Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Drive across the Rift Valley


Update for week ended July 5, 2013

The long drive from Kisumu to Nairobi was a journey that I looked forward to. This was a journey that we undertook on holidays, which are pleasant memories, and along the way, there were sights and sounds that are etched in my memory till date. The last time I did this journey was 35 years ago and I do hope that the romance of that trip stays with me for as long as I can remember it. The flat plains around Kisumu were ideal cotton and rice growing areas. So, large tracts of farms or plantations would greet us as we left the small town behind. It was ironic how rice could grow alongside the generally dry condition preferring cotton – but I guess it was the soil that helped the farmers take that decision – dark clay in what could have been left behind on the extended shores of the Lake Victoria or basins of long lost rivers that emptied here. The journey would get interesting as we would near Kericho where the mountains would show off their best greens. Dressed like a velvet carpet on the sloping hills, was one of the finest tea estates of Kenya. The greens were only interspersed with little pink houses in neat patterned clusters (houses of the plantation workers). This out of the world picture postcard scenery would get enhanced with the drive past and into the forests that stood at the edge of the Rift Valley. The ancient valley that was created when the great Ice Age ended or perhaps before that, as the land parted way in the middle and revealed its beauties from within. This valley today houses one of the most diverse fauna and flora that mankind has seen and in such profusion that one can see it all pervasive. And this is where we encounter those gentle elegant creatures that lazily cross our road – the tall giraffes. The playful baboons are not far behind and they too try to get our attention – but the mesmerizing gaze of the giraffe is one that simply cannot be erased from my mind. They would stop if you whipped out your camera – and give you that pose you would cherish in your colour photographs. And then would come the scary drive along the escarpment – the edge precipice of the valley – as the road skirted the edge of the mountain before starting its descent onto the valley floor. Prayers in the car would not go to waste as the driver drove like he did across the Kano plains near Kisumu as he had to reach within the 2.5 hour time given to him to get to Nakuru, the capital of the rift Valley Provice. Nakuru was a laid back town in those days – not unlike Kisumu and the customary break point of our journey where we could either have our soda at the Stag Hotel or drive into one of the lanes abutting the highway to have our taste of freshly fried, crispy samosas and drink it down with Vimto – a purplish red drink with the tang of the blackcurrant. And after the replenishments – including an aircheck on the car tyres, and petrol filling, we would start on the rest of the journey that would take us past the pinkish lake Nakuru (pink from a distance as it was inhabited by millions and millions o fthe greater flamingo). And then the ascent would begin – and the weather would start getting cooler as we left the valley behind and one last glance at the pinkish blue lake as we went past Gil Gil and then onto Naivasha and as it got even cooler and the skies got brighter as we neared the outskirts of Nairobi.

 

The D Street Boyz had some Kenya returned members – as they reminisced their days of the Kisumu to Nairobi drive through the rift valley. And that was how they treated their SENSEX chart this week – and whilst they kept the SENSEX at lofty heights in the beginning of the week, they drove it scarily down the escarpment slopes – almost vertically down on Wednesday and kept it at the low valley floor level on Thursday before taking it back up the other side of the escarpment leaving behind the reds of their own Vimto drink and Pink laced lakes. And ended the week at cool and pleasantly welcome heights of 19495 – up from its previous close of 19395.

 

One part that forgot mentioning above were the lovely pears and plums that were sold along the escarpment forest drive. In a way, I felt that the vendors and the giraffes had a pact. The vendors would always be near the giraffe crossings and so whenever the cars and buses would slow down for the gentle creatures, many would also stop by the wayside to let their occupants get a bargain for the paperbags full of fresh fruit. My first tryst with the pear sand plums were on these drives….

Tell me of your childhood travels and trips – in trains or by car or any other modes of transport. I am looking forward to your travel stories. Do not disappoint.

 

Have a great week, cheers….

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