I just returned from my trip to Kurungu in Northern Kenya! I went up there with a family that used to live there who were traveling back for a few days so I caught a ride with them. My friend Isaac and I are looking into a chili pepper business in the area that would create local jobs and I demonstrated a few of my cookstoves and water filters. It was a great trip that allowed me to leave the madness of Nairobi for a few days. I’ve already returned but the journey there was quite the adventure and worth devoting an entire post to.
Last Thursday we left Nairobi at 5:30 am. Kurugu is close to Lake Turkana and generally takes around 10-12 hours by car so we needed an early start to arrive in one day. Unfortunately our vehicle had other plans though. About 2 hours into our trip, Walt (our driver) pulled over because the entire wheel had fallen off the trailer. The nut holding the wheel had become loose and fallen off. We unhitched the trailer, and Caleb, Isaac and I stayed with it while Walt, Monica and Christy went into town to buy some replacement nuts and washers. Since the closest town was 70 km away (the Kenyans told us 30), Walt finally returned after 3 hours, we fixed the problem and we were on our way… or so we thought. But because the wheel was so messed up, the nut would fall off again every few kilometers. Kenyans guys in little towns were coming up with all kinds of interesting techniques to keep this thing rolling but eventually it would fall off again. A couple more hours later with a couple prayers and even more miracles, we arrived in a larger town and ended up welding the nut to the hub cap and moving on.
While we were welding the wheel together, Caleb, Isaac and I decided to grab some food in town. There was a Nyama Choma (Goat Barbecue) place right next door so we decided to get give it a go. Unfortunately, the place was completely sketchy and dirty. The Choma was already cooked when we got there (who knows how long it had been sitting), and we’d already placed our order so we had no choice but to give it a try. The meat and chapati they gave us were obviously a couple days old and the meat tasted more like fish than anything. Apparently rancid meat starts to taste like seafood. We thought we were in for a long trip to Kurungu so we frantically looked for a beer in town to reduce the effects of the bad meat (apparently it helps). After being directed all over town, we finally found a cold Tusker, drank it, continued on our way and no one ended up getting sick.
A few hours down the road the pavement ended and the mud began. It’s been raining all over Kenya lately and the amount of mud and water on this road was unbelievable. It seemed like every few kilometers there was another vehicle stuck that had slid off the road or gotten stuck in the mud. At one point, the road literally became a river and started washing over the hood of our car. Thank God our car didn’t die in the river because it would have been a long swim to shore.
Finally, after 16 hours of traveling, we made it to Maralal, a Podunk town 5 hours away from our final destination. I wanted to see Kurungu but exhaustion set in and I was happy to eat a hot meal and pass out. It was a crazy day that rivaled my craziest road trip days but definitely a good memory and something else to say I’ve done. I was along for the adventure and was reminded several times that it could always be worse.