Joy Ride

For many years in Kenya, I had zero desire to drive a car.  I didn’t find the risky passing on two lane roads or a town without traffic signals, enjoyable.  I spent years begging for rides to get to the slums or to town.  I prided myself on “living like the locals” by hopping on matatus (Kenya’s minibus public transportation system) and motorbikes.  I knew the rates and utilized my Swahili to confidently talk my way out of the increased mzungu fares.

And I even got my trooper mom to hop on the motorbike bandwagon for her month long stay in 2014.

But something changed last year.  I started missing driving and craving independence.  And a mall was built in town and I remembered that I love shopping and WiFi and apparently KFC.  My stuffed down Western roots started to resurface.

Last December I bought a car.  For the first week I had a professional driver with me because I wanted someone to reassure me that I was driving on the right side of the road and wasn’t going to kill a person, dog, cow, or chicken.  After one week, I had a shocking revelation:

I know how to drive a car. 

After my “I know how to drive a car” revelation, I confidently set out for my first trip to town sans professional driver.  As I got ready to make a “big” turn from the dirt road to the main road, my very wise friend (who had never ever driven a car) gave me some advice, “don’t forget the turn signal is on the opposite side”.

Ugh.  You’re so annoying.  You have never even driven a car.  Of course I know where the turn signal is.

I kept these oh so humble thoughts to myself and then shot her the you-know-nothing death look.  I then proceeded to go for the turn signal.  Instead, the wipers screeched like nails on a chalkboard across the dry windshield.  My wise friend shot me back the you’re-an-idiot death look.

Since being back in the U.S., I’ve only accidentally hit the windshield wipers a few times (like 10).  I’m not sure whether to blame it on my blonde hair or my permanent state of mental confusion about which continent I actually reside on.

Having a car has been amazing. . .not just for my own personal freedom but also for taking kids to the hospital, for school supply shopping, networking meetings, and other adventures.

The most fun part about the car?  The joy from our BEAM kids when they get a chance to take a ride.  A two-minute jaunt in our beautifully old RAV4 might as well be a trip to Disneyland for these thrill seekers. . .

Plus, the BEAM kids give free car washes. . .

I’m planning to go back to Kenya a little blonder and a lot less confused so it’s anybody’s guess how much dry windshield wiping I’ll be doing. . .

With love and gratitude,


*Please consider a monthly or one time donation to support the BEAM Kenya mission to advocate for the emotional, spiritual, and education needs of impoverished children in Kenya*


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