Another meeting….or not (Bebeth)

And people wonder why it takes so long for things to get done here…..

This morning we got up at 7 in order to be "on the road" at 8 to go to
Naitiri to meet with a group of farmers. Of course "on the road" only
means in a matatu. It's anyone's guess when the matatu will start
moving. The journey is only about 90 km. However, we take one matatu for
the first 30 km, another for the next 30 km, and finally what's fondly
known as a "dog catcher" for the last 30 km. A dog catcher is a covered
pickup truck with benches on either side for you to sit on. The can
"comfortably" seat about 10 people. Usually there are over 15 people. In
the US 90 km (about 54 miles) would take less than an hour. On public
transportation here, with all the transfers, it takes almost 3 hours!!

So at 10:45 am we finally arrive in Naitiri town. The meeting was
supposed to start at 10:00 am but when we arrived there was no one at
Wekesa's store (the head farmer we were supposed to meet, and the only
person who knew exactly where the meeting was supposed to be held.) So
we decided to wait, and wait, and wait. Fortunately we ran into a very
interesting man who talked to us for the 2 hours we had to wait. He has
2 siblings who live in America and had all sort of questions about
American politics, corruption, etc. Ironically enough he will be leaving
in March to study at Washington State University.

Eventually Wekesa showed up and a few minutes later the BIDCO rep showed
up. Wekesa said that a few farmers had shown up, but when no one was
there, they left. ARGH…we were there…but he wasn't. So we stood
around and talked a little about what to do now. We explained that, in
order to work with DrumNet, his farmers need to meet with us. He said
that if we rescheduled for Monday with just the leaders then they could
organize everyone else to meet on Tuesday. I had no idea why we would be
any more successful on Monday, but Njagi (our DrumNet co-worker) agreed
and so we dispersed. After a quick stop in a local hoteli (local
restaurant) since we were all about to pass out from hunger, we went to
wait for another dog catcher. There was one waiting, but it was already
long since full (and then some.) The driver tried to get us to get in,
but we said we wanted to wait to get a less full one. This prompted him
to try and kick out a Kenyan to give us room. I told him that I now was
DEFINITELY not getting in and we walked away. Soon we realized that the
truck had not left and was now backing up to pick us up. The driver got
back out and said there was plenty of room. Again, I told him that we
didn't want to get in. He said they were leaving immediately….just get
in. Finally, completely exasperated I shouted at him (in Kiswahili) "No,
you're not leaving…you're sitting waiting for us. We are not coming.
So go!" As usual, a mzungu shouting in Kiswhali usually shocks them
enough to do whatever I say….so off they drove.

After 20 min one eventually came and mark and I scored seats in the cab
instead of the back. Then, after waiting another 15 minutes for the
truck to fill up, we finally took off. It had started to rain, only
lightly, but the roads were already a muddy mess. Down the center of the
roads were 2 parallel ruts about 1 foot deep. The mud made the road
extremely slippery. After much confusion we finally understood that the
driver was driving with one wheel IN the rut because scraping bottom of
the truck was preferable to sliding off the road into the side ditch.
Now, all of this may sound dangerous, but in fact it really wasn't. We
were going so slowly that had we actually slid off the side, we wouldn't
have been hurt, just thoroughly stuck. More than anything I didn't want
to get stuck and have to start all over with waiting for a new ride.
But, after turning around a number of times, trying multiple roads, lots
of mud, and 1.5 hours, we made it back to the tarmac (pavement).

At this point it was POURING!! We hopped out and ran to the waiting
matatu…only to find out that it was missing 2 windows (on opposite
sides) and none of the doors closed properly so there was water
streaming in everywhere. None the less, we hopped in, zipped up our rain
coats, pulled on our hoods and hoped the 40 minute drive would go
quickly. At this point I got a terrible case of the giggles (and some of
you know just how unstoppable I can be.) Once again I had everyone
looking at me…the crazy mzungu laughing uncontrollably inside a
raining matatu. Unfortunately we were not able to take a picture, but if
you could have seen it, you too would have been laughing. At the
junction we hopped out, waited 5 minutes in the rain and hopped in
another matatu. Home free….at least we thought. 3 km outside of town
this matatu decided he didn't want to go any further and kicked us all
out. Apparently this guy had a conscience though, and gave all of us 10
ksh to pay a tuktuk to take us the last little bit. 3 hours after
leaving Naitiri we finally arrived at home.

So, all in all we spent 6 hours traveling, 2 hours waiting, and only 1
hour in a "meeting", but not the one we went for.

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