The Perfect Day in Kisumu
While half of Nairobi migrated to the coast, we spent Christmas like we have done in the past five years. In Kericho at Xena’s paternal grandfolks home, surrounded by tea, trees and love, the weather unusually warm and rousing and the air clean and crisp. We had lots of meat in all forms- boiled, roasted and fried- more goat meat than I intend to have all of next year.
Being an hour’s drive from Kisumu, we decided to go on a road trip on Boxing Day to eat fish on the lakeside. We wanted to make the most of our trip so we left at 10:00am and drove through the winding roads of Kipsitet, a most stunning drive with views of tea fields and rolling hills. We then turned left and drove for an hour in search of the Sondu Miriu dam, a mission that proved to be more frustrating than unscrewing the cap from a Dasani water bottle. The locals were unsure of its exact location so we were tossed back and forth about four times, each time driving towards the opposite side we came from. Google map was not any better.
Finally, just as we were about to throw in the towel, an elderly guy on a motorbike, about sixty years old, sensed our frustration and came over to the side of the road where we had packed.
“Sondu Miriu Dam iko wapi?” I asked him.
“Apenji. Miriu River or Miriu Dam?” He asked.
“Dam.” I said.
“Eeeiiiiiii!” He exclaimed.
From his reaction, we knew we were in deep trouble. It was as if we were looking for Fort Jesus in Wajir!
“Sondu Dam ni mabor kabisa.” He said.
I figured it meant something like the Dam was far, thanks to the Luo classes I have been taking for the past few months from my friend Malachi. Who ever thought they would come in handy!
“River ni piny kocha.” He said while pointing down a dusty road. This was level three stuff but from his gesture, I could tell he meant that the river was down the road.
“Erokamano.” I said to him as he zoomed off.
We took a leap of faith and drove on the dusty road for about eight minutes and finally ended up at this vast mass of mucky water. It was quiet and still, except for the fading chatter of some kids swimming in the distant. If this was Murang’a, Kamau would have definitely erected a waterfront resort.
Half an hour later, we were back on the road to Kisumu, but not before getting lost again and only realising the same after spotting this sign on the side of the road that read “Kendu Bay, 23km”. At 2:00 pm, we were seated on an elevated shed by the sea at Lwang’ni Beach having fried fish and Ugali. The fish was so fresh and one would not be delusional to imagine that it was still breathing. If that was not Lake to Fork, I don’t know what is! It came on a Silver tray with a bed of fried crunchy kales and tomatoes.
The next mission was to catch the sunset. First, we drove to Nyanza Club. Right from the gate, the place was spilling with cars and humans. As we walked towards the pool side, some rules were scribbled on a board with no 6. reading “NO NUDE SWIMMING OR SUN BATHING” in red and bold. We turned back, not because we wanted to hang around like we would in the garden of Eden, but because the ambience was uninspiring. We drove to Yatch Club which was about five minutes down the road. It was a private club with this lush lawn and bandas with a clear view of the lake. They needed us to pay a surcharge of Ksh 500 per adult as we were non-members. We were four adults and a quick math meant patting with Ksh 2,000. With most of us having a mix of Kikuyu and Indian blood, there was no way we were going to pay that much (over and above what we would spend on drinks) to watch the sunset. Not even if Yatch Club was the sun’s only resting place. We snapped a few pictures and left.
A quick search on Trip Advisor led us to Kiboko Bay Resort, another five minutes-drive through a narrow rough road that passed through a prosaic area with dilapidated structures. Just as we were beginning to think that we were lost, the road opened up to the resort’s gate. I prayed that the place offered uninterrupted views like it was shown on their website. It was 6:00pm and the sun would be setting in a few minutes. There was a floating restaurant which would have made for the perfect comfortable spot but it was full to the brim. Next to it was a jetty that stretched into the sea. On the right side was an expansive lawn filled with people seated on plastic seats with their drinks and meals resting on plastic tables. We grabbed a few seats and lined them right next to the sea where the rest sat facing the sea. Xia trotted around excitedly. Xena and I walked to the jetty and sat with our legs dangling from the edge.
We watched the sun which was this orange ball of fire go down swiftly, finally taking a dip in the lake at exactly 6:45pm. It was a sight to behold. I wondered why a few months ago I paid so much to go watch the famous sunset at the crowded Oia village in Greece when Kisumu offered an even better spectacle for free. I also wondered why some people who hail from Nyanza would flood the coastal region over Christmas yet their home ground had so much to offer.