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Entry 33 // Finding Jeff and Van

Update by: Luke | March 16th, 2011

In highschool I was friends with a guy named Jeff Harding. He was a kid that went to my Dad's church. He was a really cool kid mostly because he was older than me and went to the public school. I got to hang out with him a few times, but he usually hung out with my older sister. I became friends with his younger brother Ryan and we would ride BMX bikes together. He taugh me how to ride a Unicycle. Eventually he came to work on my fishing boat for a summer.
While planning this trip, my mom told me that Jeff was a missionary now and in Kenya somewhere. Hey, while we are in the neighborhood, lets go visit him. After a few emails from Jungle Junction we got his GPS coordinates. He is only about 250 miles to our west. We take off around noon.

We get distracted easily. This time is was by 13 cent strips of pineapple. So good. We mow heavy, and get swarmed instantly. That means the camera goes back deep inside my pocket. Nick gives out his email address, while I get asked how many pistons I have. Back on the road, and we come across something that we see all the time. At least this time it makes sense. This is at the bottom of a 8,000 foot pass.And by the way, the fuel injected bikes run fine at 8,000 feet. They just don't have any UMPH. I have seen a lot of strange things on this trip, but what I see next really interests me. We are driving in the desert now. It's flat, no one is around. I see a donkey pulling a car with two 55 gallon drums on it. The donkey is all by it's self. No driver. The donkey somehow knows exactly where to go. I stop. take some pictures, the donkey never loses stride. It does not get side tracked. This donkey is trained well. The owner is a lucky man. I didn't know animals could work unsupervised. 100 miles is kind of our unspoken break time. It usually the 2 hour mark, and a good time for me to get gas. around that time my rear tank hits reserve. This means I need to transfer fuel from my front two tanks to the rear main tank. That's fancy wording for switching a valve. Being the lazy man I am though, If I can get to a gas station before I flip that valve, I willl only have to fill up the rear tank, verses topping off all three tanks. To fill the front tanks I have to remove my tank bag and put it somewhere safe temperarly. Then I have the chore of making sure the gas pumpers don't over fill three tanks instead of just one. You see these guys love overfilling tanks. If you don't keep an eye on them, it's a guarenteed overfill. So the moral of the story is, the simplier the better. Fill up before you do a fuel transfer. That means it's gas time, snack time and pee time. In that order.

Gas, who needs a picture of that?

Snack, I'll shoot that photo. Coke and a hardboiled egg. 65 centsPee time, I'll take many pictures.The gas station facilities leave something to be desired. It makes all those Citgo and Clark gas stations your parrents stopped at when you were a kid seem inviting. They get the job done, but their are no baby changing stations. There are no paper towels to grab the door handle with, but then again, there is no door handle to grab.

Is a close up necessary? I think it is. Americans really have no idea how people live outside of America. This is everyday real life for people. (If you ever think I cross the line, post your thoughts in the comments.)Back on the road, we drive another 100 miles. Time for gas again. You know the routine by now. But this time, we are switching snack for dinner, and leaving out potty break.

We find a place. There is no menu, you just kind of tell the waitress you are hungry, while she keeps saying "You're welcome." They use that phrase for manythings. It subsutitues the words "ok." "sounds good" and "thank you." We got the local cusine. Some kind of salty green stringy vegtable. some meat mixed with sauce and some tortillias to soak everything up with. It wasn't bad, but the meat is just kind of tough to eat. We need to start saying no meat with our meals because it will be much cheaper and we won't be wasting it. It's hard to eat bone and grissle.Of course everyone was watching us eat and one guy was adimate that he buys up each a Coke. They don't have any at the restaurant so the waitress leaves and comes back with some from a store done the road. A man asks to take a picture with us, so we have about 4 guys come over and we all smile. They end up staying next to us and we talk about stuff. The guy talking to me asks me what I am going to do for him. How much money I will give him. I tell him we are friends and just want to visit. Why do I need to give you money? I explains that we are white and rich and that since we are rich he deserves money from us. He is going to school and needs money because it is expensive. I tell him I don't give money away when people ask for it. I don't think it helps the people in the long run. In fact I believe it makes it worse, but that is a whole different topic altogether. Later I may get on a tangent explaining how I am not sure that African AID is doing anything positive here. We settle our bill and head for the door. By now the waitress has explained to me that the guy buying us Cokes wants a ride somewhere. We don't know where, but he wants a ride. We tell him we are going to Egypt and that seems fine with him. I didn't notice before, I just thought he was quirky, but it's apparent not that he is drunk. We need to make this a quick exit.

We walk outside and I ask nick if he is ready. The drunk guy has followed us outside with his bag. Nick is on his bike ready to roll. I start mine up and put on my helmet. The drunk guy has targed me with the ride. I swing my leg over as the drunk man tries to put his bad on my back seat. By the time he attempts to get on, I'm already on the throttle. He clearly doesn't make it and I'm off. Nick is also rolling by now and we head off to Jeff's! We talk about what happened through our intercoms and realize we need to be more cautious of people motives when offering things. The man thought he was paying for a ride, but a ride with us was not what he was going to get.

20 miles down the road, I realize I forgot my mini Jolby Gorillapod tripod. Ahh....Ok, lets turn around and see if they have it. We get back, luckily the drunk man is no where in site. The waitress doesn't know that I left anything. I walk inside and look on the floor where I was sitting. There it is. On the floor up against the wall. This is awesome. I just saved $50 replacing it in Nairobi.

Back on the road now, we have waisted some time and it's getting dark. This may get fun trying to find Jeff's house.Jeff leves out in the village, where there are no addresses. We just have a dot on the GPS where he is. Well we get to the main town close to his village and the roads on our GPS end there. Now all we have is a black screen with a Jeff dot. We try to take roads in his general direction, but they keep veering off one way or the other. Eventually we get a grid mapped out from our tracks, and we narrow it down battle ship style. F4 miss, B7 miss, we are down to foot paths at this point. The term road is used very loosly. Of course all this is being done in the pitch black night. Eventually we get within 20 feet of his place. I get off the bikes and walk around. I ask a guy if he knows where some white people are. Do you know a Jeff Harding? He thinks he does, and we get back on the bikes to follow him. Well be both get on our bikes, but I'm the only one doing the following. Nicks bike died and it doesn't want to start back up. I follow the guy, but still have Nick on the intercom telling him where I am. I round the corner and there is Jeff. I havn't seen him in years, but he still looks the same except now he has glasses. (What happened to his corrective eye surgary that he spent his high school graduation money on?) It's funny how the brain thinks some times. We walk back and nick pushes his bike into their gated "yard," more like a gated sand box. I can tell even in the dark there is no grass. We made it far enough for today. We can trouble shoot Nicks bike in the morning. Right now it's time to celebrate. Cokes are bought and we talk long into the night. Old stories are remembered and new memories are created. We didn't know this at the time, but they gave us their room to sleep in for the night, and we slept great. It's nice to be in a bed.

That's how we found Jeff Harding.


 

 

 

 

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