The Stranger

Imagine meeting a stranger that you like but can’t be able to communicate because there are simply no means. Those were the days of our lives. With no mobile phones earth was hard. Since then communication has grown in leaps and bounds making the world a global village.
However in the past communication was so awkward. Imagine lighting a huge fire so that the smoke could drive a message home.
The title of this script is motivated by a short story in the book, ‘the winner and other stories.’ It’s the first story in the book and it was set during colonial times.
Talk of colonial times and I just happen to be in a place that brings these chronicles to life. These are ‘ngurunga cia Karība’ caves found in Ngaini village on the slopes of Mt Kenya. It’s while visiting this heritage site that a random stranger decided to share a random moment with me.Ngurunga cia Karība are caves where the maumau fighters would retreat to and strategise on their next ambush. The caves were named after then General Karība. From these caves they’d take a message to Mary… 😂😂. There was no Mary here, just war and an incessant need to communicate. Well a messenger had to be sent to Marūa town to relay a message to other maumau groups via a letter. He would in most cases also find a letter which he’d take back to his group. This, according to my little understanding is how Marūa town, a small river town along the busy Karatina- Nyeri road actually got its name. The name Marua means letters. It’s weird how a name can lead to a person/ place developing characteristics close to its meaning.
By virtue of its meaning, this our Mississipi cotton picking delta town as I like to refer to it became some sort of communication hub. It had a postal box and a telephone booth which meant that every Sunday teenagers and young adults would come in leaps and bounds from far and wide places just to post their letters or make phone calls. Letter writing was not taken lightly ooh. First of all you had to gather a variety of vocabularies from friends and relatives so as to impress the recipient. Secondly the handwriting had to be extra smart or the recipient would be repulsed. If you had a poor handwriting you had to look for a confidant to write the letter for you at a fee. The charge mostly involved buying him/ her some Chapati’s and milk from the most recent tea kiosk. Here in Marūa town, it was not burgers and fries and cherry pies as Charley Pride would say, it was mostly toast kavu, toast mafuta, chapatis and milk which was often baptized. All this was purchased with hard earned coins from the coffee plantations. Once the letter was written, it had to be hidden in a very safe place to avoid falling in the wrong hands. By wrong hands I mean a sibling who might use it against you if and when need arises or better still use it to blackmail you to surrender all your savings. Sometimes you’d find the shop had ran out of stamps and so you couldn’t post your letter.
The telephone booth was on another level altogether. First of all, there was no privacy since there was always a queue of people waiting for their turn. Secondly you had to have enough coins to last the conversation or that kikii sound that always sounded before the call got disconnected would not only tear your eardrums, but would also cause you to walk away like a wounded dog with its tail between its hind legs. Talk of wounded egos.
Fourtunately though you could go to the meadow near the big bridge and watch the sparrows swirling, listen to the hum of the flowing Sagana river and get lost in the magic of nature.Yeah that bridge still stands tall.
Below is an excerpt from a love letter from yester years.
…..Sweetie pie, the reason why this miraculous thing is happening is because, honey, I love you spontaneously, and as I stand horizontally parallel to the wall and vertically perpendicular to the ground now, I only think of you, since you are a fantastic and fabulous girl, put together as fantabulous. I implore you to decipher this my anthem of love oozing out from the innermost pendulum of my thoraxial cavity…….
Cheers to more travel, more sweet nothings but most of all more chronicles. And for you stranger, if you ever come across this post, just like, share and comment, ‘it wasn’t me 😂😂’ Turruuus. Until next time I’m 👇




Our trip to Mwea National Reserve turned out long as it was nostalgic. Yeah, don’t look at me that way. There really is a Mwea National Reserve which is located in the heart of Mbeere in Embu county. Beginning our journey at Wang’uru in Mwea, we thought that it would just be a few kilometres. Yeah, that’s me always ‘roho juu’ while hunting new destinations. If I was a Kamba I’d say we thought, ‘no vaa.’ Just like that phrase always turns out, our journey turned out to be one long and adventurous journey. For starters the road is like all other murram roads that end up being called all weather roads. Don’t get fooled though, there are places where the rivers meet the road and the only reason we managed to maneouvre was because it was during the dry season. Now Mbeere county is dry, but you know these seasonal rivers have a history of flashing people downstream when rains in the higher regions cause flash floods. I’m not saying this to scare you though, I haven’t heard someone washed away in these areas, at least not in the recent past. As usual google maps app comes in handy in these my spontaneous trips. She’s a real darling by the way, except when she tells you proceed on Kiritiri road for the next fourteen kilometres and you feel like making that U turn and going back home to sleep. So we thought, it was near, but let me tell you Maina, we went and went and went until I became nostalgic. I almost said we wented 😂😂. Maybe it’s because of the redness of the Mbeere soil that reminds me so much of growing up on the slopes of Mt Kenya, or the long unending journey but my travel back in time is reignited. Its like a dead battery that is jumpstarted suddenly stirring to life and making its engine purr like a fine kitten. You see as I travel to places I also travel back in time. This time I go back to those energetic and youthful days. When as members of the Presbyterian church of East Africa youth team we’d travel far and wide. Back then the parishes were so huge and each month we’d congregate at one of the local churches for our monthly youth fellowship. I wonder where that energy came from because, when I use the word travel, It was neither travel by air,road or in a cruise ship. It was travel on our Feetsubishi. Yeah, the rubber really met the road or should I say footpaths?
Since the journeys were always long and tiring, we always had to carry plenty of energizers which included but were not limited to Mangoes, avocadoes, sugarcanes and bananas. Since we had managed to attack all the sugarcanes in our farm, we had to etch a plan B which included but was not limited to buying cane from neighbours farms. This meant that the young men in the gang were given special assignments which consisted of spying neighbouring farmlands along Gacika stream the night before and bringing the most succulent of the canes. I wonder why they never joined the secret service 😂. We did not shy away from eating the loot because at the alter we’d repent all our sins and we’d be washed as white as snow yet again. God, the things you bear with us🤔🤔
Armed with our energizers, our feet would walk the walk. We’d cross rivers with only logs for bridges, manoeuvre valleys and climb hills to go as far as Maragima on the slopes of Mt Kenya. Lucky we didn’t encounter elephants along the way. On arrival, the morning service would be almost over. We were already starting to feel the pangs of the journey and so instead of joining the others in the service we’d look for a shady tree and cool ourselves. This is where we’d, ‘look at the folks looking back at us, wondering how we’d get back home.’ Unlike Charlie pride in the ‘Mississipi cotton picking delta town, there was no dusty ice cream to munch. By this time we’d be counting the seconds until lunch is served. The energizers only served as appetizers and by now our stomachs were rumbling. That rumbling fever Merle Haggard sings about was ooh so real, except it would be in our stomachs. Eventually the much awaited time was finally here with us. Being outside meant we’d be the first ones on the food queue. The women would serve us Mukimo with much abandon which meant we’d eat to our fill and go for another round if necessary.
Come the time for the afternoon fellowship and the drum would bear the brunt of the energies flowing in our veins. You see those days there were neither pianos nor guitars in the local churches. It was just the grand ol’ ‘ndarama’ helping Africans dance. That coupled with our clapping and and the all so African beat in us we’d summon the heavens and they would come to earth, or maybe we are the one’s who went to heaven for a moment. The only thing that would eventually bring us to earth were the frequent farts as a result of all the ‘mix and match in our tummies.’ Yeah I’m so nostalgic as I remember those days. It reminds me of this song, ‘Gimme that old time religion, it is good enough for me.’
Memories, memories, memories, how we hang on to them. Let’s continue making new ones though.
Here are a few facts about Mwea National Reserve:
The Mwea National Reserve is located within Mbeere District, in Eastern Province, a distance of about 200km from Nairobi. The savannah ecosystem comprises of small hills with bushy vegetation and scattered large trees. Other areas are open grasslands while along the main rivers, large trees with thick undergrowth are found. Trees mainly found within the ecosystem are the different Acacia species and baobab trees. The ecosystem’s main features are the meeting point of rivers Tana and Thiba, Kamburu and Masinga hydro-electric dams, which harbour variety of biodiversity.
Major wildlife attractions include the elephants, Rothschild giraffes, Common zebras, Lesser kudu, Buffalo, Water Buck, Bush buck, Impala, Vervet Monkeys, Aardvark, Yellow baboons, Grants gazelle, Dik dik, Cape hare, Warthog, Black backed jackal, Duiker, Sykes monkeys, Genet cat, Slender mongoose, Stripped ground squirrel, Dwarf mongoose, Crested porcupine, Rock Hyrax, Tree Hyrax and tortoise. Hippos and crocodiles are also found in the dams and rivers. Different birds and reptile species have been recorded in the reserve.
Facts Source:



A fantasy.

It’s funny how in my dialect the word Mara means intestines/matumbo. The Maasai Mara is that place you ought to visit at least once in your lifetime. It should be like the Muslims Mecca. You might want to put it in your bucket list if you haven’t already done that because truth be told you won’t be disappointed. The list of wildlife here is endless and the open grazing lands so vast feel like you are inhaling oxygen double double. The road to Mara seemed surreal. It reminded me about a story in the winner and other stories. The story of Gatimu who lied to this Maasai girl that he loved her. She refused to get married to the man she was chosen for. Instead she took a bus to Mara only to find out that Gatimu had left for Tabora with his wife. Sad ending there.

That was the appetizer, so here comes the main course. Something about watching that multitude of wildebeest and zebras grazing in the savannah makes me want to fulfill a fantasy I’ve been carrying all along. Dress like a Maasai Moran place one leg on a grazing stick and pose with my herd 😂😂. My ooh my, just one word ‘grazing’ and here I am lost in my favourite memories. It’s a cold July morning, the cattle are mowing, the goats are bleating. They can hardly wait for us to take our breakfast. They feel that since they’ve given us the milk, we should do them the honors of taking them to the fields. We take our time though, feasting on the remnants of yesterday’s Ugali. We have gotten used to this their drama now ooh, oops or so we thought. Our dad’s serious face surfacing at the Kitchen entrance is enough to get us out of our breakfast high. We hustle the herd down the road giving them the stink eye. How could they make us abandon our breakfast? Don’t they know it’s cold and that ‘heat comes from the stomach? 😂😂’ Down, down we go to a grazing spot that we’d christened, ‘of fertilizer.’ There we let them have a field day. Turns out, each day is a field day. Now in my Dad’s grazing book rule number one was ‘stay on opposite sides.’ This was to ensure that we didn’t get carried away and start playing thus forgetting the business at hand which would lead to the herd invading nearby farms and destroying crops. But who were we? In our young minds, rules were made to be broken. No sooner had we arrived at the spot, than we were climbing trees driving them like we were competitors in the East African Safari rally championships. We knew so many rally drivers by names you’d think they were our next door neighbors. Time seemed to stand still; we got so engrossed in the rallying until suddenly we heard my dad’s signature throat clearing from a distance. The jumping from the tree and the subsequent scampering to our original positions happens in a split second. By the time he gets to where we are everything is in order. He thinks we’ve been religiously following his grazing book rule number one. If only he knew.

Grazing was so much fun. Sometimes the herd would get lost and we’d do some voodoo of spitting saliva on your palm and then hitting the saliva with your forefinger. Follow the saliva’s direction and voila, you’d find the lost herd. Other times you’d have to involve ‘Wakagukua’ otherwise known as the butterfly pupae and she’d point to you the direction. Besides these calamities we’d eat wild berries, wild passions, goose berries and also roast maize in a ‘kinugi.’

This one day though, has never stepped out of my memories. It’s the day we decided to return the flock earlier than usual. We were ordered to go back and come back with together with darkness. That was the day that darkness became a very fond visitor. However, on this other day as the sun settled over the Mara, one thing was crystal clear; I’m gonna ‘nduthis’ time and time again.

Maasai Mara is one of the most famous and important wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa, world-renowned for its exceptional populations of lion, African leopard, cheetah and African bush elephant. It also hosts the Great Migration, which secured it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and as one of the ten Wonders of the World.
The Greater Mara ecosystem encompasses areas known as the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Mara Triangle, and several Maasai Conservancies, including Koiyaki, Lemek, Ol Chorro Oirowua, Mara North, Olkinyei, Siana, Maji Moto, Naikara, Ol Derkesi, Kerinkani, Oloirien, and Kimintet.

Source: Wikipedia

Photo credits: Authentic Fitness and Adventures.



The fall

Hiking Mt Kenya, one of the snow covered mountains in the tropics through Kamweti route will take you through the castle forest lodge. Here you get to see scenic water falls with ice cold waters and hear birds chirping in the dense forest. They say there are about 170 plus birds species in there. There are plenty of wild animals too.These include but are not limited to elephants, buffaloes, hyenas and bushbucks. You can immerse yourself in horse riding, swimming, fishing and many other outdoor activities. It is the scenic waterfalls that however did it for me. There’s a staircase leading to the fall that somehow reminds me of Jacobs ladder. I feel the presence of the Almighty here in the midst of his creation. Something about the sound of water descending down the rock seems to take me back in time. My time capsule machine is back in gear one. The cogs in my mind are turning like a turbine. It’s a hot Saturday afternoon and like that song, ‘tabia za Wakenya’ we can almost tell it’s going to rain. Coffee picking chores are over. My left eye has been shaking since the time we started grading the coffee beans, accentuating the sense of a looking downpour. We’ve eaten ‘githeri’ to our fill. Our stomachs are heavy and protruding like, ‘Incy wincy spider’s stomach.’ The full bellies combined with a hard works day are giving us the yawns. We therefore decide to grab the bull by its horns; an afternoon nap is a well earned reward. The elder kids have gone to the factory to sell coffee which means we have the bed all to ourselves. We’ll fit without crashing into each other as opposed to when its all four of us. I still can’t fathom how four people would fit in that bed made of rubber and start snoring almost immediately. Talk of small miracles.
So we are trying to nap and when the nap is just about to come 😉, we hear the first rain drops hit the roof. Before we realize it we have started singing, ‘I hear thunder, yes I do. Pitter patter raindrops I’m wet through so are you.’In the twinkle of an eye, we are scampering out of bed screaming and dancing as if we have won the lottery.There’s no one to keep us from dancing in the rain. We don’t care about pharyngitis, tonsillitis and all those other ‘itis’ which are bound to come visiting us soon. If you said we don’t have a care in the world you wouldn’t be far from the truth. As if that ain’t enough the sound on the roof changes and we are grinning from ear to ear; it’s like rescue bots being told ‘rescue bots roll to the rescue.’ Only there were no rescue bots back then; it’s only just hailstones.Wait a minute, did I just say just hailstones. If the rain was the lottery, this is now the jackpot. What farmers would curse because of the wreck it’s bound to cause on the crops is our wildest fantasy come to life. Dancing is forgotten, our palms are outstretched trying to catch ‘the maize’ as we used to call it. It’s a competition of who will catch the big one. It doesn’t matter how cold the stones are on our bare hands, this is the closest we’ll ever come to experiencing winter here in the tropics. We gulp the maize down our throats and isn’t it ooh so heavenly.
Childhood/ rainfall/ waterfall, what an exciting adventure life was back then. I can’t help but wonder like Merle Haggard, ‘are the good times really over.’ I guess all we can do is reminisce and chronicle. And visit more beautiful places that trigger beautiful memories.



The hum

After the detour that took us through the beautiful Murang’a gorges we proceed to rapids camp. The rough road is quite challenging especially at some point where a seasonal stream meets the road. Despite these challenges we meander with the road ahead of us. On arrival, we are greeted by grass so green and well- manicured that I feel like making grass soup. That soup that Tom and Mary made and developed stomach troubles. On second thought I’d rather just roll on the grass instead. It reminds me of that song by Charley pride, ‘and touch the grass of home so green.’
At the camp we get a warm reception and are introduced to a host of activities which include but are not limited to: kayaking, rafting, rock climbing and zip lining. Something about the hum of the river takes me back in time to my childhood memories. It’s like I’m traveling through a time capsule and memories embedded in my subconscious come to life. The stage is set; it’s a beautiful Saturday morning. It’s mostly beautiful because there is no school today. I’ve been listening to that song,’uvivu ni adui mkubwa kwa ujenzi wa taifa,’ for five days nonstop. It’s time to take a break and roll on with Sagana River. Its washing day and it smells like spring. My siblings and I pack our clothes i.e tie them in bedsheets and with basins on our heads we head to the river. We have also packed plenty of tea and sweetpotatoes to help us manage the day. The day’s activities are going to be energy consuming or should I say extreme. On arrival to the river we find that our side of the river is not very laundry friendly. Mister Muhindi’s side though has a beautiful meadow almost as beautiful as the meadow at rapids camp. He also has a barbed wire fence which serves as the divider between his and Mr Theuri’s farm. This will serve as the hanging line. We banter and sing as we go about our laundry making sure to watch Mister Muhindi’s cows not to come near our soap; otherwise we’ll wash the rest of the clothes with ‘maji kavu’ water with no soap. All this while we are surreptitiously eyeing and salivating over Mister Theuri’s well-tended sugarcanes. There is no sugarcane at home because we can hardly wait for them to grow a nod before we uproot and eat together with the roots.
Somehow we manage to finish the laundry and hang the clothes on the barbed wire fence. By this time the sun is high up in the sky and ‘ooh the snakes crawl at night.’ We don’t want to crawl though, we are not snakes and it’s not night yet. Its time for something else and that’s a good swim. We dive into the river with our petticoats and some t shirts. There were no swimming contumes back then. Within no time it’s backstroke, forward stroke and splish splash when someone dives into the river near you. We swim without a care in the world. Then suddenly, someone screams and we all turn towards the direction she is running towards. We scramble out of the water and run with her thinking she has seen a mermaid. The fence comes to the horizon and it finally clicks. Mister Theuri’s cow is gobbling down our sister’s new school blouse. It’s a tag of war as we wrestle to remove the part of the blouse that is almost landing in the cow’s rumen. Whoever came with that wrestling slogan that, ‘raw is war’ was wrong. This is the real war. It’s a fight between life and death. If the blouse is swallowed how will we go back home? Did I mention that the blouse was bought last week and had only seen a week of school? Now blouse, ‘if you think you are going to skive classes that fast, you are way too long.’ Somehow the blouse seems to hear us and the cow gives up and regurgitates the blouse. However! the bright yellow that was boundering on mustard is not only green but creased. Nothing that a good scrub and encounter with a borrowed charcoal iron won’t fix though.
After hanging it to dry again, we decide that we’ve had enough swimming and so we stay close to the fence and munch on our sweet potatoes. They have remained warm thanks to the sunshine. After eating we realize that we could blackmail Mister Theuri with ‘the cow chewing our blouse story.’ We send our convoy and before they even reach where he is sitting under a jacaranda tree, he already knows whats spinning through our small skulls. He was watching the whole cow wrestling fiasco from a distance. He cuts some sugarcanes for the entourage and they come back smiling like the cat that caught the canary.When the clothes dry it’s time to climb the hill and go back home after a day well spent.
How I miss those days. Keep on humming as you roll to the Indian Ocean sweet Sagana river.




Have you ever taken a detour that was frustrating yet exhilarating at the same time? Here’s what happened. Its mother’s day and we are headed to rapids camp in Murang’a County. The camp is just by the edge of Sagana River which divides Kirinyaga and Murang’a counties. The shortest route according to google maps is via a place called Riandira but me being me I decide I know better than Google so we head all the way to Sagana town, head west towards Murang’a town and branch south after crossing Sagana River. There are signposts showing the directions at every junction but none tells you the distance. Google decides to reroute though she seems angry that we’ve disregarded her immense knowledge. She is not in the least bit encouraging. Remember that saying about hell having less fury than a woman scorned; so true. You know the way she tells you, “take the next left and proceed for the next fourteen kilometers,” you just have to sigh and feel like you want to go back. Yeah, I felt that way especially since the road was rough and dusty, but wait until I saw these beautiful gorges which stole my breath away. I couldn’t have felt better in my entire life. The gorges are so beautiful and appealing to the eyes in their limestone like appearance. And just like that a memory is conjured back in my mind. There was a quarry in my village and growing up people used to buy building stones and aggregate from the said quarry. This memory is about those Leyland and Ford Lorries that would tip their bodies so as to empty their loads be it stones, aggregate or sand. The voice of their engines was very identifiable and no sooner did we hear it than all the children would helter-skelter in that direction to see the miracle/magic. I suppose you could call it a miracle in the village. Boy did we run faster than our legs could carry us which often led to tripping. There was no giving up though because this event would be like witnessing a shooting star and making a wish. I don’t know why none of us won a medal or why we never made it to the Olympics. It didn’t matter if we had witnessed the lorry’s acrobatics, we’d still want to see the next one and the next one. Sometimes if you were left in charge of cooking, the food would usually burn and this would only mean one thing. “Facing the music.”
The immense joy on our faces as they tilted with the lorry is the same joy I felt when I took in this breathtaking view and copied it in the hard disk of my grey matter. This is a must visit place
NB: Probably you are asking what a gorge is; a gorge is a steep-sided, narrow valley with a river or stream running along the bottom. Gorges are formed by the interplay of several geological processes, including erosion, tectonic processes such as vertical uplift and cavern collapse.
Gorge meaning source:


The Ascent

Lying 0 54’55’’S and 36 27’25’’ E is a stratovolcano in the great rift valley of Kenya. It’s thought to have erupted last in the 1860s or there around and it derives its name from the Maasai word Oloonong’ot which means mountain of many spurs or steep ridges. It sure is steep just like its name but all the same awaiting your discovery. Its home to various animals such as zebras, gazelles and buffaloes.
Hiking is not for the fainthearted. Sorry, I take that back. Hiking is not for the faint legged. You’d think that growing up on the slopes of the highest mountain in Kenya would adequately prepare me for such. Growing up on the slopes of the mountainous region during the era when piped water was no longer sustainable meant that one had to go down to the only source of fresh water i.e river Thagana. Since we were also school, it meant that the water fetching chores would be done in the evening. On arrival from school the routine was always the same; change clothes, look for the remnants of lunch and have your fill, then take a jerry can and ‘step in the name of life.’ I mean they say water is life or don’t they? These tasks didn’t seem that tedious since our muscles were well acquainted with the terrain. Right now ask me to carry a 20 litres Jerry can and… Don’t even go there.Further to toned muscles ‘duff mpararo’ (swimming) was so rejuvenating. no matter the time or weather we’d always spare a few minutes for swimming and by few minutes I mean swimming until darkness came calling. Never mind the punishment waiting for us back at home. Those were the good ol’ days. Some of the well-muscled girls could even carry two twenty liters jerry cans on their backs.
You’d have thought that after going through all that that a hike up the mountain would be smooth sailing. Far be it, even with the help of a walking stick which proved quite beneficial especially during the descent, my muscles were not prepared for this. I almost did give up in the middle. At the beginning I was all ‘roho juu.’ You should have seen me and felt the rhythm of my heart. I thought I was gonna break the record of dear Jones who set a record of 1 hour, twenty minutes. The only reason I kept going was the hope of seeing the peak. Sorry, it’s not a peak,they call it a rim. I was not alone though; there was this lady whose boyfriend lied to her that there were ziplines up there and that ziplining would be our jet down.
Despite all the challenges I made it to the rim and felt like humming Robert Kelly’s ‘I’m the world’s greatest.’ My face was glowing like I had been smeared with , ‘maguta ma mbariki’ aka castor oil.
The days that followed were however worse than the hike. My muscles were sore which reminded me of a certain teacher who joined our high school when I was in form two. Her subject of specialty was double PE. My oh my did we suffer in her hands before our muscles finally became acquainted. She used to tell us, ‘your muscles are rotten.’ So yes I think my muscles have totally become rotten. They won’t hold me though. I plan on more hikes and more chronicles.
Since I didn’t manage to go round the rim I’m planning on a redo. This time though I’ll be more than prepared. I’m praying that Wang’uru stadium is completed soon enough so that I can subject my muscles to thorough workout before the redo.
Here are a few things you need in order to hike Mt Longonot.
Crew/ Mbogi : energetic and jovial.
Facilitator:@AuthenticFitnessAndAdventures can take you there in an overland truck.
Water- they don’t allow plastic bottles due to littering, so carry enough in a recyclable bottle.
Walking stick- you can hire one at the gate at KES 50 only.
Don’t do it like you are competing- stick to your own pace.