I just read someone’s story on Facebook about getting lost. Which, if I am being honest, is what gave me the gall to write this story in the first place. So, for all intensive purposes… you need to know that I got lost in Kibera. And Kibera, boys and girls, is a slum dwelling where, though people are friendly, not everyone is good at giving directions.(Okay, it’s more like my internal compass is about as accurate as a broken thermometer) but that is besides the point.
Right then. Here we go. I was working as an intern at this place called Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya (WOFAK) as part of my academic requirement in 3rd year. And I got it in my head that it would be awesome if I could find a shortcut home so I can cut my expenses. (The student life is a hard one, man. If lunch was not provided, I might have looked like a misshapen ant). So, I got myself some directions and was on my merry way that very day. They went as follows: Tembea hadi (Walk to the) stage after Mimosa upande gari ya Kibera (board a vehicle headed to Kibera). Shukia Equity utembee kidogo utapata kanjia fulani kubwa inaezatoshea gari. Fuata hio njio hadi ufike Otiende. (Alight at Equity stage and there is a path directly opposite that will lead you straight to Otiende.)
Chai! My friend. I only completed the first few steps without difficulty. My problems started when I was looking for this path. Opposite to Equity. Maiye! Opposite, how now? It took me some time to realize where that path even was! But anyway, it was okay, because I found it at last. And then I walked with the confidence of an ignoramus, not knowing how long the path actually was. Not to mention the constant forks in the road where I had to keep asking for the right prong to take. Which was fine, but there was this one woman, with her hair half undone, as she was being plaited by the side of the road….with her leso around her shoulders and a shade of green that I had never before enocuntered… Haai, that woman. She did not want to see me prosper. She could not have… because she directed me down a path where forest killed the households.
This path where the mabati(iron) roofs slowly turned into a tree neighbourhood, with the occasional crow for company. I think I even saw a dog somewhere along the way, and I still do not understand how or why. There was probably only two people I saw walking along that road, as my armpits continued to water my jacket generously.And this was the beginning of the journey into this forested area. There was maybe only one building I saw as well, some kind of milk packaging company. So, just as I am beginning to wonder where in the hell I am, guess what? There is another fork in the road.
At this point, I am like, what the hell is this mess? And I stand there looking at my two options, exhausted, sweating, and about to consider just sitting down before I continue. It is at this point I realized that ; one, I am geographically challenged, and two, good samaritans exist, and they are a thing of beauty. A guy driving a black sports car (that is as far as my vehicular knowledge goes,sorry) came to the rescue and told me he would take me to the closest stage. I was apprehensive, of course (my hand was on the handle just incase I needed to roll out) but my fears were put at ease when he let me off a very short distance away. It turns out I had walked all the way to Ngong forest without even realising it. I had to take three vehicles to get home that day! 😦
*sigh* An ode to my geographic shortcomings. But anyway, it is okay. I went back and asked for directions from the cook again, who, unfortunately, laughed until he doubled over before he gave me proper directions with a map. If nothing else, at least now I know…