NYERI: TREETOPS LODGE/OUTSPAN HOTEL
I know I said I would post every night. I thought I would be able to sit down every evening and bang some 600 words. But the itinerary is brutal: I wake up at 6 am every day, I drive pretty much the whole day and do interviews and take pictures then drive back to the hotel and by the time I’d done I’m too beat to write my name. Plus it’s bleeding cold back here. It’s so cold then when you remove your socks and step into the hot shower you feel like your feet are burning. Or does that only happen to me?
Nyeri is surprisingly gorgeous. It’s green rolling hills; it’s fresh air and curious people. There are folk I meet deep in the villages who have never interacted with a Luo before. I swear. One chap, who must have been 39 years old, asked me where Kendu Bay was and I told him it was next to the lake. “Huko kwa samaki?” he asked and I realized what an icebreaker that is back here. Mention fish and the ice is broken. He said the furthest he has been is Thika. I asked him how many phone numbers belonging to luos he has in his phone and together we scrolled through his phone and we stumbled upon a Wafula and he stopped on that number for a moment and said, “Na huyu?!” I told him Luhyas and Luos are very different; Luhyas drink tea after meals, we drink Merlot. Hehe. Inajoma! Inajoma!
But seriously, this guy not having a number belonging to any of my tribe mates is not his fault or anybody’s fault for that matter. It’s purely geographical. I mean it’s the same scenario with some Luo in Rusinga. So basically what informs these guys’ perceptions of other tribes are speculations and folklore handed down generations, no matter how inaccurate they could be. It’s tragic. But through these people, people insulated from mass media, you realize that people are just people and that generally they are very tolerant of others who aren’t from their own backyard. That their first impulse is not aggressiveness but curiosity.
Even though Nyeri is surprisingly fresh, I can’t help feeling cheated. I’m disappointed because the men look normal. They don’t walk around with hunched shoulders. They don’t look beat down. Their self esteem seem as normal as self esteem
of people at The Junction. I’m disappointed because I was sure I would find street-full of men with band-aids on their faces. Men carrying their women’s purses. Men tugging along behind their women like poodles. Men who have curfews. I imagined that I would be woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of a man wailing at the top of his lungs; “Mama Njoro sitarudia tena! Aki sitarudia mama Njoro! ” A man wailing louder than Njoro. Regrettably, none of that. They look normal. Maybe they have learnt not to wail while being battered, or maybe they have been warned of more beating should they wail.
The women also look normal. I wondered what kind of woman is this who can subdue a man with beatings. How big is this woman? How many kilograms does she bench press? Does she eat green pepper? Does she force her man to wash her knickers? Look, I’m from the side of pond full of male bravado, where we believe in a guy just being a guy and so coming here to Nyeri filled me with anticipation. I approached Nyeri like a medical researcher would approach a specimen. And I’ve been greatly disappointed.
In other news, I learnt a different phrase while here. So the first night I spent at Treetops. There weren’t too many black faces in the restaurant over dinner that night. In fact, there was only one black face seated; mine. I almost felt like it was 1912 and I was in a ship mooring off in Dakar, headed to America. Anyway, so there I was sat buried in my magazine, when I hear some odiero in the next table say in a posh British accent, “ The discourse that ensued didn’t have much of a silhouette.”
I just had to look at him. I have heard people use the word silhouette in many contexts, but never have I heard it employed so abstractly, so eloquently. A conversation didn’t have much of a silhouette! Who speaks like that? No, who speaks like that in Nyeri? That guy spoke with an eloquence that was richer than my grilled fish fillet.
I’m off to the Aberdares to write about waterfalls the whole day then off to Nanyuki for the night. Catch you later, gang.