I have finally arrived in Africa for a 3 week visit, and have just completed an eight hour drive from Nairobi, Kenya to the coast. I'm told this road, which connects Nairobi to Mombassa, is one of the most accident prone roads in Africa, due to truck laden traffic connecting the port of Mombassa (the largest port in east africa) to Kenya, Uganda, DRCongo, Burundi, Rwanda, etc. It was exhilarating to watch the savvy driver weave back and forth into oncoming traffic, with only moments separating us between life and death. Hand waving, headlight flashes, and adjustments for passing cars are the languages of the road. I'm reminded of a luxury I didn't appreciate up till now, 4 lane highways Also, as we passed a pack of baboons standing by the freeway, Nicolas, the driver, looked at me seriously and explained how dangerous they are. He said, like groups of people, a group of baboons can quickly kill if they happen to stage an attack :)
I'm staying at hotel akin to a colonial resort. It's a giant plantation-like resort with rooms along the lush green cliffsides, overlooking a river flowing into the Indian Ocean. It has pools, thatched roof huts, open air restaurants, and too many employees. We are surrounded by small villages and vans thatВ reekВ of pollution. Open Air is delivering a system to a region wide girls soccer organization. I walked through the light morning rain and tall grass to tall white building staffed by locals and a devouted 40 year old Dutch woman who has lived her for 5 years managing a large girls soccer program. She operates an all woman organization and has 20 girls working for her in administration. In dutch fashion, she rides her bike wherever she goes. As she rolled up one of her pant legs before she stepped on her bike, she explained a Dutch person isn't Dutch without a bike.
On the way this morning to begin work, I walked with Harshad, a scrappy British BBC employee who Google funded to boost her program. He is the one who bought our outdoor cinema system. His brief project will contribute two months of technology classes, health classes, and nighttime world cup soccer entertainment for the girls and community at large. We will be traveling to 6 different locations within 4 hours from here. I will help train the local girls on how to run the outdoor cinema system. They will keep it and use it for years to come.
(Follow Stuart's journey to Kenya on the Open Air Cinema blog