Its been a minute but I am back today and with a tale.
Nairobi is one of those places that greens up nicely when it rains but boy, does the city have bad drainage!
Today just after 4:00 pm the skies opened and within half an hour, the roads were flooded. It took me 40 minutes to get to the railway station and it normally takes 10 minutes. Finding safe crossing points between streets and stationary cars (Nairobi also has the craziest traffic jams when it rains), was difficult.
I made it to the Railway Public transport terminus and waded through water and mud. Then the difficult phase of my attempt to get home started.
Across from the Railway station where normally there’s a road, there was a river. Its waters were rushing by fast and as I watched brave people wade in, I estimated the water would come up to my knees if I dared wade in.
I decided my knee high leather boots were not made for this (yes knee high), and was contemplating walking back to the matatus charging Ksh 150 (normal fare when its sunny is Ksh 50- 70), when suddenly and almost pleasantly there appeared a mkokoteni. Now for those who do not know what a mkokoteni is… its a contraption….a cart used to ferry goods…if that description does not do the mkokoteni justice see photo below.
2 young men saw a business opportunity and started charging Ksh. 10 to ferry the likes of me across the now flooded road.
I watched the first lot get accross on that contraption and decided it would be safe to try.
On normal sunny days, the Kenyan man finds it hard to be a gentleman. On rainy days, he forgets that if he uses the minutest of forces, he can topple any woman into murky muddy waters. So I am attempting to get into this thing I have never boarded before…EVER! I have just managed to find my balance and I am trying to decide whether to ride standing or crouching as there is nowhere to sit when I hear a loud sash behind me. The Mkokoteni driver while trying to balance 7 adults of varying weight has managed to offload a passenger into the water. There’s a mixture laughter, pity and amazement as the man in cream trousers tries to rise from his impromptu bath. I hold on for dear life.
We are off and across in less than a minute.
Now to try and disembark from this contraption. I wait until all the men get off. One of the 2 Mkokoteni drivers tries to ask for his Ksh. 10 before I get off. I tell him I need him to help me off first. Someone says ‘careful mama’, but makes no effort to help me. The Mkokoteni driver decides I am wasting time and allows me to grab his hand and I hand him my ten bob when I feel my legs firmly make contact with the not so dry pavement.
I swipe my card and thankfully walk towards the train. The sardines are already packed tight into carriages. The rain has brought them early from their offices. Everyone seems to have a tale of how they got into the train. All are wet. I can see only 2 umbrellas in my carriage. I find a seat thankfully and as I look outside and across the station entrance, there’s a loud scream and people shout. The Mkokoteni has toppled its 2nd victim. I watch as others still climb on. Business must go on and the train will leave in 10 minutes.
I now have a tale for my grand kids who will one day ask a Mkoko..what?
I am so glad when the train takes off from the station.
Stay warm and dry