Travelling is one of my hobbies. I love the feeling of just waking up one day, deciding on a journey and taking off. Its more exciting when its impromptu, unplanned and just impulsive. Then, I have so much to look forward to; so much to explore; so much for the world out there beyond my grasp to experience. Sometimes it’s more exhilarating with friends but other times I just want to take the quest alone and disappear into the horizon as they say.
Back when I was in Western Kenya I enjoyed the bus rides. Though tiring, I had an opportunity to just leap into something else. I get sick of staying at the same place for too long. (Commitment issues lol) I remember the breaking of dawn after a whole 7 plus hours on the road. Crossing through the magnificent Rift to the hills of its North and eventually coming down to the land of ingo… The interactions with the zebras, antelopes and wild animals along the way…
I recall the bleary eyes, the tiredness running through my veins, the numbness of my feet after endless hours… Before leaving Nairobi, I recall at times the feeling of excitement, sometimes relief other times fear as I grieved for the place I was leaving. Heading to the unknown I was always looking forward to what was in store for me in a land I knew nothing about except for the small dot depicting the town on the Kenyan map.
It was memorable in so many ways.
Sometime back I was invited by my parents to accompany them to Kitui, for my sister’s reporting to KMTC. What came to mind after the mention of the name was coal and hot, dry weather. I was anxious to explore this land of iron goods.
I took a leave of absence from work.
I couldn’t travel to the place directly. I had to go home so that we could use the family car. A light bag on my back, I headed out, taking a Meru ‘mathree’ to Mwea.
The countryside stretched before me like a great quilt of golden, brown and green squares held together by the thick green stitching of the farmlands. Good thing was that it had rained recently and the previously desiccated brown grass had been replaced by a sheath of green. It rose and fell like giant waves on a gentle ocean and was dotted with iron roofed houses, scarce, that gave way to extensive parcels of fertile land.
I arrived home late and woke up early. Dad was paranoid about the long queues during registration so we had to try our best to beat them.
Breaking of daylight found us on the Embu Kivaa highway. It came with a musical silence, the soul hearing the melody that the ears could not. A new day had come, new possibilities, a fresh page yet to be written. On the stereo were soft gospel tunes of Don Moen.
The road was straight. The makers had not veered right or left for any dwelling or to save the splitting of land. They were conquerors and they cut their tract without seeking permission from any person of any rank. They did not seek to appease the peasants but to assert their dominance. This made accidents an everyday affair in that deserted part of the country.
Along the way we say children, barefoot headed to schools that were no more than four block walls and a roof shielding the young ones from the scorching sun high above. In these classrooms the pupils looked forward to quenching their thirst for the not so free education.
In some regions, scarred tracks lay before us like a tarmac ribbon; albeit, one that had been worn over time. A yellow line ran down the center, relatively unbroken compared to the scarred and potholed concrete.
Unlike the other side of the country, this was the grassland. Characterized by thorny, sharp strands of dried grass. Acacia trees stood tall and resilient oblivious of the 30 plus degrees the sun radiated on. Beyond the grasslands, I could see overbearing rocky hills that seemed to serve as protectors of the barren lands. Perhaps in that rock they thought in the way timeless creatures must, with no regard for time, no concept of what it must be to hurry, be anxious or sad.
Only two or three houses could be seen at intervals of hundreds of acres of land.
Seeing a person, a bicycle or even a motorbike was equivalent to seeing Vera without a weave. I felt lonely even though I had mom, dad and my sister in the car with me.
What part of Kenya was this without people? I thought about Githurai and that worsened the feeling.
We were in the badlands. Tarmacked badlands. I wanted to call out for Sunny.
The sun was overhead as we arrived in the town. A colored town for obvious reasons. I could smell the freaking sun rays. Even in my Ray Ban sunglasses, my eyes still twitched due to the intensity of the light and heat.
The school was separated into two by tarmac. One side was administration and classes and the other was accommodation halls, the desert and untold suffering.
The only thing I can remember after that was the hot lass in uniform who ushered us in and guided us through the whole process. From the name tag on her neck, I could read Guinevere.
Instead of leaving her my number, I left my sunglasses.