Category: Safari Tales


Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 10.05.33While in Amsterdam, the word Sex is like the word Tea or Majani in Kericho. Part of the Dutch pride and fame for sex is synonymous to the kind of global advertisement our tea has done for Kenya. In Amsterdam, sex is cool. It’s rich. It’s okay. It’s liberating. Because of the legalization of prostitution, it draws tourists. Together with the legalization of weed; prostitution is part of the Dutch toleration for things, otherwise, not legal in many parts of the world.

On my first day in Amsterdam, while walking down the shopping district, I bump into the Sex Museum. It’s right between tourists’ souvenir shops, food joints and a kid’s toy (no pun intended) store. And it’s only four euros in. As soon as I tell one of my friends that I am staying right in the CBD close to Amsterdam Centraal Station (CS), they say: “That’s very close to the Red Light District (RLD), make sure you take a trip there!” I end up visiting RLD at different times on different days, thus noticing different things, every single time, day and night.

From the start, I have no imaginations of what RLD is like, apart from a place where it’s okay to pick up a prostitute when in lust and with money, or a street where you can easily spot hookers. On my first evening in Netherlands, accompanied by friends, I take my first walk down Amsterdam’s RLD, known for high-profile hookers. The buildings along RLD boast part of the city’s charming 14th century architecture—not what I had ever pictured. The District is located along one of the most beautiful parts of Amsterdam, with long alleys with a few twists and turns. It’s about 9:00 p.m. and still quite bright because it’s summer. Most of the large and long windows or glass doors through which prostitutes show up, from the classic buildings, still have curtains. The streets aren’t jammed. Prostitutes, in sexy lingerie and truckloads of makeup driven by bright or deep red lipstick, tease streetwalkers. As if made a tad shy by the bright of night, they dramatically jump in front of the curtain, revealing a leg or their torso, and then quickly jump back. Some prostitutes just peep out of the window, smiling and waving or beckoning passersby by the index finger.

“Good gracious!’ – my first thought. What a wonderfully liberal world this must be. For these women to be as proud as they are, up for sex, and not being jeered or stoned or arrested but being adored and marveled at, just as any other product on sale would be window-shopped.

There are gay bars, pornography cinemas, an Erotic Museum of Prostitution and a Sex Theatre (where you can view live sex – yes!) along RLD. There’s also the Condomerie, Worlds First Condom Specialty shop, first opened in 1987. Photography here, and generally along RLD inclusive of the signs and prostitutes is prohibited, but I still steal some and the video below:  .

DSC_1690On a different day I visit Condomerie with a friend. We marvel at the naughty post cards and joke about how it would be cool to see if a receiver would put two and two together if sent the wittily designed cards. But none of us wants to experiment. The tiny sex shop, full of curious (in all ways) customers and tourists, has ALL shades, sizes and flavours of condoms. And then there are toys and probably whips and chains. We don’t stay in too long. I am already in trouble for being spotted taking a photo.

On a different day – the end of the night Netherlands win against Costa Rica in the World Cup, together with my two male friends (names withheld for obvious reasons), we decide to head over to RLD for two reasons: to find a bar with good beer and simply assess business. Why not? Especially after Netherlands beat Costa Rica by luck at the penalties. We are curious if this result will influence an influx or decrease of clients at RLD tonight. Although there are celebrations and a lot of drinking beer and singing in town, most fans (read – everyone including me) are still not too happy by Netherlands performance again. The game against Costa Rica was just like their previous match against Mexico, too much struggle and still failing to score in 90 minutes.

DSC_1689“It’s going to be a bad night for the girls. Or should I say, a good night?” One of my friends jests, adding, “The prostitutes will probably make a lot of money, still.”

We have arrived.

Tonight I see the RLD in different light. (It’s the busiest I’ve seen any street, day or night, during my entire stay in Netherlands). It’s the first time I am experiencing human traffic. There are so many people, among them, more than half-dressed in orange jerseys, walking up and down RLD lanes. Everyone (the Dutch and tourists alike) has been wearing orange all day, in support for Netherlands at World Cup, so there’s no way of knowing nationalities of people along RLD, tonight largely dominated by men. My friend says a lot of the guys down RLD are usually Brits. And leaning on that statement, I overhear several British accents along the crammed and jammed street. I wonder if there are male or homosexual prostitutes too, somewhere. They can’t miss to have their spot in a place like Amsterdam—the city with something for everyone. We spot a couple of policemen along the canal bridges dressed in their “Politie” jackets, standing at bay watching people stream in and out of the district. They are possibly looking out for trouble. But there is never trouble.

It’s way past 1:30 p.m. The prostitutes are not afraid of the dark of night – they seem to be encouraged by it. They are on display just like meat hangs by the butchery windows or how mannequins pose by windows at the malls. There are no curtains here. As you stare at them, the more they lure you while touching themselves and demonstrating skills and positions, some smiling as innocently as virgins. All this happens through the life-sized windows through which I can see single rooms lighted up in red, blue, violet and even green. The rooms have beds layered with white towels and numerous toys, some looking like gadgets. Some rooms seem to have doors in the back.

We are standing next to a group of three girls and one boy staring so hard at one of prostitutes demonstrating her prowess by mocking her viewers from across the window. The foursome stares so hard as if they are watching a silent movie. I can now see that most of the prostitutes have done a boob or mouth job, or both – it’s so evident. The prostitutes clearly represent different nationalities. Some look Indonesian and Korean. There is also a lane with black girls. Here is the first place I see big -sized prostitutes. We also pass a window where several men are queuing for one prostitute and there is a bouncer, (or should we refer to him as a pimp?) ensuring that there’s no pushing and pulling or jumping the line.

Most pubs and clubs have red-lit signs gleaming and popping with witty names of the places. Sex Palace. Banana Bar. Moulin Rouge. And so on. We finally find a club that is full enough to handle us (the others are overflowing). I just want some of that good rose’ beer. My boys are soon turned off by the fact that there are only four girls (me included) in this club so we leave soon after …

In the continuation of my tales from Netherlands, read Love, Sex and Drugs: Amsterdam (Part I) here. Look out for Part III coming soon.

BONUS: Prostitution is legal in Holland with most of Amsterdam’s business running in the Red Light District. Window prostitutes have been allowed to legally display their trade since October 2000. PS: RLD hasn’t always been known to be the safest place in Amsterdam. From time to time, several crimes have been reported from there so while visiting, make sure you have company and be watchful.

 

10559344_10152507852712559_1010258845_nMy arrival in Amsterdam is in many ways synonymous to the story of the village man from Luhya Land who got a chance to visit Nairobi, for the first time, after winning millions through a Safaricom competition. As soon as I take my first walk from Amsterdam Centraal (CS) Station to our apartment building, along De Ruyterkade (five-minute walk from CS), I realize that I am a different kind of villager here.

I have seen tall buildings, but not buildings grandiose and sophisticated in form of medieval architecture as Amsterdam’s. I can’t help but stop every five steps, to take pictures of the cityscape always adjacent to canal waters and bridges. This happens every time I am out of the house, all through my 16-day stay in the Netherlands. One time, my friend Sylvia notes, “You are just like Chinese and Japanese tourists” because we spot them (especially men) taking pictures all over town. Only difference between my photography and theirs is how advanced their cameras are. While taking a boat ride once I spot one Japanese tourist with a selfie-stick (look that up).

10536950_10152507856977559_1886306721_nI have never seen streets and roads so neat, clean and perfect – you could literally lay your picnic on bare ground, and germs wouldn’t be aware. I am fascinated by the fact that during my entire stay, I don’t see even one person littering. Well, maybe that’s because there are mini and huge trucks simultaneously cleaning (washing and drying) city streets, day and night, every hour. Amsterdam saves me from the fury of having to see someone throw banana and orange peals or naked maize combs on the streets, like is such a Kenyan bad habit. Could it be that Amsterdam people don’t eat fruit anyhow? Or maybe they don’t litter anything at all?

What Amsterdam however seems to throw around carelessly is Love. I have never seen so much Public Display of Affection (pda) at one place. There is a couple holding so close at the Rijksmuseum – if I had a man holding me like that while trying to critic a piece of art work, I would have certainly preferred to take our display somewhere else, probably with more life … There is a constant dark veil between lovers and the streets or people. Lovers don’t care if anyone is watching them and people don’t care for couples. Another couple is kissing so passionately by the hundreds of bikes parked by CS. He’s got his hands entangled in her sweater and she let’s go of her bike; its fall nearly messing up the perfect linear parking of the rest of the bikes. The couple stops and start to laugh out loud.

Even elderly couples seem to be deeply in love. By Amsterdam’s famous Dam Square, I spot a couple of oldies holding hands while strolling. Some are kissing and others are leaning on each other while sitting on the stone benches at Dam. One afternoon after a shopping spree so tiresome my back is aching, I decide to take a break and rest on the Dam stones. This way I can also get a central viewing of pda. Funny thing happens. The 40-something year old man sitting next to me starts to talk to the 50-something year old woman. She asks me for a pen and a biro. Obviously no journalist walks without those two. As I reach my handbag I realize that these two just met on this stone and are exchanging contacts. Finally! I play cupid, thanks to Amsterdam.

10559091_10152507853217559_282060868_nOne time, while sitting with my friend Danny at the patio of a restaurant located on Rembrandt Square (another famous spot in the city); right after an afternoon pour, a couple stops right in front of our view and start to make out, so hungrily. I am afraid he will rip off her clothes right before our eyes. I notice that I am the only one caught in their make-out session. Passersby walk past the scene, and care more for the famed Night Watch (Netherland’s most celebrated painting by the artist Rembrandt van Rijn) sculptures in 3D, a few steps behind the kissing couple. “Is it that couples show more love to each other in Amsterdam or do stuff and visit places, more together, than at home (in Kenya)? Or that people in Amsterdam are in love deeper than love experienced in other places?” I ask my Kenyan friend Danny. Already accustomed to the Dutch lifestyle, having lived at Den Haag (Hague) for more than two years, now, he simply cautions, “You haven’t seen anything yet … you should go to Rome,” adding, “This pda is really nothing as compared to Rome.”

I am convinced that Amsterdam is a city of love because I am here to work and play but most importantly, attend my friends’ Wedding of the Year. If numerous people carrying lovely bouquets of flowers on their bike carriers; almost half the town is kissing and holding and rubbing each other’s butts, really is a sign of Love—I see it everywhere in Amsterdam. On the streets, at restaurants, museums, parks and pretty much anywhere I turn. It’s like a constant scene off a romantic movie filmed in Paris’ famous parks with couples fondling on the benches. Only this is real life. It is baffling why, from outside Amsterdam, I haven’t seen movie makers associate Amsterdam with love and pda, like they do in films shot in Rome, Paris and London.

10523292_10152507852912559_1414496986_n-1One time, while in Eindhoven, North of Holland – not even the rain could stop yet another couple from pda-love-games. The dude is pushing her and pulling her hair. The lady runs so fast from him, for a second I start to think that they are not really together. He catches up with her; she kicks him so hard. They have no umbrellas and don’t seem worried by the rain or that they are probably inflicting slight pain on each other. As they fade away from my view, I half-see them laughing and leaning over to share a kiss, while waiting for the traffic lights to turn Green.

It seems like Amsterdam is always All System Go for Love. In one part of town, there’s a lone piece of graffiti in white with the words “Love Me”. Just as I am taking a photo of it, another couple (holding) walk into my shot—a perfect image for the backdrop by the canal waters … I email my sister Emma, who lives in Miami (Florida) my observations. She responds, “You are experiencing some culture shock ..” Maybe I am.

In the continuation of my tales from Netherlands, read Love, Sex and Drugs: Amsterdam (Part II).

BONUS: Read how it went down at my friends’ Wedding of the Year.

 

Bergen, north of Holland (about 45 minutes drive from Amsterdam), is really the place you want to wed. There, roads are winding, extra leafy trees stand tall and close together, the beaches provide warm and sunny weather; and houses (all stand out, in shape and architecture) are designed to build homes. Mine is the only bedroom (I think) located on the lower floor of the little yet charming 114-year old Hotel 1900 (where we are staying over the wedding weekend). It’s the most beautiful Saturday morning I have seen, since my arrival in Netherlands. A bright shy sun light with tenderness and assurance seeps in through my window. I know this will be a more than a good day.

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From Hotel 1900, it’s a five-minute walk to the most beautiful remains I’ve ever seen—Bergen’s Ruïnekerk (Ruined Church). Surrounding the chapel’s front yard are high ruined walls made of golden brown bricks. The walls have holes, where there used to be cathedral windows. Epitaphs lean on the walls, as lifeless as high fashion models pose.

A clay pot with lovely lilac and white flowers is sitting pretty near the church’s main entrance. The church provides a Holier Than Thou aesthetic gratification. The ceiling is so damn high (even higher than normal cathedral ceilings). Half its length is wooden brown and the other half – painted pure white. The windows are so large – all four Teletubbies could certainly jump through, at once. Several golden chandeliers dangle with church candles, or lights shaped as candles, burning slowly. In the fifteenth century, this used to be the largest church in the province of North-Holland. However, during the 80 years war against Spain, it was looted and burned down by Dutch Protestants. It was later rebuilt to its current state (making it now more than 300 years old). Wow!!!

10528039_10152506763562559_960094254_n10527929_10152506869552559_1729024944_nIt’s about 3:00 p.m. The Bridal March song goes off. Dressed in a simple non-lacy and non-flowing wedding dress with a white mini jacket and a statement Ankara belt, Nynke (the bride) walks in smiling. Her Dad is holding her hand. Such cute little flower girls in Ankara dresses just walked in front of them. Her man, Steve (the groom), is dressed in a cream-coloured tuxedo, a snow-white shirt with a matching smart bow tie. A twosome so different yet elegant—I assert – to myself, “Yes! Those are My Friends!”

After what sounded like a Catholic mass and mostly conducted in Dutch, Nynke and Steve are just about to be married. The Father asks, in English, “Anyone with any reason why I should not unite these two; speak now …” A bad, or good joke (we previously discussed) comes into real play. From the very back, Bien stands up and shouts, “I have something to say!” All eyes on his serious face: “I know Nynke … She is a very good woman – that’s all!” The church bursts into laughter, more like a collected sigh of relief. After the You May Kiss the Bride speech, the couple kisses for an eternity. I like that the Father’s sermon for the couple is sweet and very Catholic-esque short. “You don’t need sunshine but someone by your side, always. Look out of the window, we expected better weather today but you don’t need blue, but trust… ”

Later, Steve sings to Nynke an acoustic (only accompanied by a piano) version of Donny Hathaway’s A Song For You. (Isn’t that like one of the sweetest love songs ever?) She surprises him, and all of us, when she sings for him an olden (I think) Dutch love song, from the balcony of the church, accompanied by the beastly organ music instrument. Even though I can’t comprehend the lyrics, I feel the emotion pouring out of her, and then from me. I’ve never heard Nynke sing with such heart and soul. My eyes feel like I just rubbed red-hot Indian chillies on them. I feel like running out of the chapel to be free of this captivity. I look around the church and all (Yes – all) the women are sobbing – so I succumb. It’s embarrassing, but thankfully I didn’t wear mascara so I am not worried that I will look like the grim reaper after this. I told myself that I wouldn’t cry but these tears turn out to be my first, at any wedding.

Sauti Sol throw a killer concert right in front of the church’s dais, transforming the peace and holiness into something else. They sing all their wedding songs and Pharrell’s Happy, led by Nynke. Later Steve and Nynke’s Paps both give such precise and wise speeches—I am awed. So is the church. There’s too much love, fun and freedom inside this Catholic church—I can’t wait to tell my mum (a staunch Catholic) of this liberty.

10550203_10152506740052559_1293265614_o10552187_10152506713877559_1455828313_o10536834_10152506829017559_795525125_nAfter a few minutes, there’s a cake cutting ceremony at a gazebo outside church. The cake has several storeys. Its colour matches Steve’s tux. It tastes like sorbet and everything nice. This is the first wedding I’ve attended without cake-hoarding servers. It’s a dream-come true for the kids. It doesn’t matter that I hate cake; I join their greedy game of relishing large portions to come back for more. Going around is plenty of champagne, congratulatory hugs and kisses to the couple, meet-and-greet pleasantries, and fashion.

It is about 6:00 p.m. guests return inside Ruïnekerk for dinner. The church space is now like a scene from Jesus’ Last Supper table. The tables, laced in white cloth, have gourmet Kenyan and Indonesian (if my taste buds don’t fail me) finger-licking dishes. Sierano and me even share a second plate. Just as the wine is kicking in, Nynke and Steve are at the front of church with an announcement to make. But only a music mix kicks in, for a choreographed dance session from the two, now in different outfits. Azonto. Jika. Happy Dance. Dombolo. B-Boy Dance. There isn’t one cool dance move that misses out. It’s super dope! Suddenly, guests are standing on seats, and cramming, trying to steal a picture or if lucky – get a video. Watch Nynke and Steve’s super Dope First Happy Wedding Dance, recorded via my phone camera.

A group of friends then present a song and another choreographed dance to the couple, who join in the FUN.

The after party (from a sunny and bright Summer 9:00 p.m.) is private and by the beach. The wooden white coloured establishment exudes the feel of a former beach house. The walls are made of glass. There’s a patio with a view (overlooking the vast North Sea) to die for. This is a scene off OC. The sand here is so clean and so soft it makes feet sink so deep. The water is super cold. Only sound close to the North Sea is the laughter from the party, fading music and water-sand back and forth motion as tides rise and fall.

Good vibes, drinks and a lot of dancing to the killer DJ and the most private and heartfelt concert delivery I’ve ever heard Sauti Sol give.

10543229_10152506748782559_477459719_n10544478_10152506816007559_883111188_nAfter a super cute daughter, and years of anticipation, Nynke and Steve have finally made it official. Nothing about this couple is ordinary. She is super cute, super hardworking and super stylish. Steve’s voice and everything is smooth. He’s fashion forward and super industrious. Look up Free Spirit and Roho Safi in the dictionary—their faces show up. They are creative. Crazy. And fun. And accommodating. And loving. They’ve got such big hearts; if merged together and thrown like a meteorite from space into earth, they would form a love crater.

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Weddings generally make you feel sorry for yourself and your singlehood or dysfunctional relationships. But this one felt different. It was more of a global gathering of friends and family—guests came from Netherlands, Germany, Kenya, Brazil, USA, Dubai, Czech Republic, France and pretty much every corner of the world. It was surreal to be at one place with ALL our friends, and for it not to have been a funeral. There was nothing to think about but savour every single moment. More than Nynke and Steve’s celebration of love, their wedding was a massive and grand celebration of love, life, friendship and family. It ended up lasting another two days, following Sunday (back at Ruïnekerk) and Monday (at the Bergen home).

BONUS: So honoured and glad to have been part of your celebration Nynke and Steve – congrats to that and the awesome wedding dance. Because of your wedding, I ended up spending weeks [meaning it’s not infatuation] falling in love with Netherlands; reuniting with you, nearly all my friends from Europe and making new alliances. I am so inspired by the power of the beautiful thing we are all looking for. It’s called Love, and You are it!!

You might also dig: Love, Sex and Drugs: Amsterdam (Part I), in the series of my tales from the Netherlands.

 

 

 

 

photo (34)Where are my manners? Last week, or the last one before that, Black Roses was chosen by Travel Start Kenya as one of 25 Great Kenyan blogs to follow. Someone mentioned to me yesterday, that in the compilation, Black Roses was the only blog that specializes in arts and culture. Isn’t that dope? And I must be blind to have let that pass my eyes.

I thought it would be great to share with you the article, read it here and take this space to say, I was so elated and I am so thankful.

You know what that means, there is no stopping. Don’t want to spoil or jinx anything but just so you all know, forget about the Train Ride from hell, there might be a couple of interesting Safari  Tales to share this year.

I just want to say thanks to all the followers of this blog, you are genuinely awesome. Sometimes, I feel like I write gibberish, things only I would understand but then I find that some of you have liked such posts or just read. I am very glad that this blog is serving me well. This was supposed to be the ultimate expression of my deeper self that few really understand and I am happy that I feel understood and equally get inspirations from stuff you write me, see these powerful comments on the Natural Hair debate. Shit like this makes me alive and aware of the fact that we are not as solitary as we think we are.

THANKS for reading, keep it here.

Train StationThe only other thing worse than having nobody wish you lovey-dovey sweet nothings on Valentine’s Day (V-Day) is taking a Makadara Train. Trust me. Despite coming across dashing red outfits, rose flowers and disgustingly in love couples, my V-Day had been awfully ordinary. For a spicy ending and to dodge traffic and rain, after work, I decided to take a train accompanied by a colleague (Debrah).

Setting out to relish every second of this short ride, I marvel at the cheap tickets (KES 30 for one passenger). The ticket sellers are swift as they pass change and tickets back and forth, to the mob of people, all hurrying in. My heart skips a beat in excitement and anticipation as I hold onto my ticket. We rush into the Railways Station and leisurely settle on the stone benches. As we wait for our train to arrive, Debrah tells me train stories; some nostalgic and some tragic. She recalls childhood train games, playing cat and mouse chase together with her brothers to avoid paying for rides from school. A sign at the station reads ‘Give Yourself Time to Catch Train’. I read it aloud and Debrah tells me of a childhood real horror story. An elderly woman missed the train’s steps and unfortunately tripped under. She didn’t make it. “Haven’t you ever taken a train?”  She asks. The last time (about three years ago) I took a train was to Molo accompanied by my sisters; and then I really wasn’t keen on the journey’s features, note to self.

Several people, including Europeans carrying humongous back packs (of Amazing Race calibre), walk helter skelter in all directions. At the far right end of the station, is an old restaurant, half-filled with tourists drinking chai, probably marvelling at how old school the Kenyan train station must look. I like it. “In all those years, this place has never changed one bit,” notes Debrah as we take the stairs down to our train’s terminal. She freaks out at the sight of an already half-full train, “Shit! When did all these people get in? We’ll have to sit near the door so you can easily alight.” My stop should be before hers.

As soon as we get into the train, I see so many eyes on me and no space to sit. After walking through several booths, we finally get separate seats, mine being closer to the door. Time is approximately 6:05 p.m. The train leaves in 25 minutes.

The Long Await

photo (17)Times seems to move so slowly, as I eagerly wait for the choo choo to go off and the rocky motion to set. Several hawkers (all women) are parading the alleys selling sim sim, tooth paste and snacks. Some are singing, others are shouting, others have a rhythmical way of peddling, as their waists and voices sway: “Haiya bas sim sim hapa! Sim sim? Haya bas, hii hapa!” I really wanted to buy sim sim, but I felt like everyone was staring at me. Maybe I was just nervous. I took my phone back into the bag because as soon as I got it out for a photo – everyone stared even harder. 6:10 p.m. and passengers are still trickling in. Some are already standing as all seats are taken. I wonder if they won’t fall at the journey’s onset.

The cabin’s seats are designed in the ‘Face me – I Face You’ style. People standing take any space available, even between groups of five or six people sitting facing each other. That annoys me so much because I am not sitting next to the window, and so I will miss to see passing scenery. Soon, I can’t even see where Debrah is sitting. Though we are in the same train, we start to text each other. It’s 6.22 p.m. I ask: “What time do we leave!? Do the lights in the train work?” She responds: “6:30 p.m. They don’t work, why?” I reply: “Because it’s getting dark. Just can’t wait to leave.”

Two train staff members get in and start ordering people standing, to move inwards to reduce the number of people crowded at the door. Those sitting, including me, are suddenly smashed like meat in between buggers. The lady standing beside me has a box-shaped hand bag that keeps bumping into my head. The woman standing among three other people in between the six of us sitting at a booth is offered a seat by the man sitting next to me. Quite the gentleman! “Kwani nyinyi ni avocado hamuezi songa? Ama mmepandwa kama mti? Msonge ndani!!” The guys who check tickets have arrived, uncourteously, with their Nokia Mulika Mwizis.  It’s starting to get dark. After several verbal exchanges with passengers and rearranging them like books in an already-full shelf, at about 6.44 p.m. they give the captain a go-ahead and we finally set off.

The Miserable Ride

By the time the train leaves, I am so tired of the commotion, I can hardly breathe; my head is constantly being hit by the box-shaped handbag; it’s dark; am clutching on my handbag, afraid that someone might pick pocket me; I can’t see outside and I can’t read my book (even if I wanted). I start to daydream about bus rides. They always allow me to read my book. I can’t wait to alight.

About six minutes later, the train breaks down for a minute or two. People start to murmur while some close to the door get off to join the crew. “Isn’t this a stop?” I ask the box-shaped bag lady, after which I offer to carry it, to relieve my head. “No stop here, there is a problem.” Suddenly, the train jerks forward. One must feel differently while in motion, when in a space full to capacity or in a spacious one. When I last took a train with my sisters, we had a private cabin and not one single push or throw wasn’t uniquely felt. Now all I feel is a wobbly left and right sway.

It’s a few minutes to 7:00 p.m. and it feels like I have been in the train all my life. In the other cabin, a preacher bursts into a sermon. “Haleeeeeluyah!! Amen!?” He shouts, after every testimony. “What have I got myself into?” I contemplate. Soon after the preaching, he starts to sing as a soloist, “Baraka za Mungu kweli … Ni za??” Nearly half the train eruptions into a thunderous reply in unison, “Ni za ajabu … kwenda juu … kwenda … chini …” I find myself and the bag lady joining in the choir. Debrah texts: “I didn’t know there was a church group in the train. Be ready, you are alighting after the Makadara Station” I respond: “I am even singing. Sawa, I will be fine thanks.”

The Real Nightmare

When we get to Makadara Station, hardly anyone alights. It is stark dark and I can’t even see the newly-opened and lighted up station. So many other passengers with heavy luggage are added into the mix. By now, some women standing are already wailing from the cramming and jamming. We will be at Mutindwa stop in about three minutes. I am afraid that I won’t find space to alight in the nine-minute break train stop. And there is no way in hell or heaven that I am finding myself in Kariobangi (the stop after the next). Sijui leo tutashuka na dirisha!?” I yell, as passengers standing near us quarrel with a man who entered the train with a sack as large as life, that he put on top of the rails, and now is a danger to life, if it falls on anyone’s head. Someone has also farted.

I try to stand to force my way towards the door but the woman sitting next to me warns, “You will suffocate! Wait till the train stops; I am also alighting at Mutindwa.” A few seconds later, we have arrived. I don’t even realize that the train has stopped. She commands, “Stand! Force your way out, now!” As I fight my way through the darkness, it becomes apparent that those standing near the door are at the same time fighting theirs, towards taking our sitting space.

Somehow, I finally get to the door but the distance from the top to the ground seems longer. I can’t see the steps or hear the woman’s voice direct me. My heart is beating terribly fast; terrified of the chance that the train might start to move any time or that I might jump and fall.

I jump!!

As I walk home, I look back only once. My legs are numb. After a few steps, I notice that I am limping and have a stitch on my right knee. It’s 7:08 p.m. As soon as I get home, I text my mother: “Today I took a Makadara Train to avoid the rain and for some change. We paid KES 30 but it was a nightmare. Cheap is expensive.” She calls laughing, and after our conversation she comments on my Facebook status: “Haha! That was how the 3rd class train system worked in the 90s, from Nairobi to Kisumu—very interesting that you will never wish to board it again.”

I mean, how can such an efficient time-saving mode of transport be as horrendous? Not again, especially on Valentine’s.

BONUS: My 7 Must-Dos of 2014 (Ride in a Train is No. 4)

Serene Resorts, excellent for getaways; Italian bistros, cafes and restaurants; perfectly tanned Italian settlers and tourists, young and old; modest locals who know no other foreign traits but Italian—all this make Malindi, undoubtedly Kenya’s little exclusive Italy. The beautiful coastal town is my personal favourite destination because of its sleepiness. There, life literally moves slower than in Mombasa, providing a sense of privacy. Recently, took the weekend off to Malindi, together with my girls. And I discovered just how anyone can enjoy a super vacation in Malindi in just 24 hours, or more.

photo (14)While in Malindi (one of Naomi Campbell’s top destinations), if you can’t stay at the pricy resorts, check out the brand new super classy and reasonably priced The Village, that’s just as superb. Located practically about 10 minutes to every other place you need to go, from the airport, to the beach, clubs or to town in the traffic free town. A cathedral Swahili wooden gate welcomes you into Mwembe (Swahili for mango) Resort leading into The Village (the two are merged). Mwembe’s property boasts monstrous mango trees and hundreds of comfy home-style cottages. The Village on the other hand, is quite the sight. The entry of each one of the one-bed roomed and two-bed roomed self-contained townhouses of The Village has a picturesque patio, upstairs and downstairs, the latter having a set of tables. You know, where you can have a late night snack or drinks with friends and family. This is the place for you.

There are two big swimming pools and an outdoor Jacuzzi, with floors made of Mazeras. In case you didn’t know, Mazeras hoards up warmth from the daytime so swimming at night in the pool becomes a warm-affair.

So, from my experience at The Village, here are 10 quirky steps on how to vacay in Malindi in just 24 hours:

Saturday Afternoon

  1. After lunch, take a flight to Malindi

We departed JKIA at about 1.30 p.m. and by 2.30 p.m.; we had landed and well on our way to Malindi’s The Village Resort. Remember to travel light, you don’t need a dozen suitcases like you are the Prince of Zamunda.

photo (9)2. Have a glass of Sangria,  and bitings on arrival at The Village

A cold glass of Sangria to quench your thirst and relax you from the Malindi humidity is like ‘The drink of life’ at this juncture. Ask the staff at The Village for the marinated chicken drumsticks and fish cakes. Best fish cakes I have ever eaten all my life!

3. Head out to town for an espresso and a bottle of Italian Wine/Champagne

Enjoy the shaky ride as you take a tuk tuk into town. Ask them to drop you off at Bar Bar Restaurant. While there ask for an espresso. Their espresso is simply rich and fulfilling. The outdoor setting of the restaurant also allows you to enjoy a view of the beautiful town and its weather. Pop into the shop right next door, it’s a little Italian supermarket; grab a bottle or three of your favourite Italian champagnes or wines for drinks later at the cottage. We went for three dry Proseccos.

photo (13)By 6.30 p.m.

4.  Take a shower and change clothes

Put on a sexy loose dress. It’s pretty hot at night so ladies, go for shorts, short skirts or a flowing dress. Guys, go for shorts and vests. Sit at the patio with friends and talk away life’s problems and blessings as you down the bottles. Oh me, Susan Q, Susan Lucky, Billy, Kaleche and Adelle really tried but we only managed to down two.

5. Lorenzo’s for dinner

Head over to the main restaurant at The Village, Lorenzo’s, for dinner. You have to order Italian pasta and white wine. I had Tomato Pasta with Parmesan – it was heaven on a plate.

By 11 p.m.

6. Hit Club Papa Pata

This is the best club I’ve been to in the Coast of Kenya. Outdoor and white tented décor mixed in black leather seats; a dance floor huge enough to house the whole town; a DJ Booth with caged raging fire on each side; great music; beautifully dressed people and if you walk on the outside of Pata Pata’s back side, you will be met by the white sands of the beach. This is the best way to spend a night out in Malindi. Please note, after being inspired by a couple of drinks, you can decide to have a walk by the beach with your friends or partner if not find a spot to just chill and stare into the big disco light that points out into the dark skies.

You can party till day break; revelers don’t stop checking into Pata Pata. Sometimes, renowned musicians from bongo or the coast region are playing here.

photo (12)Sunday Mid Morning

7.  Have breakfast at The Village; make sure the chef makes you frittata, an Italian omelet. From there, you could either dip into the Jacuzzi for some inspiration or take a tuk tuk to Rosada Exclusive Italian Beach Bar & Restaurant for a nice morning beach walk, which will provide you the real inspiration.  Don’t forget to draw your name on the sand. It’s always a reminder of part of a text I recently read that says, “A footprint on the sand in the seashore, here and then gone, is an inescapable symbol of our brief lives.” The beach at Rosada is as white as cocaine; don’t forget to carry your shades otherwise your eyeballs will be burning all through. Also carry a book or a notebook so you can sit and read or write the thoughts rushing off your mind. Ask the staff at Rosada to get you a Bloody Mary or some kind of cocktail.

By 1.p.m

8. Head back to town for Biriani – kindly note: It’s a crime to be in Mombasa, Voi or Malindi and not have Biriani and Chai ya tangawizi.  Ask for Simba Dishes, it’s a little hidden café in town that serves the best Biriani. They are so affordable, for KES 300; you will have a meal fit for two.

CIMG19339. Don’t miss your flight back. If you decide to stay for another day or so, do not miss Rosada’s beach party every Monday nights. Come ready to mingle and soon forget anything that might happen, because trust me, a lot will happen :-)

10. Take a minute and relax in Malindi. Trust me, such a holiday, whether brief or long, will wipe away all your life problems and magnify all your blessings afresh.

It was great to hang out with my girls, Adelle, Susan (Q & L), Kaleche, and Clara (who lives in Malindi). I hadn’t been to Malindi since 2011, when I was there filming the annual Malindi Kids Festival. I adore the place, and now with the discovery of The Village (that btw only costs KES 10,000 a day, for a self-contained house that can house up to five people and only KES 35,000 a week), I am set to return soon.

BONUS: If you don’t like the tuk tuk much, The Village offers free shuttle bus service to and from the beach clubs to town. The Village officially opened in October 2013 and is nearly fully booked for the Christmas season. S/O to @goplacesKE @TAC_Village

For more info on flight bookings, accommodation in Malindi & Kenya’s most exclusive properties, visit http://www.theafricancollection.net Regarding tours & travel in Malindi email rayatravelmld@gmail.com

From Molo, it’s a scenic thirty minutes drive that my family and I enjoy. We arrive at ‘The place where the suitor missed the target’. Not my words but the tagline on the brochure I pick at the gate on my way into Lord Egerton’s Castle. I am wowed at my first sight of a castle; grandiose and whimsical. In a split second I imagine seeing a beautiful damsel in distress with flowing hair peeping from the medieval sight of the parapet—wishful thinking. This magnificent 53-room castle lies a few meters off the Nakuru- Eldoret highway (about fifteen kilometers from Nakuru town) and was built by Lord Maurice Egerton Tatton, the fourth and last Baron Egerton of Tatton  (1874 – 1958).

Robert Onyiego is a bubbly elderly man in his 80s. He was the Castle’s Manager and also the favorite of Egerton’s ten Luo servants. “Lord Egerton loved a Luo man’s work ethic, and we did not ask him any questions,” says Robert who two decades later has become the Castle’s caretaker and tour guide.

Lord Egerton was a smart man—an aviator and photographer/filmmaker who loved architecture. He was among the first white settlers to conquer the Kenyan white highlands, finally settling in Ngata farm. Here, he owned an extensive farm and prairies that stretched all the way from Rongai to Nakuru.  I can bet that any sane woman would fall for that package in the first quarter of the 20th century or today for that matter. But I am a little wrong.

There was a lot of mystery surrounding Lord Egerton. He was meticulous to the letter and possibly a tyrant but above all; lonely. Like most of us, he wanted nothing but love. Robert looks grim as he narrates perhaps the only true and modern East African fairy-cum-love tale. An Austrian woman came to Kenya from overseas to visit Egerton, her fiancée. At that time Egerton was living in a thatch-like six bed-roomed dwelling that echoed his love for African culture. To the lady, not only were his quarters unimpressive but they reflected on his entire bid to marry her. “I can’t live in a house the size of a plane!” She said. Marriage talks failed flat on Lord Egerton as the lady went back to London and soon got married to another man.

Egerton’s spirit was broken. Enough to build a wall inside his heart and a castle surrounding his existence. Contrary to popular theory that after being jilted by his lover, Egerton built the castle to re-impress her; he actually build the castle to appease only one thing—his solitude, confirms Robert. Among the things banned from the castle’s ward was live chicken and dogs because his former lover had compared his house to a chicken’s hut and a dogs kennel; Egerton’s Achilles heel was women. “He gave us orders never to mention even the word ‘female’ in his castle and its extensive 100 acre ward. Accompanying one to the castle was unfathomable.”

Thanks to Egerton’s absence, I walk freely up the flight of stairs leading into the castle. On the left of its ground floor is a dilapidated yet classic ball room that closely resembles the one from the Titanic, yup. Now empty and only home to a broken piano and architectural prowess, Robert shows us a corner near a large window where Egerton would sit under a golden curtain as orchestras and seasoned musicians from abroad played him symphonies. “He loved music so he invited artists from far and wide. This floor had coloured carpets with gold plating and the shelves by the windows all had clocks and cutlery made of gold,” reminisces Robert.

The walk through the 4 storey castle feels like a time travel into chivalry. The man had mastered his delectable traits, I can tell by the large wine cellar situated in the basement. The castle has many bathrooms with defunct electrical machines that would be used to warm towels and dry hair, with at least four to himself. The rest were for male kids, guests and the ladies (despite the irony that no woman took a shower in there during his tenure). There’s a large safe and two food stores: one was for imported foods and the other for local products. “The kitchen had a mini slaughter-house. The chef would have to shower and perfume himself before cooking Lord a meal. A doctor would drive from Nakuru twice a day to come inspect his food,” states Robert. It also surprises me that all the rooms are numbered. Lord Egerton’s bedroom door number is 20 and locked. “It still has some of his personal effects, ” he explains, adding, “All 53 rooms were numbered because we had a lot of businesses running around here, it was easier that way to avoid getting lost.”

The love story goes on as narrated by Robert. Together with Egerton’s close links they tried to find him another woman so that one day she would inherit his vast property (realistic but sad if you ask me). They found him a Black American woman. Still wary of his feelings Egerton went into a thorough background check on her and found that she had been married with kids in Australia. Poor Egerton, his last hope shattered.

It’s the castle where Lord Egerton lived in loneliness or found fortress (heck- who really knows?) with his servants till 1958 when he succumbed to what Robert described as lung complications. This was after having flown 25 doctors into the country to fix him. It’s sad that they couldn’t even save his life. He was buried in Nakuru. All his gold and movable wealth was sent to his family in London. His last surviving sibling died the same year as him.

The luxurious castle was built between 1930 and 1940. “It’s stones and zinc tiles were shipped in from Europe and Asia by 100 Red Indian builders from America,” says Robert.

Lord Egerton’s castle is now just two decades shy of a century in age and a tourist attraction of international repute and currently under the stewardship of the Egerton University (which Lord Egerton himself also established).

I am curious if Lord would turn in his grave if he knew that women were today visiting his castle; some even getting married on its picturesque lawn. “I haven’t thought much about that as Lord is long gone,” says Robert who’s today wearing a ragged trench coat and a hideous hat. “I miss his (Lord Egerton’s) lifestyle. He bought us many gifts; I remember he got me a motor bike, three suits and ties,” he concludes pensively.

The Mombasa Bday- safari

I was looking for a nice local place to just run away to with my friends and just have fun in the name of celebrating my 23rd Bday and we all unanimously agreed on Mombasa. As much as it sounds cliché’, so is everything in life so our challenge is to keep doing the same things over and over again but in different strokes.

This trip’s culprits in the picture beside are from far left my best boy Chimano, my best cousin Miss JJT , my best girl Bunny and Ken. Bday was on Saturday Sept 4th, departure from Nairobi Thur night on the 10 P.M bus.

Up until around 9 p.m on Thur, we all hadn’t communicated at all, everyone was having a busy day, well i was at work doing the website till around 6pm then i had to rush home to pack and meet MissJJT on our way back to town, Chim had been in the studio whole day as Sautisol were still polishing up on their 2rd album, Bunny was bumming at home ….

When MissJJT and I got to town at around 9.30pm it started pouring, it was annoying and we were so damn hungry so i called Chim and he said that he was just leaving the studio, if we could get him some food. What do you know? Next pittstop was ALTONA, y’all must be wondering what’s that place, well look for it, the cleanest and cheapest fries in town! On our way to the bus pick up at the Shell petrol station on University way, we met a psychopath dirty man on Biashara Street who was practically chasing after us and we were pulling our suitcases! I almost put the damn suitcase on my head, am a Luo chick nway haha but we eventually lost the psychopath..

We all met at the pickup point a few minutes past 10 p.m and then came the HORIZON bus! I could blog about just the bus ooohhh dont even know where to start! First of all, ALL the sexy Italian men who dont fly to Mombasa take this freaking bus! You know how i live in Eastlands, well i like to call it Upper Easide, and the mats love to beba excess with sweaty ass people’s makwapas stinking, making you choke through the whole trip, this bus was the complete contrast! The men were a sight (the good kind) they made the bus smell so good, ooh how expensive cologne smells yummy, the ambiance just right, the windows had cute little curtains, the seats even had cushy cushions for the extra comfort, what more? They even had a t.v showing Sherlock Holmes and that reminds me of when my friends and I first watched that movie in the theatres, i fell asleep, I mean who sleeps during an action movie, well am special like that!

Sasa it was our first time to travel in the Horizon bus okay, except for MissJJT and that explains why she was the one who recommended the bus! Ushamba, we had carried sijui fries and chicken in papers, sijui pet sodas and crisps, little did we know that the bus even had a hostess and a white steward boy! Haha, sasa as we were eating our fries the hostess came to ask, “Will you have some coffee, tea, and chocolate? We also have soda and snacks if you want…” It’s no wonder the fare to Mombasa was 1,300 so we had paid for the food and drinks why not have them? Heh trust me we had everything, hogging all the way, not to mention we made so much noise for the bourgeoisie people in the bus but what the heck! Just before i blacked out, Mum called me to say, “Wishing you all a great trip, you are all young and should always live to enjoy the moments” I love my mum.

Bunny woke me up when we got to Mtito wa Ndei and we all got out for a little strawl and a smoke, it was quite a chilly night. We were finally on Mombasa’s outskirts at around 5.45 a.m when the hostess woke us up for breakfast, I love Horizon bus and the driver, he was so keen and slow, it’s definitely the safest bus to take on a long trip!

Our friend from Coast the Prez Hassan was sending a driver to come pick us at the Horizon office in Mombasa. Check out that gist, that’s MissJJT and Chim waiting at the reception, they look like they are at an airport. The culprits were so impatient all the time asking me why i agreed to Hassan picking us, they all wanted to take a mat to the hotel but i insisted on us waiting! Well, finally the driver got there and whisked us away to the hotel. No sooner had we gotten into the car than it started raining heavily! Then everyone was thanking me that they didn’t take the mat, in my heart i said “Yeah, don’t thank me now, thank me later *Drake voice*” haha

Our hosts were yet again the infamous Milele beach hotel, well apart from the fact that it’s a non-alcoholic zone because they are a Christian institution and their pathetic breakfast that evidently missed sausages, we really love that hotel because:

  • It’s situated right by the beach, so if you get too crazy why not jump into the ocean at night.
  • The rooms are too neat and homely, the even had a balcony and so many closets to fit our clothes and alcohol haha
  • It has two bigass swimming pools and a fancy pool bar that unfortunately only had chicken wings and soda uuuurgh!

Back to the arrival, here is a pixx of the culprits arriving at the hotel in style, I like :-) Apparently some people hadn’t checked out of our booked rooms so the hotel put us in some cottage that was cool until we didn’t like the bathtub, it didn’t look too good.. But wait, what we didn’t like at all was some loudass gospel music right outside our door, you remember the choir gospel kind of songs sang by like the whole church in uniform like in those funny music videos? Apparently there was some church choir shooting a music video right outside our cottage, now that was a daytime nightmare! We didn’t sleep at all!

At around 10 a.m. when we couldn’t take it any more of the singing, we left for breakfast and to get our rooms. The breakfast was whack but we finally got our real rooms, SWEET! Between around midday to 5pm, we were in the rooms unpacking, just bonding, well except for Chim who seemed to have found a best friend in Bunny’s PS 2! We had planned to destroy that game, look at him! Well, he is lucky it ran outta charge!

At around 6 pm, we left for Msa town to have dinner, gosh we had been starving!! We didn’t want to eat the food at the hotel because it wouldn’t have been any different from food in Nairobi, we wanted Swahili dishes so we had to wait till evening because it was September during the month of Ramadhan so there wasn’t really any food available in town hotels till then!

FRIDAY NIGHT

Wasn’t the hotel lovely? Nway in the evening we hopped into a mat to town and on the way there was drama, this man had gotten in kumbe he didn’t have money so he starts to explain his situation, what!? In Nairobi , you don’t explain anything if you don’t have money in the mat, and the driver said to the makanga, “Basi mwie radhi huyo, lakini msera siku nyingine kama hauna pesa unasema kabla kupanda gari” LOL

As soon as we got to town, we got HORIZON bus tickets for Sunday night and then we were off to Island Dishes deep into Mombasa town…..

The warm breeze and humid air feeling against my skin really did it for me, that’s exactly what I was looking for! The calm on the Mombasa streets was just but a sight, no unnecessary hooting, stealing, well there isn’t any stealing that’s necessary but am just saying, it was relieving to be away from the big bad city!

When we got to Island dishes we were so hungry, we were spoilt for choice! The hot waiter in a white kanzu recommends that we should have Bririani Kuku! Ooooohhh that was ill! Especially with the fresh juice, I had Tamarind and guess what? The juice was just 50 bob! Damn extortionists wa Nairobi! But you never realize how big your kuku was until you have had enough! We got sooo full, we promised each other we wouldn’t eat biriani again in Coast and true to our word, we never!

From dinner we had extensive arguments to what w would do next, i had wanted us to go to Nyali cineplex to watch some freaky Harry Porter-ish movie that was showing, I guess my friends felt indebted to my choice because it was my bday trip, I didn’t know that they didn’t want to watch it, so the bright ones like Bunny and Ken feigned having over eaten and they proceeded to the hotel, the rest well, MissJJT, Chim and our Msa friend Omtere had no choice but lucky for them, my boring movie wasnt showing so we ended up watching Grownups! Adam Sandler is really silly! LOL.

Mombasa theatres are really up to standard, it’s no wonder 3D premiered there, anyway next pittstop was right opp. Nakumatt for drinks to last the night, but how would we sneak them into the hotel that was christian?

After buying assorted drinks, i think we had from everything lethal to my Brandy, as we were javing back we decided to drop off at the Pirates beach and walk into the hotel via the back root just in case the guards wanted to ckeck our bags Mssschew felt like high school! Using the beach as the backroot was the best plan we never had! As we were passing by the beach, we noticed lots of guys having fun chilling and unwinding by the lovely venue, we looked at each other and thought why not chill here? So we called Bunny and Ken to join us while we got seats and tables from some beach boys, who also hooked up the best flavoured shisha from coast!

By the time they arrived it was slightly 45 minutes to midnight, my bday! So they decided to fix some cocktails and it was FUUUUUUUUUUUUUN from then! Well, let me see what i can remember! The weather was soooooo nice and warm, the feeling was sooooooo nice and assuring, that nobody would call to send me anywhere and the likes, the company was sooooooooo nice, d had all my best friends, except for Smiles who is n Germany! I remember them singing to me when it got to midnight, oh they made me so drunk i retired at around 4 a.m and left them partying with some Nairobians we met! Thank God our hotel was 5 minutes from the beach!

I was the first to wake up, quite excited that i was officially a year older, so was my Dad, we share a bday! I didn’t have a hangover, well as much! Bunny had the worst hangover LOL, she never drinks Brandy! So after making everyone wake up and prepare to leave for our drive to Malindi, that idiot bringing our car came at 3 pm, we sent him back! We were not gonna leave for Malindi at 3 pm and still make it back to Mombasa for my 2rd party Sato night! Sooooo… we basically rejuvenated till around 5 pm when we left for town, dinner time! And this time, we are talking SHAWARMA! Ohhh too yummy! When we got back to the hotel, we freshened up, put on our dresses and our Mombasa friend Rama came to pick us from the hotel! I was completely oblivious to what was awaiting me/ us!

SATURDAY NIGHT

Ohh we looked so cute in the dresses and the gentlemen well looked presentable! As we arrive at our favourite Mombasa club, FullMoon (Please refer to the Msa mini safari post) we find a group of chics camping at the entrance waiting for our arrival, am for real.

As soon as we get into the club, we are shown to our reserved table and the girls join us, well not that we had a problem! The waitress came and asked me what I was gonna have and I place MY order! MY ORDER!

Later on, there was a surprise banner in the club saying, ‘Happy Bday Anyiko’ Some of the best new coast artists were performing, for me! I think i shed a tear!  And then there was a very cute pink cake! I am really thankful to my Mombasa friends especially Hassan and Rama for having arranged for that surprise party didn’t see it coming! Some Italian man even crushed lotsa plates on the club’s flor for me, apparently that’s a ritual for good luck mmmh.

Later in the night past midnight, i could still hear the DJ playing my songs and chanting my name and all i could think about was, it felt like I had two birthdays! At the beach and now in the club, well i celebrate for two remember? Later we all split, just like people do in clubs and i think Bunny, Ken and the rest of our friends from coast left for Bobs and i was left at Fullmoon with MissJJT and Chim.

We were really grinding on the dance floor when some waitress kept looking for me and MissJJt brought her to the dance floor and i thought to myself wow yet another surprise!? Well it was a surprise but just not what i expected!! She had a bill worth thousands from everyone who had sat at the table with me, remember as soon as we arrived? All those coast girls! I tried to explain to her that everyone should have paid their bill but she could not let me go, she kept insisting how i had to pay since i was the bday girl and they all said that they were with me! They weren’t with me! I was only with my friends damnit!

We had to take that argument off the dance floor, and as heated as it was kept seeing this beach boy looking dude near the counter staring at me and beckoning me with some crazy gestures! He was really distracting me so we took the argument upstairs, so for starters i sent MissJJT to search for the girls in the club while i footed Chim, Bunny, Ken and the rest of our friends who were at Bobs! We were still left with those girls bill and we never found them so we had to pay! Then at that time, some waiter brings me a letter, apparently from that beach boy looking guy, it said,

“Anyiko, i feel to say that i love you, please lets meet at Bobs, then his no.”

I was with MissJJt then, still semi frustrated at having had to pay those girls bill! As soon as I looked up, I saw that guy coming up to me, i just turned to him and said, “Sorry I don’t love you back! Goodbye” and i left! I never looked at his expression but MissJJT says he looked so hurt He just shook his head!

We then left for Bobs, where we could understand why we had to pay to get into a car park outside club at 4 a.m smh! then town to eat pies, we got to the hotel at 5 a.m and I think we saw that letter guy at Bobs! Moral of the story do not sit on the same table with strange girls from Mombasa  onyour bday! And i just remembered we bought a Viceroy boti and had it on our table at FullMoon, can you believe random people in the club who we dont reckon were just coming to our table and pouring themselves a drink without even asking!? Only in Mombasa! LOL

Sunday came and first thing we went to experience the pool waters! That was fun! MissJJT even made a friend! Later we had lunch for the first time at the hotel then went to the beach for a sleep under the umbrellas, MissJJT and I also took the Camel ride, then later on we all went  for a boast ride with two brothers called Dunga and Dula!

I think their personal stories were way more interesting than the thrill of being in the middle of the ocean on a boat with two strangers! They told us how they were born in Lamu and how they later came to Mombasa after  having made that boat to start their business. They said that we call it Mombasa Raha, they call Nairobi Ulaya because they heard that it gets as cold as in Europe! They had never been to Nairobi and they told us how they hoped that they would come here once, we told them that Nairobi want really all that as compared to the cool coast! They could also speak some Italian and French as most of their clients are from oversees!

They also told us how once in a while they embark deep into the sea where its dangerous, but they go there for deep sea fishing! They said it takes weeks, even upto three at times! And MissJJT should have been a journalist, she was asking them if they had wives and how they survive celibacy through three weeks in the middle of nowhere! And Dunga kept saying, “Noo probemmm no problemm, basi huko ni masterbesheni bora unayo shampoo ya kutosha!” Everyone was laughing apart from me, i am slow at times! Haha at least in coast they masturbate using shampoo, si sabuni LOL! In summary we really made good friends with Dunga and Dula, if you ever go to Pirates beach in Mombasa take the green boat with the Safcom ad, p.s its just the one!

After that fascinating  journey, we had ice cream, went back to the hotel took a nap, showered, packed and left the hotel at around 7 pm for town! Dropped our luggage at Horizon, met my gal from coast Nasreesh and left to Marikiti market for dinner right there in the open! I loved their Shawarma better! I could easily get used to that life, swim, ride and eat good food but it was almost 10 pm and time to go take the bus back! We met our friends Aziza, in the bus! They are an upcoming band from Nairobi, apparently they were also in Coast, small world! Our seats were also side to side, how strange!

Well, apart from the comfortable journey back, i didn’t wanna be back at all! Watched Grapevine on Monday and my co- host wished me a happy birthday,  I felt very lucky to have such good peeps in my life ! Special shout out to Hassan, Rama, East Coast crew, MissJJT, Bunny, Chim, Ken, Omtere, Dunga and Dula!

Hey Dad, let’s have even more parties next year Rest in Peace xx

The Samburu Safari

Around 30 years ago my parents used to live in Samburu…. well that’s just about the inspiration as to why in January 2010 Bunny, my number ONE best friend and I decided to go to Samburu , just to see what it would offer. It was going to be a long ass road trip but I had done worse so I was ready for it!

Wednesday night I packed all my paraphernalia, most importantly my bikini as we had been told by our contact from the hotel that the weather up in Northern Kenya was great and they they had a fabulous swimming pool too! B and I left Nairobi on Thursday morning around 8 a.m and it was a smooth ride to Nanyuki , we got there minutes past midday. Finding an Isiolo jav wasn’t a problem and soon we were on our way there.  Glad to write that we didn’t have any major incidences up to this juncture, well apart from a Taliban looking guy who kept staring at us with red eyes. We got so freaked out Bunny asked him if he had a problem (that was brave of her, what if he had a gun?) then he acted like he couldn’t comprehend Kiswahili, oh maybe he couldn’t? Nway Bunny even called her dad who FYI is the DC for Isiolo, too bad he was in Westlands, Nairobi at that time. We were that scared of that man that we thought Bunny’s dad would send us someone when we got to Isiolo ha ha ha but we made it out safe!

When we got to Isiolo, it was evident that we were in Northern Kenya. The sun was blaring HOT! There were hardly any water vendors, very strange! The stage where we alighted wasn’t the same one where Samburu javs were located so we had to ask around. We all know how Kenyans can fuck you up with directions, but the people in Isiolo must have taken the award for the worst direction givers! The first cab man we asked for directions to the Samburu javs told us that it was so far, we had to take his cab and he would charge us 1000/= bob!  Really!? While the rest of the people we asked said it wasn’t far at all! “Unaona ile kitu ya Safaricom, tembea tu ni hapo mbele” and another one said,”Mmpite hapo  nyuma kwa sababu ni karibu”

I remember thanking God we had carried shades, that sun wasn’t kidding at all! In pursuit of tracing the stage, we passed by the Isiolo mosque and I think it looked too fab, had to take a photo of it  “Hapo tu mbele” turned out to have been an almost 30 mins walk, well we finally got there but so fucking drained, thinking about it we wished we had taken the damn cab! 30 minutes of walking in that sun felt like 20 days in the Kalahari desert wah! I think.

That Samburu matatu really could have been the SI unit for kuchapa, it was really run down and it was the only one. Kinda felt like a deja vu from the “The maasai mara safari “dub dub” bus  LOL” We got there when the one that looked like a mat had just left so we had no choice but to take that old junk. So we got into the mat and waited patiently for it to chrome, then it was full but we weren’t departing azyet because more people were getting into the mat so that the 9 seater jav had almost 15 passengers plus a litu baby boy carrying a cabbage! He was in school uniform and  looked like he would pass for an 8 year old! I saw his dad, I presumed waving him goodbye telling him to go read hard, and then he left, GOSH!

Some idiots brought up an argument with the makanga after having  refused to pay the 150/= fare to Samburu, they were really pissing me off! You know what was pissing me off too? The smell of every other persons stinking sweat in that damn HEAT, obviously deo isn’t a vocabulary in Isiolo!

Well after having burned a good 30 mins, they agreed to pay the money and we finally departed for Samburu, fukes! I wonder why someone would refuse to pay 150/= for a 3 hour ride smh!  No sooner had we left than I realized that the number of miraa sacks in the jav, you know like passengers were almost 20 % to the rest of the occupants ha ha I swear! Half the passengers were carrying sacks of miraa, I understand that one of the main trade commodities to and fro Isiolo/ Samburu is miraa, khat. Someone in the jav was even carrying a crate of eggs and the rest were chewing out loud that miraa! That was a funny scenario! BTW the litu boy carrying a cabbage alighted somewhere along the way and by himself ,I really wondered where he was going as I didn’t see any buildings around L Hope he got there safe nway!

It was quite a rough journey especially from the time we crossed over to Samburu. Apparently the legendary River Ewaso Nyiro separates  Isiolo district from Samburu so as soon as we crossed some bridge, we were in Samburu! When we alighted at the shopping centre which really looked like Courage, the cowardly dog’s county for lack of a better explanation, we waited for the hotel’s driver to come pick us!

The drive to the hotel was roughly some 15mins and just a few minutes past 4 pm we arrived at our final destination! I understand that the Samburu lodge was the first lodge ever to pitch up in Samburu, well am glad to report that old is gold! We were first received by some nice COLD tropical juice, they must have forgotten about the dancers LOL! But seriously first thing I noticed was the bar and the dining area, they were both in open air! Right across the bar was the lovely view of river Ewaso Nyiro, see! So after unpacking our bags in the fab room with a fab big ass net  and freshening up, we went to the bar to have dinner and drinks!  P.s that place is deafening silent, apart from the sound of the water waves and the crocodiles gnashing their bones and meat!

As you can imagine, January isn’t typically an ordinary peak season for tourism, so there weren’t lots of guests at the lodge except for us and a group of white old folks who we saw having dinner that night. We later found out that they were leaving the next morning and that they were friends who had visited the lodge first 20 years ago and they had come back there to celebrate 20 years of their friendship. If you ask me, that was some special shit right there *SOB*

Nway that bar area basically became our joint that whole time, except for breakfast and proper dinner time when everyone had to be in the dining area because of the most notorious food snatching monkeys I have ever seen! There was a guy at the lodge called 78 (only in Samburu smh) who’s job description was “monkey chaser” I kid you, NOT! See that’s a pixx of 78 at work, his work is to chase monkeys and sometimes hit them with the bladder we used to call ”fare” when we were kids, remember? I found out that the monkeys are biologically known as the black faced vervet, google that! Look at this sign at the foot path leading to the dining area! LOL like they would read!

On Friday evening we went for a game drive right into Samburu National game reserve! Apart from the always nice to see big 5, I remember our guide explaining to us a mixed up slutty theory of how lions mate over a long period of time with so many lionesses and if they don’t get food or rather if the lionesses don’t feed them they would die over this period as they never hunt over that period! Well I guess he never knew but national geographic really isn’t my ordinary cup of tea!

I think Samburu is almost as hot if not hotter than Msa temperatures! Then unlike Msa where it’s always hot, in Samburu temperatures start to rise in the night like at 9pm. Then it starts to feel like a 1pm in Nairobi, then strangely enough after dinner and drinks till about 2 a.m, you find yourself up at around 6 a.m latest because the damn birds are probably already singing their damn hearts out loud, or the damn sun is right out at that time thus seeping through the windows. But funniest thing is you never wake up tired even after a night of indulgence, the 6a.m almost feels like an 11 a.m in Nairobi. First thing we had all those mornings was a bottle of blackice for me and a malt for Bunny by our padio before the real breakfast/shower! You wake up thirsty!

Saturday was swimming day, ooohhh that was great there were only around 5 of us in the pool J See some of the pixx we took and yeah that’s just how bright the sun was! After swimming, it was late lunch, shower, nap, bar & bonding, when we saw some 3 HOT white guys arrive! It felt almost suicidal that these blokes were arriving on our last night, so much for any chances of getting to know each other! Nway  in the evening we hardly saw them over dinner, they were probably resting from their trip… #bummer

Nway  we proceeded to the dining area for our last dinner as we were scheduled to leave on Sunday morning! Eating and bumming isn’t really the best combi so I wasn’t much in my eating element! Though Bunny insisted that I had to eat a full course dinner just because it was our last night! So she ordered her delicacies and I had mine, think I was having fish fillet and something! There was an annoying kid on the table just next to ours, that kid couldn’t stop running around the dining, making noise and at the same time playing with food, as the mum kept trying to convince him to eat. That was so annoying because ideally kids should sit DOWN when eating and most importantly they shouldn’t talk with food in their mouths let alone run around eating!

I remember it got to a point when I was too full I almost couldn’t take any food any more but Bunny kept cajoling me to finish the food, just in case I would get hungry later as we were to embark on a drinking plan! I was okay until that damn kid tripped and fell in front of me and vomited his food! Bunny looked at me and I think she knew exactly what was going to happen next and she was like, ”Rosey,don’t! Do not!” I got so disgusted, I was going to vomit too, I could feel it coming so Bunny was like, ”Relax, breath relax just breath”  And I was holding my mouth with my hands just praying, that was scary, disgusting but funny! Lesson learnt, never try overeating next to an obnoxious kid!

Nway Sunday morning we went to the gift shop where I got some lovely gifts for family and friends, funny I got my other best friend Chim, a freaky bird made of some stone then I broke the damn bird’s ears even before I gave him the gift  But he still appreciated, I think. Bunny’s dad was sending his driver to come pick us from the lodge, so as we were chilling for him at the reception the white boys shirtless with awesome sexy tattoos passed us on their way to the dining for breakfast from their morning game drive! Sulululululululu! We hardly heard them “good morning ”at us as we were just staring haha. That was a silly moment!

Nway at exactly 10 a.m the driver arrived, we made  a stopover at B’s dad’s house in Isiolo for lunch then we safely got back to Nairobi in our comfort this time  I loved Samburu, I mean it’s the only place where you get to dine with cute annoying moneys being chased at by a dude called 78 while at the same time viewing cute fat ass elephants drinking water by the Ewasso Nyiro river just across your dining area J  I would do that again! Special shout out to 78, Mr. Karanja and my (BBF) BestestBestFriend, BUNNY xx.

To view more pictures on this trip, refer to my Facebook page (pix from samburu)

The Mombasa mini-safari

So its Friday the 6th of Aug and at exactly midday my KBC producer calls me and says, “Hey young girl (as he calls me) i need you to go to Mombasa tomorrow morning to cover the beach party and be back on Sunday to record the show!”  That right there, was great to hear because am a traveller, i love different places, i love road trips and goddaymmit hadn’t been to Mombasa since i could remember, must have been almost 10 years! Yeah it had been that fuccccccccccking long! Before that i almost practically lived there with my sis, well till she moved to Nairobi nway… that’s another story, another day!

After spending Friday afternoon crazy battling with the BBC’s Topcat2 with  my girl Wanjeri in attendance, we finally leave the office at around 6pm for Nairobi’s downtown to book tickets for the morning bus! Unfortunately we couldn’t do this trip together as she had a must attend wedding for the next day but i sure convinced my cousin Miss JJT to accompany me :-) When we got to downtown, it was certainly hard to get them bourgeoisie buses as they were all fully booked till sat afternoon but we got lucky and got the last seats on the Sat 8.30 a.m Mash bus! Na katika pita pita zetu, some costarian man tried to convince us to take the LOL express, and i was like LOL Express, really? No thanx, here is the evidence :-) LOL, see?

So when i got home, watched kiasi Greys Anatomy, then my 3 year old nephew Chaz helped me pack! I guess he tricked me into jacking my swag, he kept asking, “Hii ni nini?” “Hii ni ya nini?” For almost everything, packing turned out to be kindergarten class till he blackdout, but i love him! See that’s a picture of him and I a few months ago….

Saturday morning at 8 a.m we were in the bus, ready set to go! For the record, if you wanna drive-fly to Coast always take the Mash bus, believe it or not, we were at Mtito wa Ndei at 11a.m! That driver was literally racing against time, geez! I thank God the seat belts were tight and intact! We were in Mombasa just minutes shy to 2pm, :-) Yaaaay!

Now, you know you just got to Mombasa when all of a sudden you see palm trees, temperatures are humid and the sun is shining mild, not as harsh as Nairobi’s! First thing was check into the Coast bus office to book the Sunday 10 a.m bus back to Nairobi then next pittstop was Tamarind hotel.

I decided that we would first take a cab to the famous,”Mombasa Tusks” so my cameraman would take some establishing shots of them, then we would head to the hotel. With the luggage and hunger, all i could think of was food, shower, food and food! We literally grabbed the first cab we saw! I asked the driver to take us to the Tusks then to Tamarind, then the went, ” Huko ni Summerlink basi, hapa hamna Tamarind!” We tried to explain to him that we were going to Tamarind, but he was insisting that it was Summerlink, I even had to call our hosts to confirm whether it was Tamarind or Summerlink (which made me look so silly) and turns out it was the latter, so i decided that he would only take us to the Tusks seeming like it’s the only place he knew well. I said, “Okay basi tupeleke kwa tusks za Mombasa ,” then he said okay hapo “Tusksss” ni sawa. My cameraman even went ahead to tell him, “pembe za Mombasa” and in no time we were heading there! Alas! But when the cab  stopped and the guy said, “Haya leta pesa mshafika,” we were at Tuskys SUPERMARKET!? That’s when we realized that he thought we meant Tuskys, but we actually meant “TUSKS” hahaha!! After a half scared hearty laugh as the cab guy wasn’t amused at all, we had to further explain to him that we were going to the Pembe za Mombasa! And he went on ranting, “Basi nyinyi watu wa Nairobi hamwongei vizuri, hatupatani” I thought he was going to hit me and Miss JJT, he was so mad i could see smoke coming from his ears LOL. But if we were going to Tuskys, wouldn’t we  have said supermarket then…?? SMDH but that was very funny! I later found out that Summerlink was an uptown street, haha labda tulikaa kama wasichana high class :-)

After the cab guy literally dumped us at the tusks, baada ya shoot we took a TukTuk to Tamarind, Nyali. OOOHHHHH now that was a rocky ride :-) One evidently noticable thing in sharp contrast with Nairobi was THE MEN! Amen! Am telling you, all of them were eye candy-licious! Even the TukTuk driver across ours in the traffic! Ooh that was really great site seeing if you ask me! We paid 600 bob to Tamarind and later my Mombasa friends to be, said that we had been overcharged, ati we should have paid at most 250bob but nway it was worth the thrill!

I had never been to Tamarind… I think the best thing about it was definitely the view of the ocean from the rooms, check that out :-) I also met a couple of friends from Nairobi at the hotel, namely Philip Ogola and Stevens Muendo and oh gosh they are bad news when it comes to partying! (Lets leave it at that) The rooms were quite lovely as well, we showered and freshened up right before the scrumptious dinner! The weather was so pleasant and entertaining, I thanked God i had carried my shorts! Over dinner we met a couple of new acquaintances who we were later to spend the evening with at the party….

When the sun rises as early as it does in Mombasa, it would only make sense for events to start later than usual, if that makes any sense. Maybe the theory as to why when we got to the beach party mins past midnight, the main performers hadn’t started doing their thing. Juliani the first act got to the stage just mins past 1 a.m! It was after 4 a.m when the last performers, Necessary Noize got off the stage! Talk about ku-party hadi chee!

You would think that we would retire after such hard partying, not to forget how Juliani’s performance drains one of energy and the juuuuuuuuuuuuice but , NO! We were checking into Fullmoon club, Mombasa’s fresh baby! As we approached the club,  i couldn’t  hear any “boom twaff” as the custom in Nairobi! I thought to my drunk mind,”why would these folks bring us to a dead club?” My friend, kuingia ndani kumbe ilikua ni bonge la club! Check, the club is soundproof  (i.e the walls are padded like those of a studio) meaning the sound output is excellent, just had to expound on that for those who don’t comprehend! The club has 4 floors, yes FOUR, and all AC’d up! Carni has how many floors again? A letter to Nairobian clubs, having no ac is not an excuse ati because Msa is hot, temps in all clubs are hot! The couch in the club are made of the funky zebra print and 98% of the dudes up in the club were super HOT!!

In summary, the major difference between clubbing in Nairobi and in the state of the art Fullmoon club is: In Mombasa, no ordinary person would go to such an uptown club, well we didn’t see any funny looking person there, unlike in Nairobi where you would still find an Eastlands “orbb” in the highest of the VIP’s clubs! Then its only in Msa where people on the dance floor don’t actually bend over when “bend over” plays in the club, that was wierd! Eventually, we left the club at “i dont know” time maybe 5.30 a.m there! You know how after excessive indulgence, events that happen therein all become the nice misty blue and for some reason me and MissJJT ended up not sleeping at Tamarind but at Milele beach hotel which was equally amazing! I just remember them asking me to sign in at the reception.

When we got to the room, i blackout (duh) funny thing i was up at 7a.m fresh BUT thirsty as hell and ready for breakfast! The first pixx in this post, i took it while at the breakfast table, that was the view outside! Here are some additional pixx i took that morning at the breakfast table! After that, we packed our shit, took a cab to Tamarind to get my cameraman! I still managed to do a standup (thats me tryna fight the wind! It was like a cyclone) by the amazing scenery of the Tamarind bridge (Grapevine is today in Mombasa nyef nyef nyef, that’s called a standup, tryna school you guys as well) Then we headed out and made it on time to town for the 10a.m bus!

I know it sounded like a good 3 days, well it felt like it but in reality it was an amazing 30 hours give or take! There’s not much to write home about the journey back as it was all nostalgia, nostalgia and nostalgia :-( This post is titled the mini-msa safari because i must re-do that in actual 3 days or more :-) All in all, it was great working & partying  hard in the beautiful town of Mombasa, not to mention i met and made friends with some very nice people! Special shoutout goes out to my girl Wanjeri for the help, MissJJT for the company and msa peeps, Hassan Faisal, Philip, Stevens, Erick, 22, Pharta and Rama! We must do it all over again!

BONUS! That’s me and blood MissJJT :-) love that girl, look at her!!

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