Oh goodness where to begin! This will be a long post – I have a bunch to share!
Saturday – July 3 – Kisumu to Port Victoria
So Rennatus got us on a proper bus most of the way to Port Victoria! It was wonderful to have a whole seat to myself. Granted they were tiny tiny seats, but I had my own seat! We rode on that bus for about 2 hours before getting off the bus at an exchange stop where all of the mutatus, taxis, busses and boda-bodas (motorbikes or bicycles that one person rides on the back) trade passengers. We hopped off the bus and wow were we mobbed. Like crazy mobbed. I was still feeling sick, so it was overwhelmingly irritating. About 50 people were shoving and yelling at us and trying to take our bags from us with the aim of getting us to come with them in their mutatu. We shoved our way to the mutatu going to Port, and of course the driver tried to scam us again – trying to charge KSH300 for the hour ride (KSh80 – US$1). Rennatus yelled at them and we ended up paying KSh120, which a lady on the mutatu said was still a little too high.
Wow did that ride suck. We literally had 24 people in a 10 person mutatu. We were sitting 4 or 5 people across each bench area and people were squatting, standing, and sitting in any open space on the floor. The ride ended up being almost 3 hours because we kept picking up people and dropping them off as we continued on the way. This was not the situation I wanted to be in when I felt sick and feverish and exhausted both physically (from being sick) and mentally (from the constant scamming and stealing and overall horrible-ness of nearly every Kenyan person we’d met).
So we got to Port, which is almost literally in the middle of nowhere. It turns out we were staying at friend’s of friends of Rennatus’s. We had a guest house lined up, but for some reason Rennatus thought it would be better if we stayed at local peoples’ houses. It seemed like an okay idea at the time, but in hindsight it makes me incredibly angry. We paid KSh2,000 per day for 3 meals and beds to sleep in. Marugi, Steph and I stayed at Robert’s house, in a room so stuffed full of boxes you couldn’t move, with a toilet that didn’t flush, freezing cold showers and no bed nets in a room with no ventilation. The others stayed in two different houses.
I went to sleep that night at 9:30pm or so, because I still felt sick and felt emotionally abused by the entire country. I slept under no bed net and was devoured by mosquitoes. I’m praying I didn’t get malaria. Yes, I’m on Malarone, but every prophylaxis drug has been known to fail here. If I don’t get the paroxysomal fevers in the next week or so I should be okay. Although the welts these mosquitoes leave are pretty much the largets/reddest/longest lasting bits from any bug I’ve ever had. I’m hoping I don’t get scars from them, even though I’m not scratching at all.
Sunday – July 4 – Exploring Port Victoria
So we got to sleep in a bit this day – until about 10am or so – which felt wonderful. I woke up feeling healthy and ready to do things. Rennatus’s cousin Ferdinand (like the bull!) took me, Steph, Eileen, Serena, Dani and Marugi for a walk to go see where the hospital was, where the place to buy coke biridi (cold sodas) and then take us out to the mud hut villages to see how people here live.
Eileen had the clever foresight to bring beach balls to give to the local kids and teens as we walked around. Boy were those a hit! Anyone visiting a foreign country should consider bringing something like that with them.
As we walked the miles out to the villages, through the villages, and back home, I got the feeling like we were pied pipers. Seriously. We walked down the street, a bunch of mazungas (white people) and all the children playing football would wave and run over to us yelling “How are you? I’m fine!” It seems they know that phrase is a happy greeting for mazungas, but are unsure what it means. It’s funny that they never pause between the two sentences, or really even the words – its howareyouimfine! or imfinehowareyou!
So we’d walk by these fields of children playing or hanging out at their houses, and they’d follow us for a few kilometers. Even the small children, maybe 4 years old, would just wander off, following the white people. Granted, the people in the villages were aware that the American doctors were coming to town that week, so I’d be willing to wager that they knew who we were, but it was still funny. Walking to the town, we had groups of maybe 5 or 10 children following us at any given time, just giggling and smiling.
When we got to the village, it was an entirely different situation. As we walked through the village to go see Ferdinand’s family’s place, we pretty much just collected children – by the end of our ~1hr walk through the village, we had around 100 to 150 children aged 4 to 12 or so following us and begging us to take pictures of them.
I’ll forever remember this one little girl. She spent the last 30 mintes holding on to my left pointer finger (as another girl had my left pinky and three other children had various pieces of my right hand and right wrist) as we walked along. At one point, she dropped my hand to run off and do something, and when she came back just seconds later, another girl had grabbed my hand. My little girl actually scolded the other girl, I assume saying some version of “I had dibs”.
Near the end of our walk, my sunglasses had almost fallen off of my very sweaty face. As I went to grab them off of my face, my little girl took them (nicely) out of my hand and we both smiled and giggled as she put them on herself. It was just a purely wonderful moment. You don’t need to speak the same language to have a memorable and fun moment with a stranger.
So after the villages, we headed back to Robert’s house to have our “4th of July BBQ” which consisted of the fattiest roasted pig and the gameiest goat ever. We were all to excited for the BBQ, so we might have had too high of expectations.
We had a few beers and headed to bed fairly early (11:30pm) as we knew how exhausting the next day would be – the start of our medical camp….