“My biggest taxi ever”, Lodwar Dec 31st 2010

Thursday, the 30th of December I wake up at 7am for two reasons. I am not used to sleep long after the ride here and my head spins around the Kenia entry stamp I still need to get. However, lethargic as I am this morning and relaxed as I have become I listen to Goddy and decide to take it easy today in Lodwar, in the little seperate (upstair) room in Goody’s uncle’s hotel, where they also prepare the fantastic fried fish from lake tarkana.

So I have my first Kenyan breakfast, buy a local sim card and wow, with that I am in the internet with my phone like it could not be faster in Germany. Also I find a kind of supermarket selling yoghurt, ice cream and chocolate, I could survive here. Besides that however I would not say Lodwar is a greatly civilised place. People are rather poor and rather rough here. One lady grabs my water bottle which she regrets immediately. Goody slaps here so hard that she goes to ground crying which makes me feel bad but he says otherwise they do not learn. Well, he is probably right. On top of the poor there is many Sudanese refugees here making the area not particular safer and I am glad to have Goody around me. I shall not judge on Kenya yet.

For lunch we go to Goody’s boss house where I feel welcomed, have a great warm dish (potatoes, some goat meat) and watch a bit TV (there are riots in Tansania…..).

Then we go into town in his big truck as it needs spare parts. Once it’s fixed the truck becomes my biggest taxi ever as we go to the local water pump, some scratchy parts of town and the cemeteries. On the Christian one we see open graves plus some human bones and I have to learn that local witches regularly open the graves here to get bones for their rituals. “Ok, let’s leave” I say.

A nice fish and chips dinner fills me up before I write my diary, listen a bit to NDR2 (German radio) and calling it the day.

Friday, the last day of 2010 will test my nerves again but it is really my fault planning a trip to Lokichoggio AND back in one day as I want to celebrate new year with Goody in Lodwar. The Matatu (like a VW bus) is completely full with 13 people at 8:30am but do not even think it would leave now for a 4 hour journey. No, it would take 5 complete senseless loops through town for saying hello to a friend, dropping a passenger in exchange for another (they could not have walked the 300m), to check I do not know what, to greet the boss at his house and finally to get 3 Liters of petrol at the station 25 meters away from bus station. Why all this with 13 people on board???? Why not before????? Anyway, at 10am we actually take off and the ride is ok (a month ago I would probably written a separate report on how hot, hard and bumpy this ride was but now I say it was ok, cool). The driver even gives me a ride to the Immigration Office but then I get my first adrenalin kick of the day. The office is closed, the gate locked, no one around. Hm. What now? Stay cool. Things will fall into place. Stay cool. Stop sweating. Should I call Goody but what can he do? Oh great, a man. He does not look like an immigration officer but at least something. I tell him I want my Kenyan entry stamp and he says: “Ok, I get the keys.” Thanks I say………………….5 minutes later he comes with the keys and opens the door. Then another man comes, friendly invites me inside and says: You are lucky, we close the border today and with it this office for the next 10 days because of the Sudan referendum. I try to look happy but I am still too focused as the stamp has not been put into my passport yet. Then the sound of ink filling page 22 in my passport relaxes me and I even manage to take a photo and have a nice chat with the guy.

Almost euphorically I go back into the bus only to get my next adrenalin kick. “I do not go back to Lodwar today anymore and I do not think you will find another ride, but I can take you to a hotel here.” the driver says. Lokichoggio really is not the place you want to stay over night especially not on new year. Now I actually stay quiet calm as a back and forth game starts between finding a ride or a place to stay in case off. A free soda makes the driver stay in this game a while. The problem is not the ride to the next town named Kakuma but the onward journey from there. Kakuma is the biggest refugee town in Africa hosting 80.000 people form more than 10 nations and now here you really do not want to spend new year. The last bus leaves Kakuma 4:30pm, now it is 2:30pm and the drive there takes 90 minutes, giving me 30 minutes to find a ride there. At 3pm a regular station wagon is filled with 7 Sudanese refugees, a little boy and me. What is missing is the driver and at 3:10pm I completely loose my temper, jumping out of the car, screaming for the ticket guy, claiming my money back as I want to stay here. Within 4 seconds a crowed of loud men is created and one of them takes the drivers door saying “we are leaving now.” I will never find out if my action was helpful or not but I do know that I would not do it again (it scared me) and that finally we take off. After just 10 minutes we get stopped by a police check point. Of course 3 of the Sudanese do not have the right papers. All participants know that at the end all will continue the journey but they do need to play their games. So they get out of the car. They do get arrested and taken to the little house. Then 2 are released. Off we go. Now the boy starts crying as the still arrested one is his brother. So we stop again. It turns out that the bribe fee has gone up from 100 to 500 Kenyan Schillings as the Sudanese Referendum is coming closer and this the Sudanese did not expect, even pulling me into the game after a while. I harshly refuse to be involved and after 20 minutes the Kenyan police accept the payment of probably 300 or 400 Schillings. By now it is impossible to make the bus in Kakuma in time would you think. But this is Africa, smile. I am in phone contact with Goody who again is in contact with the bus company. Guess what. They are waiting for me. One more police check point. This time the driver stops before, collects the bribe money and deals alone with the police guy. One minute and we go on. I reach Kakuma at 5pm, the bus has already left for the gas station, so I run there and catch it. At 7pm I reach Lodwar, have fish and chips again and then the big new year celebration starts. Just kidding. Nothing happens here on new year. Only at the Christian church you can hear a bigger crowd than normal. Goody and I hang out at his cousin’s gas station, chatting about girls, habits and rituals like circumcision. I even help on servicing surprised customers. I don’t think they ever got served by a white guy. No fire works, no applauding, no counting down. Still, we have a blast. On our way to a bar it turns 2011, I stop and wish Goody and his friend all the best for 2011. They find this strange but like the idea. Later, in the bar I tell them about new years resolutions, an idea they like even better. Here are Goody’s top 3: work hard to be able to get his son into school; decide between the higher paid dangerous work in Lodwar or the closer to family but strictly controlled job in Nairobi and, some things are the same all over the world, smoke less. At 2am I fall into sleep, content and excited. Happy new year…………………………..      .

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  • oli says:


  • thorsten says:

    hi franki,

    coole stories, muss noch einiges nachholen (lesen), da ich die letzten wochen nicht zum lesen kam. aber scheint dir ja richtig gut zu gehen und afrika gefaellt dir, freut mich sehr.
    und wahnsinn, wieviel du weiterhin in den blog einstellst, hut ab, da kann mein blog nicht mithalten, aber bei mir ist das eher das persoenliche tagebuch, das detaillierter ist.
    also weiterhin viel spass und pass gut auf dich auf.
    gruesse aus kalkutta.

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