En-route to Marsabit

A dawning of a new day
A dawning of a new day

One Morning, three months ago, Life woke me up to another odyssey. Marsabit was the destination under question. Let me share excitement; visualize your big dream. See yourself waking up from your bed one morning and there it is. Then go through the moments of pinching yourself and asking whether this is real or someone is playing a really bad joke on you. Here you are wondering whether someone has fabricated a very bad trick to make you believe. I have often wondered what it would be like to live and work among pure pastoral communities and to critically question their way of life, being very different from mine. Despite working among the Maasai and Samburu of Kenya, something tickled me about the unknown.

The transitions that define my life mould all kinds of mental pictures of what really describes a sustainable world, region, country, location, community or person. Sustainability has been largely defined and practiced with environmentalism painting the backdrop, because modern lifestyles are invariably fuelled by environmental resources.

My maiden trip to Marsabit was a trip characterised by intrigue, learning, anticipation and comedy, and was the hallmark of defining hardship.

Isiolo, which is approximately mid-way between Nairobi and Marsabit is fairly easy to get to but the route beyond Isiolo is a totally different ball game. I took the Liban bus from Isiolo, which plies the route on a daily basis. In addition to passengers, the bus is usually packed with goods including the daily bread for the Marsabit people as well as other grocery. This bus has not shocks, and I will stand by my word. It must be a special edition which totally ignored this feature. My back was breaking by the time we got to Marsabit. That aside…

Anxiety led me to the bus station at 7pm since the recorded departure time was 8pm. The bus arrives shortly before 8 and hippie me finds myself in my seat, no. 37. Now, visualize this, I am comfortably sat, exhausted from the first half of the trip and oblivious of any other eventuality, just waiting to make my way. So what happens next you don’t say…! Someone starts sweeping the bus which sends billows of dust all over the place. In spite of boasting intact lungs, I could no longer sufficiently separate oxygen from the array of pungent particles lingering in the air.

As if it was good riddance, they start welding up inside the bus to repair damaged seats. Sparks keep flying inside the bus for a good half an hour releasing toxic blue smoke that slowly weaves its way through the bus, blending into the fabric of cloths and hiding behind the cracks to later constitute the aromatic concoction for the travellers that day. It’s now, 9pm, an hour since we were to leave and yes; we are still at the bus station, I am sat on the ground watching young men hastily hoisting a ton load of goods to the roof rack, ingesting khat and exhaling vile breath, language and all sorts of sexual innuendo, to disguise their exhaustion from exertion.

10pm: This is not working. I step back into the bus, dust my seat and by then, a mama with her 2 years or so baby, and luggage are occupying most of the 3 seater. Hmmm!! I make myself comfortable in the only remaining slot of the seat but I am acutely aware that there may be someone else to host by our side. As if to ascertain my thoughts, a young man squinting at his ticket and in turn at the seat numbers walks up and without fretting points at me as if to suggest I make space. Ok, this is the fun part, when I ask the mama to move up, she takes the child off the chair but keeps her luggage sat. This bag is way too big for a handbag anyway. Ha! I wonder, what would be better on the seat, the baby or the bag? By the way, note that we sat with the bag all the way! Lucky I was sat in the middle. The poor young man had to endure the trip, I think.

We depart around 10.30pm and I tell you, there is not a more gruesome journey I have had to endure. My piece of bad luck can be attributed to the fact that I had to take a back seat and sit squeezed, occasioned by ‘seated’ luggage. Can’t complain. That’s culture. Now, allow me to curse the hawker who generously loaded the passengers with boiled eggs at the beginning of the journey because the rest of the journey was an aromatic blend of body odor,  oriental perfume, phat and welding smoke that made my head dizzy while the child incessantly cried for most of the journey. I must have passed out from the rich exotic oriental flavors that spiced up the air to escape the realities. All that met my ears was the distant laboring of the engine as the bus made its way to Marsabit.

6 am and this is me arriving in Marsabit. The all night journey roughed up every muscle in my body, leaving my body half massaged and in need of a rest. Cold, misty, dusty… damn combination but better than the bus environment. This is my first day in Marsabit, and I will be here for a while. I check into a hotel and take the long nap to recompense the stolen sleep!

Mt. Kulal

7 thoughts on “En-route to Marsabit

  1. Dang, bro! You must really love the environment! Hope the subsequent journeys have been less grueling. I certainly applaud your fortitude and resilience.

  2. you should have at least said their is a blog or i should have found out earlier i was thoroughly entertained.

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