Day 217: Rough African Landing Rattles Dice Man


Some landings are easier to make than other. Photo: Isaac Stone Simonelli

With a 100 dollar bill still clutched in my hand after finding out that nobody is working the exchange booth on this side of Customs at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, I unzip the DJI drone backpack, revealing Dorsey II, my newly-purchased Phantom 4 quadcopter.

“How much did it cost?” the official asks.

“About 1,200 dollars,” I say, perhaps proudly, as it is the most valuable possession I own at this point in Dice Travels.

“It's 500 dollars to bring it into Kenya as a bounty fee,” he says.

“What? Why? I don't have 500 dollars.”

“You must have permission to bring it in.”

“Can you please show the legislation?”

The broad-shouldered, over-weight man leads me into the Customs Office, where a small sign is taped to the wall.

It states that anyone wishing to fly a unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) within Kenya must seek approval from the Ministry of Defense and obtain authorization from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

“That's fine. I understand. I won't fly it in Kenya. I'm traveling by land into Rwanda after this.”

“When are you going?”

“In about two months.” “Okay, we will hold it here and you can pay a storage fee and come get it when you're about to leave.”

I was sitting duck for this situation. I'd failed to review Kenyan regulations for UAV. If I'd known there might be an issue, it could have been possible to be more subtle and slip through customs – the Jomo Kenyatta Airport Customs area is hardly a sealed, lock-down area.

Sullenly, I stare at the poster. I sit down outside.

“What will you do?” the man wants to know.

“I don't know. I don't have that much money. What are my options again?”

“We could have a private arrangement,” he suggests. “How much money do you have?”

“All I have is this,” I say, holding up the same 100 dollar bill that I'd hoped would float me for my first several days in Africa.

I'm exhausted. I only slept a couple hours right at then of the plane ride from Qatar to Kenya.

In Doha airport, I received a scary message from Julia, the wonderful woman I left behind when I started Dice Travels. By the time I'd gotten it, the situation had been resolved. However, a more dramatic personal issue from earlier in the day still consumed her.

“Do you want to talk?” I asked.

“Yes.”

I could hear the ocean lapping at the beach as we spoke. My heart was trembling when she started to explain what had happened. It was the first time, I'd heard her voice since I posted the story about sleeping with a French girl in Bangkok months ago. We'd loosely stayed in contact via Facebook chat, but that was it.

By the end of it the conversation, she's laughing and her laughter filled me up. I was smiling so hard and speaking so loudly that I'm sure everyone waiting to board the plane thought that I'm the worst.

They, of course, could be right.

“Okay, I've really got to go. They're about to take my ticket. Take care of yourself. I love you,” I said, before getting off the phone.

Sometimes people need to be reminded that you love them. I'd stopped telling her that I loved her when I started sleeping with other women. Now, it seemed necessary to remind her.

Several movies, some work and a brief nap later, I landed in Kenya.

I place the 100 dollar note in the Customs Officer's soft hand.

As a completely unnecessary gesture, he tries to cover the drone box with my motorcycle jacket, as if every Customs Officer on the floor didn't already know that he was extorting me out of some cash.

On the other side, I dig out the last US dollars on me that are not part of my emergency funds. It totals thirty dollars. I exchange the cash for Kenyan Shillings, buy a local SIM card, as well as 100 Shillings of credit, and then call Sister Sarah to see how much a taxi to her place should cost.

I hand the phone to the woman at one of the taxi stands. The price is 1.5 times more than Sister said it would be.

They were a lovely bunch of kids. Photo: Isaac Stone Simonelli

Fearful that the orphanage might end up being a trap, where they would be expecting me to give them money, despite Sister Sarah putting it up on Couch Surfing, I had wavered on whether or not to allow the Will of the Die to decided where I slept when I landed in Kenya. I knew that all I would want to do is go to bed, hardly the best kind of guest – I was worried that my host wouldn't understand. So, in Dohab, I'd given the decision over to the dice: it was a 66/33 weighted split in favor of the orphanage, as I had already confirmed that I would accept Sister Clare's hospitality.

As Julia was my witness, it was a four: I was headed to Sister Sarah's place.

The woman at the taxi stand explains that it's 2,800 Shilling for the ride. After talking with Sister Sarah, she reduced the price to 2,500 shilling. I have 2,600 Shilling on me – that thirty dollars didn't last long.

Instead of a taxi, I'm loaded up in a mini-van – the sole passenger, which is probably why I paid too much.

I scoot up to the front row of seats, so I can talk with the tall driver, who's wearing gold-rimmed glasses.

There's a Zebra nibbling in a grassy median as we pull out of the airport.

A fucking, Zebra!

A cement Zebra, then another cement Zebra and then a cement hippopotamus.

“Beyond that industrial zone is Nairobi National Park,” the driver says. “It has everything, but elephants. There are Lions, Cheetahs, Wildebeest, Rhinos – the big four.”

It seems impossible that so close to the sprawling capital city, the heart of Eastern Africa, literally on the other side of several hundred meters of scrub land and piles of rubble, as well as a few industrial buildings, is nearly every iconic African animal.

“So the road here is rough, because they are expanding it. There was a good road here, but they wanted to make it bigger,” the driver says, as if the bumpy road will give me a bad first impression of the country. “Okay, maybe you call madam now and ask where to go.”

We've bumped our way into Kayole, one of the suburbs of Nairobi, about thirty minutes from the city center.

After speaking with Sister Sarah, the driver stops at the corner of two dirt roads plagued by half-buried rocks. There are five or six boda boda taxi drivers standing next to their motorcycles. The bikes are Chinese machines covered with stickers, pleather and hand painted. They sport big, protective covers for the legs, bash plates and large racks for luggage. The drivers are mostly wearing leather jackets or jumpers with yellow-green traffic control vests thrown over them. They manage to look both official and unruly at the same time.

We stop three more times for directions. My leg slaps hard against the side of the van as we slowly rock and bump down the horrendous roads.

We call Sister Sarah again.

I'm going to have to do a whole lot of research on African hairstyles, I think, watching the people as we bang down the road.

I thought I'd feel more strange about how completely different the people here look from Thailand. If you think a person's racist because they can spot the difference between someone of African descent and someone of Asian decent you probably should stop gagging on the PC pipe and wipe the tears out of your eyes.

As Trevor Noah of The Daily Show put it: There is nothing wrong with seeing color. It is how you treat color that is more important.”

“No rich people would live here. I was born in Nairobi, but I've never been here. Never knew there was a place like this; the roads are very bad,” my driver says. “Very big area for poor people.”

Unfinished cement buildings stand next to dirt paths. Where the dirt paths start and the roads end is hard to tell. Only around drainage ditches or particularly close to walls do strips of green grass appear, the rest has been trodden down by millions of footfalls, trodden down to a point of no return. Businesses with shut doors have their front walls hand-painted, describing what services are available. There are saloons, fish shops, butchers and motorbike part shops. Traffic is kept at a near standstill due to the road conditions.

Perhaps a place with this much economic disparity is not the best place to land with all my toys. I smile to myself, watching the dusty world through the window, grateful that the die made this decision. Otherwise, I'd be second-guessing myself.

“This is inside complete. This: it's amazing. Never knew here, but the road is very, very rouch,” the driver says, now that he's perpetually focused on the road conditions.

We stop at a place that look nearly like everywhere we've been so far: dusty cement buildings; a fruit stand on the corner; and people wearing a mix of suits, jackets and t-shirts walking with purpose down the street or standing idyll in the sun.

Enthusiastically, Sister Sarah takes my hand, hugging me and making kissing sounds next to both of my cheeks once she has the door of the van open. All the fears that I was setting myself up to be scammed are washed away.

Sister Sarah poses next to a car before I depart. Photo: Isaac Stone Simonelli

Sister Sarah is wearing a dress with a pink skirt. She has a strong chin with a narrow face and freckles all under a scrappy, short affro. Though only 23 years old, her face has aged from a difficult life and the burdens of raising more than a dozen orphans without sponsors.

“I'm so glad you've come,” she says, taking my hand and then climbing into the van to direct the driver to the orphanage.

The building isn't marked; it's like any other single-storey cement building in the area. The outside walls are unpainted, a narrow blue door leads into a dimly-lit entrance. The adjoining room is full of kids sitting in plastic chairs set up in a circle. A square television in the corner is turned off. There are Christian posters on the wall that quote section of the Bible.

“I'm so tired. Is it okay if I just take nap,” I ask Sister Sarah, who I don't think is an actual Nun, but rather just a pillar of her church community.

“Yes, of course. We are about to have the sermon in here, but you can sleep. It's okay.”

The next room over has on its walls a few Christian posters, including the Ten Commandments for Love, as well as educational posters about anatomy. A worn mattress and a tired pink sheet lay on the floor next to a table with a cascading pile of magazines and books stacked on top of it. It's a small, cluttered room, where a curtain can be drawn across for more privacy.

It was a cluttered space, but space I had to myself. Photo: Isaac Stone Simonelli

Tired, I'm grateful that there is space for me in this humble household.

Sister Sarah helps me pile my belongs – drone, huge backpack and laptop case – next to the bed. I'm vaguely aware that I probably own more stuff than the combined total of the valuable items owned by the more than a dozen people in this small home.

“Are you hungry? I'll bring you rice? Do you like rice and bread?”

“Yes, that would be wonderful thank you.”

“Do you take your tea strong or weak?”

“Anyway is fine.

Sister Sarah brings in half a loaf of white sliced bread and a giant bowl of plain rice, as well as big cup of sweet milk tea for me. Sitting on the bed mat, I eat. The youngest orphans, Prince, wanders in wearing a tattered dress. He's carrying a plate of white rice.

He sits on the edge of the mat silently eating rice, keeping me company.

After I finish eating, Sarah sweeps Prince out and closes the door, turning off the light so that I can get some sleep.

Once alone, with the door shut, I'm too tired and too stressed to worry about offending anyone: so, I have a quick wank, only noticing the oblivious laughter of the kids in the next room after coming out of my trance.

After being awake for the better part of 28 hours, I pass out.

“Isaac, there are people here to greet you,” Sister Sarah says, waking me a couple hours later.

I could sleep for several more hours, but it seems that that is no longer an option.

The children, who I introduced myself to when I was in the living room earlier have all absconded. In their place are several adults and young adults.

“This is Pastor Joseph,” Sister Sarah says. Next to the pastor sits his wife. They are a small group of Born Again Christians who formed their church about two years ago, Pastor Joseph explains.

“We are all from this area,” he says. “We are glad that God has brought you to meet us. Maybe you can talk to the children about your travels and your work. So when they say they want to be a journalist, they know what that means.”

I do my best to understand what the pastor is saying. Though he's speaking English, the inflection and enunciation of the words is throwing me. It will take sometime for my hearing to adjust after becoming accustomed to Thai-English.

“We are so grateful that Sister Sarah has brought you into our lives. Sister Sarah is a great woman. She has done so much for us and our community,” the pastor says, continuing to rain well-deserved praise down on Sister Sarah.

“When we were children we would see mzungu [a white person] on the television and think he was God,” the pastor says. “When mzungu came to our home and to our church, we thought God was visting us. Now, we see mzungu every day and we know that they are not God, but they are also a child of God.”

Sitting there, doing my best to understand and react appropriately – react in such a way that makes sense based on what he's saying – I'm grateful that they made the leap of faith that I too am Christian.

“Is their racism in Asia?” the pastor wants to know

“Yes. There is a Chinese proverb that explains why Chinese people are better than all other people. In it, God is making man. He molds him out of clay, puts him into the oven and then starts to work on other things, forgetting all about the man he had made. When he remembers, he rushes to the oven and pulls the man out. But the man has burned and is black, so he he puts him in Africa. The next time, he makes man and puts him in the oven. He attentively waits, letting nothing distract him. However, he pulls man out of the oven too soon and he is still white, so he puts him in Europe. The third time, he waits the perfect amount of time. So, when he removes man from the oven, he his perfectly golden. He places this man in China,” I say.

The pastor laughs.

“I like this. I will tell this to many people, because it shows that we are all God's children, we were all made by the same God,” he says with a smile. However, in his immediate recounting of the tale he keeps mixing up who was pulled out of the oven too early and too late.

There's a bit of confusion before I realize that it's time for me to stand up and let them finish their meeting and get on with the rest of their Sunday.

Sister Clair is beaming as we leave the house, three of the oldest boys join us.

“I will teach you Swaili, while you're here,” she says. As we're walking down the road to grab a matatu to the closest ATM, me in a borrowed pair of flip flops, Sister Clair is pointing at things and either telling me the name in Swahili or perhaps telling me something in English – at times I can't tell.

A whole week of this, and I'll probably know as much Swahili as I do Thai.

The matatu, a local bus, is painted with wild swaths of blue and gree. It's bumping deafeningly loud beats. The drums, horns, pipes and voice meld together into one throbbing, vibrant rhythm.

“What kind of music is this?”

“Gospel,” Sister Sarah says. She starts translating some of the lyrics for me.

I pay the 50 Shillings for our bus ride as we hop out.

“You can only pull out 40,000 Shillings at a time?” I ask Sister Sarah, looking at the cap on the ATM machine. “How much is 40,000 Shillings?”

“About 40 dollars,” I hear her say.

I pull out the money, trying not to imagine how costly it's going to be to access my Thai funds 40 dollars at time, the transaction fee draining the account every time my card goes into the slot.

“Want to go shopping now?” Sister Sarah says. I don't really want to go shopping now, but she seems to want to take me into the supermarket type store across the road.

We go upstairs to look for shoes, passing by a bin of footballs. One of the boys grabs it and starts messing with ti. Sister Sarah says something about needing to replace a phone.

Feeling pretty happy to have been welcomed into their home, I offer to buy the football, though I'm not sure how much it costs. Suddenly, it's as if a money facet has been turned on. The boys are wanting me to buy a DVD player for them and then they decided no, maybe a cable TV discrambler would be better. And then it's decided that instead I should by Sister Sarah a new phone, as hers just broke. Downstairs, they are grabbing expensive cosmetic creams, some milk, some candies.

Fuming, I stand in line trying to check out and get away from the situation. One of the boys attempts to slip a bottle of cologne into the basket. I can't even afford colone for myself and here is some kid who some weeks doesn't have enough money in his household to buy rice to feed himself trying to get a fancy bottle of fragrant water.

“No, I'm not buying that. Take it back,” I say.

In total, I spend 60 Shilling – however much that is in dollars, I have no idea – but I feel skinned.

A dark cloud descends around me, as I walk ahead, eyes starring directly in front of me, wandering if they're getting it.

“Come here for the phone,” Sister Sarah says, as the boys veer toward a small kiosk.

“No, I'm not buying a phone,” I seethe.

“Come, just look.”

“I don't need to look. I have a phone. I don't need a phone.”

I continue walking.

“Can you please do me a favor and help me get a cab? I don't want to stay here tonight,” I say.

“What? Why? What's wrong.”

“What you did back there made me very uncomfortable. When I saw the football and wanted to buy it, I felt good about that, because a football is a great thing for the orphanage to have and it felt like a gift. And it felt good. But then, when you all started asking for the DVD player and putting things in the basket for me to buy, it didn't feel good. It felt like I was forced to buy these things. You're so nice to have invited me here, but that didn't feel good at all.

“Please don't go. It won't happen again, please.”

Back in the room, I start to pack as Sister Sarah sullenly sits in a plastic chair nearby.

“Don't be angry.”

“I'm not, but this isn't how Couch Surfing works. We have expectations based on the fact that we met on Couch Surfing. People using the site are usually on very tight budgets, trying to save money. The exchange is not for things and money, but the sharing of stories and cultures. I was excited because I could share my magic. I spent lots of money and time learning magic, and it is something I can give freely. I can also take photos of everyone. But I don't have a lot of money. I will run out of money on this trip and have to find work here in Africa. I'm not a money machine.

“I know it's not much money, but still...”

At the time, I still hadn't figured out the exchange rate. It turns out that I spent about 64 dollars, half of it on what must have been a very, very good football.

“But I'm not angry, because I understand. You see my skin color and you see that I have all these expensive things and you people ask how much they are and I tell you honestly. I know that this watch is too expensive. If I could choose to get the money I spent on it back, I would. I it was a mistake. So you see me with all of these expensive things and think that I have lots of money. I do understand that, but demanding that I buy things for you, basically strangers, is unreasonable. Don't get me wrong, you've been wonderful, but back in Phuket I wouldn't have even bought my girlfriend, who I loved, a new phone, so why am I buying one here, now that I have so little money?

“But like I said, I understand. However, I want to go. I will come back.”

With the air cleared, I'm disappointed to be leaving, but feel that it's still necessary.

“The kids love you. They want to see you all the time. They are very excited about the magic,” Sister Sarah says.

Prince and Esther were an adorable pair. Photos: Isaac Stone Simonelli

Meet the kids. Photos: Isaac Stone SImonelli

Welcome to the neighborhood. Photos: isaac Stone SImonelli

“Honestly, I need to set things up to do the magic. We can just tell them that I need to practice and prepare. I'll come back.”

Taking Sarah's hands in mine, I again try to comfort her.

“It's really okay. I'm not just saying I'll come because it's easy to say.”

“Do you promise?”

“Yes.”

Her face is tight with unhappiness and her eyes downcast, as I focus on scratching off phone credit top-up cards to bundle them all together and get a data plan to download Uber and call a cab.

I call Alix, a friend of Mrs Meat, to see if she has any suggestions on where I should stay.

“What? Already on the first day?” she says, surprised that I was immediately tapped as a walking ATM machine.

She suggests I go to Karen Camp, which is on the far side of town.

“Just say you know Alix and Kevin to the managers.”

With Uber downloaded, I call a cab.

“Don't be angry,” Sister Sarah says.

“I'm not angry. Sarah, I'm really not angry at all. I'm serious about wanting to come back and do the magic show and take pictures of everyone,” I say with a large, genuine smile.

Sister Sarah disappears, returning with Jerry, one of the young men who had come shopping with us.

Jerry is a handsome young man in a low-cut, v-neck sweater with a white mock-turtle neck underneath it.

“He wants to speak with you,” Sarah says.

I look up for a moment, then return to the cards.

“He wants to speak with you,” Sarah says again.

I look up.

“Please forgive me,” says Jerry, who wants to become a missionary in someplace such as Thailand.

“You don't need to be forgiven for anything. As I told Sarah, I completely understand. If you want forgiveness, of course you have it, but you don't need it,” I say, smiling.

Patiently, I explain to Jerry everything I told Sarah.

“Really, it's okay,” I say.

I book the Uber. It's 18 minutes away.

The driver calls immediately, because it's cheaper to call and ask where I am then leave his GPS on and follow it to the dot.

“Where are you?”

Here in Kayole North there isn't a large land mark that I can use, maybe the police station, but even that is a bit obscure. It's not like there's a sign in front of the orphanage.

“I'm at the dot,” I say.

I hand the phone to Sister Sarah so she can explain.

She does.

“I wanted to share my story. It is a terrible story,” Sister Sarah says, sitting down on the mattress with me.

She looks at her hands, then starts.

“This day, both of my parents died,” she starts, but is interrupted when the boys enter the room.

I know I should be giving her my full attention to her, but part of this feels like I'm being lined up for a guilt-tripping sob story and the other part is trying to get the Uber taxi sorted.

“Maybe you should tell me your story next time, when we have more time,” I say, reaching out for her hand.

She doesn't want to wait though, and returns to the story.

“This day, both of my parents died in a car crash. I was very young.”

She was ten years old and living in her father's home country of Kenya.

“I tried to end my life many times. I took the rope and tied it to the ceiling, then went to get a chair. When I got with the chair, the rope was gone. There was nobody else there. It was God,” she says. “Another time, I jumped into the ocean, but couldn't, people reached out and caught me.”

“How many times did you try to kill yourself?”

“Many times. But then I realized God had a plan for me. He wanted me to come to Nairobi and take care of these children. We don't have any sponsors, so I support everyone buy making these,” she says, showing me bath mat.

Sarah hand ties each thread of the bath mat. It takes about three days to make one, which she can sell for 1,500 Shillings.

“You're an incredible woman. I'm so impressed that you, at this age, have done so much and take care of so many.”

The Uber driver calls for more directions. He talks with Sister Sarah.

We move my stuff to the entrance of the house.

The driver is close.

He's nearly here, or at least it looks like he is nearly here. Then he suddenly cancels the ride, after spending the better part of 40 minutes searching for us.

The next Uber driver, Henry, is even worse. He talks with Sister Sarah and explains that he can come in the morning, but doesn't want to come tonight. I attempt to get another Uber, but Henry accepts every time then continues to drive away from the pickk up point. I flag an Uber again, then cancel when Henry accepts.

He calls.

“You playing with your phone? Where are you? I want to speak to you,” he says, a dangerous tone in his voice.

I hang up on him.

“I think you're right. I think I'll spend the night here if that's okay,” I tell Sister Sarah.

We move my stuff back into the room.

A couple of the girls and Prince all come into the room to play cards. The night slips by as we play. Originally, this is what I was hoping for.

“Do you like cabbage?” Sister Sarah asks, doing everything in her power to be the best host possible.

“I like everything.”

“Well have cooked cabbage with rice,” she says with a lovely smile. One of the widows that lives on the premise and helps Sister Sarah take care of the children begins making dinner.

“I want to make you one of these bracelets as a gift,” Sister Sarah says, indicating the bead bracelets that many of the children, as well as herself, are wearing.

“Thank you.”

It's been dark for an hour or so when, Sister Sarah comes in to tell me someone his here to great me. The person is a thin, middle-aged man wearing a tie to match his Sunday suit.

I take the plastic chair opposite of him. We talk African politics for a bit and joke about Sister Sarah trying to make me fat.

Later, one of Sister Sarah's friends comes to greet me while I'm playing cards in the bedroom. She's also 23, but looks 23. Her dark eyeliner draws you deeper into her eyes. She talks about going out tomorrow. She's lives across the street with her parents.

Esther one of the younger girls, who is enamored with me, wanders into the room for tickles. She squirms with glee and laughs before I put her back down and return to the card came.

“Finish your banana and tea,” Sister Sarah says, serious about my need to eat all the bananas she went out to get me.

Sister Sarah and Jerry join me in my room for dinner. I do my best to eat the enormous serving I was given, aware that Sister Sarah put much more stewed cabbage on my plate then her own.

“What about your food?” I ask.

“Prince went to bed already, so it's for him in the morning.”

Lounging in bed, I'm doing my best not to pass out. It's past midnight, by the time Jerry points out that they should let me get to bed.

It's been a long day. A very long day.

I don't protest.

I can hear Sister Sarah in the living room. She's telling everyone that it's bedtime. Apparently, they usually stay up this late. Where they get the energy, I don't know.

Sister Sarah changes into a loose fitting nightgown with matching shorts before joining me in bed.

I'd presumed that I'd be sleeping alone on the mattress, though a tattered kangaroo stuffed animal on the bed should have been a clue that I was stealing someone's mattress for the night.

“Do you mind if we turn off the lights?” I ask.

“I'm scarred when the lights are off.”

I find the eye mask I'd gotten on the Qatar Airways flight and put it on, lying back down in the darkness.

Sister Sarah is laying down on her side, her back side pushed out toward me. This is almost always an invitation for a cuddle, but it seems so unlikely under the circumstances. Tentatively, as if tapping on the window of a nearly closed restaurant to see if you can get a piece of pie to go, I lean into Sister Sarah.

She pushes back.

I pull her close with one arm so we can cuddle.

I can feel she wants more, but I don't.

I don't even understand why this is happening.

I want to be asleep.

I desperately want to be asleep, but my body is awake.

“I've never laid in a bed with a man like this before,” Sister Sarah says.

Why is this happening?

“No?”

“I'm a virgin. I've never had sex with a man.”

“Me neither,” I joke, but she doesn't get it.

“What is it like to have sex for the first time?”

Why is this happening?

“Um, so I don't know exactly, but I think it hurts a little for a woman. The key is to have lots of foreplay, so you're very wet so it doesn't hurt as much, and then go very slow,” I say, trying to strike a balance between erotic and practical.

“Do you prefer virgins or women who've had sex before?”

Why is this happening?

“Both have their benefits. I think with someone who's had sex before, it's easier to just play and have fun, while it's more serious with a virgin.”

“I've never had sex because I'm afraid.”

“Afraid of what?”

“Having a baby.”

“Me too.”

Thankfully, Sister Sarah agrees that when a man “breaks her” she wants it to be serious.

“I love you,” she says.

Why is this happening?

“You don't even know me,” I say in what I imagine is a soft, comforting voice.

I start tickling her to break the tension, lighten the mood or hopefully kill it.

She twists, laughs and squirms. I can feel her leaning in close for a kiss, so I return to tickling her.

“You remind me of my father,” she says with a soft smile in her voice. “He played like you.”

Sarah recalls her father coming home to love her, take care of her, protect her. She remembers when he would give her money and she'd go to the store to buy what they needed. She remembers a time before she understood how the world worked and was safe in his arms.

She rolls up into my arms.

“Do you know?” she asks, holding up her phone.

This is the same phone that was dropped in water earlier, which I was supposed to replace. I'd given her a couple 100 Shilling to pick it up from the repair shop so she could help arrange a taxi for me.

On the phone there are sexy pictures of large breasted women, some black, some white. I'd been surprised to stumble over the photos earlier, when she was showing me a different picture and told me a could scroll through them.

“Their boobs are so big,” she points out. “Mine are small.”

Why is this happening?

“I think yours are nice. Not too small,” I say, though I hadn't really noticed. “Here, lets see.”

I roll on top of her and lift up her bra, momentarily caressing her breasts before pulling it back down.

“See, very nice. But I think it's bed time now,” I say.

Sleep quickly pulls me away from the waking world.

Large sections of Sister Sarah's Bible were highlighted. Photo: Isaac Stone Simonelli

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The Proposition

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