A trail.

Going to visit a relative back in the days was sort of the coolest thing in the village. You’d have to go to the river and do some thorough washing of your clothes and also look for a way to woo the old man into giving you the much needed permission. You’d often have to employ some Jacob’s tricks such as bringing him eggs to accompany his gatubia kettle.
Once permission was granted, it’d be endless nights of ‘cumbuca ndari njūkīte gwaku ndaraire ta maitū ahika, ngītara mīitīrīro.’ It’s like the adrenaline coursing through the veins would not allow you to sleep a wink and when you did sleep you’d be woken up by some nightmare about having been left.
On the material day not much drama, it was boarding a face me to Karatina, then boarding magutu controller to take you to the sleeping towns of fort hall via the old Nairobi route.
Now the toughest part of the journey was Maragūa to Kaharo. The said dirt route was plied by only pickups and canters. To make matters worse, said vehicles ferried people in the morning and returned them in the evening. So let’s say if you arrived in Maragūa at 11:00 hrs you had to bangaiza until threeish then piga set in the car until it filled to the brim. Unlike nowadays when we say mambo ni mengi, masaa ndio machache, those days it was masaa ni mengi, mambo ndio machache. You’d have to take your time sipping your soda as you stared at the folks staring back at you wondering what the hell 3 o’clock was was waiting for.
Now being young meant that you couldn’t sit while an older person was standing. Once full people would fill the open spaces until the conductor was sure that he couldn’t burn eerr kuchoma. Then the vehicle would roar to life and off we’d begin our ascent and descent through the aberdares slopes. The only good thing was that unlike the Kanairo mats, these didn’t have a cover so air was in plenty albeit mixed with dust. Too many stopovers dropping while picking passengers only made the journey more tumultuous. The vehicle would leave a trail of dust evident by the dusty maigoyas and other roadside vegetation. When you arrived at your destination and stared at your travel mate you were tempted to sing, ‘ndahunyūkīte ngiuma kwa waing’a’ because ooh the dust on your eyebrows and the whole face. If it was during the rainy season wueeh that’s a story for another day. Sometimes these vehicles would get stuck and you’d have to alight and push them or even foot the rest of the muddy journey.
The best consolation though was torturing the touch me not plants (wambūi mwīkuithia) which were in abundance there and all the stories I’d have when I got back home.

Published by Nyar Kaheti

Born and raised on the picturesque slopes of Mt Kenya, Nyar Kaheti is your girl next door vibe kind of girl. She enjoys reading, writing, hiking, and listening to country music among other things.

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