Travel diary; Bungoma 

I recently shared my experience in Chavakali and an interesting turn of events at The Crying stone in Mukhonje.

My trip to Western Kenya saw me visit Bungoma county today and I was so excited to be back that the team we were traveling with thought I was high on my own expectations. I love Bungoma. I love Kakamega. Honestly, I love where I can get some good milk tea and a whole cob of well roasted maize at twenty shillings. Please don’t remind me of Kapsabet, Kitale, Eldoret and Londiani…we are talking about Bungoma and Kakamega here.

So, we made our way through Kakamega to this place and arrived at around 3pm. We drove around looking for someplace to stay, with a limited budget, I kept reminding people in the car that any hotel behind Barclay’s Bank was out. During my previous stay I had no sleep because of the loud music played from the pubs around and in more than one occasion, I found myself listening in on more than I could handle. 

We drove along Moi Avenue (yes,there is a Moi Avenue in Bungoma) and we came to The County Comfort Hotel. I stepped out and asked for the rates and a chance to scout the room to see if it appealed to me. 

When I saw the room, I settled in, picking the most spacious of them all. It did not come with an awesome view because it overlooks the Shariff Centre which is a pit stop for Easy Coach buses. 

I did however love the tiny electric kettle they set up on the table. 

The receptionist told us we could prepare some instant coffee or tea with what they had provided. When she said this everyone turned to see me light up. The Driver however asked if his room had a mini fridge and Tusker, and when she said no, he walked back into the hallway. 

I am looking forward to visiting Chwele and though my stay is a short one, I hope it goes well and I can’t wait to visit more places.

Out and about in Western Kenya

It’s my second day in Chavakali and I’m onto my second teapot of the evening as I type this.

Chavakali is in Vihiga county and being here has had it’s peaks one of which is the extraordinary tea they offer and the other is that my Father once taught at the Chavakali Friends School. I found myself drawn to the school in a bid to retrace my Father’s foot steps and once I got to the gate, it felt like a whole three decades since he taught there.

I do however wish that the network reception for Airtel was 3G here because there is nothing as frustrating as having 5GB of data bundle and not being able to access emails or connect to internet because it’s forever unavailable. 

The best part also is that the hotel I checked into stated they have WiFi but no one knows the password or the network name, including the Hotel Manager.

I did visit The Crying Stone of Kakamega which is about a fifteen minute drive from Chavakali. We were looking for a place to park when two kids shouted at us “Crying Stone, we’ll take you,” and we let them lead the way. The boy, roughly aged 10 led the way while his younger sister gave us a brief historical background on the stone and the people living around the area.

The first stone at the entrance

When we climbed all the way towards the stone we met a man and three women, they told us the stone was on their ancestral land and asked for a viewing fee of three hundred shillings. We offered to pay a hundred because I had set aside some sixty shillings for the kids and felt cheated because it’s the kids who did all the work. They flagged us down, offered a history lesson, climbed those steep slopes with us and even showed us where to step. The adults took a while deliberating and when I started walking away, one of the women agreed and urged us to go ahead.

It’s a short steep climb to the rock, but for our visit, we didn’t see any tears…rather a wet patch and this huge rock. It’s breathtaking. 

The Crying Stone of Kakamega

I’ll visit a few more places then proceed to Bungoma where I can’t wait to see what’s changed since my last visit.

It’s raining now and I am hoping the Lady who served me tea can add me another teapot as I write a few chapters of Ushanga.

A cup of tea along the highway

I was in Turbo today which is roughly 34 kilometres from Eldoret town, and was making my way to Kipkaren- which is ideally 50 Kilometres.

Capture

So, there I was looking outside the window counting the endless acres of maize farms and wondering just how vast Uasin Gishu county is when we came to the junction of Eldoret and Kitale famously known as Maili-tisa (9 miles).

This is your simple hotel by the roadside, some place you walk in and get a hot cup of tea, or some warm food before you hit the road. It has no menu just a waitress who is glad you stopped by and immediately sets a cup before you and serves you hot milk tea!

Now, before you say hello, she starts by reciting the menu and then asks “Utatumia nini?”

Woe unto you if you say, “Dakika tano nifikirie” because that’s what I said…and before I could sip the tea before me, the team I was with were already washing their hands and digging into their ugali and beef stew!

I tried to get a better shot, but when you carry a compact DSLR chances are people would be drawn to what’s in your hands, and just when I thought I’d gotten a great shot…this tanker just pulled to a stop blocking more of the hotels, but you won’t miss them.

They look something awesome as this:

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And when you drive towards Kipkaren, some 10 or so kilometres, you’ll get to see the Baraka Farm Shop where you can get some milk, and cheese sandwiches if you are into your dairy products 🙂

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Ablaze

I know how to light things up

You know…to blow things out of proportion.

How about that time when those women talked of an ungrateful son, and I thought of a prince and a kingdom?

How about when Grumpy said “okay,” and I thought we were done.

Or when he called twenty times and I did not answer, or apologize?

See, I know how to set emotions ablaze.

pink flowers bloom petals nature

Take a pinch of doubt, sprinkle some unmet expectations, let it simmer in your mind for ten minutes then serve while hot.

Take an ounce of joy, you know the feeling of sheer bliss that emanates from a hug, kiss, or assurance, it often inspires you to sing or continuously update your Facebook status. Take this ounce of joy, let it boil for five minutes by scrolling through your IG feed for #baegoals  and then have it cool…it is a dish best served with either a warm blanket or a box of tissues, you decide.

I know how to light things up, to set the world on fire with these little sets of dynamite called emotions, for once they are summoned, they rarely leave a party.

Darling, before I sat to type all this, I was ablaze, and nothing beats being in a new town- loving the people, the places, the night life but totally missing the weather you used to own as yours.

Greetings from Eldoret!

 

 

Stories from the field

It’s been a while. I’m talking about being on the road and seeing how crazy Kenyans are.

So, yesterday I was in Seme, Google says it takes 39 minutes to Namba Kosea (the red icon) but hey, I was in a matatu and the number of stops made were more than the commas I have used in this paragraph.

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So, we get there, visit the Chief and then have a chat with the Assistant Chief on the challenges they are facing in that community and I’m busy taking notes. See, the Assistant Chief rents office space at the local market center and she’s right beside a posho mill, so every time she says something noteworthy I hear this vru-du-du-du….vru-vru-du-du right in my ear.

When we’re done, I ask about any local food joint because I am both thirsty and hungry and the kids running around sucking on ice jwala are not of any help! We are taken to this small clean mud house and we sit on benches and a tall lady comes to us. Her hair is sticking out on corners that shouldn’t be known to mankind, but I am drawn to the lesso wrapped around her waist, it’s jungle green with bold flower patterns. I ask her what’s for lunch and she says “chapat go’ganda, chai maliet, kuon gi sukuma, kuon g’omena hao hao.”

We all ask for ugali and omena and she serves us this:

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Fresh omena, deep fried and it tastes like nothing heaven has ever served up…or that could probably be, because we were so hungry I nearly told the man next to the Assistant Chief’s office to stop powering up his posho mill! And as I was eating, my mind kept going back to soda. A cold sugar-filled drink to wash down the omena and I asked the lady if they had Fanta Passion. She looked at me and asked, “mano to mane?”

Seriously, haven’t they heard of or better yet had a sip of Fanta Passion? I simply shook my head and said it’s okay, I’ll take some of her water to drink if she didn’t mind. Now, Coca-Cola Bottlers had better increase the supply of Fanta Passion, because the people around me need to have a sip and bottles of this awesome drink!

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As we were leaving the area we had visited, a lot of things were going through my mind, most of them revolving writing and as you have probably read so much about- my next book. I thought of writing about my experiences on the road and it felt so good to have such a burst of ideas and energy that by the time I got home, I was too exhausted to even look at a writing pad or pick up a pen!

Have a great day and here’s to writing!