Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 28: Alex

In Nairobi, everyone has a shortlist of trusted taxi drivers that can be called at a moment's notice. Such a list is born of strong recommendations or exceptional service after that one time you were forced to head to the queue and trust your luck. My current list numbers 13, but my first call is always to Alex.

In Kenya taxis wait at specific spots. I think they actually pay association dues based on their location. Alex queues across from my old house so he's always been nearby when I needed him. His car is to put it mildly, falling apart - not ideal for a taxi in Nairobi where the quality of your car can quite literally mean life or death if it leaves you stranded on the wrong road at the wrong time. But Alex is a mechanic so I have faith in the car staying in working order, regardless of the sounds it makes (and right now, the passenger side door does threaten daily to fall off).

Alex and I have slightly different political views but our friendship is steadfast. He's seen me head to school with my bag over packed and the sleep still in my eye, and collected friends and I in the wee hours of the morning after concerts or dancing on the town. He never fails to greet me with a "Hello Megan! How are we today? Long time!" even if I've seen him just a couple days before.

When my parents came to Kenya I made sure they met Alex and that he provided as much of our Nairobi transport as possible (this was before I had my car, which I had Alex take a look at before buying - I needed his seal of approval). I love that when I see him he askes how Mama and Daddy are, and that one day I got to meet his kids when he picked me from the airport before taking them to school.

It is simple relationships like this that I treasure here. Knowing that there is someone who provides good service but also friendship to accompany my comings and goings. When I next return to Kenya it is likely Alex who will greet me at the airport, hopefully in a newer car he his working is butt off to import and expand his business with. I for one will be giving him a token tip towards this effort on our last ride together for now.

1 comment:

Lars in Kenia said...

so true. Alex was an important part of my Kenyan life as well. Still remember the smiling disappointment when he had no time to pick me up because we had recommended him to too many people at a time :)
and him being the last face of a friend I saw when leaving. Honestly, I was kinda crying, obviously caused by the tear gas clouds we drove through...