The Travels, Part 2
Wow. You know things are serious when it takes longer to get to your shags than it does to get to Arusha. Note that your shags is in Kenya and Arusha is not.
I come from a place where waking up in the morning gives you an absolutely spectacular view of the sun rising over the lake. It stretches out before you, this beautiful blue (really long) jewel adorning the horizon…it’s glorious. I unfortunately, never woke up early enough to see this. I’m almost ashamed, but sleep is a very, very demanding mistress.
Finding network in shags resembles a séance. Very closely, I might add. There is much hand-waving (you holding your phone), strobe lighting (afore-mentioned phone), and chanting (you pleading with your subscriber to end this inhumane torture). I wondered why network seemed to never be where I was. The only spirits I managed to conjure up were those of dead mosquitoes, who resurrected to join the live ones, or so it seemed, and proceeded to form a choir. I tell you no lie. There were so many, there were four voices of buzzing: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and I think what can qualify as a baritone. The basses were missing in action. I’ve never been so tearfully thankful for a mosquito net.
In shags, things that go bump in the night cannot be put down to random city sounds. Oh, no. Things that go bump in the night are huge, and are bumping. Make no mistake. They are rats, or bats (flying rats) or cats (who can’t do anything about the flying rats, unfortunately, but help with the ground ones), or hyenas, or the extra-large nameless things…that go bump in the night to terrorize little girls who stay up conducting séances late into the night. That, or the Mosquito Mixed Choir.
Speaking of mutants, all critters are extra-large. I reverted back to childhood games briefly, and played Peek-a-Boo with a gargantuan moth. Only, it was the adult instead of me. And in the daytime too! Whatever happened to sweet little daytime butterflies? Hmmm…or WAS it a butterfly and my eyes were too tightly closed to care to confirm? They are fearless, these brazen upcountry insects. What a scene it would have been had I actually seen something I’m afraid of…although me trying to stitch my eyes together with sheer will so as to not see the shadow of the wings coming my way may have been just such a scene. At least I didn’t scream. Small mercies.
Fortunately, we have indoor plumbing. It is similar to that in Lagos, where water may or may not be provided for the entire duration of the shower. Only in Lagos, these are forces of corruption, and in Karachuonyo, they are forces of nature. I hope. Or…the bugs?
Irrational cravings seized me frequently. Made even more so absurd by the complete incapability to fulfill these cravings. Simple thins were what I wanted; chocolate fudge cake. Traffic. Noise. Pollution. Working radio – or rather, to know what the radio stations even were…but the two TV channels did compensate enormously (although electricity was limited to 4 hours per night. Big mercies.). I was however much afeared that I would start watching those random Citizen Soaps (Paradise in your Storm, The Woman Who Cries A Lot, The Men who Join In, etc). What saved me was the library. Another reversion to the childhood habit of reading 3 – 5 books a day. Not too bad at all. :o)
I’ve never noticed that most women in Dala cover their hair a lot. The entire time I was there, I think my mother and I were the only ones walking about with our hair in view.
The trip back was assuaged with doubts. The bus strike had been just the day before, which insinuated that going back to the city may have been put off for another 4 days….days I could not stomach. Another séance was conducted – for transportation, this time, and it came through. Now, on the bus, I discovered that truly, African children are not being brought up the way they used to be. There were 2 babies on board. It was like they were in a band. They would alternate crying like they were singing background vocals, dude, I think there were harmonies. And there mothers would just shush them – to no effect, I might add. One tot burst into ululations. Such liberties! Before my time, the slaps would have been much, much more resounding then their wailing/crying. What’s that? Child abuse, you say?
Then there came the DVDs that they insist on showing…there was Ohangla with the girls dancing in what appeared to be a form of soft porn…for real…and the guys were fashion disasters from the 90s in off-shoulder tops. Shiver. There was a marked contrast when they put in the gospel DVDs. Which all kind of sound like the same tune. One that was particularly amusing started like a horror/thriller movie. I was momentarily piqued until I saw the characteristic matching uniforms and scenery.
Then came Nairobi. First sign? Being stuck in traffic on Waiyaki Way. Smog sweet smog. :o)
p.s. The Loop on KTN is hilarious. I love the humor. It’s unexpected but expected. Because. You know. It’s a sitcom. And the guy looks like Dr. Kelso from Scrubs. Wait, ISN’T it Dr. Kelso?