed off again towards Wote, still without a spare tire. As we drove we heard another bang and I looked back to see the trunk of the car bouncing up and down. We stopped again hoping that nothing had fallen out of the trunk. Turns out the piece that hold the trunk shut had fallen off with all the shaking. Vinny had a rope which he tied around the trunk to keep it from opening. We then continued. 

Finally about 3 hours later we finally found Wote. We met at a small restaurant, entirely too late for dinner. Despite all the bad luck we made it and Dr Musa's family was very excited to see us. 


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