Posted on July 9, 2013
Right now I’m sitting in the Great Rift Valley Lodge, using their fast internet, drinking a Coke, and listening to a huge thunderstorm come rolling through. There’s something really great about Kenya rain storms; they are so powerful and you can see them coming for miles and I almost never want them to end. Everything gets so refreshed and clean when the rain comes. I could get all spiritual on you now and compare the rain storm to God washing us clean, but I’ll save that for another day…
Just a couple of stories for you from June; one that will connect you more to this place I love, and one that you have to promise to never tell my Mom…she already thinks it’s crazy for me to be here, if she heard this story she’d tell me to move home right away!
First, the story of Samaki. Samaki is this little guy I met a few weeks ago:
I met Samaki because he had fallen down some steps leading to one of the shops in Center, and he was crying. None of the bigger kids with him seemed interested in helping him up or giving him comfort, so I went and scooped him up and sat with him on the steps until he stopped crying. From that day, we have been friends.
Samaki’s actual name is Kariuki. But, he’s called Samaki because his parents sell fish in Center. (Samaki means ‘fish’ in Kiswahili). Samaki is always hanging out with his parents at the fish stand, entertaining the customers with his smile. He’s a great kid! He has 3 older brothers, Robert, Chege, and Kamau, and one younger sister, Ann. Every time I go to Center Samaki finds me, or I find him, and we go “adventuring” together. Usually our adventures just mean walking around town a little bit and ending up at Flora’s so I can get him a ndazi and chai. He loves ndazi!! I’m fairly certain if he could he would choose to eat ndazi for every meal every day. One time, I went to his house to say hi and his mom invited me in. We sat talking for a long time and I learned they used to live in Kasaroni, a town about 15 km from Eburru, but the cost of living was too high for them to afford to stay so they moved back to Eburru. Mama Samaki finished class 8 and never went to secondary, but her English is amazing. It is very clear to me she is a hard working mama and she cares about her kids very much. She interacted with all the kids while I was there, and the way she showed all of them tenderness and kindness really encouraged me. It’s not often I find a parent in Eburru who genuinely seems to enjoy and care about their kids. Samaki’s oldest brother, Robert, is super smart. He is in class 6 in Eburru primary school and he showed me some of his test results. His English is really good, and he has great social studies skills as well. It was so much fun hanging out with the family and hearing some of their story. I am so glad I met Samaki all those days ago, and so glad God formed a friendship between his little heart and mine. I have no idea where the friendship will go, or if it will grow into anything more than town adventures and ndazi for Samaki, but I do know this little guy makes my heart glad every time I see him.
I am constantly amazed at the ways God brings people into my life here in Eburru. I now know a whole new family simply because I was in Center when Samaki fell down the stairs. Living life without a schedule sometimes has great benefits….
And now, for the crazy story:
On June 30th I took a couple US friends to Nakuru. We went to Java House for breakfast, and met up with Kanyi and our friend Mary Wanjuguna. Kanyi is in mechanic school now, so he offered to fix my shocks for me. We put new “bushes” on the rear shocks. I have no idea what we call “bushes,” but they are the rubber pieces that go above the shock where it attaches to the car. Super easy to fix, and it made my shocks stop squeaking all the time, which is a real good thing. Anyway, we left Eburru around 8AM and got to Nakuru about 9:30. We went to the parts store and got the bushes we needed, and then headed up to Kabazi to do the work on the car, and to see Kanyi’s family. I left everyone at Kanyi’s parents’ house while he and I drove to a field to work on the car. You may be thinking this is the part I don’t want you to talk about, but you’d be wrong….we just went to a field because it was the nearest flat place to work on the car. Kanyi replaced the bushes in no time at all, and a test drive revealed he had done good work. (such good work that I am having him do more stuff on Sunday). Kanyi and I went back to the house and spent time with his family and then gave everyone the tour of Kabazi before heading home.
The plan was to drop Mary off at her house, then take Kanyi to his house, have supper in Nakuru and then head back to Eburru. On the way from Kabazi to Bahati, where Mary lives, my car did something very strange: the headlights and all the dashboard lights flashed off for about ½ second and then came back on. They did this at the same time I drove over a huge hole in the road, so we all passed it off as coincidence and kept going. When we got to Mary’s place, I stopped the car because she wanted us to say hi to her niece. As soon as I turned the car off I realized something was wrong because the interior lights did not come on when people opened the doors. I tried to start the car and nothing happened. Again, you may be thinking this is what you have to keep quiet about, but again you would be wrong. It was as if the car batteries had died (I have two batteries, no idea why, but I do) and so I thought we needed to find someone to jump start the car. Kanyi got out and looked at the batteries and realized one of the terminal wires had come loose. He tightened it back up and the car started right away. Problem solved, disaster averted!
We said goodbye to Mary and then continued on our way to Nakuru. We stopped in a shopping mall that has lights in the parking lot and looked at the battery again, and everything seemed fine. My friends went into the restaurant and I took Kanyi to his Aunt’s work so he could meet with her before going to his house. I came back, went up to the restaurant and ate some supper. We left the restaurant and headed back for Eburru, sometime around 9:30pm. I needed to stop and get gas, so we stopped at the Shell station on the highway going back to Eburru.
It is important to know this gas station is well-lit, open 24 hours, and reasonably clean and safe. The reason it is important to know that is because as soon as I pulled in to the pump and turned my car off while it was being filled, the car died. Died as in dead, dead, dead. Nothing at all would turn on. No lights, no radio, no ignition, nothing. We tried to push start it, nothing. We tried to find jumper cables to get a jump, and no one had cables. No matatu driver, no truck driver, no regular driver. One of the gas station attendants found some wires, and we were going to try to use them to jump start the car, but instead a truck driver tested the battery with them and found the battery to be charged. He realized this as a giant spark went up from the battery when he touched the wires to the terminals. So, we pushed the car under the overhang, out of the way, and checked all the fuses. Fuses were good. But still, nothing at all was working on the car.
It is also important to know my car has automatic windows, and as the evening was a bit warm we had rolled the two front windows down while waiting our turn at the pump…before I shut the car off… So, we are stuck at a gas station in Nakuru with no way to start my car, and no way to leave my car because we had no way to lock my car. I tried to call Kanyi to have him come and help us, but he had decided to catch a matatu back to Kabazi to spend the night with his family so he was unavailable. Again, we are stuck in a gas station in Nakuru with no way to start my car, no way to leave my car because there is no way to lock my car, and no one to come help us because the people we know are not in Nakuru. Yes, this is the part now where you are sworn to secrecy.
Since we were stuck and no help was on the way, we decided to spend the night in the gas station. In the US this would be sketchy at best, in Kenya it’s more than sketchy, it’s scary. Luckily, the guys who were working at the gas station were all really good guys, and one of my friends became friends with them while watching Brazil beat Spain in the football match. My other friend and I ‘slept’ in the car, but it turns out it’s really hard to sleep in a car that can’t be locked with the windows down because your mind keeps telling you what a bad idea it is to sleep in a car in that state. Also, it gets dang cold in the middle of the night, and when you can’t roll the windows up there’s really no remedy for the cold.
When morning came, our sweet friend Mary came and brought us chai. Kanyi came and helped figure out the problem, and then helped me not get ripped off by the guy who fixed the problem. Turns out the wire that goes from the fuse box to the battery was loose and therefore nothing worked. Now that I know that wire is so important I will know to check it if my car dies again. A five minute fix; sure do wish we could have found that five minute fix when the car died at 9:30 instead of spending the night in a gas station, but such is life I suppose. All I know is in all the years I drove in the US with all my tools and “survival” stuff in the back of my car I never needed it even one time. I come to Kenya and don’t have any of that stuff in the back of my car, and I definitely needed it. Lesson learned.
All in all it was a great month, full of meeting new folks, having crazy adventures, and being reminded again and again how much God takes care of me, provides for me, watches over me, and loves me. I am so thankful I get to be here experiencing all these stories.