June 10, 1987

6/10/87 Naru Moru

NOLS Headquarters

This morning we had a meeting at the Jacaranda where we met a few of the instructors, Jim and Lisa from America and another from Kenya. We also got to meet Steve, the NOLS Kenya director. And then after lunch, we loaded up the buses and headed for Naru Moru.

Once outside Nairobi, we headed north. You noticed at once, the heavy agriculture of the land. People plant crops, mostly coffee, corn and bananas. Everywhere we saw corn planted down the median strip of the divided highway. The terrain began to get more rugged the farther we got from Nairobi. Crops were planted on the steepest hillsides. Most prevalent color was the deep red earth. It covered everything. Even though this was the major highway north out of Nairobi, with plenty of tourist attractions in this direction, people still stared at our bus full of white faces as if they’d never seen people like us.

Besides a few trucks, the only vehicles on the road were small buses called matatus. Other than walking, this is what people use to go farther distances. All they are is a small pickup truck with a hard shell. The benches in back hold fourteen, at least that’s the law. Each matatu is privately owned and rates are decided on the spot. So, more money can be made by packing more people on. This is made worse by the crazy way Kenyans drive. Even our Kenyan driver passed slower traffic on the crest of the hills. Lisa pointed out a police checkpoint that is cracking down on the overcrowding, apparently because of so many bad accidents. The other mode of transport is on foot.

The paths along the road were well worn and full of people. The road narrows with the shoulders being grazed by cattle and goats. We passed a few towns along the way. Most buildings were simple one story structures with tin roofs. The higher we got, the fewer crops you see. Towards the mountain, the land is old grazing land because it doesn’t get enough rain. But on the mountain, there is a lot of clouds and rain, so crops are grown there. Finally we pulled into the NOLS compound.

The "House" is an old colonial farm.

What a wonderful place. The main building is an old farm house, pristine white walls with a wood shingle roof. The inside is mainly used for meetings, staff offices, and storage. Outside the lawn is crowded on all sides by the jungle forest. To one side of the house is the outhouse and nearby is the outdoor shower. To bath, you hauled water warmed by fire up to an overhead container. Then, you stepped in and pulled a cord. Our front, between the house and stream, we put up tents to sleep in that night. And the heart of the compound was the open air cooking and dinning area out back, a collection of tables under an a roof. Some of the staff lived in other out buildings near the main house.

Meals where a time to get to know each other

Later we had a great meal of chili, salad and cornbread. Everything is so different. We can hear the river nearby. The moon is out and got a brief glimpse of Mount Kenya in a break in the clouds.