Kitale. Finally!

For the last year and a half I’ve been working with John and Ben on the branding of Baisikeli Ugunduzi, designing merchandise and shooting videos. I have been viewing photos from their visit to Kenya in 2011 this summer while anxiously awaiting my departure from the United States.
The months of waiting has made the arrival that much sweeter…!

Most of what I had envisioned from Ben’s description of Kitale was very different.  Kitale is home to over 60,000 people and coming from a small University town of just 9,000 that sounds massive. However, after wandering around town for a week I found Kitale to feel much smaller yet chaotic and friendly with that African feel (cows, dogs, chicken and sheep roam the streets) all at the same time. I was surprised by all the people who knew Baisikeli Ugunduzi by name just days after my arrival. On every street it seemed we would hear a voice calling, “Baisikeli Ugunduzi” or “Tubeless”, with a big smile or thumbs up. When people say “tubeless”, they are referring to Baisikeli Ugunduzi and the milele tube - it requires no air and never goes flat. Thus, we are now known as Tubeless. Whether it makes sense to us or not, everyone in Kenya understands what we mean as soon as tubeless is mentioned.

First impressions:
Wow, the landscape is very green and beautiful here.
There are many, many bicycles and boda  boda. (It makes total sense to start the business here)
How do you cross the street without getting run over by a bus, car, or bike?
A filling, delicious lunch for less than a dollar? You’ve got to be kidding me.
Everyone is so nice, so welcoming and incredibly happy here.

I can’t wait to begin work with the boda boda (bicycle taxi drivers) and have already met a few who are testing our tubes--Jeffrey and Sammy.

Baisikeli Ugunduzi’s number one test rider is Jeffrey. He is a very happy, smiley, small, fit man who loves biking more than anything. Jeffrey is also a member of the Kitale Race Team and trains with a group of riders three times a week. Just yesterday Ben and I visited his home. His wife Rose greeted us, wearing a Baisikeli Ugunduzi T-shirt. Following Rose were her five children, ranging from 10 months to 10 years old. Their home is over 15km from town which Jeffrey bikes every morning with two kids on the back of his bicycle. Their home consists of two small buildings (mud huts with a tin roof), surrounded by tall maize Jeffrey has planted. One hut is for cooking and the other is for sleeping and eating. We had a great time talking and eating with Jeffrey and Rose.

The other boda boda I’ve had a chance to meet is Sammy and have only met him briefly at the sacco (bicycle taxi union office).
Sammy is a strong rider who also races and practices with the Kitale Race Team. He also loves cliff bars.

That’s all for now—more later.
Thanks for reading!