Lucky Day

Anne and I play dumb games with each other all the time.   Take little bets, try to predict things, or guess things in advance just to entertain ourselves.  Since coming here we’ve taken to guessing what causes traffic jams, that we get stuck in pretty much whenever we go out.  Goes like this:  after about ten minutes sitting there sucking exhaust, one of us will say why we think this traffic jam started, we make official predictions, then wait to see who’s right.  No prize, no glory, just a silly way to pass the time.  What we’ve found here is  that we’re usually both (or all three since Megan is with us a lot of the time) wrong.  We’ve seen so many ridiculous traffic situations that we never could have imagined in advance because things like this just don’t happen at home.  More often than not we’re surprised by some amusing, or totally random thing as the  cause of an hour or two backup. 

Here’s some examples: huge truck stopped in the middle of the road (pretty common), police check, police directing traffic (usually against the traffic light and seeming to make things even worse (apparently some police take bribes from hawkers to slow traffic so they can sell more junk)),  human drawn cart in the middle of the freeway, new random speed bumps in the FREEWAY,   unbelievably deep potholes that have appeared overnight, flipped matatu or bus (with huge crowd of gawkers),  dead cows all over the road, dead guy in the road, freeway collapsed with a bus standing on end nose down in the hole, crazy road construction with no flagers or warnings about road changes or big machinery, big pile of lumber, cars driving the wrong direction down our side of the road to avoid something on their side of the road, or nothing…no identifiable cause. 

Yesterday we saw the funniest one yet, we wished we had the camera. 

There is a really famous beer here by the name of Tusker Beer  There are huge billboards proclaiming, “Get back to your roots!  Try a Tusker”.

Anyhow, this was the cause of the traffic jam.  First we saw the huge police flatbed truck with about a dozen police arriving on scene….no overturned truck in sight.  But then we saw people walking off with huge bags of bottles….and then we saw them. 

Overjoyed Kenyan men drinking “recovered” Tusker beer in the middle of the day.

You would have thought it was Christmas.  One man had the most ridiculously happy smile on his face, waving to traffic with one hand, while gripping his Tusker in the other.  Another man must have arrived early on the scene because his goofy grin and sideways walk indicated that he was already sufficiently drunk.  Others walking off with half broken, half-filled bottles of beer, but beer non-the-less!

People were RUNNING down the side of the freeway hoping to get a bottle of Tusker…some kilometers away and sadly too late to grab their bottle.  Others were running the other direction as fast as they could with their booty….I’m sure in hopes of making off with it to the local market to sell, or to call their friends for an impromptu party.

It’s not every day most of these people get to enjoy a Tusker.  And now that I think about it, the police weren’t really doing anything in the back of that covered truck.  Perhaps they too were enjoying a Tusker.

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That was the subject line of the email we received from Ian’s mom yesterday.

Seems like they think Ian was doing 50mph in a 35mph zone in downtown Beaverton last week.

Funny, though not really since I SOLD that car to an insurance fellow about a YEAR ago!!

It was a photo radar zone, so it was a nice ticket of around $190 (I think that’s right), with a picture of “Ian”.  Unfortunately, it really kind of looks like Ian.

Since the courts really don’t believe that Ian is not in Portland charging through downtown Beaverton in the mid morning in our old Hyundai Elantra we get to send:

A copy of his Oregon drivers license (I sent the Kenyan one too so they can see his HUGE beard, which honestly, that is unmistakable!)

A letter from our boss saying that we really were in Kenya in October

The bill of sale from the car sale last year (I’m kindly including the name AND business card of the man who bought the car and NEVER bothered to register  it in his OWN name).

Hmmph.  See what happens when you are sure you’ve left the country with every detail taken care of??  Honestly though, the email made me laugh and was a highlight of my day.


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Safety First!

Have you ever been pulled over for not wearing your seat belt?

I have.

There’s a long back story…but the short story involves me driving Ian’s 94 White Ford Escort to Idaho with the automatic door belt stuck in the forward position. Since I couldn’t drive 8 hours with it like that, I unclipped it and drove with just the lap belt.

Not only was I stopped and ticketed once by Oregon Highway Patrol, but twice. I asked the 2nd officer how many tickets he thought I might get before the Idaho border? He shrugged and sent me on my way. I can’t say how glorious it was to cross the state line into Idaho where I knew I wouldn’t be bothered.

I ended up having to go to seatbelt school at Legacy Emmanual Hospital in order to have the charge removed from my record.

I think it was like 2 hours of gorry video showing every possible accident scenario with and without seatbelts.

I’ve been a pretty big seat belt advocate since then.

Here in Africa, there are seat belts in cars. But the only people I see wearing them are tourists, or us. Most of our workers laugh when we tell them they have to put the seatbelt on in our car. In the Centre van as well. They don’t fuss much about it anymore.

I guess there just hasn’t been one of those public service announcements by some important actor about the importance of seat belt use here in Africa.  You’d think with the high mortality rates that they’d do all of the easy stuff to try and stay alive.  Seat belts, motorcycle helmets….you catch my drift.

Our cook tried to put the seatbelt on (her first time ever) and after she ended up with wrapped around her neck twice, and tried to put the belt into the belt on the other seat (I know, that can’t even be done, but she tried), Ian surmissed that this was the first time a seatbelt had arisen to her consciousness and he stepped in to help her out. She thought he’d done a magic trick the way he latched it so easily.

Two taxi drivers have yelled at me in the last 2 days for having the back windows by the kids down. I think that they are afraid the kids might hop out of the car when we’re driving. They probably would too……except I have them BUCKLED!

We’ll see how many Kenyans I can get to buckle up!

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We are enjoying the freedom our new car brings. There have been a couple cases though in this last week were we have had opportunity to need the owner’s manual…..and to our disappointment…no owner’s manual in the car.


Our first opportunity came while I (Anne) was on my first driving outing in Thika. I only wanted to drive the dirt road from the kids school to the highway into Thika, but Ian insisted that he wouldn’t switch seats with me and that there was no time like the present time to learn how to drive in a foreign place. I eased onto the highway, and managed to get through town with little problems except that Ian kept complaining that I was drifting off his side of the road…to which I replied that I was still getting used to being the driver and being on the right side of the car. Other things to get used to besides where “center” is in the car are the turn signals (I hit the wiper switch a lot by mistake) and looking for the rearview mirror to my left.

Anyhow, I’m driving down the highway and a bright yellow “HOLD” light comes on the dash. “Hold, what does Hold mean” we both say to each other. At least the light is in yellow and not red, but we decide to stop at the gas station by our place to inquire of the attendants. They are as stumped as we are….even after having me lift the hood…for gosh knows what. What do they think they’re going to see? Anyhow, after turning the car back on..the light is gone, so we figure we are ok.

Then, yesterday, as Ian is driving down the same highway, another warning light comes on! This time in RED! It looked like an oval with an exclamation point inside, and a parantheses on each side of the oval. Turning the car off didn’t seem to help (yes we pulled to the side of the road and stopped as we have been advised to NEVER do…but it was the middle of the day, and we were outside of town.) and we decided to pass on stopping at the service station again as they didn’t seem that handy with car warning lights.

We got home fine…and Ian unsuccessfully tried to download an owners manual. But, thanks to the beauty of SKYPE (you all really should have it or at least check it out), we were able to have our wonderful friend Eve Stoughton research for us the red light problem. She determined that it could be a problem with the braking system (the car has antilock brakes). That’s what we were afraid of! OR, it could just be the emergency brake. Ian ran out to the car…it was the emergency brake on a tad. Those sneaky little kids! When did they have an opportunity to do that! We haven’t left them alone in the car. Really. Despite Eli’s insistance that there is a table (read fold-down armrest) in the back seat perfect for them to eat lunch at.

Anyhow, Skype was dropped before we could have Eve find out what the HOLD light meant…so if any of you are bored at work today…or your kids are in bed and you need something to google. It’s a ’02 Mazda Protege.

Ian here on  completely unrelated topic.  Anne found a funny one page flyer in the paper yesterday for bug kiiller…a big issue around here.  Looked like this:

Here's the instructions.

Here's the instructions.











I'm pretty sire this flimsy paper thing won't do much, I'll try anything though.

I'm pretty sire this flimsy paper thing won't do much, I'll try anything though.











Speaking of bugs...any guesses on what these guys are?   Found them behind our door when shutting up this evening.

Speaking of bugs...any guesses on what these guys are? Found them behind our door when shutting up this evening.

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