Posted by: hilarycole | December 7, 2007

Bad car karma

I must have been a vandal or a thief in a past life, as this week has been one car issue after the other.

This week’s EMPOWER HIV/AIDS class is about a 2-hour drive away, but I at least have the good fortune of being entertained by Peter the driver and enjoying the company of Mary and John David. It’s especially good to like your travel companions when the timing belt breaks and you spend an hour or so on the side of the road.  I got a ride home after we called our contact to cancel the day-three class; Peter spent the next six hours dealing.  But he’s a gem and rolls with it as well as anyone.

Day four was the flat tire as we were about to leave the very-rural church where we were teaching.  Again, Peter saved the day like a pro.

Today, day five, was the best.  Highway police check.  The three passengers in the back weren’t wearing seatbelts, namely because there are only two in the back and they don’t tighten enough to work anyway.  Usually the police just wave us on and hastle the matatu drivers, but this morning, the tall portly cop opened the back door and tugged on Maurice Lubanga’s belt.  It flew off his lap.  “Out out out!” the officer yelled.

I stayed in the car but what ensued was a negotiation to prevent them from taking a fellow volunteer, Elison, to court for a 2000 Ksh fine (about $300).  Peter asked me how much money I had on me – I had a 100 note and a 1000 note.  100 was not a big enough bribe and 1000 was too much.  Peter is a quiet guy but he was disgusted. We ended up using Peter’s 500 Ksh note to bribe them to let us go – that’s actually the purpose of the Police check.  As Peter says, “Our police are thieves.”  And 500 is a lot to ask of a driver with a wife in school and four kids at home. I’ll top him up for that.

Wish me luck for tomorrow.  Right now I’m heading to the bank for some small bills.



  1. Thank you Hilary for coming and spending time with us here as part of us and sharing your skills and experience. you were great lady to have around! you help us and build a work shop kajakony carpentry to help for the less fortunate and drop our children to live like other in future, your kind was better than we could of hoped for. we were inspirational and we can only hope you come back and visit us all again. good luck for the future x more

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