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.
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.
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.
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 You – Still 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’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. 🙂
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. 😀
Sunday was blend-into-the-community day. And what better way to do this than to go to church. When I was getting lost yesterday, I spotted one PCEA church and one Baptist church down the road from the hotel. However, a friendly guard told me that the PCEA in town was much better and was not all Kikuyu. Hehe. It’s like I look like those people who pretend not to know Kikuyu. I followed his advice anyway and walked. He was concerned about why I was walking though and I told him walking is the best option for my chill mode. As you can tell, in places dominated by Kikuyu people PCEA is a church you will see everywhere, just like home. And they keep mushrooming.
So I set off on my little adventure of Nanyuki town. As a lot of major towns in Kenya, Nanyuki is pretty linear, with buildings congregating along the Nyeri-Nanyuki road. Remember your Geography lessons about types of towns/settlements? It is not quite the short distance I assumed it was from Sporty (as locals fondly refer to the hotel) to the church. I had to ask a bodaboda rider for further direction. It gets real hot in the morning here, funny enough. I kept walking, thinking all the while that I was clearly lost, but I was not going to ask another person for direction. He said it was opposite the Nanyuki General Hospital. No way I can miss that, right? Eventually I came by an old lady who was limping to church. I could tell she was headed to church because she was wearing an AIPCA headscarf tightly around her head.
Guys, I did it. I took the road alone and found myself in Nanyuki. Thanks to the urging of someone very close to me and a few calls (thanks 🙂 ), I am here on my first solo trip. I thought about visiting one of our neighbouring countries and then it hit me, I haven’t even seen half of Kenya. Calm down, Shiku. It’s better to get lost in a place with your M-Pesa and language than in another foreign land. You can bet I have made quite a number of wrong turns thanks to Google. I know I will continue making them, but that is how I am learning. I even got coolant added without my dad’s urging. Man I am so grownup!
Do I need to mention that the road all the way to Nanyuki is almost flawless? Makes me wonder why it was even mentioned in the Madaraka Day speech when other parts of the country obviously need roads. That is what I call misplaced priorities. Side note: Juja Mall be a Ghost Mall, I confirmed that. It took me about 4 hours to get here, thanks to a few wrong turns here and there. One it the Nyeri right-turn. I could hear my dad telling me to turn in my head, but Google was quiet. And then she spoke after a few meters and I decided to ignore her. “Take a u-turn,” she insisted. Thrice. So I stopped, took a breather and turned. Lol. I am so stubborn.
It’s Sunday. Sunday we preach, or rather, we used to preach when we were in tiptop shape. It has taken me days to build up to this post. Sometimes I think I will come up with a strict schedule, like Kariuki does at Kisauti, you know, drop a post, say, every Sunday. He drops his every Wednesday without fail. Also, his e-book is out, that’s how driven he is. He is that serious. I could do that, you know, write regularly and everyone expects the post at a certain time of day, so that if I miss out, I am accountable. I really could do that. It builds a great culture of discipline and passion cultivation. But I don’t. Why?
Well, today, like I said, is Sunday. And Sunday I preach. For a long time, I have not done so. For a long time, I have not done anything right to my spiritual self. I have not been growing. I have found myself in this routine of sorts every Sunday. I struggle to wake up, I make tea for everyone, do dishes (if I feel like), go back to bed again, wake up again, take a bath, go to church, teach Sunday school, scream my heart out at a 100 below-six-years-old kids then get out wondering why I feel drained. Scratch that. I always know exactly why I am drained. I am not supposed to teach every single Sunday without getting a break to recharge. For a long time, we had many teachers in my class, teachers that would teach on schedule, but along the way, things fell apart and became a matter of begging people to teach. I thought I could do it. I thought it would be selfish of me to just act like everyone else and jump ship, so I didn’t. I hang in there.
A friend of mine claims this space is gathering digital dust. I have never gone this long without writing. Over three months. So how about I kick this season off with some excuses, right? (Yeah we’re calling it a season now. Next level. 😀 )
If you know me and my digital communication habits, you know that if it’s a weekday, I will not reply to your text or even pick your call unless you said a prayer before you rang me. I will reply to your text at the end of the day, probably in bed. And if I do, it will be a very short reply because I want to be polite. You took your time to text me. I know you are also busy but you still took your time. Sometimes, I will not reply because you just said “hi”. I do not, for the life of me, understand why someone would just text anyone “hi” without another message attached. Like where in the world is this going? Sometimes I forget to reply completely until the next day. I am on a secret WhatsApp number, which for some strange reason, people just decided to be sharing with random people, so I uninstalled the app a few days ago too. So imagine, if I cannot text back because of how intense my weekday is, how will I even sit down and start blogging? This is a strong enough excuse, right? Well, not really Shiku, because you were not idle the past few years either.
I woke up on Saturday 11th and went for a run. 10 kms. Just like that. No prior practice, no warm up. I got there, said hi to a few familiar faces, got into my branded T-shirt and took off! I was out of breath by the 12th minute. My chest was not tight though, as is sometimes the case, whenever I ambush it with a sprint or a run. (Hihihi) Yea, I sneak up on it some times… And it curls up tight in what feels like a foetal position, fighting for its survival, not caring about mine! Smh! But before I digress, carried away by angina, the condition’s official name, let me share the lesson:
Sometimes, prior planning is just not workable. Either by design or by the design of laziness. That notwithstanding, what needs to get done needs to get done. Get in there with both feet. Roll up your sleeves and get doing. You will pant, you will get stuck, you will want to quit, but you will have started, and that is the most important step. To begin.
Oh, and it will be hard, prepared or not. ( I am all for planning, don’t get me wrong, but “adulting” has taught me that planning is not always feasible, and sometimes, even the most well done plans fall apart.)
I happen to celebrate my birthday at the end of the year. I turned 27 two days ago, on 29th December. The thing about celebrating your birthday at this point is that you are actually starting a new year in your life alongside a new calendar year. It’s always a nice thing because everyone is at home and in holiday mood. The other thing about the date is that no one will doubt that you were really born on that day, unlike a friend of mine, for instance, who was born on 1st January and had to show me his ID for me to believe it. Almost. Even that was not enough because I know thousands of Kenyans have 1st of January on their IDs for some strange reason. I think that is the default date if you don’t know your DoB. The other thing about this period in our house is that it is followed by my brother’s birthday on 30th. For the longest time as kids, we would celebrate it together. And then we grew up and it became a simple separate affair where everyone says something and we blow candles.
[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”1″]N[/su_dropcap]ow this year was very different.