Hit and run

You may have noticed that in the last post I never mentioned what happened to the other car in our accident.  That is because I know very little about what happened, and I wanted to save the thoughts about that for another post.

The other car, if it even was a Land Cruiser, struck us and somehow avoided the oncoming truck.  Then, according to Randy, he slowed and appeared like he was going to pull off to the right side of the road ahead of the broken down truck.  However, he never came to a complete stop.  I am guessing that once he determined his vehicle would get him to where he was going, accelerated and sped off.  It was a hit and run.

Normally, I would feel very violated by even the idea of a hit and run.  Life here is different.  At the end of the day, it actually made it easier for us since he did not stop.  We were not forced to wait for the police to show up to file a report.  We do not have to worry about him claiming the accident was our fault.  We also did not have to worry that he would be the one beating us up in the dark and taking all our stuff.  There is very little chance, even if he had stopped, that we would get any benefit from him or his insurance.  The law courts here are almost dysfunctional, so getting an insurance payout from a third party is nearly impossible, and likely more expensive itself than the payout for the damage.

It is a crazy world, but at least it is home for a little while longer.

What are you going to do with the rest of your life?

I was down in Malindi for our annual men’s conference.  The speaker was Capt. Tom Joyce USN Ret.  He was working in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.  His office was destroyed in the attack.  He retold his story which included the end of the day when he made it home.  His son asked him, “Dad, you should have died, but God spared your life.  So what are you going to do with the rest of your life?”

My motorcycle got a nice ride back to Nairobi on the DC-3.  I rode with Randy who had followed us down in a car. I think I need to explain a little bit about the Mombasa Highway.  It is a very narrow 2 lane road that runs from Mombasa to Nairobi.  Mombasa is not a huge city that generates a lot of traffic on its own. However, it is a port.  In fact, it is the port for a huge portion of Africa including all of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Eastern Congo, and much of Tanzania.  I realize this is not the most commercially active place in the world, but when you have one tiny road that is supplying everything for this whole region you can get an idea of what traffic can be like.  Also, since the police do not have many vehicles, and never use them to patrol, speed limits are very soft “limits.”

As we were almost home, nearing Nairobi about 15km south of Machakos, in the pitch dark we came upon a broken down container truck.  It was completely covering our side of the road, and as Randy went to pass he saw a large truck coming the other way.  So he quickly braked and we pulled in behind the broken truck.  The Land Cruiser behind us was moving very fast and not so aware of his surroundings.  He must have seen the truck coming the other direction at the last moment and turned into us to avoid it.  Somehow he missed our back bumper by less than an inch and impacted the right rear fender and bounced off the right rear rim which was destroyed.  Glass was thrown all over us, and as the impact began, I was certain we were going to end up as pulp under the container truck.

The laws of physics cannot be suspended for brief moments, but if I did not know better… somehow he squeaked through between the two trucks.  Then he slowed briefly before speeding off to Nairobi.  We never saw him again.  The four guys who were with the broken down truck came out to help us.  At least we know that now.  They could have easily been up to no good.  They changed out the spare and beat on the fender to try to give some clearance for the spare.

We were able to get the car back on the road, minus the instruments which quit working (but later started working again).  I looked over at Randy and said, “So what are you going to do with the rest of your life?”  He smiled.

We made it without too much delay back into Nairobi.  Because of the mangled fender and lack of clearance on the tire, we crawled through any rough sections.

You do not need a near miss to know that God is sustaining you (but it helps!).  He always has a purpose, He could end it at any moment.  I now give you the opportunity to ask yourself, “So what are you going to do with the rest of your life?”

Video from ride

In the previous post I describe some of our ride down to Malindi.  Here is some video.  One thing I really like about pictures and video is the things you see that the person taking it never saw, or never intended to capture.  Maybe there will be things in these you find a lot more interesting than I do.

This is some rare footage of our chase vehicle (and it still looks nice, more on that in another post).  They left Mariakani before we did, so we passed them just outside of town where they are preparing to pave the road.

Speaking of paving the road, this really caught my attention.  You cannot see as well in the video but they were actually doing soil compaction tests.  Maybe that does not seem like a big deal to you, but then I bet you do not drive here.  The technology of building a real road bed has yet to make serious in roads (heh) here.  Generally some rain and a big truck are all you need to destroy any road.  Then I was surprised to see the nice culvert they were constructing, but the method of preventing water from entering the construction left a little to be desired.  And the temporary road was well below water level.  Baby steps.

We ran into this fairly significant village on the road that stretched for quite a way.  This is probably a major part of the reason they are paving this road.

Reini had some tools strapped to the back of his bike.  We hit a really rough section and he lost a tool bag which I saw drop off.  Shortly after I broke a strap holding some of my stuff, but unfortunately no one was behind me.  I hope it found a good new owner.  When I stopped to get Reini’s stuff, I did not realize there was this group of small kids sitting on the side of the road.  They were all smiles watching us fly by, until they realized I was stopping.  It is too bad I was focused on getting the tools back and did not get better video.  I put it in half speed.

Like I said, you may have found other things interesting that what I posted here, but hopefully it gives you a little taste of what it is like.  We had a wonderful time, and our bikes got to ride on an airplane back to Nairobi.  I rode back with Randy, but more on that later.

Ride to Malindi

Last weekend we had our annual men’s conference in Watamu, near Malindi.  Reini Schmidt and I had planned for a long time to ride down on our motorcycles.  We even got some radios for our helmets so we could communicate.  (By the way, those are very cool, and I am not sure I want to go on long rides without them.)

About a week before the trip, the whole family was sick.  It was a really tough flu.  Somehow I avoided it, right up until two days before.  Tuesday night I had 3 layers of clothes, and 2 blankets and I was still shivering.  I got very little sleep that night, so I stayed in bed on Wednesday.

Thursday morning at 05:00 we got moving on our bikes. The darkness and slight mist combined with oncoming headlights made for an interesting first hour and 15.  After that, it turned out to be a wonderful trip.  The road is pretty nice most of the way, and the number of trucks and buses that tried to kill us was at a minimum.  I mentioned that next trip I would like a bag of oranges or water balloons to huck at the windshields of the oncoming vehicles that used our lane to pass in spite of seeing us coming.  I guess they assumed we would move onto the shoulder.

Just before the halfway mark we went through Tsavo.  There were at least 50 baboons walking up either side of the road, it was almost as if their bus had broken down and now they were walking to the nearest petrol station.  At the Tsavo river we got a good look at the modern railroad bridge, made famous by Col. Patterson and his maneaters.  We then met up with our chase vehicle in Voi.  We tried to enter Tsavo East National Park, but there was some talk that motorcycles were banned in the park in the Act that established them.  Kenya is very sensitive with their national parks because they are a huge industry.  They bring in more money than anything else.  So the concern with motorcycles is not the safety of the riders (from the aforementioned lions) but noise for the animals.

It turned out well anyway as we headed down to Mariakani and took a dirt road that bypassed all the traffic in Mombasa.  I turned on the helmet cam for that section (videos to follow).  We slowed at every intersection and usually got 4 or 5 arms pointing us in the right direction without asking a word.  We made it back to pavement south of Kilifi and headed to Malindi, eventually ending at Watamu and Turtle Bay.  In the end it was about 600km in 8.5 hours with about 1.5 hours of stops.  I felt tired, but great.  God spared me the full force of the flu for a day.  The day before, and the day after were bad.

PDF report of the GPS track

Quiet Update

I have not posted in a while, mostly because I have been busy.  The past 2 weeks I was serving as the Acting Director of AIM’s International Services.

In addition, the World Cup started.  This is the first time since 1998 that I have missed watching a match live, but I have been able to watch most of them.  Yes, I am a freak.  If you have been reading this blog, you should have already known that.

This past Sunday we went to the church in Karuri.  That is the first church in Africa where I was privileged to preach, back in March of 2007.  It is Pastor John Njuguna’s church and I really enjoy being with him and his family.  They are trying to raise money to build a permanent structure.  The current one is wood framed with mabati (corrugated steel sheets).  It is probably around 25 years old.  Termites here are brutal, so you can imagine.  When we sold our house in 2007, we used some of the proceeds to help build a house on that property for the pastor.  Now we get to be a part of building a church there.  And so do you, since we do not have any money of our own 🙂

For the nerds only

My friend posted a comment on the last post asking some questions about the map and the track.  I found a really cool website that does a bunch of analysis on the GPS track.  Here is the PDF output of the track from that ride.

Madaraka Day Ride

June 1 is Madaraka day here in Kenya.  It commemorates internal self-rule from the British, preceding full independence.  I took advantage of the afternoon to go on a ride.  I took some video to help share with you what it is like here.

This is going through a part of Kawangware, a slum area heading out of Nairobi.  The video is double speed (to scare my mother).

A little while back, I posted some zebra, this video is a sampling of some of the domesticated animals I  passed on this single ride, and there were a lot more after the battery ran out.  It is interesting because you can clearly see when I move from donkey carts to grazing herds, Kikuyu land to Masai land.  I got to shift my greeting from “We mwega” to “Supa.”  Near the end of the clip there is a sheep.  Every time I interact with sheep, I feel ashamed that is the animal God so often used to describe us.  They are really stupid and have no motivation to do anything on their own except eat. *looks in the mirror and sighs*

One more short clip of a guy on a motorcycle out in the middle of no where.  This is very common, as these motorcycles are a main form of transportation.  They move people and goods.  Sometimes they are so loaded you would not believe it.  When we were down in Lukenya we came across a guy who had over 130kgs (290lbs) of cargo, mostly unga (ground maize flour).  He had put the bike down and unsurprisingly could not get it back up.  We helped him.  We thought about splitting up his load on the quads, but especially in Ukambani, you never know how far “just here” is.

I pulled up alongside this guy just to say “Hi.”  He is doing the same road I am, on an air-cooled 125cc with about 3 inches of travel in the suspension and probably twice the weight I have.  He is my hero.

Near the end of the ride, at a place called Kimuka below the Ngong Hills, I ran into Joel and David.  Two Masai brothers who were looking for something to do on the holiday with no school.  We talked for about 30 minutes as I tried to understand their life down there.  They were quick to note they were half brothers.  Their father had 5 wives, a sign of great wealth and status.

Here is the track from the ride.  I finished by avoiding Ngong Road through the worst part of traffic, and instead went through Kibera.  This is not recommended for cars.


One of the things I find very entertaining is all the different things you see on people’s clothes.  A large amount of the clothing that middle class and below people wear comes from shipping containers full of things thrift stores in the US cannot sell.  Since there is a disconnect between the US culture and the culture here, you find odd combination.  I saw a really fit guy wearing a nice “Curves” t-shirt.  Yesterday was a holiday and I went for a ride with my camera.  I saw this guy on the left.  I bet he feels really nice, because he has no idea what it means.

Back to Kabete

Sunday I preached at Kabete.  Cammy had a sore throat, so she and the boys stayed home.

I taught from Hebrews 11 and the start of 12, and was really convicted myself.  I told them a story about when I was learning to drive.  I was going to Forest Home with my sister and her husband.  They asked if I would drive some of it.  So there I was, 16 at the wheel of a large van driving up the highway full of those very dear to me.  I spent so much effort trying to keep the van in my lane.  I kept adjusting the wheel this way and that, bouncing from one side of the lane to the other.  Then my sister said, “Do not look right in front of the van, look ahead where you are going.   Your hands will follow your eyes.”  Good advice, and not just for driving.  We spend way to much time adjusting the here and now, and we fail to “fix our eyes on Jesus,” and focus on where we are going.

I really love Kabete, I even told them it was “mahali ya moyo wangu” – the place of my heart.  (They are trying to teach me Kikuyu, but that is going very slow.)  There is something really different there.  It helps that it is outside the city, so on Sundays they go to church, that is the only plan.  In fact, just as we were all preparing to leave the church, the pastor’s daughter asked me if I was leaving.  I replied that I was “free” for the afternoon.  So completely on the spot, lunch at the pastor’s house was organized.  They roped in some ladies to cook and a couple of the elders to be guests.  It was good food too.