Driving in Kenya

Until recently, I've only ever been in one car accident.  Once upon a time, while living in San Francisco, I owned a little green Kymco scooter... that is until a silver Ford Focus made a left turn straight into it at the corner of Polk and Golden Gate.  The scooter went one away, shattering into pieces, and I went the other, landing on the hood of the Focus.  It was all very dramatic, complete with my first ambulance ride to the hospital and being carted into the ER.  An hour later, I caught a cab home alone with a bag full of painkillers tucked under my arm.  I remember it being a very surreal experience in all the wrong ways.  Fortunately however, I had no broken bones and no internal bleeding.  Sadly, my scooter was not so lucky. 

Fast forward to this past Sunday.  T and I were driving along James Gichuru, towards Ngong Rd to a carpenter who agreed to make us a pair of reading chairs.  We were on our way to drop of fabric with him when all of the sudden, I felt as if I was having a seizure... or at least what I imagine it feels like to have a seizure: a loss of control over my body accompanied by inexplicable but considerable pain.  It also sounded as if a bomb had gone off.  All this lasted but an instant yet it took several more moments for me to fully realize what had just happened: we had been rear ended by a bus.  

T had been driving and had to slow down rather suddenly to avoid a monster pothole.  Apparently a large tour van/bus had been following very closely behind and failed to stop in time before smashing into our rear.   In the US, it's pretty common knowledge that the car doing the rear-ending, is almost always found at fault.  The bus driver and several of his passengers clearly didn't think so as they made accusations and jeers against us from the onset.  I wish I could say that maintained my cool but alas, if T hadn't sent me back to the car, I might have incited a fight against the whole bus and probably wouldn't be alive to tell this story today.  

At any rate, in Kenya, when one gets into an accident, you are to stay put until the police arrive... no matter how bad the traffic.   Thankfully in our case, a police woman arrived quickly, as if out of thin air.  She said very little, taking down insurance and ID information for T and the bus driver while hearing both sides of the accident.  Meanwhile, we were worried that the bus driver and his obnoxious band of passengers would bully her into finding us at fault.  Since coming to Kenya, I had heard plenty about corrupt police officers who welcomed if not demanded bribes. But to her credit, our policewoman found the bus driver to be at fault.  She rather matter of fact-ly stated that he had failed to keep the proper distance.  I can't remember the last time felt more relieved or vindicated!  I'm sure our policewoman has no idea how much hope she has restored for me.  After all we've been through with innumerable contractors repeatedly promising us lies, she alone helped me to believe that we still might have a shot of making it here in Kenya.


  1. eek! Glad to hear you guys are safe, and vindicated- double bonus!





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