Dan on Eldoret
From beautiful surrounds, the energy of hundreds of fruit sellers chasing our matatu (taxi), and even the zebra’s and baboon’s hogging up the road – there was much to appreciate on our 8-hour journey to Eldoret, Kenya’s 5th biggest city and our home for the next six weeks. The only stress came from our driver’s persistence in looking for opportunities to overtake large freight vehicles along Kenya’s narrow single lane motorway with cars zooming towards us from the opposite direction…we had some close calls!
We arrived safe and sound with a few hours of sleep under our belts (pun intended) to the Reformed Church Guest House, where the lottery of room allocation was discovered. Most probably we’d get a wardrobe, or a toilet seat…chances of both together were slim. TIA, as they say.
Monday morning we headed straight out to the town centre, to the friendly greetings of ‘Jambo Mzungu’s’, literally meaning ‘hello white people’. Guided by Balloon Kenya’s fantastic in-country coordinator Kevin, we began to see more of what made the place so distinctive and fascinating. A region with limited employment opportunities has developed a truly remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, and the town buzzed with small business owners and people making a living by any means necessary.
Despite the staggering heat, thickness of dust and irrelevant of what labour was being done on or off the streets, pretty much everyone in Eldoret was dressed immaculately. Not a single Kenyan was wearing shorts to our surprise, which was only explained later as something “only little school boys wear”…*hides suitcase filled with shorts*.
The only exception to smart attire was a flood of football shirts, none representing local Kenyan teams. The Kenyan league in fact was described to me simply as “very boring” with “bad TV angles”. Instead Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City dominated the streets… clearly a country that likes to enjoy glory right? The locals knew all the players, watched all their games and even claimed they would ‘thrash’ me in FIFA, despite me claiming to be a national FIFA champion in the UK (so far from the truth).
Food was definitely a concern for me coming onto the programme, being a man of his food. Low-carb diets are destined to fail here, with rice dishes loaded onto my plate for 3 days consecutively (yes, both lunch and dinner). No complaints though, it’s all tasted great!
So far our experience has been great. There is an amazing vibrancy in the town, and all the fellows are gelling together really well. Training has just started, and we are all looking forward with great excitement to finding out which entrepreneurs we will get the opportunity to help make millionaires in the coming weeks…Kenyan Shillings of course!
Written By Dan Osrin, Balloon 2015 Fellow – Eldoret