(I got tired last night because it was stifling hot in my room here in Lunga Lunga. Literally felt like I was sleeping in a coffin.)
Lillian wants me to hang out at her place when we get back to Nairobi, but I’m kinda nervous about doing that, in a way.
Our last day of KICOSHEP was probably our most productive day. We were split into groups to help with patients. While Alia and I prepared cards for patient registration information, Sido and Karly talked to the people about dental hygiene. They gave everyone a toothbrush too. Speaking of which – did you know that toothpaste isn’t really necessary? It’s the brushing that truly what matters. I stopped using flouride toothpastes years ago, and this made me feel even better about that decision. Some of the patients were selling goods like necklaces and baskets and bracelets. I bought a necklace for 200 shilling and a table hot pad thing for my mom.
The people of KICOSHEP had a going away reception for us with cold bottled soda. We all were taking photos with each other, and when we told Anne to ‘Smile,’ she said, “I don’t smile, I laugh.” That woman is a character.
My snot continued to be black, especially since we all crammed into a van and a truck and were stuck exhaust-heavy traffic. Our trip to the train station was estimated to take 3 hours to go 10 miles, but it just took us about a half hour or so. The traffic is really bad. Though there are some stop lights, there are police at the intersections directing traffic instead. Sometimes the police will make some lanes wait over an hour while all the other lanes are moving. It’s nuts.
We arrived at the train station 2 1/2 hours early … so we drank some Tusker beer! (So much for not drinking on this trip.) The bar at the train station was playing some awesome jams such as “Whatta Man” by Salt N Pepa. I got a nice buzz off one beer after sharing a lot about my life story with Tracy. I also chugged the remaining half of Alia’s beer, so I was in a happy place.
Figuring out who was rooming with who on the train was dramatic, so I opted to get away from it all and stay in the car with the outliers of the group so far. For the most part, it was pretty fun. We shared two bottles of wine (one from the mall that I bought, and one from the dining cart). Dinner was in the dining cart, but the tablecloths were stained and some of the dining ware was dirty. We had fried chicken because we heard it was better than the beef. The four trendy Kenyans next to us were stoked for the fried chicken too – and it was actually pretty good.
Alia, Brit, Jordan, and Tasha got pretty drunk in their cart and were incredibly loud until about 2:30am, as were Bri and Karly who were in deep conversation until past 3am. I ended up going in by Alia and them to ask them to sleep – especially since they were probably keeping others awake in our train car, too.
The sleeper train is unlike the ones I was on in Viet Nam. The hallway was tiny, meaning people had to squeeze sideways to get past – and sometimes that wasn’t enough. The windows could be fashioned so the top part was a screen and the bottom part was glass. It’s one of the last colonial trains left – it was apparent with the completely unsteady tracks. There were points in the night when I was literally bouncing. Swaying from side to side was how the whole ride went. Luckily they had straps for us to keep us in our beds.
Going to the bathroom on the train was an experience that I was familiar with, but I took it to a completely new level this time – I shit. I shit on the train. This means I shit in a hole. When I looked down the hole, I saw tracks moving past. Shitting in motion. Shitting in a moving hole. I really should get some style points for how I was able to keep my balance. As the train moved from side to side, I had to squat down and hold myself steady enough to shit in the hole. It was fun, actually.
The train arrived 3 1/2 hours late. It was only supposed to be a 12 hour ride and it ended up being nearly 16 hours. I took some nice photos. We went through many small villages that had huts. The children everywhere ran up to the train or alongside the train because they are in the habit of having people throw them food, toys, and money. Not safe. As much as I would have love to give them something, I didn’t. I didn’t want to encourage that behavior.
Eventually we got off the train. I had my backpacking backpack (35L) on my back, my carry on backpack on my front, my medical supplies suitcase in one hand, and my camera case slung on my shoulder. I wonder how much I was carrying because that shit was heavy.
The million bags we brought make us look like divas – but one third of them are intended to stay here and are filled with medical supplies. Most of the supplies were strapped on top of our van, but those that didn’t fit were crammed in the walking isle. It sure was cozy, if you want to call it that.
We took a ferry over one of the tributaries of the Indian Ocean – I’ve finally seen the Indian Ocean. To get on the ferry we had to wait in a very long line of vehicles. Many people wandered next to the vehicles selling stuff, but most of it was stuff we really didn’t need (ex. water/soda because it would make us have to pee when peeing wasn’t an option for the next three hours). We wanted ice cream sooooooooooo bad because a man in a cart was selling it outside. Of course when we found a vendor we actually liked, the vehicle finally started moving. Brit did buy a soccer ball from one guy so we could play with kids and stuff. (Seriously random stuff for sale.)
I tried to take in as much as possible while we were driving though Ukunda (south of Mombasa) and the rural areas. Thee was so much trash on the side of the road, piled up, flat, everywhere. There is no trash collection here. I actually saw three cows literally grazing in trash. It was so sad.