The driving distance from Nairobi to Migori, Kenya is 371 kilometers or 222 miles. I'm traveling with a team of 15 other Americans, divided into three vans. We will spend the week in Migori, providing surgical services to the surrounding communities which do not have local access to such specialized care.
The road winds through city, town and countryside for nearly seven hours, providing an overview of this land and a glimpse into the lives of the people here.
A man shovels red dirt into a wheelbarrow, with no one and no structure anywhere in sight.
Small boys clad in colorful shawls of woven wool tend a herd of goats along the roadside.
A gaunt steer saunters past a row of ramshackle shops, pausing for a moment in front of Dimples Butchery, Bar & Restaurant.
Two young girls walk along, talking and laughing. Each carries a large bundle of sticks on her back.
A father walks hand in hand with three small children, past a group of donkeys nosing for food amid the roadside garbage.
Traffic creeps behind a long line of laden trucks, struggling up a steep hill. A family of baboons, including a mother with a tiny baby clinging to her back, gather at the edge of the road, hoping for scraps of food to be tossed from the trucks.
A teenage girl runs, laughing, to hide behind a shed as a boy of four or five looks around for her in an apparent game of hide-and-seek.
Acacia trees, with their distinctive silhouette, line the road and dot the distant landscape.
Birds pick at the bloated corpse of a cow lying in a ditch.
Groups of school children in scarlet uniforms smile and wave, shouting "How are you?" before bursting into giggles.
A family of five speeds past on a motorcycle.
Sheep wander between pieces of furniture for sale in front of a small cement building labeled FIVE STAR HOTEL.
Higher up in the hills, it is market day. Bunches of green bananas and bundles of sugar cane are piled high in makeshift stalls of sticks and cloth. A man selling chickens dangles them by their feet through his fingers, three to hand. Women sell vegetables from coarsely woven baskets piled high with potatoes, peas, tomatoes, and squash. Shoppers haggle over produce, testing mangos, avocados, and melons for ripeness. Small fires covered with metal grates provide a means of roasting ears of corn which are sold as a snack to passersby.
The rainy season is just beginning. We pass through showers here and there which turn the dirt portions of the road to thick red mud pocked with deep pothole puddles.
Shortly after dusk, we arrive at our destination. Migori is home to approximately 30,000 Kenyans from several different tribes. It is located 4500 ft above sea level, in the southwest corner of Kenya, just north of the Tanzania border.
Tomorrow will be spent touring the facilities, getting a crash course in how things are done here, and organizing team and supplies for the work ahead.