You see road trips still excite me! Maybe not as much as they used to when I was 5 years. This morning I found myself at the bus stage way before time. I have learned over years that time is important for me, even if it is not so for many others I interact with. Well, for a bus that is departing at 7am, 6.30am seemed ripe! Short version of the story is that we left at 7.36am. This was not without a few exciting moments. Buses issue tickets. Tickets have seat numbers. why people don’t like looking for their seat is far from hilarious and is borderline to annoying. I like the window seat not too far from the front. And this is where I was. This way, I feel under control. I don’t have to be brushed by everybody walking down the aisle and I am the one who controls the opening and closing of the window. A little luxury. Headboy – Headmaster kind of thing. After loads of shifting, disappointed intonations and pouting, we get underway.
The first minutes of the bus ride are intensely soothing, partly from the relief that we are finally moving and partly from the monotonous purr of the turbo engine. I strive to stay awake to get a last glance of home, knowing that I am heading down the same highway. Perhaps I may just see my daughter, son or my wife, or the neighbor, or the neighbor’s kid, or anybody who knows me, and in that odd instance call or wave. I have a short flashback to the days when people would come and wave goodbye beside the road when you were traveling. You had to sit on the left side, open the window, stick your head out so that your face was easily recognized. The tricky bit was that everybody had their head sticking out and so “your people” would have the hard task of identifying which torso was yours. It was a great outing those days. I go unnoticed this time. I fall half asleep, fueled by the crying child, the chatting of women, the incessant chatter of travellers on their phones in different languages that makes for an excellent cacophony of discordance, that my hardly tone-deaf ears cannot stand.
two and a half hours later, the bus stops over in Narok. We have already covered about one-third of our journey. People scramble to disembark, but I stay putt. I don’t believe in stopovers unless you need to use the bathroom. I take out my packed snacks, really pleased with myself to have made plans. I look at the calory load on the label and I am happy to gobble down some crisps, digestive and some soda. Contrary to my ideals, these stopovers stir a level of “food excitement” for travelers and for sure, they start walking back into the bus carrying black plastic bags oozing with the aroma of fries, sausages and all sorts, drenching the limited atmosphere of the bus. If you know the nostalgic aroma of fries, chicken and sausage that lives on Moi avenue or Tom Mboya street in Nairobi then you know what I am talking about. This concoction is nothing to desire at 10am, and furthermore in a public bus filled with other miscellaneous scent ranging from cheap perfume to groundnuts. The black plastic bags hauling the food is what get the better of my attention. Environmental disaster! The bus does not have any disposal bin and as for the people, I am not sure whether they know any better regarding waste disposal. The bus recommences the journey.
As sure as the sun rises, plastic start flying across the windows of the bus. Each satisfied soul takes turns to throw his, filled with plastic bottles and whatever is left over from their meal. I don’t understand who put in our minds that waste is a bad thing that needs to be as far from you as possible. Maybe they would have remembered to tell us that you need not generate it then you won’t have it! My heart bleeds, I feel the need to stand up and “preach” and I do just that!
I think of the Nairobi buses where you have preachers aboard with their sermonette, those who flog their bush medicine for nothing as much as a word, the people who are begging for a cause, and I imagine myself in the same bus, and what I should say! “Everybody listen up!” I take the plastic soda bottle I have and lift it up. “This my friends, is plastic. Good for holding your soda, good for reusing if you needed some water. However, this piece of *item* takes only 20 years to reintegrate into the environment. If you throw it out of the window, it first will stay where you left it until your new baby boy is about 20 years old. Meaning he will go to preschool, nursery, primary and secondary and perhaps still be able to collect it as a souvenir before he goes to college. The plastic bags you are throwing out of the window are useful for the moment but if you could have carried a container from home, you would have only needed to have the fried served into that. It takes planning and execution to think about your environment. It costs you less to plan to save the environment and indeed it will cost your future generations even less and ensure they can enjoy the same resources you enjoyed.” I sit down. Feeling well satisfied.
The only missing link is that all these was contemplated in the heart, but the gut did not allow me to execute this mini-lecture. Something can be done and needs to be done. Maybe I’ll get there one day.
As the bus speeds away, I stay lost in the thoughts of the myriad of ways we could approach environmental education. The purr of the bus draws nearer, the chatter of the women stops, travelers still stay loud on their phones and the children laugh and chatter with glee. I drift back to my half-sleep, crowded with thoughts of the risks to society because of environmental decay.