The other volunteers had offered to pay me for gas, so I figured we could fill up on the way and split the cost then. We had made it about halfway to Nanyuki without passing a single gas station (or town for that matter) when the gas light flickered on. Uh oh.
"Uhh the gas light just went on. It's making me nervous."
"No, it's fine. We have to pass a gas station soon. This is the main road between Meru and Nanyuki and matatus (buses) travel it all the time."
"That's true. You can usually go another 20-25 miles after the empty light turns on anyway...right?"
"Yeah, and I've been on matatus with a lot less gas than we have now and they've never gotten stuck."
"OK, we'll be fine, we'll make it" I said, mainly in an attempt to comfort myself. It had started to rain and the prospect of walking along the windy mountain roads to the next town (wherever it was) seemed a bit daunting.
The hand dropped below the bottom line of the meter just as we made it to a small cluster of buildings.
"Maybe there's a gas station here! Should we stop?"
"Yeah it's worth a try."
I pulled off of the tarmac onto a slick dirt road.
"Who should we ask?"
"Eh, not them" he said, referring to a semi-sketchy looking group of men, "Let's ask him."
I pulled over and we were directed to a fuel station further along the road, which was less a road and more a patch of mud.
"I don't know about this. Let's ask her."
He got out of the car and asked, in Kiswahili, where the nearest fuel station was. I had no idea what they were saying, but I could tell by her shaking head and pointing arm that we still had a ways to go. Turns out there was no gas station in the town and we had to continue on to the next one which was about 3km away (and that's if her estimate was accurate).
We sped off and got back on the paved road, after inadvertently driving through a drainage ditch, and were on our way to the next town. I was nervous. Really nervous. It was pouring now and rolling hills and farmland stretched as far as I could see. The scenery was starting to look more burdensome than beautiful.
Then up ahead the tips of a town started to peak out over the hills which lay before us. "Ah! There it is!" I coasted the entire way into town, just in case, and we made it to the gas station just in time. Crisis averted.
We drove past the British army base on our way into town and I immediately noticed the exceptionally large mzungu population. We were still in the minority, but we were no longer the only mzungus in town. I kinda missed being the token white person in town.
The three of us met up with three more volunteers at a French restaurant in town. They had milkshakes! I was thrilled. I spent an entire semester in France last Fall and managed to never try a croque monsieur so I found it pretty funny that here I was eating one in the middle of Kenya at a French restaurant. It was delicious!
The car I drive here is definitely not meant for Kenyan roads. First of all, it's about 5 inches off the ground and considering the roads are pockmarked with potholes and speed bumps, it is less than ideal. We had a full car driving to one of the volunteer's houses outside of town and I confidently crept over the first speed bump we reached. I cringed as a deafening metallic sound of the car's underbelly scraping, clanging, and grinding the bump was released below us. But we made it. But there were more speed bumps ahead. I pulled up to the next one, "alright, everybody out!" Everyone hopped out of the car as I crossed and jumped back in before getting out again at the next bump. Then it was flat, unadulterated road from thereon out.
We stopped by the Bantu Lodge, where I left the car for the night. Then we walked the rest of the way to the volunteer's house. On the way he showed us the shortcut he sometimes takes through the woods to get to work. The path is usually covered in dung and footprints from wild elephants. "It's just like walking to work in the states" he said, obviously joking.