I got to the city at 5.30am, already tired before the start of the trip. Events conspired, I had too much to do and missed the Oxygen bus from Mombasa. So I had to do with the older “Baba Lao”, reassuringly named but with a much stiffer suspension and a serious body rattle.
The gang was here, one by one I would meet them, we’d shake hands and get on with this trip. So we did, by 8 oclock we were at Westlands, where the journey technically started. As we were fuelling, someone texted me, “Where are you guys being flagged off?” . Mischief or plain jealousy.
The introductions happened fast, from small talk, to work, to knowing people who know other people we know. In no time, we were at the Rift Valley viewpoint; to the cold fresh air and curio vendors with soapstone candle holders. That view never grows old or ceases to fascinate, calls for the customary photo shoot.
After that it was a quick descent to Naivasha, the warm sunshine warming us up as we warmed up to each other. Laughter and more pictures as we had breakfast at Delamere’s, home of the best smoothies in world.
By a good twist, they had lots of dried vegetables; carrots, kale, cabbages, mixed etc at Delamere’s. Important because there was a vegetarian amongst us and I was still scratching my head how best we could sort her meals.
Nyandarua! Familiar territory for me, half of my childhood was spent here and school was absolute misery in 2nd term because of the cold. Nevertheless, I have a special fondness for this place. The beauty of Nyandarua- with the ever present Aberdares Range flanking us all the way made it a pleasant drive except for the off road conditions between Karunga and Ol-Kalou.
The back benchers brought out the liquor as we were vrooming across the lush greenery where sheep and donkeys grazed by the roadside unattended. There was a busy jalopy repair shop next to Tokyo Cheers Inn Bar, crammed with car models that have been out of production for 25 years. A little further down the road was a fella in an Arsenal T-Shirt, driving a donkey cart laden with tins of milk, trudging along at that leisurely village pace. Arthur reminded me that we’d miss the Arsenal -Liverpool match.
Banter. Ghafla and their uncut news came up alongside socialite-ism, the Senator and the Rep fiasco, social media and all. Good times as we got to Nyahururu at 12.45 pm, still as it was 6 years ago but with Haojin motorbikes everywhere.
There’s a CDF sign board every few kilometres, either the fund is very active-or the sign maker knows people.
People name their businesses like this: BeatPer Shop (a Beatrice and Peter partnership), Wa-Jackson Fashions (has a son or husband called Jackson) PeWaGa Ent. (address to Peris Wanjiku Gaitho).
We gave the T-Falls a miss, the water levels were low and everybody had seen it before. The county government is also charging a fee (didn’t bother to find out).
Goat means sheep. Whether you say Goat, Mbuzi or Mburi. It still means sheep, hence mutton. This is the thing I don’t get about Nyandarua folks. Sleeping aids.
We swung like kids and then ate the most delicious mukimo before departing for Maralal at 2pm. William rushed us, “Tutafanya shopping Maralal maana tumechelewa, na itabidi tuharakishe”. That meant he would be stepping on it, all the 4600 cc of it. He added, “Hii naenda express mpaka mwisho wa rami’. No stop overs until we got to Rumuruti, where the Kenya@50- thus far has fikishad the tarmac.
An enthralling drive, across fields of wheat with hills standing imposingly in the horizon. It got drier and drier, until it was Acacia and scrub country. The road was smooth with little traffic, we dozed off intermittently and things got quiet,heavy lunch taking its toll. “Nakupenda pia,nakupenda pia aha aha,” from that Wyre song played in my head over and over. Must be the new travelmate effect or just me falling in love with the landscapes.
The peace was shattered by the back benchers who unleashed another bottle of fiery stuff. Merrymaking ensued and we barely noticed where the tarmac ended. Read anti snoring pillow.
There’s is lots to see alng the way: the people, the geography and the wildlife. Guns: old herders and young men with Kalashinkovs. “Hii si kitu (gun), hapa mpaka wa mama wanajua kupiga,” said the driver. We put our cameras away.
After a while we saw those lovely beauties of the North, only 2,500 exist in the wild and even William stopped without a word. We spent a few minutes in silence, observing and clicking away. William assured us that we were close to Maralal, therefore we decided to have a little party by the roadside, making memorable pictures of this trip.
Afterwards that it was a case of are we there yet? every five minutes, blame the dire roads. We looked out to the horizon, hoping to catch a glimpse of our stop for the night. We kept looking and anticipating until we spotted guys in jeans, we knew then it would not be long.
We rolled into Maralal at 5.30 pm and we had a lot to do before the town shut down at 7.00pm. It feels like an outpost from a wild west movie especially at dusk. Rows of little mabati and timber shacks that house shops, pubs, Twitters Cafe and the Old Trafford Butchery-for fresh beef and camel cuts. We found an ATM, the wines and spirits shop and of course Sungura Supermarket. Amazingly everything we needed was in Sungura, all 3 aisles of it. It’s the Nakumatt of Maralal.
Off we went to find accommodation and our last shower.