Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Let me try to give you an idea of what a matatu experience is like. Coming from town you must find which matatu to take. You walk through the hustle and bustle of people selling things, people coming and going, matatus moving in all directions and look for a sign placed on top of the vehicle. It seems like chaos. In my case I look for Kiratina. I walk over and step in. It is usually about half full at this point. Capacity is 15 including the driver. When every seat has been filled the driver starts going. Also inside is the “conductor.” He is supposed to wear a maroon shirt, but sometimes this doesn’t happen. The conductor is the one who looks out the window for people who need a ride, and who wants off. He then taps the window or something with a coin or his hand to let the driver know to stop. So, as we head out of the “parking lot,” staging area, we have to inch our way forward through all the other matatus, coming within inches of hitting each other. Most of the time they sound like they are going to fall apart as we move. They look like it too. The van doors don’t always close completely and they just don’t seem like the safest thing. As we get out onto the road, people are jumping out of the way and vehicles are dodging one another. Meanwhile, the passengers are bouncing up and down and swaying back and forth. There were a couple times when a vehicle was coming straight at us and both cars simply maneuver around each other. In America, those are called “close calls.” Mind you, the street is narrow and people are busy all around. We finally get out onto the highway kind of road and get up to speed. Think of the Disneyland ride, Space Tours. The conductor at this time collects the money from people. Costs me 20 shillings. There is no sign or anything telling you how much; it is just kind of known. And if you don’t, you can be ripped off. There are times when we stop to drop people off and slow down enough for people to run up to speed and jump on. Thus is only in some spots and with certain people. Sometimes when there are babies on board and they need to get off, they would hand the baby over to the conductor then get them back when their hands are free. Very helpful in that way. Conductors and drivers change with somebody else at random times. As we exit the main road and head onto the very bumpy dirt road, we come to a complete stop and pick up a few more people. We do this a couple more times. At the most we had was 22 people in the matatu. There were not enough seats for everybody or enough room to squish, so the conductor and another guy just stood out the door holding with one hand on the inside. This is basically what it is like on a typical matatu ride.

So I guess there were 131 kids registering for Rohi. Those are the ones with all the paperwork. I don’t know how many did not. Last night the family was talking about a lady who was there with her son, grandson (I don’t know) and was acting as if she was blind to give him a better chance of getting in. It is a very difficult job for the teachers and staff to decide who gets admitted in the school.
I was just hanging out on the strip of art stuff with the guys out there. There is one kid is 18 and trying to make money. He wants to go to college, but it costs a bunch of money. Other guys trying to provide for their families. They seem like intelligent, nice people. I told them I’m not buying anything for a while. I think eventually they’ll get it and stop asking. But I enjoy talking with them.

Mom, as far as the dump goes, many of the families there are Christian. What is needed for the preschool, I have no idea. That is kinda what we were looking at when we were there.

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