JB turns up a bit late in his rather battered truck. He always sleeps with his truck when he travels with a consignment. ‘Precious cargo man!’ beats his chest and readjusts his drooping khaki shorts with a wide smile.
‘Hi JB I’ve been up to the border by car but never all the way to Kampala. It’ll be quite a trip!’
‘It’ll be a few days over roads that are rough in places and rather precipitous in others’ he warns me. ‘But I’ve made it every time. I’ve not been to the orphanage though but its not too far off the Kampala road. We’ll get there with St Christopher’s help!’ He taps the medallion around his neck.
‘He’s never let me down. Yet!’
He laughs. ‘Not trouble at the docks. The pick up went through smooth as butter this time! It’s not always that easy.’
I throw my bag onto the wide front seat and pull myself into the truck. It smells of of hot Vynal, chewing gum and sweat mixed with coco butter.
‘I’ve got my travel card for the border. So let’s be off.’
National Identification Cards are needed as travel documents in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda and can be used when travelling between these three Partner States.
The driving distance between Nairobi to Kampala being a 408 mile journey that takes about twelve hours so we plan to stop for the night at Eldoret, Todays journey will be a five hr trip via A104 Nakuru Rd.
JB has suggested we stay in Eldoret.
‘Its great place for us to break our journey.’ He laughs ‘We are staying in a cabin near my cousins house on the edge of town. There’s a beautiful water fall close by. You’ll love it. Especially after a long bumpy drive.’
I have lined up some church visits and hope to generate some orders in the morning. I have quite a long list of churches to visit but Africa is wide awake at dawn in a busy metropolis such as Eldoret. We should be able to grab a bag of samosas and eat lunch on our way and arrive at the orphanage at dusk.
JB jokes about watching out for Black and White Colobus monkeys.
‘They sometimes cross the road near the national park. They’ll take the truck apart if we slow down!’
I tell the story of actually happening to our car at Longleat Safari Park when some monkey escaped their enclosure.
‘I haven’t remembered that in years or chewed any gum!’ I reached for the packet on the wide dash board covered in red dust.
‘The school took us to a zoo just before they expelled me.’ He looked across at me with his bright blue eyes.
‘I couldn’t see the point of school in those days now my wife makes sure our kids go. The three of them walking together in the bright white shirts she makes and I feel proud. She taught me to to read and keeps my accounts in order. She’s a gem.’ I had fallen silent and ha reach across the wide seat and gave me a nudge.
‘Longleat sounds like a posh outing.I remember seeing ads on the telly at grandmas’
‘’I dont remember much about it. I wasn’t in a good place. I had a step dad I didn’t like much – just before I did a Huckleberry Finn!’
‘What in the world is a Huckleberry Finn?’
‘ I remember they were rowing about the monkeys all the way back and that night.
So Huck tells the reader I ‘lit out!’ Huck says it when he’s been locked in a cabin and decides escape from his drunk angry father and go on adventures. You never heard of Tom Sawyer?’
‘Nope – but I like the idea of doing a Huckleberry Finn. I’ve had to do it sometimes when I am with one of my dream girls and an angry father or husband comes back early!’
‘A lady in every port of call then ! Does your wife know ?’
‘She’s a tolerant woman and tends to her business and our children – doesn’t ask too many questions and cooks the best Mombassa Mix in the world.’’JB looks over at me with his large blue eyes and laughs.’I am blessed with a pigeon pair. JB Junior is a Mombassa Congregational alter boy and our girl is in the choir. Thats how com she started her church regalia business. She’s cooking after church one Sunday and she looks me straight in the eye and says, ‘You know I could make a better job than they do!’
‘And I say ain’t that the truth but which ‘they’ are you talking about woman?’
‘And she says ‘the children’s choir dresses’ they fall to rags too quick. I’m always having to get out my needle and thread. I just know I could make them better than the ones we buy.’
‘She certainly does a good job for Hassocks & Cassocks.’
‘Yup She and I is a good team but I don’t go to our church cos I don’t entirely believe those twist around collar priests are all men of god. Some are some arn’t. And I say that as one who got taken to Brixton Trinity church regular as clockwork as a lad.’
‘Sure Brixton London My Dad was in a Brixton backing band even though he was a whitey.
‘Hence your blue eyes’
‘Hence my sky blue eyes!’ he repeated, ’just as god made them. The magazine guy said my eyes were just about perfect for the fashion shoot. The girls were parading the latest Brixton Blue Threads for a Mombassa Beach film shoot for X-10sive Magazine.’
‘’So you aren’t from around here’
‘Nope No way My skin tells a ‘sort of once I was’ story. Then we got Traded and more recently Windrushed. Flown back here for a photo shoot. A 300 year family trip. The rest as they say is history! He gave me a wide water melon smile. Oops! he swerved to avoid hitting an unseen pothole.’
‘Yup But I got here back to my African sun and now I got me an African son called Sunny and a daughter called Sunshine.’
This is going to be an entertaining journey I thought to myself.
I into weight training after l got into a fight at my PRU. You know a sin bin. I got knifed.
Cos I didn’t want to belong to a gang. I needed to get away from that scene.It was getting well edgy
My girlfriend Ellie was a hairdresser and got had a friend who was a bit part actress and filled in with waitressing. I was in love with them both.
The photo shoot was in Mombassa and Ellie was going to do hair and make up for the shoot. They needed a guy for the Photo shoot and an on line vid. A guy with Brixton speak to give the tag line street cred so I went out with the crew.’
We were on the outskirts of Nairobi. The road stretched out in front of us.
‘So how come you ended up staying here?’
‘Well I fell out of love with the girls cos they decided they loved each other. But fell in love with Africa and Mombassa and decided not to leave. For a year he lived in Dads hut the original owner of the Trade winds hotel and did hotel transfers and deliveries.
‘Yes I can see you’r the perfect man with the van but how come the church deliveries? I suppose that was because of your wife’s business.
‘Yup! The churches here are numerous. Theres a lot of delivery work and I’ve just about cornered the market. I do all sorts. Catering boxes for church gatherings. Bread and Wine – Loaves and fishes too!
‘So Hassocks and Cassocks is only a walk on part for you.
‘Have you only got stuff from the orphage shipment in the back there or are you dropping stuff off in Kampala, too?’
Then he met a Mombassa girl and they made a place to live from old doors and corrigated iron on the mombassa road. The Church next door became part of their lives and the truck was bought from the scrap dealer.
‘I lived in London too for a while. I slept in a cardboard box for about a year. There wasn’t much sun that summer. It was cold and damp.’
‘No way man you’ve got to be kidding me. Whereabouts in London?’