Monthly Archives: April 2011

Disaster strikes – Mark broke his frame

My friend Mark who we were trying to get donated parts for, just cracked his frame in two places and it currently looks unrepairable.

(The picture is of the frame after an attempt to repair it was made. Its pretty ugly and I have no confidence the welds are going to help as the frame cracked around the lugs and only the lug ‘spears’ are really holding it together now).

We’re trying trying to raise enough funds to buy a new (to him) frame or whole bike, as soon as we can find one in his size. The timing of this break couldn’t be worse as we’re right in the middle of the African Games Qualification and each missed race will really hurt his chances.

So if you want to help, all donations will be gratefully received.

5 Good/Bad things about life in Kenya II

The good:

  • The return of Swallows – We’re suddenly seeing flocks of Swallows everywhere. They were swooping around Kisumu airport on my return from Zambia. Theres also a big flock at United Millars on the port road that are out early in the morning. Fascinating to watch them zoom about.
  • Millimani Resort Pool – Its hot again in Kisumu and for 150Khs you can go swimming in the large pool at Millimani Resort. Granted as schools are on holiday right now, you need to be very careful about the times you go. But its a great, affordable luxury minutes away from our house.
  • Travelling for someone else – Got to go to Zambia for World Bicycle Relief and it was a great trip. Didn’t see much outside of Lusaka but now I really want to go back to see Victoria Falls and catch the Ku’omboka next year.
  • The patience of others – Folks seems to be ok with me trying to talk in Kiswahili and then switching back to English when my brain fails. Maybe its because of my comedic Kiswahili accent these days, I’m not sure, but its really helping my language skills.
  • Yawa Dance Troupe - From making it to the semi-finals of the current season of Sakata Dance, through to their part in trying to get an arts festival happening in Kisumu (the Sunshine Festival), these kids eat, sleep, breathe and live Dance in a part of the country which has no space or resources to support art.

The bad:

  • The cost of living for ordinary Kenyans – Newspaper reports are stating that food prices went up 17% on average this year.
  • The cost of living for ordinary Kenyans II – According to a recent Gallup poll 6% of Kenyans say they’re thriving, 78% say they’re struggling and 16% say they’re suffering. This means that Kenya ranks 13th on the list of countries with the most dissatisfied people.
  • The cost of living for ordinary Kenyans III – The number of kids at Beth’s school that go without breakfast and lunch because their family can’t afford it. Secondary education is so important in Kenya, partly because its incredibly hard to get into a public university and more so that even basic jobs, that involve little literacy, can be so dependent on what you scored on your KCSEs (Keyan Certificate of Secondary Education). Beth and I are going to be trying hard over the next months to try and start something lasting that helps address this issue, that hopefully can be sustained once we’ve left Kenya. Theres so many problems to solve here, but this is small, manageable and would really help 100s of very bright students.
  • Potentially eating a real burger in Nairobi – I thought I would be able to tell if this happened but being a a little sleep deprived from travelling back to Zambia and not being in the tastiest of establishments, I ordered a veggie burger but didn’t twig why it tasted funny until about 2/3s of the way through. I don’t know if that reflects poorly on the quality of the burger, the restaurant or my taste buds, but the after effects were a little grim. And if you don’t know, Veggie burgers in Kenya are unsurprisingly quite bad at the best of times, but I sometimes get naively optimistic that maybe this one will be ok. I think I finally learnt my lesson.
  • The unnerving frequency of road accidents here – We now don’t travel out of Kisumu at night as theres so many bad drivers, bad roads and lots of heavy goods vehicles. We’ve seen trucks sideswipe cyclists, Matatus mount the curb, Piki-pikis being caught between Matatus, rear-enders and on-and-on. Even on a quiet Easter Sunday morning in a sleepy part of town, we saw a car fail miserably to navigate a roundabout and spin off the side of the road, all at about 10Mph (luckily no-one was hurt).

    If you travel by coach in Kenya we’re huge fans of “The Guardian” bus company, mostly because it seems to employ sane and sensible drivers who realise that its best to arrive in one piece. Yes, I’m looking at you Modern Coach – it was virtually impossible to sleep on the coach to Mombasa because your driver was a lunatic.

Typical Day in Kisumu

Today I snapped a bunch of photos as I headed out into town and then onto the market.

Akamba Road, Kisumu

Nothing amazing in these shots but they give an idea of day to day life in Kisumu.

If you know Kisumu, the ordering will seem a little strange, partly because they got imported back to front, but also because of the head-scratching decision of the Kisumu City Council to ban bikes from downtown, so you now have to ride a somewhat circuitous route to get around town these days (Jomo Kenyatta Highway near town and the part of Oginga Odinga street near Mega City are now only open to private vehicles; no bikes, no piki-pikis, no mattaus and no tuk-tuks are allowed along these streets anymore).

Flickr seems to be mis-behaving right now (claims photos aren’t tagged when they are), so this should be the right link:
But if not, they should just be the first photos here: