Kate, Hill and Jane do Mbita

Two more weeks and we will have completed all the course requirements to be speech-language pathologists in Canada. Most other people in the program will be tying up loose ends, getting ready for the last two weeks in a place that has become very familiar. We just arrived in a new town – a third new place for this internship – to work with a new population and board with new people. So much for ending on a note of confidence!

It is worth it, of course, to see this part of Kenya. Our supervisor was going back and forth about whether she would drive her own vehicle here or if we would take public transport and get “the real Kenya experience”. The real experience it most definitely was. Our first of the three legs of this journey was a comfortable shuttle….which we waited for over an hour to leave because no vehicle here leaves with an empty seat. Other than having to beg (from the back of the shuttle including knocking repeatedly on the sides of the van) to relieve myself this first part was fairly uneventful. We arrived in Kisii looking for a matatu to Homa Bay. A matatu we found. They stuffed the three of us into the back and then a fourth man for good measure. It was at this point that the fact that the ceiling was low, there was no way out the side door due to crowding and my usual planned escape route out the side window was barred off that my anxiety got the best of me and we insisted on seats closer to the front. It was during this exchange that Super handed over 1000 shillings for our tickets to the matatu conductor. When we switched seats he clearly saw his chance to rip off the wasungu/white people*. There was a very dramatic and heated debate when he demanded our payment a second time. Even though SuperJ had her first ticket as proof there was nothing we could do as he maintained his innocence passionately but everyone waiting on the matatu was sure of his guilt. We ended up paying again – but boy did SuperJ lay the shame on thick. It soured my favourite part of the journey where people shove things in your face through the window and I check out their wares. Finds of the day: boiled peanuts (good!), sweet baby bananas, fresh Kenyan coffee. Lesson: do not ignore the matatu sellers.

When we alighted from the matatu in Homa Bay something was amiss. Or missing, I should say. SuperJ’s bag did not make it all the way to the town. It was her packsack with clothes, glasses, contact solution, makeup, shampoo…the essentials. The drivers made a big show of trying to locate the bag but we knew it was futile so some curse words were said and we walked off to secure our seats for the last ride. We went from shuttle to matatu (basically a shuttle but more crowded and more dirty) to a medium-sized car with 11 people, a baby and a chicken or two. I wish I were exaggerating. Legs fell asleep. So did butts. Even the driver’s seat was not sacred and he sat on a passenger’s lap. But, 13 hours after we left home that day we arrived in Mbita to stay with a lovely family. Who knows what this town will bring.

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