17 Jul 2012

A walk with my thoughts

Thought #1 - The cold bites.

It's too early to be awake. It's insane that the cold thinks its okay to bite this hard. The cafe is full. The warmth of the bodies mixed with the chatter envelopes our table. It's a gentle hum, one that could put you to sleep.

It's me and a girl I just met. A girl whose earrings I noticed before I noticed the colour of her hair. She has this questioning look. A learning look. It's the 'observe and learn' one. I like her. We will get along just fine. Meet Kari.

He walks in. His hair; it's the first thing you notice. I know that hair. I have worn it a couple of times. It's a statement. Judge me from it, if you are that shallow. He is in a hoodie, grey. Like the weather outside. He has that face. The kind that you want to look at twice. He hides a lot. Shows a lot too. You want to sit him down and give him a paper. Tell him to write the first thing that comes to his mind. But he doesn't do words. He speaks in pictures. He is Karue.

I know her. From a long time ago. She is defiantly pretty. Her smile is infectious. There is always one playing at the corner of her lips. Daring you to extract it. Once in a while, she drifts of. She is a writer, you see. They do such things. Ignore you, disappear into that beautiful hell that is their minds. You cannot get angry at her though. She springs right back. Before you notice she was gone. I get up and hug her. We have not seen each other in a while. Hello Serah.

She reminds me of a cat. Lean and lithe. She is fiery this one. Feisty even. We know each other too. Her features are hard to ignore. The kind you want to capture in a photograph. The kind you know there will always be something hidden underneath. I suspect she is the never unending onion. Nini is her name.

He is restless. You would be, if you had six people to take care of. He is cheerful. Has this voice you do not forget soon. He would be a charmer too. If he tried. I wonder if he does. He is trying to relax. But he will not, until his crew is comfortable. Have you met Kevin? (Fender as he is often called)

He is tall, dark and handsome. He has those eyes. The ones that look like they are brewing a storm. He is ramrod straight. Does not slouch to hide his height. He is a man comfortable in who he is. He has a fleeting handshake though. Maybe its the cold. He has worked hard to warm those hands, I think. He likes to take charge, you can tell. John, he says, looking straight at me.

He is sitting helping us load the bags into the car. He looks like someone's beloved uncle. The one that entertains at family gatherings. The one likely to get into Santa's costume. He has stories to tell. Of journeys, adventures. Mbogori is our driver.

Thought #2 - We can meat here

It is easy to walk past Kamaki's Palace. Because it doesn't have a moat and a draw bridge. They do meat. And meat we eat. It's our first pit stop. It's on the Eastern Bypass near Ruiru. It's supple, succulent. The meat, that is. I miss out on lots of it. I am always on my phone. Bad habit. I learn how not to get my fingers burnt by hot ugali. Always check out the toilets. There are behind the establishment. No toilet rolls, but passably clean. The sitting area is spacious. Service is quick. You will have to wrestle a fly or two as your fingers move the meat from the plate to your mouth. But if you win that fight, it is worth it.

Thought #3 - You bar-come your beer.

He was a writer. And an avid fisherman. I would have loved to know why a tavern tucked away in Embu bears his name. Izaak Walton is who I am talking about. Toilet stop for the girls. Top up fuel. We do not get into the main Inn. We have no time. Plus, we cannot afford it. This on their website confuses me  "Although the Inn was built in 1930s, it did not accept its first paying customer until 1924." Go figure. This trip is not for spoilt travellers. Explorers. We settle for the Tavern at Kenol; Izaak Walton. This pub has a multiple personality disorder. It feels like it was grabbed from an old English village and dumped there. You half except them to offer you blood pudding. It's interior is full of patrons photos, taken with their favourite drinks. Mostly beer. Interesting how the beer on the table on those pictures look like their owners. How they belong to the drinker.

Thought #4 - Do not even reply.

We are a lively bunch. We laugh a lot. I introduce a website to the group. That has us laughing uncontrollably. The road is perfect. You know how good a road is by how well you can read a sentence on an iPad. We are going to cook for ourselves.We will be staying in a self-catering guest house. Nakumatt Meru is the obvious stop. Nakumatt's are like churches. Once you've seen one, you've seen all. I volunteer to cook. Dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. We shop. The boys are awesome at this. They will make some women happy someday. Some already are.  It is fun watching 7 people shop, without a shopping list. We pull it off. The chemistry between us is awesome. This will be a fun trip. We thought we were close. A few more hours, the driver says. We get worried. Maybe we should have eaten that meat faster. Maybe.

Thought #5 - Oh My Self!

It's night when we drive through the gates of Meru National Park, our destination. Takes a while to figure out our accommodation. Even the happy do get tired, and that we are. The boys sort out the mix-up as the girls sit in the car and compares notes on how we are better at planning than our boyfriends. Accommodation sorted, Kina Guest House it is. Chopping starts. Cooking washes all exhaustion from my body. There is a relaxing feeling that sweeps over me when I turn bland into edible. Chicken in Oyster Sauce, Rice and steamed veggies. Dinner is served. Like a family reunion, we sit at the dining table and talk. Oh, talk we do! And laugh. Fueled by herbs. Lots of herbs. I regret not going out of the house that night. I missed the night noises. A hyena in the distance. An owl trying not to seek attention. Crickets mocking it for being too naive. The house has 3 en-suite bedrooms, each with a bed enough to fit four if you decided on a slumber party. Two small bedrooms with single beds share the bathroom with the 3 giant rooms. There is a self-contained room outside the main house. And a fully furnished kitchen. As the night wear on, our eyes grow weary. The table was growing quiet. I was watching a time-lapse. Where in a movie, the people start to disappear. I was the last girl standing though. And that day, I walked with with my thoughts.

Thought #6 - Kenya believe it?

A pearl hidden from prying eyes is the only way to describe Meru National Park. I will skip the parts where we had scrumptious breakfast and awesome Spaghetti Bolognese (If I do say so myself) for lunch. There is something about cooking your own food in the wild. Fast forward to late afternoon. A lot of antelopes  and antelope family animals , many many birds later, we ended up at Hippo Pool. We wanted lion. We saw elephants. We yearned for a cheetah, we saw buffaloes. We wished for a rhino. Zebras crossed. Shy, these animals of this park. That, or our timing. We saw their noses. Lifted them up at us and blew streams of water and air. Mocking us. In good stride, we took it, and kept driving. Remember John? The tall, dark... you definitely do. He was on kitchen duty. Boy, does he take his duties seriously. Chicken drumsticks, rice and whatever he did to those veggies! We were tired. A game drive will do that to you. Less laughter, but still good cheer.  Power is alternated between Solar and Generator. Solar for when we want to charge phones and light the room. Generator for water kettles and hot showers. We went to bed early.

Thought #7 - If a Zebra falls in the forest...

Morning game drive because we wanted to see more. We saw paw prints. Follow them we did. Find nothing we did. Then this Zebra. She ( I choose to make it female) sat in the middle of the road. We stopped a distance away because we did not want to scare it. We thought her cool and daring, sitting there all by her lonely self. Until we inched closer and she made to stand up. Then we saw it. He back left leg was gone. Well, it was still there, but hang lifeless. She had been thought a fight, one for her life. She had escaped with it. But now, it was slowly ebbing away. 'Does she realise she is dying? Can she feel it?' I asked Karue. 'She knows, he said, pausing from his picture taking. 'She knows she is game right now ' 'That not what I mean,' I insisted. ' Like, does she understand the concept of death?' He leaned back on the seat and looked at the limping Zebra. I never got an answer.  We discussed her fate. We hang around, feeling sorry. And secretly wishing a predator would appear just about now. I felt guilty for that thought. We decided to drive around then come back. And hopefully find a pride of lions devouring her. I know, I know. She was still there. I swear I saw the sad look. Her life was seeping between her mangled hoof. We drove off.

Thought #8 - Facts Please

The caretaker of the guest house is a lovely chap who loves to help. He keeps the place pristine. I am hating myself for not remembering his name. Info on booking the Guest house is on the KWS website. For those with deeper pockets, check the website for other options. If you love a place with history, you'll be delighted to find out you can stay at the location where the movie 'Born Free'  was inspired, Elsa's Kopje. There are various camping grounds, all info on the KWS website to. Call to book in advance though. Note:  Meru National Park is heaven for birdwatchers. You cannot get enough! There is a birdbath outside the Kina Guest House. Breakfast is more interesting if you are watching them groom and drink.

Thought #9 - More than 1000 words.

John and Karue took amazing photos. So amazing I couldn't bear to mix them up with words. So they get their own blogpost. Next. Except John is yet to share his.

2 commented:

Unknown said...

mmmhhhh...the number of times i have left nairobi for meru, never to make it past Isaak Walton...kobil specifically...now i'm inspired to venture further. Great read. Is John available?

Even Angels Fall said...

Mama Tintin, You really must go beyond. Pack good company though. I can point you in the direction of John on Twitter :)