Adventure in Mount Suswa Conservancy
Mount Suswa is a remarkable double crater volcano with a shield-shaped cone that sits at the heart of the Kenyan Rift Valley, about 120km from Nairobi city, and soars to an altitude of 2,356m above sea level at its summit. At its center, steep cliffs plunge more than 500 meters into a ring shaped miniature Rift Valley. The inner crater comprises of a unique circular moat that encloses the lava plateau two miles across. It is covered with wild tangled shrubs with some parts still smoldering as a result of the underground volcanic activity. The smoke can be seen drifting slowly into the atmosphere, creating something akin to a miniature lost world. The Maasai consider this part of the crater sacred, with no hunting or grazing allowed.
Mt. Suswa is virtually untouched by the outside world. With a unique 12km double crater system, this volcano is one of the most spectacular mountains of the Rift Valley. The exterior though unimpressive, belies the spectacular views you encounter up close (Magical Kenya).
My birthday was earlier this week, so I decided to gift myself a trip to Mt. Suswa with some friends and colleagues last weekend. I love nature; it is so serene and stunning. This was a unique way to gift myself and pay homage to my LuPo ancestors while looking for my umbilical cord. We set off for a night out to our destination for camping and hiking. We brace the cold and wet weather. For hikers, being rained on, being stuck in the mad and spending hours in the wilderness is part of the adventure. As a hiker, you beat the odds and move towards where people are running from.
One of the convoy vehicles is a 29 years old baby car or Panda. This small green colored antique car is fascinating and can be spotted from miles away. It has refused to die and still plies miles and miles of road. No policemen at the roadblocks on the Nairobi-Naivasha highway could resist the urge to stop it. But the owners are used to that by now and actually get concerned when they are not stopped by the police.
The journey is not smooth, Panda keeps complaining and stopping and the chauffeur has to do some magic at the bonnet for it to comply and move on. Finally, we arrive at the camping site, at six in the evening. The calm chilly breeze at the brim of the crater welcomes us. What an amazing site! The place is full of serenity and fresh crispy air. You can hear the voice of the ancestors merry making from a far. I take it they were happy to see us. They loved us and we loved them back!
We set up our tents and fire to warm up and enjoy the sundowner. In the meantime, pre-cooked dinner is ready. We eat round the bonfire as we chitchat. It is a nice meal and we water it down with some bitter herbs.
Then I remember growing up in the village three decades ago. In the evening, we would gather in our grandmothers grass thatched kitchen (both in Luo and Pokot land) and sit around the fireplace as we watched them cook and helped where we could. They would tell us African fairytales and teach us survival tactics for all sorts of tough situations. The part I loved most was when they would give us ‘girl talks’ and we would feel shy.….Not knowing they were preparing us for the future, to be responsible and independent women in the society.
I grew up with my both grandparents in the village. They were loving, religious and very strict. The values they instilled in me have made me who I am today and am so proud of them. May their souls rest in glory till we meet again. Tutaonana baadaye…..
In African society, grandparents held positions of authority and acted as a second line of parenting. They were involved in discipline issues, provided guidance and some provided financial support. Children raised by grandparents are more likely to experience challenges like emotional and behavioral problems. However, they have numerous strengths as well. Most of us are more resilient, disciplined, responsible and more focused in life. But do I say…..
I treasure those teachings.
Fond memories they are…am a typical village girl.
It is ten in the night and we are all tired and sleepy. We get into our tents, into the sleeping bags and slumber. The world outside is so quiet and windy. You can hear only the cries of crickets and hungry hyenas! Perhaps cheaters or leopards. We are a bit petrified but there is a Maasai with a rungu outside, guarding us. Not with a gun….. The strength of a Maasai lies on his rungu. He says he has killed about three or four lions. That is how strong and brave he is. Therefore, we know we are well protected with his magic rungu.
It starts to rain. I can hear every drop beating the tent. It is so heavy, windy, and scary. Am thinking the ancestors may be so hungry at us because of destroying nature and might throw us into the crater. I take time to sleep. Am thinking about my brood back at home. They told me to be careful and make sure I am not eaten by a lion. But what if am eaten anyway?
I take time to sleep. Do you remember Alice in Wonderland? Here I am. In real wonderland thinking through my roller coaster life and thanking God for bringing me this far.
I can’t tell what time I slept. By six am the following day, am up and we see the Maasai at the fireplace where we left him last night. Am happy that atleast I was not eaten by the wild animals out in the bundus. We freshen up french style and start preparing breakfast. We dismantle our tents and pack everything back into the car.
By eight am, was set off to the mountain with our guide in front. It is so bushy, rocky and muddy. We are so excited. We trek half of the crater for about 4 hours. You need 8 hours to go round the loop. Since we had not planned for this, we promise our ancestors that next time, we are going to have a longer date with them. This is just a path-finding mission as we get acquainted with it.
We climb down, have some light snacks and set off for the caves. Halfway to the caves, panda complains again and we decide to respect it and head back to the city and avoid the rains, lest Panda decides this is the end of its life, in the wilderness. On the way back, crossing the seasonal rivers and potholes is not easy. At some point, Panda gets stuck and we push it. We keep crossing our fingers as we watch it maneuver through the rough muddy terrain and applaud when it makes its way through. This Panda has lived 101 lives and is very resilient. Despite the fact that it is in its sunset or prime years, nothing is going to stop it from conquering the world.
Alas, we reach the main road and unfortunately, Panda needs some rest. We try our best to wake it up and complete our journey back to the city but the body is too weak to go on… although we can tell the spirit is willing. A recovery truck comes for it. However, I will not be surprised to see it back on the road a few days from now…the police will not miss it either.
Through the panda, I learn my vital lessons. Don’t ever give up. Keep pressing on to the crossing line of life.
And remember this…..
- Live your life to the fullest, there is no rehearsal. This is it.
- Life is never that serious. Break the rules sometimes, embrace setbacks and learn from them. Learning through the mistakes or the hard way is the best teacher.
- Choose your battles carefully, sometimes just accept the punches of life, and move on.
- As you grow older, you lose many friends along the way. The serious ones who genuinely care about you will stick with you and they are very few.
- With every opportunity that life hands you, give it your best. It will come back to you in many folds positively.
- Give a little to the less fortunate. This is planting seeds of blessings and the left hand should not see what the right hand is giving.
- Never judge, you can’t fit in those shoes…..
- Always say the magic words……
- Forgive others always, you don’t have to forget though…..don’t carry unnecessary burden.
- Don’t live with regrets, it won’t change what happened. Just play your cards right.
- Don’t forget God.
It is that time of the year again, yay, it’s has been my birthday week…
As I grow a year older, I want to enjoy my life. As Luopeans would put it, eat life with a big spoon within your means.
As a first born, life begins at third floor when all the family responsibilities have gone down. Therefore, this is my time to enjoy my life. How? Primarily by making sure that I live a healthy simple lifestyle so that I land at fourth flour with ease when I arrive there. I wish to live longer and see my great grandchildren someday. I want to live to be 1,000,000 years old. Yeah, I mean it, stop roling your eyes!
One day when God calls me back home, I want to leave back some cherished memories.
This is how I want to be remembered…
Alice lived her life to the fullest. She loved herself, loved the people around her. She was generous and impacted many lives. She was a jolly person, she smiled broadly even with flies…
Alice was a wonder lady.
To quote the fabulous Dr. Seuss: “I am what I am. That’s a great thing to be. If I say to myself, “Happy Birthday to me!” it means a great deal to me!
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