Compiled by Christine Dunn
At 6:30am Wednesday morning a group of five participants for the World Gathering of Young Friends – Africa, left Nairobi in one vehicle. Simultaneously a group of 15 participants traveled the same route by bus and the two groups raced to see who could make it to Mombasa first. We discovered that public transport beats private, as the bus came in a few minutes ahead of the car!
Wednesday evening a group of 9 people of all different nationalities attempted to catch the overnight train for Nairobi to Mombasa. Losing track of time over dinner, the international team found themselves arriving at Nairobi train station just as the train was leaving the station… without them! The people at the station had the amusement of seeing Christine (of Australia) running after the train, yelling “stop the train”. Noone had a clue how to do that, so it was time for some quick back-up planning.
Taxis to Athi River were the go. Race the train and try to get there ahead of it at the next station. The taxi drivers sensed their urgency and a haggle entailed, while precious minutes passed by. Finally they headed on their way in two taxis.
Meanwhile Ishmael Chanzu and Phillip Masibo who made it to the train in time, were wondering where on earth the rest of us, and their tickets, were and then were praying like mad that we’d make it to Athi River in time.
The international travelers had a hair-raising experience as one taxi overtook cars where there was no space to do so and the other driver was so blinded by the lights he lost track of where the road was. But thank God, Chanzu, Masibo and Ruadhan Barry (of Ireland) from the first taxi load were able to hold the train till the others arrived and boarded.
What a relief and what an experience! At least they could laugh about it afterwards, and the rest of the journey was “boringly” normal by comparison!
Whatever you do, don’t let anyone tell you that Kenyan trains don’t run on time!