This is the last time our Rover rolled out with us through the gate from our house in Nakuru. Destination Lake Bogoria. It would be a day trip as I was due to leave in a couple of days’ time. To be honest with, it was not that I wanted to chase some more of wild life in Lake Bogoria. I have seen plenty. But we were told that most of the flamingos now have migrated to Lake Bogoria from Lake Nakuru as it rained in Nakuru. “Let’s check it out,” Hardev said while having a cup of tea in the morning. “Also, let’s check out the geysers.” Yes, the lake has quite a bit of hot springs and it would be okay to check those out too. But I had a different interest. Lake Bogoria is just north of the Equator while traveling from Nakuru. One needs to cross the equator to go to Lake Bogoria. And I wanted to do that. “What’s the big deal?” asked one of my friends. Come on now! I know it’s symbolic. I know it’s an imaginary line that divides the north from the south and there is no big fence that separates the
two worlds. But it’s fascinating when one crosses that line, isn’t it? At least, I feel that way. It’s the perception!
The Rover took the secondary highway that branches out from the main highway coming out from NJoro and then further north to Elqueyo and then to Lake Bogoria. The first sign of trouble came when we were just leaving Nakuru. Hardev was pressing gas but the Rover did not pick up speed. Well, Hardev knew his baby well….”radiator fluid,” he murmured as he pulled the Rover to a nearby petrol station. He was right, the radiator fluid was practically all gone. We suspected a leak, but filled it up anyway and headed to the highway. It was a hot day, so I was worried how the engine would behave if the rad gets dry. Fortunately, we didn’t have problem and reached my point of interest – the Equator. There was a big signboard on one side – “You are at the Equator” or something like that, few small shops and a small village – fairly non-descriptive; well, still it is halfway mark of the planet Earth. Symbolic…so what? Photo-op…yes, but why not? It’s the feeling that we are
crossing half-mark of the globe thrilled me. We pulled the car and a lady hovered to our window with her merchandise. Typical tourist spot, I gathered. She bargained with me about the price of a small globe carved from stone. We agreed on the price and I bought it. Secretly I was getting a bit proud of myself thinking “Hey, you learned how to negotiate in this part of the world…independently; good man, good.” Thank God they spoke some English…way better than my Swahili. One guy was showing the trick how water in a jar rotates in opposite directions on two sides of the equator. Really? Perhaps it does but not exactly where the imaginary line crosses the globe; as if the water knows where the imaginary line is…I was not convinced. But we paid the guy anyway…it’s his living after all.
The Rover hit the highway. No, we didn’t have any problem with the car reaching the Lake Bogoria. And by the time we paid our entrance fees and entered the park, it was past noon.
We drove along the lake searching for the flamingos. There were some, but not as many as we expected. The road
was partly paved but uneven with plenty of pot-holes. But the Rover survived and so did we. We crossed a bunch of baboons and impalas; they ran away once they saw us. But it was a hot day and we didn’t expect much of the wild life this time of the day. Rather we started looking for the hot springs. And we found some! They were by the lakeside and they were all spewing superheated steams. We parked the Rover and went to check them out. They were really hot. Hardev used them as a sauna standing at a distance, but I had no interest to soak in the superheated steam. And the geysers were everywhere. I was walking back to the Rover wearing sandals. One false step on the sand and my pinky toe got burnt from the superheated steam coming out through needle size pin-holes on the sand. Shit! That is last thing I needed after the Rock Hyrax bite me in Lake Nakuru. Oh, well….this is Africa and not my living room.…I shouldn’t have expected a cakewalk. Lessons learned and it was time for the lunch. Again, Hardev was way more organized than me. He carried stove
and gas cylinders to fry sausages to make wraps. You know, most of the time when I travel alone, I just settle for some cookies and a drink perhaps.. If I don’t get anything by the roadside, well, water bottle in my backpack is good enough for me until the dinner time. Man, oh man…this was luxury. But wait, I have to practice like a bushman. We brought eggs and a sack from home. We left the eggs in a sack for 5-10 minutes in one of the geysers. And guess what! They were fully done. Lovely, be a bushman when in the bush! We pulled the folding chairs and we had a fabulous lunch overlooking the lake. Not many tourists…just one or two families showed up and that was perfect. We enjoyed the peaceful, untamed beauty of the lake under the hot African sun. And it was time to pack up.
We returned home in the late afternoon along the same highway. The dark cloud was rolling in. I was enjoying the beauty of the lovely Acacia trees all along the highway. Jacaranda and Acacia, these two trees will always remain my favourites…”planted in my brain,
Today is my last day in Kenya. Leaving tomorrow back to my home in Canada. Am I sad? Of course I am....spending nights in tent in Masaimara and going to sleep listening to the hyenas and zebras...animals scratching the tent at night...curious look from a tall giraffe while cruising....all are crowding in my brain like a dream. I will never forget watching a crimson sunset over the vast African plain of Mara while listening to the roars of the lions close by near our broken vehicle...staking out in the the full moon night in Tsavo waiting for the leopard to show up...everything passing by like a slide show in front of my eyes. I will miss them all and I will miss the superb friendship of the people in Kenya, - Stephanie, ever cheerful Jeetu, Grace, Joy, pensive Teji and many, many others....they have all showed me that friendship has no bounds. There are few debts in life one cannot pay back, but acknowledge them only. I will keep on acknowledging their unconditional friendship forever. I have loved them all from the bottom of my heart.
When my home town Calgary will be swept
by driven snow, the herds of elephants will still come and jostle for water in the moonlit night in Tsavo, impalas will be startled by the sudden headlight of the car near the bush camp in Masaimara and the baboons will be fighting for food behind the bush....I will miss them all. I didn't come to Kenya with a checklist what animals I would like to see. I came here to learn and absorb Africa, to get mesmerized with its vast wilderness. I wanted to fall in love with the country and be loved. And I have it all. I will leave a piece of my heart here with Africa.
Today is my last day in Kenya. I want to soak in the hot African sun before I head out to my winter wonderland tomorrow...will be back again.
(‘The vision that is planted in my brain, still remains’…As it turned out, I am heading to Africa once again this November. Tanzania this time.)
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