Thursday, May 12, 2016

Slum Runner


Just a year ago my running routes took me through some amazingly beautiful scenery along the Blue Ridge near Crozet, VA.  The previous autumn I took my camera along on a sixteen mile run to document what I was otherwise taking for granted.  You can see those pictures here.

Today I find myself still running, but in very different circumstances.  Now I live in Kenya, in a part of Nairobi that has been described as a slum.  Lots of people live here, and in conditions that many in the West would find unthinkable and intolerable.

I go running three or four times a week.  On Saturdays I go with a priest friend of mine.  We go on a 10k loop, starting from the Orthodox seminary where I live, up Kabiria Road until we finally leave the crowds of people and the makeshift market stalls and the tin shanties and the mud (or dust) and sewerage and sheep and goats and jostling buses and matatus behind and run up a muddy (dusty) road through some land that's still green and cultivated.  Then we turn back through another community called Waithaka, winding along streets thronged with busy people and playing children and lined with tiny shops all selling much the same things.  We reach the main road that connects the town of Kikuyu with Kawangware and dodge the mud on one side and the traffic on the other until we reach Kawangware proper and fling ourselves into the midst of the bus/matatu/traffic scrum that behaves like blocked coronary arteries during a heart attack.  Assuming we survive, we turn with relief onto Kinyanjui Road which takes us through a less frenzied, more 'industrial' (at least it's plentiful in sludge and piles of garbage) part of our community until we turn back onto the beginning of Kabiria Road and back into the slum we call home.

Here are some pictures of what that run looked like his past Saturday.  It's rainy season.  So there's water and mud and muck everywhere.  I've supplemented my pictures with a handful of others of things I see on other runs I make.  I try not to think of beautiful Crozet, where I was running a year ago.

Leaving the seminary, a relatively quiet oasis, via our muddy track to Kabiria Road 

Dodging puddles and mud

Past the car and then left onto Kabiria Road.
Because of road construction there are no busses, matatus, cars and pickipickis on this road to
impress you with.  A rare blessing we took full advantage of.
When one leaves the main road...

Been there, done that.


Sadly, sights like this are not uncommon in Kawangware.

I run by a 'river' that looks something like this.


My running partner, Fr. Methodius.  We've left the slum behind us, with green
up and down hills ahead.

Now on the main road connecting Kikuyu and Kawangware.

Welcome to Kawangware. Not an optimal running space. But we manage.

Below are three gifs of us on the road.
Apologies for the choppiness.  I'm a novice at the technology.





Note:  I have to be careful where I take pictures, which is why I don't have many from the thronged parts of my route.  People who look like me who come around taking random pictures are sometimes not appreciated.