The bus came, as expected, at 8am on Tuesday. Naturally, most of the girls were not yet ready.
Not my group though, we were fresh, new and still total geeks – we were first on the bus.
It was a good crowd, apart from us all being far too well behaved, of course.
Since my initial ‘fish out of water’ feeling on arrival at the Brakenhurst Cottage, 4 more fabulous females had been delivered to my door to fill up the dorm space (thankfully, every bed except for the one above me – WINNING). We had spent that afternoon on the sofas in a comfortable break out space, chatting and getting to know each other, followed by a considerable amount more time exploring the kitchen cupboards in search of tea bags. A valid group bonding exercise.
Sometimes I find that what makes a situation weird, is how completely normal it feels, so it took me by surprise that nothing about getting to know these women felt forced. Five women, from different parts of the world, thrown together in a cottage in Kenya. You know the rule though – there’s a weirdo in every group, if you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you!
Our group was a comfortable dynamic, and our combination of an English, a Welsh, an Irish and two Aussies gave us plenty to talk about, through similarities, differences and our lives back home.
The bus eventually embarked on its morning run, taking the volunteer groups to their projects for the day.
Our journey took us out of the security gate, back down the hill along the edge of the woods, over the river with the ladies washing clothes, out to the main road where a patch of striking Bird of Paradise flowers grew… But here we turned right, I had come in from the other direction – from here would be completely new territory for me.
We drove for maybe 15 minutes through a little open countryside before entering a busier part of town and pulled up near to an outdoor market space. Fresh fruit and veg stalls lined the streets with a few busy shoppers and workers already getting stuck into their day. From our bus, over a busy road and the market stalls stood a footbridge leading to a few large, grubby looking buildings just off the main road. Apparently there was a hospital around here somewhere. This was where we lost two groups to their separate projects in the nearby area.
With only our little pack of five left in the bus (plus our stern and silent driver), we travelled onward, taking it all in. Nobody with a phone in hand, no cameras held up to the windows, no iPads and not a set of earphones in sight… The experience of living in the moment took hold of each of us, and we just watched, we observed the world through the bus window, and we took it all in.
The bus had travelled outside of the busy market area with concrete buildings and we found ourselves among rows of wood and tin homes and shops along the roadside. Smaller roads, far less people moving around. Most of the people we saw outside of the bustling market town were sat on crates in the doorway of their Coca-Cola sponsored shops, each shop painted in a different wild colour from the one next door. Red, green, purple, green, yellow, blue, red.
We pulled up on the grassy bank at the roadside, next to a small building site, and the driver sat still, patiently, expectantly, glancing at us in the mirror.
I think this is our stop…
Want to start at the beginning? Try Part 1 First!
Looking for Part 10? Here it is!