We had the pleasure of visiting a tea processing plant before we left Kericho . . . this plant receives tea from all the small independent growers in the area. Tea is delivered to the plantation in late morning and will be oxidized, dried, processed and packed before the day is out. I learned that each tea plant must be harvested every seven days or the taste of the tea will be compromised. They prune the tea plants right back twice a year and each plant will usually produce for up to thirty years. The tea produced here is a strong, dark tea and that is one reason many here like a tea/milk combination to reduce the strong flavour. The tea is trucked from this plant to Mombasa (on the coat) where it is sold at auction and then shipped all over the world. Most of the goods that are destined to the land locked countries surrounding this area, such as Uganda and Rwanda, arrive there and are trucked through Kenya to those countries.
the Tea Factory
a small plantation is still a lot of work, harvesting the tea weekly
tea, tea, everywhere tea
So, Yes there is a lot of truck traffic on the highways . . . perhaps even more than we are used to seeing on the QEII in Alberta.
A lot of the roads here are dirt and mud, many are of the 'African massage' variety making travel difficult by our standards, some of the highways are constantly under construction . . . just like home. My travel mate, Al Poole, has named the paved roads 'Kenya Smooooth'.
(an earlier day) with some rain in the afternoons we experienced problems when it came time to leave; we had to take off so we wouldn’t be stuck. One van had to be pulled out so walking was the only option. Warren made a mistake of purchasing these boots, so he had the privilege of pushing the van (photos from ABW blog)
On the road now to the Mara now, besides truck traffic we see donkeys everywhere feeding at the side of the roads and even more packing all sorts of items including tea.
Motorcycles here are also common and they too move a serious amount of goods. We have seen all manner of loads, from passengers holding a number of chickens, to household items (including furniture) to transporting wood. In some instances the rider sits on the pile of wood and the load can extend about four feet in both directions (sideways from the bike( . . . I have not be able to capture this wide load on camera.
a not un-typical load
You may know that Kenya has a history of developing world class long distance runners . . . we have seen groups of runners putting in their miles, I think the hilly regions help in their training.
Life is hard for most in this country . . . especially for the women. In these rural areas women spend their days cutting, hauling and selling wood for $150 shillings per load. They carry the wood on their backs by a strap on their forehead to ease the load . . . I'm sure I couldn't do it (even at twenty years younger). A typical day might see the these women making breakfast and seeing their children off to school, then heading out for the first load of the day. They come home and make lunch for their husbands and younger children, then head out for another load before coming home and making supper. In this culture, the men folk often just hang with their friends. It's a very hard life for so many.