On the way home, there were no buses available at that time, so my friend found me a car. We decided to share as it would be cheaper, but not as cheap as matatu. So, there I am, sitting in the back seat with my friend and a man I didn't know. Another man got into the front seat and I thought, away we go. Not likely! The door opened again and a man tried to get in to sit on my lap. I was astounded, but firm. NO ONE on my lap please, I am not a sardine and my back hurts. We drove around a bit more and someone else tried it again. Then they tried to sit two people on the front passenger seat and one on the driver's lap.
At this point, I started rabbiting on about the Michuki Rules, one seat, one passenger and got the money back and got out of the car. At the time, I did not realise that my friend was getting a lot of abuse from the driver about being too proud to have someone sit on his lap and trying to be a Mzungu (A European). If I HAD known I would have given him a few choice words.
The driver hires the car from the owner, has to pay him a certain amount a day and the more fares he can cram in, the more money he can make. He is also likely to break the car and given the state of the roads, likely to have a serious accident. It's not his car, so he is not concerned about the costs of mending it. Forget about seat belts, the car didn't have any and, from the state of the fuel gauge, no fuel either. So a breakdown was imminent and a long hot walk back to Ugunja.
We found seats on a bus that was goingour way so made it home safely.
Luggage and bags:
Take lockable bags, essential if you want to hang on to your bras! It safeguards your belongings and keeps the dust out. Take your money and passport with you in a money belt at all times. Make sure you walk around with a guide or *protector* as you are certain to be bothered if you are European or Asian. Pack everything you own in plastic ziplock bags to keep them relatively clean. I'd even put the case itself in plastic as the dust is very fine and gets in everywhere. The constant wind doesn't help either.
Take a treated mosquito net with you.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Light tropical clothing, long sleeves and skirts and trousers. The Equatorial sun really bites you and sunscreen can be hard to come by, it's a specialist product for those of fair easily burned skin. Take a wide brimmed hat, I met an old ex-pat who got skin cancer on her nose from repeated exposure to the sun. Sunglasses, umbrella (tropical storms there in the long rains) closed shoes please, no sandals. You need to protect your feet as much as possible. Any injury should be treated seriously as infection is rife. Jiggers are common: http://allafrica.com/stories/201103240520.html
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Bring EVERYTHING. Pills and lotions are often out of date. Medical kit, including a saline drip if you know how to use it, water purifying tablets, extra strong antibiotics. Hand sanitiser. Forget about contact lenses. Malarone or other anti malarials. DEET insect repellent and a can of DOOM insect killer or killer incense sticks. If you are travelling in the rainy season bring rubber boots. There are gut and stomach ulcers, helicobacter pylori. You can combat that by having broccoli about three times a week. Tuberculosis is rife as is HIV and you might find the odd case of leprosy. Internal worms and parasites are common. Take immodium and toilet rolls. Drink plenty of treated water or bottled water only. Don't drink the rainwater, it's full of bugs and don't wash in it either unless it has been heated to kill the bugs.
I've detailed the Health Authority below:
Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation
District Medical Office
PO Box 144
Siaya, Kenya East Africa Telephone 057-321031
Photo Equipment: Take your digital camera, film is hard to find. You will need to carefully clean the lens before any shot as everything gets completely covered in dust. They have the English 3 pin square plugs in Kenya as it was a British Colony before independence for your charger, so take an adaptor with you if you need to charge. If filming video for any length of time, you will need to let the local police chief know as you will arouse suspicion and fear if you don't.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: No beach here. I certainly would not go swimming in any river here, full of the water borne parasites we work on. You need a good quality mosquito net as standard, get one soaked in DEET or pyrethrum and take a can of DOOM with you as well to spray your room. This is a high malaria area, everyone seems to have it and there is the strain that results in cerebral malaria. Don't take any chances. Once you have malaria, it's for life. Cerebral malaria can result in epileptic fits and may kill you.
Miscellaneous: Make sure all your shots are up to date, including rabies well in advance of your trip. You need time to get over feeling ill after the shots and you want to be as well as possible. Siaya is a filthy dirty dusty place, the streets are full of litter and the wind stirs everything up. I went there to get a permit letter to volunteer from the Health Office.
Get a local Safaricom SIM for your mobile phone. They are cheap to buy and texts are 1Ksh each and about 3Ksh a minute to call. You can also register the phone for Mpesa by which people can send you money via Western Union if you get stuck. You can also use Mpesa to buy plane tickets, bus tickets etc. You can load your phone with airtime from the local Safaricom agents, cards are 100-200Ksh each.