Most people ask me, “So if you don’t want to get married, what will you do with your life?” That question often makes the bile rise in my mouth for two reasons. One, because it is asked by ignorant people (often women) whose purpose is dipset in the presence of a man in their lives; women whose entire happiness is built on marriage and children. Two because, I dislike people with a uni-lateral worldview, especially if such people have attained a decent education.
That said, one of the things I wish to do with my life is travel. I want to see the world, meet people and experience cultures. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to be on the road. Should I ever die on it, then I’ll have died doing what I love to do (epitaphize this!). I am however financially limited, so much so, that I’ve never been on a plane. Ever. I went to Mombasa (by road) for the first time in 2009 and this Easter weekend, I got the opportunity to travel past Nakuru, all the way to Kisumu and the great beyond the highway. The excitement was evident on my tweet..,
“Road Trip begins tomorrow!! First on my itinerary – Muliro Gardens Bench. Oh yeah!! That’s the kinda shit you 4sq niqqa!!#LocalTourism :D”
Anyway, come Thursday, I can hardly contain myself in the office. Didn’t do diddly squat. 3pm the crew pulls over at the parking lot, bags in the boot, liquor on the floor, plastic cups in the hand, road trip begins! Only until we are in Limuru do I realize that I have no idea where I’ll be sleeping, what I will eat or what else I want to see apart from Muliro Gardens. I choose to voice my concerns while we are still sober. “So where will we be staying?” One of the chics I’ve only met that day says “Kama mimi naenda matanga, hatuwezi kosa mahali pa kulala.” That WTF moment suddenly ends up in a LOL. I refill everyone’s cups as I think, who are these I am traveling with?.
The first stop-to-pee-point: Delamere Petrol Station. It’s relevant I mention this because the place has very clean ladies’ toilets kept sparkling by an old lady who welcomes you with the most cheerful “Karibu!” as if she’s inviting you to her home. She’s very courteous, and though her job sucks, she appreciates it. Which is why I made a point of giving her a reasonable tip just to say thank you. Old lady get’s emotional, hugs me and starts shedding tears. Which only makes me cry too. We hug and I leave, headed to my next best thing at Delamare – the marinated roast chicken. Goddamn!! What that muhindi does to that piece of fowl makes me believe our driver’s silly quotes – Utamu wa safari ni kukula.
We leave Delamare, stereo volume shy of 30. We have a 5hr mix MP3 with all kinds of music for all the different ages represented in the car..,
“♫Sweep Sweep♫” “♫Hapa Kule.., Mi ni Frashaaa..,juu ya kadudu♫! “♫Mipango ya Mungu ni ya ajabu..♫, “♫Oh Jubileee♫.., “♫Have a baby by me baby be a millionaire..♫” “♫Kwajili yako naimba… ♫”
It’s evident, cars were also made to contain cheerful riots. I’d be lying if I didn’t say we didn’t bush attack on our way to Kisumu and that I was a victim to 2nd hand smoking. But I’ll skip the TMI…
We get to Kisumu at midnight and all my crew wants to do is rave, not sleep. First Club Quorum, which is packed to the bar. Then Bottoms Up, which is empty to one lady dancing on her own. We are already inside, when they ask us to pay to get inside. I ask them what we’re paying for since there’s no show. They insist we must pay to be inside. I say we want to go outside then. They refuse and bolt the door. I’m inebriated and agitated now, and that’s when I speak without stuttering. An excessive flow of words that loosely translate to open sesame. And just like that, we are out in the open air. With a big poop to the party mood, we head to our place of rest – Mbale, where I would meet a Spinster in the Bunbuz.
The thing I noted with Mbale is the fine weather and healthy produce. There’s ever something to eat in Mbale and it comes magnified: Avocados, Bananas even Guavas, which I ate with abandon every morning, seated crossed legs under a tree, like I was about to engage in some Yoga. Nom Nom Nom. Mbale also taught me what an affordable, healthy, home made breakfast should look and taste like. Stewed bananas (carbohydrates), Eggs from kuku ya Kienyeji (protein) and white tea. Lunch and dinner was mostly Ugali made from unsifted maize (very healthy), chicken (the staple food of Luhya land) and mrenda or kunde. I never liked the taste of kunde before, but my host turned me into a believer. For the record, Luhyas can cook and cook well; without spices and on a charcoal jiko. It’s official: I’ll be attending Luhya Nite for the food, not necessarily the music.
Besides the food, I marveled at one Spinster who we have since struck a very tight bond with. In her 30s, this lady has built her own brick house and has a flourishing farm. She’s raising six calves, which she recently bought and has a strong workforce of men who go about their work, high on some liqour called Furaha but who somehow ensure that her farm is tilled, the cows are fed and the compound is clean. She’s doing well for herself and seems content with life. As I watch her go about her business, our silly quotes driver says:
“Mwanamke kama huyu, amajijengea nyumba kubwa hivi, ataolewa na nani?”
I smile, so proud of her for not waiting for Mr. Right to move her out of her mother’s mud hut just so she could finally live in her dream brick house. She chased her dream and any dude who’ll come by will just have to catch up. He can build something on Mars if they find life there. She’s carrying on with life. This Spinster in the village is my new role model.
The following day, I finally get a chance to visit Muliro Gardens. There are some things you’ve got to see to believe and for me it was the famous bench, not the action. I convinced our driver to let me drive, from Mbale to Kakamega because well, I’m still a learner trying to get the experience. He says cool, gives me the keys and down the road I drive my crew, at a painstaking 30km/hr. I must have been irritating to every other driver eager to get to their rural home. The stares, the honking, the endless stream of overtaking vehicles and my crew in the back, dying of laughter. For a minute, I was excited to be finally overtaking a car only to realize that it was overtaking me on my left side. All in all, we arrived safely. Me with a stiff neck needing Deep Heat and a neck brace because I never once looked sideways, thereby missing all the scenery #Facepalm #FemaleDrivers. I am one of them :(
Muliro Gardens was easy to find. The trees and the little foot path are tell tale signs of the park. A few meters inside and the benches pop up. @Buggz79 catches my announcement on Twitter and demands that I also announce I have mastairo. I’m convinced he’s jealous not to be in Muliro (aki ya Mungu ni wivu tu) so I send him a twitpic of the benches as consolation, while trying to figure out what guts people must have to get their freak on in an open park that also holds a Holy Ground #IKidYouNot.
@barrackobaga tweets me saying I lenga my fixation with Muliro and see more of Kakamega. I take his advice and we make our way to the Crying Stones. I find the climb up somewhat daunting for my BMI and our tour guide, 7yr old Christine, doesn’t make me feel better as she hops, skips and jumps about on bare feet. But she’s cool and smart too. You can’t fleece this kid. She knows the value of every shilling that comes into her life. The stone is not crying, apparently it only cries in August, so says another child tour-guide who feeds us myth after myth about the origin of the rocks. As we race downhill back to our car, we chance upon a rehearsal bull fight. It seems serendipity, coincidence and luck are all working in my favour to make this roadtrip worth writing home about.
Kisumu and Awesome Tweeps
We drive back to Mbale to freshen up and get ready to club in Kisumu. I was unfortunate to miss @theBOGOF the previous day who tweeted me to say he/she had already left Kisumu for Koru. By virtue of my presence @Magaribina offers to buy me coffee, but our timings differ and we take a rain check. @joeemgee catches one of my tweets on @Weedy_Kev‘s timeline, recommends a few joints in Kisumu and what I should look out for. But first, I have to see Lake Victoria. It’s getting dark, so all I get is glimpses of pools of the lake under trucks being cleaned. Much of what’s left of the lake near the shore is covered by hyacinth. Though I’m disappointed, I’ve never seen hyacinth before either. So hey! My crew and I make it to a club. As we watch the game we realize it’s raining as heavily as it was at Old Trafford. 1-nil later and we’re joined by a friend. He says he wants to show us Kisumu by night, we end up in Kisumu’s red light district. It’s a muddy street, girls lined up under a kibanda, and between trucks. For anything from 100bob or even less, a man will get what he wants bent over in the shadows. This is worse than Muliro. Sad :( We leave a couple of men there, negotiating the best possible price. One more club in Kisumu, playing Ohangla. Quorum is packed as usual. Don’t feel like going anywhere else. Back to Mbale for some much needed R&R . Eldoret awaits.
I didn’t know there was a shorter route to Eldoret through a recently constructed road that cuts across Musalia Mudavadi’s hometown. I find humour in the names of some of the places. Shamakhokho makes my day. I keep saying it over and over until it sounds right on my throat. I tweet my new found word, @Writel and @Mamaa_ can’t help but laugh. On and on we go. Past Kapsabet and Naptabwa then Langas. It’s not long before we’re in Eldoret. The car falls silent as we notice that there’s nothing growing on the fields. The expansive farms have been tilled and are ready for planting, but the bright sunset in the horizon is an indication that the rains are late. I’m not sure whether there’s seed to plant either or affordable fertilizers. All I know is, there’s no farming going on in Eldoret at the moment.
I worry about us in Nairobi, who rely on those fields to feed us. We get to our next unexpected destination. The home of a very wealthy man. He hugs us all, and I get all mushy, humbled by the rich man’s warm gesture welcoming total strangers. So far, my hosts have shown me nothing but love. I’ve not spent a penny on food, or a place to stay and they treat me like their very blood. I wonder why we Kenyans fight. I want to return the favour. To them, to other strangers to tweeps who’ve been keeping my TL cheerful, making my random road trip a delight. I sleep in Eldoret, amdist a home full of family and friends of all tribes and races. Luo, Luhya, Kikuyu, Congolese, German, Japanese name them. All this in Eldoret. We’re all in harmony.
I rise up to find 200 more readers stopped by my blog, one who was commenting at 2am in the morning. I’m pleased. It’s also @bintiM‘s birthday. I send my felicitations, shower and head out. After a hearty breakfast, someone is asked to fetch me. Apparently our humble, rich host wants to see me urgently. He has been told I can market his establishment and he gives me a business proposition that will not only be a lucrative side hustle but will also keep me traveling. I’m still baffled when I whisper a thankful prayer to my God. A couple of drinks later, we set off for Nairobi. In the daylight I see the destroyed homes of IDPs in the distance. Some have been burnt, some ransacked of all the furnishings – ceiling boards, roofing even window panes – all that remains are shells of bricks. A few kilometers later, the IDP tents and ramshackle houses start to rise. I’m so moved, I wonder how we Kenyans did this to each other. I worry about the IDPs too. Are they really safe where they are now? Aren’t they still at risk? Who will guarantee them security come 2012 if they’ve not been resettled yet? Sensing my shock, our driver throws a quote into the air – Siasa ya Kenya ni ya tumbo tu.
NOTE: Before you vote in 2012, kindly visit a couple of IDP camps. It will put into perspective the crop of politicians we have in this country. It might help you make a sound decision.
I doze off somewhere between Burnt Forest and Mau Summit and wake up in time to see Sachangwan. Another moment of silence as I recall the images on the net and on TV of the tanker bursting into flames and people burning. We slowly pass by the memorial site and I can’t bring myself to take pictures. A short distance later, a Vitz has overturned on the side of the road. It seems some of its occupants have escaped unharmed. Everyone’s rushing back to Nairobi. Nairobians never learn. As if on que, favaritos tweep @matrister tweets me and says to be careful on the road. He’s seen some grisly accidents and he worries about me. I tell him, I’ll holla once I get home. It’s eyes wide open all the way now. Another stop at Delamere to pee and sample that chicken. Traffic is at a near standstill at Limuru as a trailer bursts into flames after hitting the wall along the Nairobi-Naivasha highway, causing major traffic on both sides of the road. Vehicles going up towards Naivasha are most affected and are turning back to seek alternative routes. I tweet the #trafficwatch and traffic tweep @marcusolang retweets it. So does @DiaspoRadical and many other tweeple. When it comes to relaying information, Twitter is awesome!
I’m in Nairobi by 9pm. I announce my arrival and reassure @matrister that I’m alive and well after which he suggests that I blog about my road trip. I unpack all the fruits and vegetables my hosts were far too kind to give me. Complete with a hand made basket, a souvenir I can use to store my dirty laundry. I shower and jump into bed, thinking about how I’ll write this extremely long random post today.
I’d like to say a big big thank you to all the tweeps who I have mentioned above and who tweeted me during my road trip. You may not know how much value you added to my trip. It often felt like you were part of the crew. For those I didn’t mention @SupremeGREAM , @joeymusembi , @Joliea , @warothe and the majority of tweeps I don’t personally know but hollad at.., you’re all so awesome!
(FYI: All photos were taken using my IDEOS and Nokia X2: I don’t own any other cameras :)