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Kenya

Hike In A ‘Park’ Of Lies

Watching the news lately has been a ride on an emotional rollercoaster. There is always something so wrong and something so unimaginable going on, not just in Kenya but also outside the country. The political arena has become an improved version of the appalling political games we are used to. The social dome has become an institution of moral decay. Journalist are becoming victims of the very horrible stories that they report.

All this is sad.

I, however, believe that in every shade of darkness, there is a glimpse of light. In this, it’s Trevor Ombija’s voice. All he has to do is introduce himself with that deep intoxicating voice, keep talking and am all ears. Not to listen to the news, but to listen to his voice. I can hear the news as background noise. What intrigues me is how his vocal codes produce such an impeccable sound. He doesn’t even have to try.

Anyway this story isn’t about Trevor’s voice. Not even a little bit. I just had to put it out there. Maybe one of my readers has some direct contact with him. To that reader, just let Trevor know his voice is a blessing to the fourth estate.

The main point in my story, this isn’t much of a story as it is a rant, is a hike.

During the Easter holidays, we hosted some visitors from abroad. There is a certain interest in adventure that most visitors have whenever they visit our country. Our visitors had done their own research and noted down the areas they wanted to visit while in Kenya. They used Google Maps to search for the nearest wildlife sanctuary that they could visit. Due to the location we were at, they settled for Ndere Island National Park.

Before we go further let me just let you all know that in my own personal opinion; all factors considered, together with a little bit of emotional backstory that highly involves regret in cash spent, this is one place that does not deserve the name ‘National Park’. I don’t know what criteria KWS in conjunction with the ministry of tourism uses while categorizing national parks, but I strongly believe that this particular one was overrated.

We left home at 10am. According to our approximation, we were supposed to be in the since-they-insist-on-calling-it-a-national-park park, in an hour at most. We took more than an hour. When you go online, it is written that there is easy access to Ndere Island National Park from Kisumu. What a big lie! The road leading to the park is terrible. 90% of our journey was full of us (just read this as me) holding our breath as the driver tried to find a passable area in the road that would not see us plunging into ditches or getting stuck in knee deep mud puddles. I should not have ridden shotgun. You would think that I learnt my lesson when I rode shotgun on one of the buses in Nairobi. But no, I didn’t learn. Anyway that’s a story for another day. The point is, there was nothing easy about accessing the park.

We got to the park headquarters at noon. The rates were sort of ok for Kenyan citizens. They were not kind to the visitors; obviously. They didn’t mind for they had come for an adventure. They were going to board a boat crossing Lake Victoria for the first time. I was surprised how much that was a big deal to them. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I live with the Lake in my backyard both in town and at home. I can walk to the Lake anytime am in town and anytime am home. I have never thought anyone would be so thrilled to see and cross the Lake that much. It’s so unfortunate that the Lake wasn’t happy to see them, or anyone at that. It was green. Yes, the lake is green. Not a nice green, a filthy green. The kind that you find in sewage formed swamps. I was embarrassed for all of us (Kenyans). I am still embarrassed for us. That was not a good site. Something needs to be done. Am still not sure what yet, but let’s research and find a lasting solution.

The boatman was very quick to offer his services as a guide through the Island. An offer we had to politely decline because one, we had been told there are footpaths to guide visitors and two, he needed a lot of money to guide us.

Am going to summarize our visit to the Island so simply. It was a waste of time, money and energy.

I am not much of a fitness enthusiast. I don’t work out. I don’t eat healthy. My favourite activity is sitting down with my laptop and phone. I love eating junk food except for pizza. I just feel that it’s some sort of mockery to our chapattis. But that’s just my opinion. With all these in mind, imagine my shock when I realized all the island had to offer was an expensive hike. We spent alot of money just to walk through an island that’s characterized by hills and valleys, with the sun determined to show us who’s boss and the ‘many animals’ we had been told we would see being just a pack of Zebras who ran away at the first sight of strangers. We only got a glimpse of them as they ran away but saw enough of their shit as we were hiking.

That was an expensive hike.

Had I known prior that I would be paying to involuntarily work out without pleasing my eyes in any way, I would have atleast packed something other than one bottle of water to keep me going. At the information desk, the KWS people were so kind as to tell us we would see the animals kept there the moment we docked. The few Zebras that saw us and started running away from us, were spotted almost 45minutes into the hike. From a distance. Such lies!

Because I like complaining, I spent the most part of the journey back home complaining about the day. And because of that, I have a few recommendations for KWS regarding Ndere Island. One, the road, something has to be done about the road. Two, let’s stop misleading people. The name of that Island should be ‘Ndere Island Hiking and Camping Site’ or just anything else. Anything but a national park. That’s very misleading.

The next morning as I was out brushing my teeth, the herdsman was taking the sheep out of their shed. The last two sheep decided to take advantage of their slow pace and have a quickie right before my eyes. Animals have no shame. They don’t care about the size of their ummm, property? There is no seduction, no foreplay either; they just get on with it. The ram jumped on the ewe and in less than 5seconds he was done and was walking away. 5seconds people! Five! I got to see a sight I can never unsee, and it was free. Am not complaining. That was consolation enough for the time, energy and money we had spent on the Island.

Maybe I just complain too much.

Anyway, about Trevor Ombija’s voice, we all agree that it’s really something. Right?

WRAPPING UP 2017

For the past decade, every new year has found me in church. 2017 was no exception. Other than it being a family tradition, I love the joy that comes with celebrating the new year in church. This year, as the clock struck midnight on the 1st of January 2017, the music was suddenly sweeter, louder and intoxicating in the right way. The keyboardist became more vigorous in playing the notes, the soloist was singing at the top of his lungs and the congregation was wild with joy. Everyone hugging everyone. Enemies smiling at each other across the aisles. It was a NEW YEAR .

Am pretty sure in the middle of all that celebration those who owned diaries full of resolutions were ready to begin ticking them. Those who made promises to visit the gym in the new year suddenly started thinking of better ways to spend that money; anywhere but the gym. Those preparing to go to school started stressing over what corner of the house they placed one side of their shoes. And I, was living the moment. Dancing to the music like it was my last day. My immediate thought at that point was how my bed will be cold when I get in and how my body heat would eventually warm it. The next thought was how to restock. (You’ll get this as you go on). The new year was just a few minutes old in all its glory, then I blinked and boom! It’s ending.

Its undisputed that the year 2017 has flown right past our eyes so fast. Just while you are in the process of coming to terms with an event, another passes right by to remind you no one’s got time to wait for you to process things at your own speed. So much has happened this year and it all felt like a movie trailer; considering how fast the year seems to have gone.

For one, this blog was officially birthed this year. We have shared stories and experiences together with our readers. Our interactions were not limited to the blog only, but to our social media accounts too. To connect with us there, visit our page HERE. It’s been a learning experience for both my partner and I.

Away from the blog, several other things have happened this year that could be talked about.

My partner is the kind of person who loves talking about anything and everything. ‘Hey Paula, whats your take on the driving rules?’ ‘What do you think about the current political climate?’ ‘Tell me your take on githeri media.’ ‘Have you read Nyakundi’s posts? What do you think?’ There is always something new to be discussed with him. Sometimes I cooperate and we have a good and rational discussion. But sometimes and most of these times, I just don’t tell him what he wants which makes us have a small problem. Nothing that can’t be solved by an emoji though. The other day he wanted to know what I think about lab processed meat. I mean I get that there is so much on the internet and every day the crazy factory that is science and technology will give us something new. I didn’t give him my view on it. I have no opinion.

There are times when things happen and I sit back and check how much I got left. Am not talking about money. I mean all the shit, fucks, crap, damn and possible rats’ asses that may be left for me to give in any scenario. Then I realize that am out. Fresh out of everything. These moments have all happened in the stretch of this year. 2017 has been the year when most of us ran out. I know I did.

For instance; we have had a never ending politically charged period; and it is not just in my country Kenya, but across the globe there has been a fair share of political drama, limbo, and sometimes even a breakthrough. America has Donald Trump, a president whose supporters are rarely heard, but has more critics that the Kardashians. Zimbabwe just got to have a new president since their independence. Kim Jong-un with the nuclear. Kenya made history by being the first African country to have its presidential elections nullified.

We have seen the rise of the boy child. A movement I must say I support. I do not however agree with the unorthodox and crude means the self-proclaimed president uses in order to get his point home.

So when my partner wants us to talk about all these things and I find a way not to, it’s not that I don’t want to talk about some of these things, it’s just that am honestly fresh out of things to give in such cases. You see there is so much that has happened in 2017. So much to talk about, but there is a moment when you are honestly out of what to give.

But again there are times when the pot is overflowing and there is so much to give. Like when it’s my birthday and the whole country is obsessed with two political candidates instead of sending me sweet birthday messages. Or maybe while browsing through the internet and learning that the one sided relationship I built with my long term celebrity crush, Enrique Iglesias may fail to come to life; and no, it’s not because physical distance is a problem (that can be sorted), but its solely because he got twins with his long term girlfriend (whom I had accepted by the way) and now his focus will be more on the kids. I have never been more heartbroken. But its ok, no hope lost still.

It is these kind of stuff that I give so much about.

It is the end of the year and like I said before, I will be in church. In the meantime, I will restock. 2018 seems like a year that will have scenarios that would need the pot full.

This is the last post this year, obviously. On a personal level, I never have resolutions. But as PepperLife, we have one main resolution. From the coming year, we will do away with the bad spirit of procrastination and laziness when it comes to posting stories. Just like we had promised when we moved here from the WordPress account, we will have a story every week. After further consultation and pointing fingers at each other, we have agreed to mutually share the blame on our failure in this.

Lastly, we are saying a big thank you to our readers, you have kept us going through the year. You are the reason we look forward to the next year. To those who kept reminding us that’s it’s a post day, thank you. We won’t let you down. We are happy. Keep sharing our work to the world. We immensely love you.

 

Happy New Year 2018!