Not puking on lizards, Kenya

The plan was to meet a childhood buddy in the train station in Voi, then catch a car to the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary for two days of charismatic Kenyan macrofauna. Things went off the rails (so to speak) immediately. A delay on his side gave me not a two hour wait but five, and the morning’s onset of intense body aches, chills, and an enthusiastically upset digestive tract was intensifying. When our lodging offered to have the driver come take me to a restaurant to wait, I begged yes please.

Voi station waiting room

The waiting room in Voi. Comfy. Weirdly cold.


That first hour was long, waiting with a passel of security guards, four security cameras, and four flatscreen TVs showing looped security advisories of what not to do to the train. Don’t sleep on the tracks. Don’t dump garbage on them. Don’t try to flag it down, throw rocks at it, or (my personal favorite) steal the signal lights for scrap metal. The Chinese train company didn’t seem to think too highly of the locals.


By the second hour I was watching each clip inside my closed eyelids. Still no driver. I shuffled to and from the bathroom. How much would my crappy American health insurance charge if I spent the rest of my vacation in the hospital? Didn’t ponder where the nearest hospital was or what it would be like.

funny signs, stupid signs

I got in trouble for taking this in Mombasa. “Why are you taking photos?” scowled the guard. I figured “Because I’m a tourist?” was more polite than “Because your signs are hilarious.”


Passengers for the afternoon train arrived during the third hour and together we learned that if you do steal the signal lights, the train will kill all your friend’s cattle. The train came, they left, I lay back down on the cold hard bench, the station staff were perplexed by my continued presence. But I felt I’d always been there and always would be, until well into the fourth hour, the driver showed up. I smashed on a pleasant demeanor and off we went.


“A restaurant” turned out to be a fancy resort where tourists spent more for lunch that I had all week (though presumably didn’t get sick from it), or lounged in any of several pools inside the electric fence while assorted birds and a friggin elephant hung out by the watering hole just outside the wire. Impala and zebra in the background. It was incredible. If you’re going to be sick all day, might as well do it with a view of an elephant.

My sparkling water stayed down and I was feeling like a decent shadow of a human three hours later when my childhood buddy arrived. I was proud that I hadn’t barfed on a single piece of teak patio furniture, nor any of the colorful lizards scampering about. You’re welcome. I grabbed my bag, jumped in the car, and off we went.


(I missed the first part but you can just see the signal light coming down in the first frame. Then he tells his buddy where he got the metal, buddy isn’t impressed, and we all learn a marinara lesson.)