Who does a music-in-2019 post in 2020? 

Us those.

2019 has come and gone with a lot of changes and moments. When the year started, someone came over here and shouted that he still misses when I used to introduce him to new jams. Say no more…

99% of my time listening to music is spent on Apple Music nowadays. The other 1% is divided between YouTube and Pearl Radio.

Tembea Kenya. Tembea kwa jirani. Tembea Addis.

There are many things you don’t get to learn about a place until you hit the ground running, literally. You don’t realize how big a neighbouring country is or how little you know about it beyond the textbook.

Initially, we were to head to Zambia. But that’s the other thing about learning about a place. You can learn a lot about it by just paying it a little more attention than usual. Turns out the airfare to that place is out of this world. It is like flying to Bahamas or something. And it is just down here. There went my dream of visiting Livingstone and bathing in the showers of the Victoria Falls.

First of all, I know their ancestors were our colonizers but I love a lot of British things. The accent. The history. The series that come from that place: Sherlock. Merlin. The Bodyguard. The Crown (the reason I subscribed to Netflix). Arsenal at a certain teenage point in my life. A lot of things. Bernard’s Watch. Bless This House. I can still hear the theme song in my head as I type this. Like I said, a lot of things.

So I will not say I was not super pumped to step on that soil earlier this year.

Sasa the only problem was the weather. You step out of the airport and it finally hits you how cold it is. I have never been that cold in my life. And don’t forget the heat that we have been having until recently around here. At least the weather is changing polepole. I am telling you I had not worn a sweater for months this 2019 apart from that moment in London. And I am the girl that is teased for always being in sweaters by some people I will not mention. Brace yourselves my Naija brothers and sisters. The. Sweaters. Are. Back.

I have stared at this white space for a minute now.

A lot can go through your mind when you have a lot to do. And when several new things are happening in your life.

Like when you get into a flight and find familiar food, because it’s KQ and you’re at home in the air. And you can now be easy on them for always delaying flights.

When you land and people clap, because you left the scorching Nairobi sun (which is actually not scorching for a lot of non-Kenyans) and descended into the currently thunderstorm-y Joburg.

ET302. Peace and rest. 🙏

And when you get out and finally understand why they call us the rest of Africa.

As I enter my 30th year, a few somethings from 2018:

You may start the year with all the resolutions in the world (even when you’ve never been a resolutions kind of person), but the year may shock you in both good and bad ways by giving you its own resolutions for you. How you embrace those surprises is up to you.

You will say no so many times that, when you finally say yes, you’ll learn that the saying no helped your saying yes get easier.

Sometimes. No, who am I kidding. A lot of times, your boss will drive you crazy. You will want to quit 1000 times. But a lot of times, you’re probably at fault too. Because you want to think people read minds, even  when you know they don’t. And you want other people to change, and not you. And you will hang on to past hurt to no real gain. Then you’ll get all the wiser and realize, no matter how much someone else wants to help you, if you don’t want to help yourself, you might as well shut it and drown in your pool of self-pity. Which will lead you nowhere. So, better alternative, get up and show what you got. Because no-one else is going to do that for you.

After getting lost in Madrid, I came back to my comfort zone for a week then headed out the next Saturday to Marseille. I was very anxious about this trip to France because it was going to be loooooong. When I say long, I mean very long. Why? Because cheap is expensive. As a newbie, I am not an expert at looking at the best flights with the shortest layovers, neither was my friend. Plus we let these flight booking sites trick us with their cookies. So much so that we later discovered that people who booked different flights months after, all got even cheaper rates and better flights. SMH. So it’s not even a matter of cheapness, it’s inexperience.

Anywho, the day came and I got relieved a bit. Etihad Airways is a cool airline with female and male cabin crew that sport very striking lipstick and perfect hair cuts respectively. And it was my first time on such a large plane. I sat next to this American girl who was quite chatty at the beginning, with some braids on her blonde hair. LOL. Total hippie. Plus since we booked these flights via Alitalia originally, I could not book seats in advance so I ended up next to the lavatories. LOL. So you keep hearing that loud vacuum flushing all the time. I can’t seem to remember what I watched during this leg. I think it was The 15:17 to Paris. I had to Google the title now. I was not sleepy yet, the best was yet to come. I got to Abu Dhabi at some minutes to 9. A few minutes into walking into the terminal, I met up with this other Kenyan who had an even longer layover, but we lost each other at the security check.

Abu Dhabi International Airport is a real swanky airport. They have poured a lot of their abundant money into making it the airport of choice for layovers. I was going to spend 6 hours here, so I decided to find the best seats in the terminal of my next flight. If I was sleepy, these would have been very helpful. I was not. Yet. I grabbed something to eat and chat up my people. I am not exactly sure what I did for the rest of the six hours. What I remember is too much a/c and people running across the terminal to their flights. I finally moved down to my gate about an hour to my flight. I was obviously starting to get real tired, so I did not like the next flight much. But hold that thought.

Abu Dhabi International Airport - Waiting Area
Real nice, right?

It’s been a while since I wrote. I guess I keep saying that. But oh well, here we are again.

Anyway, this post is going to be about Spain. A week ago, I was in Madrid (Or rather, when I started writing this post it was a week ago). And that was fun. Let’s list the fun stuff.

The first thing that hit me when we landed in Madrid (after the air conditioning) was the heat. And then how normal it seemed. I am sorry but I am one of those people who have always thought the West is this amazing place that has another kind of look and feel that is nowhere near Africa. Like maybe it is full of the bright HD computer generated scenery we see on TV. For starters, the air was the same air. And I was still the same person. LOL. Ushamba nayo?

Madrid was haaaat. Super hot. 40 degrees hot when I checked. Our flight there was not my favourite in my short experience flying. EgyptAir. The only thing I really loved from that was the layover in Cairo, not because it was a superb airport or anything but because the view of Cairo from above the amazing. It’s like they live in these many organized box-like estates that look like symmetrical cuboids from above.

Cairo Bird's View

When you land in Madrid and get to customs, they don’t even ask many stories. Passport, stamp, welcome. Everything was planned out for us by our lovely colleague when we got there. The driver could speak English. He drove like a Kenyan though, going way faster than the speed limit signs. We got to Santo Domingo at about 5 on Sunday. The apartment was lovely! Definitely straight out of what I see on TV and what I want mine to look like. All I wanted to do was sleep. The last time I had slept was Saturday morning at 8AM. Everyone else went out. Yeah, I am the not-fun one. LOL. So I don’t really have much to say about that day. Oh, apart from the fact that when I woke up to have dinner at around 10pm, the sun was just setting.

Someone keeps saying I should do more travel pieces, but I keep fighting it, in the spirit of keeping things under wraps. But something changed this time, and I thought it’s good to talk about travelling in its true unInstagrammable form. It started with missing my flight. You do not want to ever miss your flight, friend. If you are going somewhere in the evening, just make sure you are at JKIA by afternoon, honestly. I fought against my very instinct and ended up leaving way later and then not using the bypass. So once we were stuck in Upper Hill traffic, I knew we were done for and just pretty much gave up.

You will meet drivers who think they know Nairobi shortcuts, those that lead you straight into the bowels of the traffic glut itself claiming there is less traffic in the tiny roads. It is painful. And, I, for one, will never take a bodaboda from CBD to JKIA to beat time. I am not crazy and I love myself too much. To cut the long story short, we ended up at the gate right at the minute it closed. After confusing ourselves for another many minutes and taking the wrong escalators and turns. LOL. Also, I was not laughing that time.

We had to make very quick decisions and pay the penalty for the next flight out at midnight. Through it all, my colleague thought I was in denial. I was so collected – like, this happens to me all the time sister, relax. My dad called and suggested I ask where Miguna had been staying so I can spend the time there as well. SMH. I counted the notes at that customer service desk and it all felt so surreal. The total penalty was more than the original flight cost. But later on my colleague reminded me to count my blessings. It could always be worse. The price of a lesson learnt far outweighs the experience. We might not even have had that money in the first place and could have missed the next flight altogether. I was supposed to be mad at someone for this but I was not. Did I forget to mention the part where I left something in the Uber because of the rush? I had to smile at so many men to go backwards through departures to the starting point to meet the driver at the terminal. This involved leaving my passport behind too and coming back to an immigration guy who wanted to play with my head and freak me out by not giving it back immediately.

Not the perfect start to a travel story, right? Wrong. This is the real deal.

(Do people still say manenos?)

I was thinking of what to write today then I remembered I should have written about being on a train for the first time in my life. Okay, fine, I have been on the miniature train. The tiny train that remained the biggest reason I looked forward to Show every year as a kid. And if you understand what I meant by Show, you will likely relate, so I will not explain. After I grew up and read about the Kenya-Uganda railway and how it paved way for most of Kenyan “civilization” as we know it today, I wanted to get on the Lunatic Express. That never happened (clearly) and my chance to experience that part of history passed on just like that. So much for procrastination.

Hi lovely people! Remember back in October when we were discussing Streetlights Bible? (I say discussing because some awesome peeps took over this Facebook post and the conversation in there was simply off the charts.) Well, as usual, my excitement died down and I forgot about it after listening to just a few books.

Truth be told, I have been struggling to read the past few months, not just the Bible but any book. The days I could read a book in a day because of how it made me feel are gone. I think the last time I did that was with 13 Reasons Why mid last year. I have bought books and read a chapter of each and moved on to another. Smh. I think the tide is changing back to normal now after I discovered Jojo Moyes had written a third book as a sequel to Me Before YouStill Me. And I would not have found out had it not been for me walking into Text Book Centre by chance just to pass time and seeing it right there on the shelf among the new arrivals. I immediately picked it up and started reading it same day. Again, I have not read it in a day or two like I did with Me Before You, or After You but at least I am making progress.

Which brings me back to Streetlights Bible. Last Sunday, my favourite preacher, John Calvin Kamau was on the pulpit sharing the Word from Psalms 119:105.

I guess I am back.

I’m seated at the salon, my hairdresser twisting my hair into little locks. Yeah, I locked my hair three weeks ago after I finally gave up on the hassle of trying to make it look good, in all its toughness. I think I like the direction I am going with this. Anyway, that is not why I am back. In the recent past, someone hit my mentions and said that he misses the days I would keep him abreast on the latest in our music world. Just in case you were wondering whether your thoughts are part of the “Thoughts and Stuff” mantra, well, they most definitely are. Thanks so much for always checking in. 🙂

Well, a lot has happened in my music world since the last time I ever spoke music in here but I will talk about the most recent two and make it a habit going forward.

All Things Work Together

First and foremost, Lecrae releases his eighth album, All Things Work Together a few weeks ago.

So, a few minutes ago I was lying in bed, stalking someone I bumped into on the streets of Nairobi today. Stalking them online. I have a reputation for that. Eventually I landed on my blog and thought I’d read some old posts. Then I started editing some typos from months back. Then I ended up on my ‘What’s in My Bag’ post from 2016. And then I asked myself, what excuse do I have for not writing a 2017 version? After all, I think showing what’s in my bag this year might lead me to tell you all something I should have told you if I was writing as expected. So here we go.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy. You cannot come to Nanyuki and not go to this place. A few days ago, the friend who recommended this place sent me a Business Daily article about the tycoon who popularized both Mount Kenya Safari Club and Ol Pejeta. I will not write this one chronologically because things fell into place from a combination of lessons.

For starters, I had no idea if Ol Pejeta works like national parks and I did not know that Sweetwaters Tented-Camp was right inside the conservancy. I thought they were two different things, even after scouring through the website. I tried to use the live chat feature within the website for further guidance but nothing gave (someone replied days later after I had already visited), so I decided to take myself there and see what would happen. Google was very on point this time. For most part, the road is great and looks newly-done, but some km before you get to the gate, the tarmac comes to an end but it is very much an all-weather road, even within the conservancy. Ol Pejeta is 23 km from Nanyuki town. According to the guide I met later, there is some politics surrounding the untarmacked part of the road. Ol Pejeta wanted to tarmac but the government insisted on doing it, thus no one did it in the end. This was also confirmed by a woman I talked to on my way back to town.

Cyrus is the name of the guide I met deep in the conservancy. He told me that Ol Pejeta means place of many fires because, apparently, the Maasai men would burn fires across the plains. I have tried to verify this on Google but can’t, so if there is a Maasai out there who can confirm or trash this, please do. 😀