I'm in Nairobi and in one piece. So is my car. At least, for the most part. Try driving on really bad roads for four hours at high speed and you, too, would understand why mysterious nuts and bolts are found rolling around on the floor. It makes you wonder what may have fallen off/out of the engine... These are the type of roads where you regret it if you forgot to wear a sports bra. (Sorry guys if that's TMI for you. It's reality.)
The last time I drove to Nairobi (en route to Rwanda) my car's turbo gave in. Or does it give out? Not sure. But it's no longer working. Which means that when I even just drive up the 30-degree hill to the top of our training center, I have to engage low 4WD. Which I don't think is too good for the car. Well, maybe having to use low 4WD isn't too bad, but you know it can't be good for the engine when there's a constant high-pitched buzz when you're driving more than 40kmh.
The best time to make the trip to the city is now, since I also have a slew of year-end projects to work on for the office. Projects that would happen much faster if I can plant myself and my computer in a booth at Nairobi Java House, and work uninterruptedly.
It just also happened that Zack and Wendy, two guests to Kipkaren were going to take a matatu to Nakuru and hire a driver to take them on a game drive. "Here's a deal," I told them. "I need to go to Nairobi by car. And the road to Nairobi takes me right through Nakuru. You can catch a ride with me."
We left Kipkaren around 10 am, just as the crowds started approaching our center for Sunday morning service. It was 3:30, maybe 4, when we finally rolled into Nakuru. I've driven that route in three hours -- an hour to town, and two to Nakuru. But the shortest road is so full of potholes that it is not good for any car to drive that way. So we took the longer way, through Kerio Valley, stopping along the way only briefly to bananas fruit from Esther, and to enquire about her husband's health.
This morning, we were inside the park by 7 am. And no sooner had we started our game drive, the morning fog still hanging thick in the air, than a vehicle stopped and suggested we go the other way around the lake. "There's a leopard on the road to Lion Hills."
I swung around as fast as you can with a car like mine on a narrow road, and gunned it. She was still there when we joined the party of about 10 vehicles under the tree. There were no fewer than 100 cameras pointing at this beauty (one of the vehicles was a large overland truck with probably 40 young adults poking their heads through the roof), and somehow, we seemed to have the perfect spot for some great photos. (I didn't bring my camera cable with me, so I'll upload photos from Kipkaren. Sorry!)
It never ceases to amaze me how beautiful God's creation is! I sat on the roof of my car for the longest time, just staring at the leopard. And then, the journey continued.
We saw many more amazing sights. A baby white rhino with its mom, the little one nursing happily. Good thing baby rhinos don't have horns yet, I figured, or the mom won't be too happy about the little one poking its nose in under her belly! We saw several Rothschild giraffes. Twelve more white rhinos. A hyena. Lots and lots of cape buffaloes. An amazing number of birds of prey. Tens of thousands of flamingos, and hundreds of pelicans. And then, just as we were heading out of the park, thankful for an amazing four hours of game viewing, Wendy yelled, "Lions!" There were two beautiful lionesses just lounging around this huge dead tree stump on the side of the road! Another 100 photos later, we left the park, thoroughly aware of what an amazing God we serve.
We braved the next part of the journey, bouncing over roads that have more potholes than there are patches of black top. The stretch from Nakuru to Nairobi used to be all of a two-hour drive. Almost four hours later, I rolled into Nairobi. I had dropped Zack and Wendy along the way with a driver who's taking them elsewhere for the next few days.
Tomorrow morning, I'm dropping off my car, trusting and believing that the repairs will be minor. I don't want to have to replace the turbo! It's time, however, to replace my tires. They're all badly cut by the rocks used to fill in our mud roads.
All this to say, I am honestly grateful for life the way it is, that I do get to drive to Nairobi, albeit over bumpy roads, that I got to stop along the way and enjoy God's creation, that unlike most of the Kenyan women around me, I do have the ability to drive, even make decisions about things like tires and turbos, though I know little about it.
And I'm infinitely thankful for places like Java House, where I can go and work tomorrow on the projects on my plate while the fundi figure out how to put my car back together in one piece.