Stories from Africa: Transportation

Transportation is something I never gave any thought to back home. 

Once a year, I travel to Long Beach (and now Qualcomm Stadium in my backyard) for our annual district conventions.  This usually entails packing a lunch for the day, getting up early to beat the traffic and having enough time to stop by Starbucks for an early coffee.  The worst part about the trek usually involves sitting idle in traffic on the way home. 

For our “Keep on the Watch!” convention in Nairobi, Kenya, we were provided both box lunches and comfortable transportation to the stadium where our international convention was taking place.  Not too much of a stretch from my life here.  My only challenge each day of the convention was waking up early enough to hit the luxurious 5 star breakfast buffet at the hotel.  After meeting friends from Africa, however, I soon learned that transportation is not such a simple thing here.

Friends from Rwanda and Uganada told stories of riding a bus, day and night, for three whole days in order to attend this special international convention in Nairobi, Kenya.  One local family hosted a couple from Burundi and were expecting the couple to arrive early in the evening on a set day.  They didn’t hear from the couple for hours and at 5 am, finally got a phone call.  The bus they were on broke down along the unpaved clay road and they were stranded in the middle of nowhere for hours.  Nine hours later, they finally arrived in Nairobi. 

The local friends from Nairobi boarded buses which met in smaller towns.  Their commute to the stadium was about two hours each way, and they probably walked about two hours to get to the bus meeting point in the morning and also back to their homes.  For most Californians, walking is something we do on treadmills, in parks, on hiking trails and other paths specifically designated for walking.  I never realized until now that we treat walking almost exclusively as recreation and exercise while for other people in many parts of the world, it’s the only way of getting from point A to point B, regardless of distance or obstacles.

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