I feel like reaching across the table and smacking MC Jessy across the mouth.
The urge keeps coming in waves. The waitresses seem like they know him. It’s never a good idea to slap anyone in their local, someone will almost always turn up to defend him. One of these girls may decide to enter the fray with hot coffee.
It’s barely half past 7, in the morning. Its chilly, everything is up in a bunch. My fingers are freezing, and the age old trick of pressing them in between your thighs doesn’t seem to work. I do not like waking up early in the morning. If you suffer from this strain of laziness and haven’t yet found an excuse for it, start tagging yourself as an ‘evening person’. It usually works.
We are sitting on a polished Mahogany table at Ankole Grill, off Galana Road, in Kilimani. Besides Jessy, whose mouth must be tuned with a double Turbo, there’s one other guy sitting next to him. Alex, who’s cupping a creamy cappuccino in both hands, for the heat. He’s silent, with long, shaggy hair.
I don’t know how his night was, and I don’t ask. This is Nairobi, everything is as it is.
How do people talk so much this early in the morning? MC Jessy just cannot shut up. This is not a wedding, bro. I try sending him a telepathic signal. No such luck. I hope Brayo makes it on time, the only member missing in the squad. Well, my squad is generally a lazy squad, in extension, but Brayo is on another Laziness Level.
MC Jessy is slapping the table. That’s my biggest issue with this man. It’s perhaps tolerable to talk so much early in the morning, but he demands attention. He doesn’t want you zoning out and thinking of silly stuff. The dog you had as a kid, whom you’d named Teddy. The pair of jeans that you had bought at Gikomba and found a $100 note stuffed in its ‘secret’ pocket.
He demands attention for his stories. He’s slapping the table. He’s punching Alex on his shoulder. Am glad I didn’t sit next to him. But this seems like too much attention, bro. If I paid half of this attention to my life, I would probably be jostling for a slot on Kenya’s Most Influential people, alongside kina Martin Kimotho.
The Githeri Man, HSC.
He’s shouting at a waitress across the busy restaurant for an Ankole Burger. I’ve never been here before, so I ain’t sure what kind of burger that is. But I sneak out my fingers from between my thighs and signal him to order another one.
“Leta zikiwa mbili na ya huyu mjamaa….” He shouts.
We had agreed to meet here, for a day trip to Hell’s Gate, Naivasha. This was an Alex idea, about a month or so back at the local. Alex owned and operated a lady gym off Koinange Street, and he’s always up and about across the country. He grew up in the city, and didn’t hide his indignation that our idea of a holiday was a long drive to the upcountry home.
“Guys, lets drive out of town this long weekend. Madaraka Day inaangukia Friday” Alex says, looking at me.
I didn’t even know Madaraka Day is coming. It’s a month away, and Alex already knows it falls on a Friday.
“Drive? None of us has a ride” I say “Na siezi panda ile Subaru Leone ya kina Jesse”.
MC Jessy was in the habit of stealing his dad’s Subaru Leone that had once stalled in the middle of the road somewhere in Buru Buru. It had a stuck odometer, but I guess its mileage was in the million mark neighborhood.
“Nice idea, Alekey, my guy!” says MC Jesse, thumping Alex on the back. “I know someone at Bonfire offices, we can get a package kwa bei ya jioni”.
He always knows someone. Four times out of ten, things will go well. The other six times have had us dealing with several problems over the years. One time we got arrested. Another time we woke up in a strange house, in a strange neighborhood. Have I told you how we had to push a bloody Subaru Leone all the way from Buru Buru to a garage in town?
That wouldn’t have hurt if we hadn’t later learnt the Leone had ran out of fuel. Na tulikuwa tumechanga pesa ya fuel na mzinga pamoja.
So I was a little skeptical.
But it turns out, indeed, that Bonfire Adventures and Events, that ambitious tour company, had a very attractive offer for a Day Tour on Madaraka Day. It just went for a measly Ksh.3500 per person, from the city. Well, we signed up for it. An exclusive boys’ thing, no girls.
We had to practically threaten Alex with severe bodily harm to get him to agree to this clause. The silent guys are usually the worst. If you know, you know.
At exactly eight, a van draws up to the door of the restaurant. I have demolished my Ankole Burger, it’s excellent. Not empty hype. MC Jessy hasn’t touched his, yes, too busy telling of a day he had walked from Uthiru to Kawangware, just by following the Number 46 buses.
No worry, he picks it up and matches out of the restaurant, munching at it.
Brayo is riding shotgun. Oh, man. Bright fellow. I had secretly planned to grab that seat to escape MC Jesse’s endless banter at the rear.
The van is luxury, as they said. Damn, looks like a cabin in a Fly Sax plane. OK, in a Boeing. Alex says internal flights do not have first class cabins. But it’s alright, I’ll fly Silverstone, Fly Sax or anything that can fly WHEN I get a chance to fly. Maybe I’ll win something some day and fly somewhere.
We ooze out of the city. To me, getting out of the city is always therapeutic, no matter where am headed to. There’s nothing that soothes better than endless grass dotted with lone Acacia trees and an occasional warthog scrambling backwards into a hole.
Why do warthogs have to enter their home butt first? It’s a nice technique, though. A wild dog will chase a warthog up to the hole, and a sudden turn has the dog staring at the warthog’s face and wee horns – before the dog figures how or where to grab a bite, dinner disappears backwards.
Into a hole. I bet its 5-star, in there.
The luxury van is great. Reclining seats, and AC. Cup holders. Enough space for little ends and odds like phones and charging ports. Am at the rear, and discover a cooler box. Brayo never disappoints. Beer, Vodka, Rum, and more beer.
“Hebu uliza Brayo food ameweka wapi”, I call out to MC Jesse on the seat behind the driver.
“Mshow iko hapa mbele” Brayo says.
MC Jesse hates to be interrupted. He was next to Alex, who looks beat. I may be wrong, but Alex probably didn’t spend the night in his house. Again, not my business.
We arrive at Hell’s Gate National park, and there’s a few lads on the hustle, offering to be our guides. We decide to find a guide here, as opposed to seeking inside the park. This is Kenya, lazima tuskizane bei, boss. This is MC Jesse’s other favorite past time when not banging tables – bargaining. Daniel, the guide, almost gives up, and drops a line we have heard lots of time when Jesse is handling our issues:
Lakini WaMeru mko na shida gani?
It’s an 8km ride from the gates to Ranger’s Post, near the gorge. I can see a lot of tourists cycling along. Daniel tells me bikes are available for hire at just Ksh.400, and one can arrange for a car to follow in case a kid fails to finish the dusty length. Or, get a bunch of nasty-ass elephants blocking the road.
But we all knew most kids could cycle those 8km, fuss free. But a little doubt for their parents who never take the stairs doing their 8 – 5 jobs, snacking on chicken wings, nuggets, steaks, and…… “Brayo, hio food umesema iko wapi?”
Turns out Brayo has a mega-size loaf of bread on the console between him and the driver. A loaf of bread! Its times like these that I understand self-control is a virtue. Jesus H. Christ, how was I talked into this trip?
“Mtakula mkirudi Nairobi wacheni ujinga. Leo ni holiday.” Brayo says, cranking up the volume. Damn, this van has a 16” Sub-woofer somewhere at the back. Immortal Technique sounds good. That must be Alex on the sound deck.
Thank God for that awesome Ankole Burger.
At Hell’s Gate Gorge, Daniel rattles off on rehearsed notes about alleged extinct volcanoes, something lined with red cliffs and volcano plugs: Fischer’s Tower and Central Tower. There’s a smaller gorge leading to the hot springs and hot rocks. There are other groups around with different activities, some with Bonfire Adventures, still.
Game drives. Hiking. Team building. Bird watching. Seems like fun, huh.
I immediately head off towards the hot springs. I didn’t come to hike, I shall climb the stairs in our office tower, I make a vow to myself. Bird watching? No, thanks. My mother rears chicken, those are birds. Team building. We do that daily at the local. They follow, with MC Jesse in an animated chatter with Daniel.
If you looked at them from afar, you’d think Jesse was an avid history student, all ears about the gorges. I knew him well enough to guess the questions he was badgering poor Daniel with: Wa maasai wa huku wanakuaga warembo? Na huku ni pombe gani ya kienyeji mna tengenezaga?
The geothermal spa is next to Ol Karia Power Station, and has a Ksh.300 entrance. Our tour firm had handled that. The water is fresh and warm, with hot rocks. Hell, there’s a dude selling fresh eggs there! The water boils the egg, with your bare butt in it!
Madaraka Day, certainly the place to appreciate the sacrifices made to secure our freedom. Our major hiccup was bringing MC Jesse along. Dude is rattling off on both ends, with weird observations.
“Brayo, unajua ni matako ngapi zimekalia hio mawe mnakalia bila nguo”
“Alex, check yule dem wallahi anakaa mhindi”.
But Alex is experienced: dude can spot a fake Indian weave from a continent away.
It took a lot of coaxing to drag us out of the Geothermal swimming Spa. Hunger helped, and the saving grace was Bonfire Adventures package included a packed lunch. Brayo had had a chunk off the loaf of bread he had brought, all the same.
In the evening on the drive back to the gate, the animals had come out of, wherever they hide when the sun’s steaming. The elegant giraffes, the majestic antelopes, the buffaloes. Why are male buffaloes always angry?
They reminded me of a cranky neighbor with an orchard back in the village. He was always angry, and would shoot at us with a catapult whenever oranges were in season. His name was Ndegwa.
The drive back is a party. A luxury van with an ice box full of everything alcoholic, and a 16” Sub-woofer, what would you expect?
This Madaraka Day, get out of the city. Have a slice of Magical Kenya.