A few days ago, Jon, Cher, and I got in their car and drove from Kampala, Uganda, to Nairobi, Kenya. If you look at a map, it doesn’t actually look that far, but as with everything in Africa, without good roads, 10 miles can take an hour, or a 313-mile drive can take 12 hours.
I sat in the back seat, in the middle so I could see the view. Unfortunately, the view for me felt like a constant replay of my near death. Most of that was due to Jon passing on blind curves and hills. After an hour or so, I announced that I would like to apologize in advance for the expletives that would most assuredly spill out of my mouth as I saw my impending death. I just didn’t think I’d be able to stop it. God only knows why I chose to stay in the middle with a full view, but I did until the last couple of hours when I could actually feel my blood pressure. I should have suspected the danger when Jon suddenly announced loudly “One!” and then explained that they like to count all the accidents on their way to Nairobi.
The road has improved a lot in the last few years, according to Jon and Cher. I didn’t think it was too bad. The strangest section came after crossing the border into Kenya. Jon and Cher call it the “melting road.” The pavement literally has melted from the heat, and combine that with the traffic and especially large heavy trucks, it resembles a road after a big snow storm when the traffic presses the snow into deep ruts from the tires, and high icy ridges all around. Getting out of the ruts causes a feeling of being out of control, like on ice, weaving all over the road until you can get back into the rut. Since Jon likes to pass, with little room to spare, it was one more thing that caused anxiety.
Then it happened. Two huge trucks barreling down the hill toward us… IN OUR LANE…trying to avoid potholes on their side of the road. One truck got over into his lane, but the second truck did not. And I don’t mean that he moved at the last minute, I mean he did not get out of our lane. Jon slowed down, thinking that he would surely move over – his lane was empty – and when it dawned on all of us that he wasn’t going to, had no intention to, Cher screamed, I said, “Oh sh…”, and Jon tried to jerk the wheel over onto the almost non-existent, drop-off shoulder. It happened fast and Cher said, with a full view from the front, that the truck missed us by mere feet.
It’s not the way I want to go. I had a dream yesterday. We were at Tsavo Game Park (where we will be going in a few days), and there were elephants. I love elephants. And they were close, and one started to charge me. I looked over my shoulder at Jon and Cher and smiled. I felt happy. That’s how I’d like to die, being charged by an elephant.
This picture is not mine, although I wish I had taken it. It is by Josh Cadd, my nephew, and taken at Tsavo from the porch of the house they were renting.