Kenya Journal #3

Posted on Jun 8, 2023 in International, Projects, Uncategorized | No Comments
Kenya Journal #3

Day 4

The early part of the day was full of breakfast, (coffee), then being now rested and at home, inevitably having to catch up with some admin. This happily included reviewing photos from our ‘Talking Drum Fest’, which happened immediately before we travelled here.  We’re looking forward to the edit Sohelia, our Iranian filmmaker friend, will no doubt turn into a mesmeric epic.

After a lunch of beans and chapattis (my beans taste better, which I shall soon demonstrate), we went to visit the nearby ‘Anselm’ glass factory. On the way we passed through townships, with bars, shops and motorcycles lining our route along ‘challenging’ dirt roads, bouncing up and down and side to side as if in a circus clown car.

On the way we passed an ‘advanced driving school’ where drivers are taught evasion techniques against thieves and kidnappers and the like. Of course, we couldn’t resist stopping to observe, and cheered along the ‘goodies’ as they swerved away from the ‘baddies’ on the course.  We continued along the track, stopping to stare in awe at a ‘Kikuyu Gothic’ McMansion and its palpable tastelessness.

Venturing further we started to see evidence of a sculpture park, leading up to the glassworks, with some frankly hideous and disturbing sculptures, some almost resembling animals, some completely baffling in what they might represent, but clearly someone’s ‘poem’ that they had spent considerable time constructing. Despite this, we couldn’t help but laugh, and at least this was better, I thought, than no reaction at all.

Reaching the glass factory, we were greeted at the entrance by three gentlemen, one possibly Maasai, but clearly made up in rather fake regalia, for tourists, possibly. We went inside, elbows tucked in and hands in pockets, for fear of breaking some of the expensive glass objets we were surrounded with and incurring an unnecessarily large bill. Kibe and Syowia selected the glassware they had intended to purchase but couldn’t help adding some further items to their shopping list. They’d told us previously that you should go into this shop and get the things you had already wanted and not look at anything further for fear of overspending – but broke their own rules.

As the glassworks were on a break, we had a walk around the place, spotting hyrax amongst the foliage, and reaching the ‘bridge’ that crosses the gorge that goes across close to Untethered Magic. I would not consider crossing this way myself, the bridge looked precarious and apparently sways a lot as you cross, which would do my vertigo no good at all.

We went to the café for ice cream, milkshakes, beer, and chats, where we heard of the very local politics and artistic jealousies. We observed a group of young people, obsessively taking selfies. I couldn’t believe how many, not having ever taken one, indeed generally avoiding being photographed though usually to no avail.  We had a talk about this aspirational aspect of young people’s lives lived online, and whether it brought fulfilment (we considered it unlikely) and whether the energy used might be more usefully employed elsewhere (we thought it likely).

We returned home and saw the same group of young people by the side of the road, Kibe invited them to jump onto the back of the pickup for a lift, which they did and where, you guessed it, they started taking selfies.

Later, after we got back to UM, we decided to have burgers for our tea. I jumped in, to volunteer and we soon had an assembly line prepared. They seemed to go down well, despite not being something I’ve ever previously cooked (our meals are mostly a bit healthier).

Day 5 (Saturday)

Today was shopping day, partly in prep for tomorrow’s barbecue where we would meet some artists and Syowia’s pops.

First stop was to stock up on several crates of beer for Sunday’s festivities, before heading to the market. As market afficionados we very much appreciated this one. Much like markets the world over, it was mostly run by women, ruling over their small patch of the hotch-potch of stalls, their wares bounded by ancient wooden troughs into which all manner of goods were stuffed. We bought fruit and veg, avocados, papayas, oranges, leeks, and potatoes (for the soup that Simora and Sandra had promised to cook later). Laden down with several heavy bags of mboga and matunda, we headed back to the pickup to drop them off.

Next, we zigged over to a small factory, where metal was formed into corrugated roofing sheets. Apparently, a neighbour had thrown a stone at an invading baboon, and it had missed, sailing over the fence to damage the roof, which now needed replacing. It was fun watching the metal coming off a roll and going through the machine, finally emerging as the finished, made to measure product.

We zagged back to pick up further supplies at a mall opposite the market. A very stark contrast to our previous shopping experience. Its air-conditioned interior could have been a supermarket pretty much anywhere, and it was also clear that the clientele were a little more well-to-do than the market’s denizens.  I know which environment makes me more comfortable.

Finally, we went into the back streets behind the market in search of meat. The gang’s usual vendor was absent, so we went to a new butcher to obtain what we needed. Kibe went in and got a goat leg and a full rack of ribs, which were tightly bound in newspaper and sat on my lap as, pretty much exhausted, we headed home.

As it turned out when we got back, the meat we had been sold was completely rotten, to the point of turning green and smelled so foul, even the dogs refused to eat it – I don’t think that butcher will be getting a return visit.

The rest of the evening was spent chatting as Sandra and Simora prepared delicious, roast garlic-infused leek and potato soup.

Logo saying Friction Goes on teal bomb-style splash background