Update for the month of July 2013
It was in the midst of the long rains that we had made the Nairobi trip and now it was time to return. We had spent a long day shopping at the sprawling multi-storeyed supermarket – buying toys, clothes, knick knacks for the house, the kitchen and taking back small gifts for our friends back home at Kisumu. And then after a hurried dinner, Mummy quickly packed the stuff into the bags we had and we started carrying them down to the waiting car. We were really excited as this was going to be our first night cross-country trip back home. It would be exciting to just look out of the window at the dark forests and try and decipher any movement of giraffes or baboons. And it made it more exciting as we were told some interesting tales of encounters with a herd of elephants or even a nocturnal big cat. Now that last animal set got us all so charged up that we fought sleep as the car rolled out of the sodium lamp lit double carriageway onto the single laned highway that would take us to the rift valley and across. The climb started. Our driver was worried about passing through the forest route and so chose to take a longer route across the rolling hills of Molo. Molo is situated in perhaps the highest inhabited part of Kenya at over 7000 feet above mean sea level and given the salubrious climate, is home to the merino sheep that grow thick coats of wool after chomping on the fresh green grassy slopes of this “mini Scotland”. And that climb started getting dizzy as mists started enveloping our car and visibility was dropping by the minute. The strong fog lamps of our car were not able to pierce the thick mists that were rolling onto the mountainside. We heard a loud thunder and all the children in the car woke up with a start. Yes, the drive was uneventful and the dizzying ride made us sleepy. It was close to 10 pm now and at least 2 hours past my bedtime. And despite the biting sub 10 C temperature outside, we felt cosy in our own woolen sweaters and scarves as we huddled together in the back seat with Mummy. And then we could see the dim lights of the little town ahead of us – eerily glowing through the mist as it was slowly tending to clear as we got closer to the town centre. All the stores were closed and so was the sole petrol pump. We had driven slowly, but there were other vehicles ahead of us that had either stopped en route or were cruising along even slower, as we soon crawled to a bumper to bumper drive on the mountains. And then the descent started which fortunately (or so we thought, but we judged too soon) was better as the mists started rolling off and the road ahead was more clearer. We noticed that the vehicle we were behind was a large Pilsner double trailer. And we had heard of horror stories about how these Pilsner Trailers drove on treacherous mountainside roads. (see below). And then the large water drops started pelting on our windscreen. First as large drops that just fell splat and then were quickly swished away by the car’s wipers, and then a few uneven rattling that sounded louder on the rooftop than on the windscreen, but was albeit, loud. Hailstones… after mist, now we had hit a hailstorm. At first the tap-tap tap were intermittent, but then started pelting down faster like someone shoveling tiny gravel onto metal sheets. The noisy din kept us awake, as well as the fear, as driving visibility dropped with the hail accompanied by raindrops. And the worst fear was that we were following a Pilsner Trailer – a double trailer for that! It was impossible to see beyond the windscreen and we could not stop as there was large truck behind us too (and who knows it could be another Pilsner or Tusker truck!! Shudderrrrrr……..) Appa was prodding the driver to keep driving on when suddenly a dark splat plopped itself on the windscreen in front of the driver! Now we were doomed….. the only saving grace was that the truck behind us was no longer behind – the driver had perhaps stopped for you know what!! (see below). Appa urged the driver to step out and clean the splat – but he was reluctant because of the heavy rain beating down as well as the cold. But he got off and tried cleaning it, and could not. We were now really petrified as the downhill drive was steep and all our interest of seeing animals crossing our paths were gone – washed away from our minds by the long rains of Kenya and the double trailer truck ahead of us in this visibility challenged trip at night.
The D Boyz were happy and eager to go shopping and so they picked up some equity here and some more there – some for themselves and some for the friends and in the process, helped move their dear SENSEX higher and higher. In fact their shopping frenzy continued even after the SENSEX climbed on and on and even beyond 20000 points. The climb was smooth and took the SENSEX across what initially looked like idyllic rolling hills – like the Scottish highlands. And then once they reached the highest peak at 20300 or so, they met with catastrophe – almost like the author’s tryst with the foggy weather and hailstorm. And then there was no stopping, as it hailed and stormed on D Street – almost like a reckless “Tusker or Pilsner” truck winding its way down slippery mountain slopes. All the enthusiasm of shopping and gifting before this journey ended in a muddy slurry as their SENSEX skidded down sharply to 18789 by close of business on 8 August 2013.
The Tusker and Pilsner truck trailers were large Mercedes or Volvo trucks that carried crates of the brew that was popular across the country. And in a country where beer was almost as cheap as milk, it was no wonder that many took to this kidney cleansing but liver challenging drinks. Many violent incidents in towns and villages were caused due to the inebriation of it. At times, the containers themselves (brown 750 ml bottles) were used as handy weapons in quarrels that would go fatal at times. And so the urban legend of these trailer trucks was that, not only did it carry the deadly brew that could cause more destruction without even realizing it, but the drivers of these trucks also partook some of the goods that they ferried across from the brewery to the stores while driving, causing accidents along the treacherous escarpment hugging roads of the Rift Valley and beyond. And to be ensconced between two such trucks was as close to the gates of hell or heaven (whichever one went to) as one could get. Imagine these playing on the minds of 9, 10 and 12 year olds!!!! Now you realize why there was petrified fear.
Thank you to the readers who wrote back on their fond childhood journeys – most were of train travels to holiday destinations or just plain going home on poetic trains. To read them you can go to the comments section of https://riteriterite.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/the-drive-across-the-rift-valley/ .
Have a great weekend and Id and Shraavan Greetings to all!!! Cheers…