Published On: Wed, Dec 26th, 2012

Kenyan Version of a Car Wash

Because a lot [if not most] of the roads outside of Nairobi are dirt roads, even a short burst of rain can be devastating. While in Kitui it rained a little, but enough to turn the roads into pure 100% Kenyan mud.

The car we were riding in was caked in mud. The morning after we returned, mzee and I took it to the car wash. But in Kenya a car wash is a bit different from in America. We’re spoiled and take for granted simple stuff like vacuums, hoses and Windex. Let alone the automated car washes. And in America it’s cheaper to run your car through an automated car wash than it is for a hand wash detailing. In Kenya it’s the other way around.

The car wash we went to was like a carport over dirt. There’s no running water or vacuums. There’s no Windex, Armour All or Tire Cleaner. Just a couple of Kenyans with a few rags, a bucket of water that constantly needs to be changed, and exceptional attention to detail.

Car Wash in Kenya

While waiting, which took about four times longer than in America, there really wasn’t much to do. Other than herd animals.

Literally walking around looking for anything to occupy my attention, I came across a sign on a pole advertising a job. Not sure how long it was up there, but they were looking for security guards. Unlike in America, though, whoever was advertising got to specify their ideal candidates, unhampered by the EEOC.

Recruitment Poster

Some of the requirements include:

  • Sketch map to your residence
  • Two color passport photos
  • You have to be at least 23 years old
  • You have to be at least 5 foot 7


Not to mention you’ll need a letter from your tribal chief and a letter of good conduct.

Still looking to kill time, I noticed that the gas dispenser didn’t look like it was used much. And jut to make sure it wasn’t used when it wasn’t supposed to, there was a lock on it.

Locked Gas Pump

Finally, though, the car was ready. Instead of vacuuming, they used a brush and their hands to get the stubborn pieces. Instead of Windex, they used a bucket of water and a rag. Instead of Tire Cleaner, they used the same bucket of water and the same rag.

Mzee found a few spots that needed a little more attention, but for the most part, I was highly impressed with their detailing. The floorboards and floor mats were like new. The windows were clean. The tires were clean. The entire car was, well, clean.

And how much did all this cost? 200 KSH — the equivalent of $2.31.

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About the Author

David Gaines

- David Gaines is a Washington, DC, resident transplanted from North Carolina whose dream career was a newspaper writer but settled for the recruiting industry and simply blogging about whatever thoughts crosses his mind.


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