Getting to Mbita …

The trip to Mbita from Nairobi involves a short flight to Kisumu, a two hour taxi ride to a ferry dock at Luanda and a one hour ferry trip across Homa Bay to Mbita town. There is now a relatively new Tarmac road to the ferry. Before this road was made asphalt, it was muddy and twice in the past, the McGill student group has been stuck on the road, once having to leave one of our overlander trucks mired in the mud overnight.

imageThe ferry trip is always amusing. This trip I arrived about 15 minutes after the ferry had left and had to wait two hours for the next one in a dirt-floored lean-to with benches adorned with ripped cushions, the stuffing belching out of them. It is certainly hotter in this part of the country. In Nairobi the temperatures were pleasant and actually cool. In Kisumu it was in the mid-thirties.

As I waited for the ferry, I watched the fishermen come into the landing nearby in their wooden boats, typical of the region. There is always an on-shore wind early in the evening and the lake actually turns from calm to treacherously rough.

Finally the ferry arrived and a few cars and passengers disembarked. However, there was a small herd of cows that had spent the trip on the main deck and they had to be cajoled and whipped to leave the boat down the car ramp. The region has had more rain than usual in the latter part of 2012 so the lake water level is higher than I have seen in the past. This meant that the ramp for cars ( and cows ) was steep so the cows balked and slid as they exited the boat. In their anxious ride over they had produced a fair amount of dung which littered the deck and the ramp, so much that the cars that were boarding ferry were having trouble getting up onto the boat, their wheels spinning in the “bullshit” and spraying it around. Eventually, two and a half hours after I had reached the landing, the ferry was loaded and ready to depart.


I happened to meet Linda, an Amercan woman who now lives on Rusinga Island. Our paths had crossed on my previous visits the region. She  was returning to Rusinga Island with some new wicker furniture including a couple of nice chairs, so the two of us sat on the deck of the boat amidst the dung having a visit and watching the sunset.

My "home away from home" for the next three weeks.

My “home away from home” for the next three weeks.

The bottom line is that I arrived safely in time to have dinner and a Tusker with the film crew for Nightrunners, the movie. I feel quite at home at the ICIPE station here and figure it is my 8th stay here. I know all the staff and vice versa. I will be staying in the same room I have had for the past few years, overlooking the grounds that lead to Lake Victoria.  I have already had welcoming  hugs from Tabitha, the lady that cleans my room. Another of my international homes.image

1 thought on “Getting to Mbita …

  1. Say Hi to Mary, our host while at ICIPE… and ask her to pass on greetings to the folk at the Mbita Anglican Church. Mary and I harmonized a cool version of “The Sweet By and By”, an old gospel song, at church the morning we visited.
    How is Kevin doing? Kevin’s brother was in a serious car accident while we were in Mbita, and our group was pleased to help Kevin get to his brother’s side at a Nairobi hospital. Unforgettable memories!

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