coffee · creative · writing

Homestretch part 1

When going to the ‘place to be county’ , traveling via the Machakos country bus is hectic, but quite economical especially during those ‘hard economic times’.

If you board a Nissan or better still are lucky enough to roll in your private machine, believe me you cannot understand, to you this is a tale of the hare and the hyena!

The place is so congested and if you are not careful you might end up losing your valuables if not yourself. If you are planning to take that route I advise you take a cup of coffee before you leave, it might prove useful, You most definitely need calm nerves on that one.

The harassment by matatu touts is so annoying and a norm there, they pull you to enter their matatus like you don’t know where you are going.

That is the experience I underwent the other day as I was going to the ‘place to be county’.

I get in the matatu stage and four people are on me,”Kakamega, Kakamega.” You know where I am going with that, don’t you?…

“Kakamega nikula mwatwie na mwathamw’a ni yua?” That is kikamba for Hey….please. I want to respond that way but kindly and annoyed I tell them I know where I am going. Some people when they wake up on their left foot are like a ticking time bomb, you never know when they will explode and by what magnitude, so it is prudent to address strangers kindly, no matter how offensive they get.

In haste I arrive at ‘our’ stage and board a matatu that has more hawkers than passengers,   you stare at one he comes running thinking you want to buy something so you better avoid their gaze but even still one of them will tap on your shoulders  every other three minutes selling this or that. Hustle is hustle but those guys can be quite annoying. They seem to have everything except coffee! I think we Kenyans are the most unique people on the planet…

To the foreigners do not be scared to visit our country, at no time you will be using the Machakos country bus, unless you really love adventure. I have never spotted a foreigner there. That zone is majorly for us the up ‘country folks’ .

I am so tempted to buy a pack of chips being hawked in plenty but I decide not to lest I get food poisoned and start causing hullabaloo during the matatu ride. I largely doubt I could though, the African stomach is just like the yana tyres, “made in Africa for Africa!” If you suffer food poisoning something about you could be foreign! you better have your DNA analyzed.

So as to buy time my mind starts wandering, I begin by trying to figure out How Nairobi came to be situated where it is today. In school they taught us that Machakos was originally supposed to be the capital city, and just like that somebody decided it wasn’t appropriately located and they had to move it to Nairobi! ,the place of ‘cool waters’ deriving us from that region the opportunity to be residents or neighbors of the capital. One of the reasons for moving it was that there was no adequate water in Machakos!

In my opinion though the capital city should have been somewhere in the dry northern region, this is why; The place where Nairobi is today is one of the regions that receive adequate amount of rainfall that can sustain agriculture. Instead it rains much and waters buildings like they need water to grow taller! making the roads impassable and creating more traffic jams, to me that is waste. I wish I was born then maybe I could have voiced my opinion. Before you start asking me how people will survive there i will ask you, How do they survive in Dubai?


(pictured -Dubai)

It just makes much sense when the good fertile zones with good amount of rainfall are used for agriculture which is the backbone of our economy and the urban cities located at the less productive dry zones. Indeed the resources of our country would have been so evenly distributed. We wouldn’t have much of the so called ‘marginalized areas’

Nairobi is fast expanding .The so many coffee estates that used to be near the city are slowly diminishing giving way to construction of residential housing  and small ‘cities’ not to mention the vast shopping malls beginning to pop up, I was in one the other day, so huge…. The real estate venture is quite a boom which is in one way a good thing and in another a bad thing since it is at the expense of among others the coffee sector which we all know is a major boost for our economy.

No wonder coffee production in the country is diminishing every other year. More so most people who work in the coffee estates are women, so one wonders what happens to them when the owner decides to venture into the attractive real estate business, worse is majority are illiterate otherwise they would venture into writing like me…With what then do they provide for their families?

If Nairobi was in the dry region, the effect of urbanization on the agriculture sector, more so the coffee sector which has been majorly affected would be minimal. Too bad it cannot be moved .somebody somewhere failed to visionalize the future. May be they dreamt while laying on their left side. That is water under the bridge though…

I just hope that those strategizing matters development today do have the welfare of their fourth and fifth generation in mind…

“Its past 12.00 noon already.” I am startled by one of the passengers annoyingly reminding the conductor that he had informed him that the matatu would be departing at 12.00 noon when he boarded. The conductor looks at his watch and as he does I also look at mine and notice its 12.23 pm, he then proceeds to affirm to him that yes it is a 12.00 noon matatu and it’s just leaving! We never leave until 12.40 pm about ten people less, he says we’ll pick more as we go.

The stretch out of town is smooth, no traffic, I assume we are in a good hour otherwise it can be chaotic, in a bad day it can make one miss a flight! There is occasional picking of passengers though, remember we left town with some empty seats.

By the time we get to Athiriver half of the passengers are asleep, if they had taken coffee before departing probably they would be awake, there is a lot to see when one is travelling, so much inspiration otherwise I wouldn’t have a story to tell, or would I ?.

Too bad majority of ordinary Kenyans think that coffee is a high society affair!

I don’t sleep while in transit .No. There I notice that the super bridge for the standard gauge railway is almost complete if not complete! Some good things are happening amidst of the tough economic times. I hope I go to the coast via the railway soon. We could even make up for the once botched Malindi trip…have some coffee and…swim. I am not sure I can swim though, I have tried several times but…

There is though a not so good smell in Athiriver that I have never understood where it originates from, I notice it’s still there. I wonder if the county government knows about it and what they are doing to address the issue. I also wonder how the people there survive. For the record it has been there for years. (just a concerned passerby)

Past Athiriver we arrive at the semi arid zone where normally you can spot some wildlife grazing , I stretch out my neck but I spot none, maybe the sun is too hot for them or something ,it has been too hot and dry lately,( on my way back later in the day I did spot some beautiful zebras though). I hope some gluttony individuals will not invade the area making it inhabitable for wildlife though one can already see signs of such.

I can’t make out whether my phone is vibrating or not since the matatu is loud with music so I ignore it. I later check and find a missed call and an abusive text message form a friend of mine, she’s one of those friends so I take no offense and call back only to realize that she just wanted me to exhaust my credit! Bure kabisa!

On reaching Makutano i notice they now sell lots of sand , quite a number of piles of it, I wonder if they know that they are collaborating with climate change to finish us!?

I notice the beautiful flower gardens along the road are still there and more beautiful. That is a good thing. Kudos Mr. Governor . I am one of those pessimists who expected them not to last a month!

As we near Machakos town I can spot Machakos peoples park from the window. It is a beautiful place for one to relax and catch some fresh air, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I wonder how much it has changed since last I was there about three years ago. Did they increase and upgrade the boats? Last I checked there were two manual ones. Do they now have a coffee shop? I wonder…maybe that is where

By the way a view of the park from the top of those beautiful hills surrounding the park is quite magnificent after sunset…

On alighting I proceed to take care of some personal business amidst too much urge to visit a certain nice restaurant and buy me some mandazis and Sambusas(call them samosas if you wish). They have some fantastic ones, They are simply fantastic and serve uji in calabashes. Quite an African touch.

I am already running late so unfortunately I do not spend much time in our beautiful and clean Machakos town. Within no time I head back to the capital, looking forward to getting back, for a more engaging homestretch!


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