9/24/09: Kampala, Uganda to Naiberi Resort in Eldoret, Kenya
I don’t know if I’ve ever been so impressed by anyone doing anything than by our driver, Richard, navigating these African “roads” in the gigantic truck in which he hauls us around. Richard is one of the biggest, nicest guys you’ll meet and he seems to know his trucks inside and out (and he even knows how to cook a mean fried toast and poached eggs).
I was talking to him yesterday about how it seems like the big tour truck we’re in gives him a lot of leeway on the roads. And I don’t mean this because he can run chickens, bikes, goats, cars, vans, cows, semis and Chuck Norris off the road. I was referring to it more in the sense that corrupt cops never seem to pull him over looking for bribes. We’ve passed checkpoints all over the place where random cars, buses and motorcycles get pulled over, but Richard can drive right on by. He mentioned that in Tanzania he always seems to get pulled over for “speeding.” (Speeding in Africa is more or less a cop’s attempt to guess that you’re going over the speed limit, or better yet, guess that they can trick you into thinking you were going over the speed limit. They’re supposed to show you their radar gun readings, but apparently never do. Instead they try to get you to verbally admit guilt, and then use that against you to pay them a bribe instead of the ticket.) Most of the time he said he can talk his way out of it, but sometimes he has gotten hit with a fine. Either way, I had this to look forward to.
It turns out I didn’t have to wait until Tanzania. He got pulled over today.
We were driving down the road like normal when two cops walked out into the middle of the street and waved at Richard to pull over. Once he did, everyone in our tour bus stood up close to the right side windows (remember everything on the roads is the opposite of America here) to see what was going on. After a long talk with the police officer, he got out of his truck and began showing the officer the truck. Our guide, Marietjie, got out of the passenger side and began talking to the other officer, in what from our point of view looked like a vehement argument.
After a few minutes, Marietjie climbed aboard to update us on the situation. Apparently there had been a hit and run a few miles back and a child had been killed. Under Kenyan law, police must pull every foreign vehicle over to question the driver and check the vehicle’s registration. (If there was anything even slightly wrong with the truck, Richard would have been hit with a fine or a bribe.) Obviously they have no idea whether a foreign motorist was the one who hit the child or if it was a local, but it is easier to only search the foreign cars, and it gives the officers an excuse to find other things wrong with these vehicles.
Fortunately, we passed and were on our way again. Until next time…
[If you’re here from the Puzzles for Postcards hunt, Congratulations! Your first letter is “A.”]
Picture of the Day: Even at 5:15 in the morning, the campsite dog was there to wake us up and see if we had any food in our tent.