My poor youngest daughter had yet another traumatic trip to school this morning. It all started well as the sun was shining for the first time in absolutely ages, but when we got within about 2 kilometres of her school, the queue of traffic was nuts. Traffic generally has been dreadful. Roadworks mixed with new potholes, mixed with heavy El Nino rain has meant that all road rules have been dispensed with. Honestly, it has been chaos.
Today we sat for around on Langata Road for around 20 minutes not moving. Lots of other mums, dads and drivers with kids in the back were in the same queue, heading for the same kindergarten.
'We've been this since 8!' My daughter's Kenyan teacher shouted from her boyfriend's saloon car. It was now 8.45am. I had to open my driver's door to talk to her, as my electric window doesn't work.
'Could you give me a lift?' she said, 'My boyfriend needs to get to work!'
I agreed. By now I had long given up on making it to the 9am aerobics class. I'm still in my trainers now, hoping to make it this evening.
I told the teacher that I planned to 'undertake' the traffic and take the next available left turn, which was a round- about- ish way to the school. She agreed. The only problem was that the damn turning I was looking for was much further away than I had first thought. Bouncing along the verge, we fell into a steep sided ditch that had been hidden by running water. The side was so rocky that I couldn't get the car out. In fact the front left hand wheel was properly stuck. I engaged 4 wheel drive, tried reversing and taking a run up at it, but nothing was working.
What happened next was lovely - so many people came to help! Instead of thinking, 'that damn woman undertaking traffic' I suddenly had lots of good samaritans offering their services. Maybe everyone was feeling generous spirited because the sun was out.
A school boy (un-asked) waded up to his thighs to see if there was a rock in the ditch that was stopping me from going forward. A uniformed driver I knew from school, got out of his car and was guiding my wheels, a school dad was also helping guide me out, waving me out behind ..... and I still couldn't open my window to say thank you! The teacher talked me through & translated what they were all saying in Swahili.
'They want you to straighten your wheels' she said.
Fortunately her window was open. I expect she was regretting catching a lift with me by now - but her presence made me feel a lot better.
By now, adrenaline was flowing. My four year old daughter was absolutely silent, but the car was at such an abrupt angle that her face was almost touching the window!
Next the driver and the dad very kindly persuaded a flat-bed truck carrying stone slabs to throw me a rope. The dad grabbed a tow rope from the truck driver's mate and attached us. I was duly towed out - feeling v. sheepish but my faith in humanity boosted once again. Everybody had been so kind.
When people fear coming to Kenya because they have heard about high crime rates it makes me cross. None of the statistics show how nice people are.