If you re lucky


If you’re lucky, one day, you’ll get to go to this village, named Odede. You won’t find it on a ma; to get there, go to the matatu station in Kisumu, and ask someone for the right bus. Then, pray they’ll tell you where to get off, unless you really wanted to end up in Uganda...

If you’re on a public bus, you’ll be ejected from the ten-seater (guaranteed to be holding at least fifteen) on the highway, at the beginning of the dirt path leading down to the village. It will be dirt if it’s a good day. If it's rained recently, you’ll be standing instead at the top of a river of mud, at which your trusty Havaianas will chuck a tantrum, and even the most stouthearted of East African vehicles to give up the ghost. You will envy the locals who navigate this squelching trail without losing their shoes OR falling over.

If you’re traveling in style and have managed to rent one of these fine vehicles for the private use, you’ll be delivered almost into the heart of the village. But you need to hope you’re lucky enough that your matatu driver didn’t take two hours to refill the vehicle and pump up the tyres before you set off. If your luck resembles mine, you’ll arrive in the pitch black, with a couple of local lads armed with lamps leading the way down through the undergrowth.

If you survive the perilous journey and the matatu’s suspension, you’ll get out in a little clearing. You’ll gather your stuff, and take another short walk over some hard, dusty ground, through a hedge and past a chicken coop into what’s going to be your home for the next five weeks. If you’re lucky, the place will be empty. Peaceful. Quiet. All the things the shores of Lake Victoria are supposed to be. If, however, it has finally dawned upon you that you’re in KENYA and not on Hamilton Island, you won’t be surprised to find the house full of well meaning villagers, their boisterous children, and one psycho BAT flying frantic loops around the ceiling, periodically taking kamikaze flights towards people’s heads. If you’re an extraordinarily gifted and intelligent person, you will then conclude that this is further evidence for the destruction of ALL WINGED BEASTS IN EXISTENCE.

If you were someone whom the universe liked, you might get to have a quick bite and fall into bed. Indeed, you would be willing to bestow outlandish yet meaningless titles upon the glorious person who could procure you said bed. But, you’ve pissed off the universe, because the villagers insist on a tour. Upon your return from the wilderness which it has been confirmed is home to innumerable bugs and deadly mountain lions, the cries of which can be heard at approximately 5am each morning, you would be so grateful to fall into the aforementioned bed. But you’re not lucky enough to have the lights, pillows, or mosquito nets sorted yet. If you have any powers of deduction whatsoever, you’ll realize after a week of no pillows materializing that they’re just not going to.

If you’re a brilliant, enterprising young Aussie lass, or alternatively, starting to regret your commitment to hydration, you’ll decide to make the most of your time and suss out the toilet situation. Torches, thongs, toilet paper- you’re set. You’ll approach, cautiously, with some teammates. The decision, made- Celia will go first. A fearless young woman, stouthearted in all situations except those involving mountain lions, prompt her to be our leader. Also her really tiny bladder. The group awaits with bated breath. All is still. The African night is breathtaking.

If you were anywhere within a kilometre radius, you probably would have heard it. Marring the silence, a scream, the slight struggle to throw open the wooden door that sticks just a little. And the rushing out of Celia, fearless young woman, to whom we had looked for guidance, with her pants around her ankles.

If you were some kind of genius, maybe you could have guessed there would be a bat living in our drop toilet. Apparently, there were no geniuses present that night.

If you’re cautious, or enjoy comfort, luxury, running water, inside toilets, or countries where mosquito nets are not required to protect you from a life threatening disease, then Kenya probably isn’t for you. You could go somewhere with plumbing, and fixed prices, and electricity.

But why would you want to?

K Simpson

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