Life is like … a Choose Your Own Adventure book.
Page 76: “Some friendly bystanders help you and your friends roll the car back on its wheels and tow it to the nearest village police station. The helpful constable takes down the report, while your friends take pictures of the damage. Soon, the four of you have unloaded all the luggage and are sitting under a tree discussing options. You could cancel the kayak trip and hop a bus directly back to Nairobi to get started on the insurance claim. You could try towing the car to the Mombassa insurance office, six hours south of your present location. Or, you could leave the car where it is and try to continue the trip as planned … what do you do?”
You decide that it is important to deal with the car immediately. Spring break might be shot and the kayaking deposit lost, but at least you’re all alive.
Take a bus directly back to Nairobi turn to PAGE 102
Spring break has only just started and you’ve already made it this far. You decide that, while you might not get to kayak, you could still get a little time on the beach while dealing with the insurance company.
Try and deal with the car in Mombassa, turn to PAGE 47
You have already paid for the kayak trip and your guide is waiting for you on a remote island with no cell phone reception. If you turn back now, it will be difficult to let him know what has happened, and the chances of getting a refund are slim. The police have agreed to hold the car until the insurance company can come for it, which might be as late as next week. Since no one is physically hurt, you decide to leave the car issues until Monday and give kayaking a shot.
Go ahead with the trip as planned – turn to PAGE 95
The Choose Your Own Adventure series that I loved when I was ten might not have been prize-winning literature, but it was breath-catching suspense fiction. Where would the choice take you? The scary or sad options sometimes had happy surprises hidden in the next page, and sometimes the seemingly good options would bring you to an abrupt end. You would turn to page 81 and there across the bottom of the page, in big black letters you would hit THE END. There would be a short paragraph describing your demise, but there were no more options – no more pages to turn to.
Cruising down the road five hours earlier, all seemed right with the world. Turn the page: the car is upside-down in a grass bank. Any one of us may have in that moment found ourselves on the last page of the story. Thankfully we all still had choices before us – trouble was, which to choose. Unlike a book, there are no sneak peeks in life.
Page 95: “You decide to make the most of the week. Together you and your friends rearrange the luggage and consolidate the bags while the police officer calls the bus company. You catch the 2pm bus to the Makowe jetty where the dhow captain is waiting to take you across the straight to Lamu. By late afternoon, you are sitting on a hotel balcony sipping fresh passion fruit juice and watching the tide go out. Since the marine reserve can only be accessed at high tide, you have to wait until after midnight to continue. The dhow captain picks the four of you up at 1am and ferries you to the southern end of the marine reserve. You arrive just after sunrise where your kayak guide is waiting. He takes you to your first campsite and you spend a spectacular four days kayaking around coral islands and mangrove channels, exploring 14th century ruins and turtle nesting beaches, snorkeling, picnicking, fishing, and kiting.
By Friday night you are back at the hotel in Lamu, once again discussing travel options. You could fly directly home. You could take the overnight bus. You could take the bus part way and fly the rest of the way. You could hire a private driver. What do you do?
There is a direct flight to Nairobi leaving tomorrow afternoon. It’s expensive but there are four open seats and you would be home by Saturday night. You decide that, after all the adventure on this trip, it’s worth the extra expense to get home quickly.
Fly directly back to Nairobi – turn to Page 27
The bus is the cheapest option. It is at least a sixteen hour drive and you wouldn’t get home until Sunday morning, but at least you would get to experience the Kenyan bus system. You decide to save the money and experience a little of the real Kenya.
Take the bus all the way home – turn to Page 115
Mombassa-Nairobi flights are cheap and there are flights that leave as late as 7pm. If you take the bus as far as Mombassa and then take a flight to Nairobi, you would still get home by Saturday night and minimize the extra travel expenses. Since two of you want to take the bus and two of you want to fly, you decide on a compromise.
Take the bus as far as Mombassa and fly the rest of the way home – turn to Page 63
The hotel manager knows a safari driver who would be willing to take you all directly back to Nairobi. It’s a bit cheaper than the direct flight and more flexible than the bus, but it would still be about 14 hours of driving. Since the bus sounds uncomfortable and the plane is expensive, you decide to drive home.
Hire a private driver – turn to Page 56
I don’t know what you would have done, but we opted for the compromise.
Page 63: “You and your friends decide to try to get home on the Saturday night flight and still see a little more of Kenya on the way. Early Saturday morning, you board the bus to Mombassa. As the bus rattles down the dusty road, you alternate between reading, dozing and gazing out the window. Four hours later you pull into Malindi – the first big town on the way to Mombassa. As the bus pulls into the market place you discover that your wallet slipped out of your pocket when you were dozing and is gone. As you search, the bus conductor notices your trouble. Before you know it, a market-wide search for the women who had sat behind you is on. When the women are found and the empty wallet turns up under a seat, the conductors decide to take the whole bus to the police station. After two hours of interrogation, the money is returned and the police report finalized. During this time, the bus conductors have off-loaded your luggage and promised to put you on an overnight bus directly to Nairobi. Since it looks like you won’t be flying after all, you leave the station in search of dinner.”
Turn to Page 115
Page 115: “The overnight bus to Nairobi is a large bus with the softest seats you have seen yet on this trip. The day fades and the four of you settle in for a long drive.
The bus reaches the capital a bit after 5am. You unload your luggage and the four of you squeeze into a cab. It’s Sunday morning and dawn is breaking as the cab pulls into your apartment complex. You’re tired and dirty, but you’re home. This adventure might be over, but in only twenty-four hours a different kind of adventure will begin again – school.