Yesterday it took me 12 hours to go 280 miles. I thought I was making good time until I was about an hour and half away from home. Then it started raining really hard. I made it through about four riverbed crossings that had a little water in them and then came to one I could not cross. I had to wait an hour and twenty minutes for that river to go down enough so I could cross it. Our road from Kitale to Lodwar has about 44 crossings through normally dry riverbeds. There are a few other places where the road has washed out because of rain, but these are the "official" river crossings. So, I got to one of these and it had more water in it than I cared to cross. There was a rushing, raging river where there is normally only sand and a cement slab.
It had taken me about seven hours to get to that point. So, I got out of the truck and went and chatted with the other drivers as we waited for the river to go down. There was a big truck there and 3 hiluxes (that is what my truck is). The big truck finally decided to try it and made it across. Then the bigger trucks on the other side crossed. It was the turn of the smaller trucks, but the other drivers were afraid. So I decided to lead the charge and went through with no problems.
I drove another five minutes and had to stop again. This river crossing was even fuller and had many more vehicles waiting to cross. The other two hiluxes from the previous crossing waited about twenty minutes more before crossing and then joined the rest of us at the second river. There were three seasonal rivers emptying into the main river just above where the road was. So, I waited there for almost two hours for the water to get low enough for us to cross. It had stopped raining where we were, but the rain was still coming upstream so we all had to wait. While there, I had some interesting conversations with some of the other drivers and passengers. We all got to watch the power of that raging river. It uprooted two trees on the banks and carried them away as if they weighed nothing. It is good to be reminded from time to time how powerful nature can be!
Then the big semi's finally decided to cross. They did fine and the bigger trucks followed suit. A couple of hiluxes had crossed from the other direction so I got in line behind some of the land cruisers and other smaller trucks. Four vehicles before I was to cross and a police land cruiser found a hole in the cement as he was crossing. He got stuck and as he was trying to get it out, it looked like he was going to go over the edge and get swept away. We all had some tense moments as we watched and many yelled advice at him. Finally he was able to get straightened out and didn't stall and got across. So, then people were nervous again and one of the three trucks in front of me decided to get out of line. The others were all bigger land cruisers with their exhaust pipes up in the air. My exhaust pipe comes out at the bottom of my truck. If the water gets into it and backs up to the engine then you stall out and are at the mercy of the river.
I decided to go ahead and cross since two hiluxes had already made it before the police truck had problems. So, I unbuckled my seat belt (for easier jumping out if there were problems :} ), said a quick prayer and took off - trying to stay away from the hole and yet still stay on the cement road slab. As I came up out of the water on the other side, the people waiting to cross were cheering. It was kind of funny, but it was good to have made it across with no problems at all. Thank the Lord for his protection, 4 wheel drive and new tires!! By the time I made it across that river it was about 6:30 and getting dark.
This road is not the best road in the world (an understatement of many magnitudes). There are more holes than pavement. So, it is not fun trying to drive it in the dark. Headlights work, but they often get misaligned so that you can't see very well. This happens as the vehicles bounce down the road. Thankfully, the next 15 or so riverbeds were either dry or only had a few puddles in them and we didn't have to stop again for rivers. Even so, the last hour and a half was not a fun trip. I was quite tense by the time I made it home. I left Eldoret at 8 AM and didn't arrive in Lodwar until a little after 8 PM. So, it was a very long day. Thankfully, my passenger's (Keshule Edapal) wife was waiting for us. Ali had prepared a very nice dinner for us. So, I didn't have to try to figure out what to eat once I made it home. That was a real blessing!! Keshule and Ali are fellow missionaries to the Turkana people. Keshule had taken a vehicle to Nairobi to be sold. He made it back to Eldoret and then was able to ride back to Turkana with me. He was a real help and encourager when we had to cross the rivers!
After a quick but very nice dinner of chicken, peas, carrots, rice and cabbage, I made my way home. I unloaded only the things that had to go into the fridge and freezer and left the rest for this morning. I was so tired that once I got things put away and got cleaned up a bit, I went straight to bed. It was a nice end to a very long day!