Running in the Wild – Hell’s Gate
Named for the intense geothermal activity within its boundaries, the Hell’s Gate National Park is a remarkable quarter of the Great Rift Valley. Spectacular scenery including towering cliffs, water-gouged gorges, stark rock towers, scrub clad volcanoes and belching plumes of geothermal steam make it one of the most atmospheric parks in Africa.
Hell’s Gate is an ideal venue for a day trip from Nairobi where, in addition to the bio-diversity that includes raptor – birds of prey, the rocks soar upward as if they wish to challenge the sky and kiss the heavens. Visitors can enjoy mountain biking, rock climbing and a natural spa.
Once you arrive at the gate, you can already smell the tangy crispy air from the surrounding. You cannot resist smiling back at the sharp rocks formed through tectonic forces. The land is just so beautiful. Despite its name, I suspect this is God’s resting place while on mission in Africa. Or, perhaps there was once a great beast that lay down one day and never got up. The beast may have fallen into an enchanted sleep but its soul seem to still in there.
Kenya is really blessed with natural resources and wildlife. We need to endeavor to tour our country and appreciate it more. However, we have left foreigners to come explore and discover our land, full of milk and honey, and claim our heritage and prestige. This is our land and heritage. I was perplexed to read somewhere about some aliens who came and discovered Africa and yet our ancestor were born or evolved from here. This worries me a lot.
I recently realized that I had not toured Kenya well enough, starting from my village in LuPo. I thought to myself, ‘’one day, a stranger will come and discover my entire household and claim ownership!’’. I have therefore decided to do more outdoor fitness activities to explore, appreciate and embrace nature.
You can imagine running with the wildlife by your side and some even crisscrossing your way. I could see beautiful and elegant giraffes running graciously with their elongated neck and strong stretched legs. As they moved, I fell in love, smitten with their natural beauty. I could not get over how large their eyes were, like pools of chestnut gloss, ears like cuddly toys moving according to their mood. When one of them stuck out her tongue to take in some leaves, I could not help but smile at her. The giraffe was a salve for my weary eyes, a pure animal spirit alive under the African sun.
This reminded me of my late maternal grandma. She was a beautiful Kalenjin girl. In her ordinariness, she was tall, with a full and shapely African figure and meat well spread in the right places, proportionally on her body. She was simply stunning.
Am her true copy! Except for the short height that I got from Luoland…
Something radiated from within that rendered her irresistible. Men desired her and courted her friendship. One day few years before she passed on, I visited her with my ex-hubby for the first time, to seek her blessings. She told us how men would fight for her and one sad morning, one of them committed suicide since he could not handle rejection. So who was the lucky man? My grandpa, who won her heart. He was a relentless Pokot warrior who fought and carried the day fearless with his gun and sword! He was one of the freedom fighters in this country. He died a hero when I was about 5 years old.
My grandma loved her traditional brew before she got salvation. I remember growing up in the village living with her; she would drink daily in the evening after work. She was so strong and hardworking. She worked hard and swigged hard, appreciating her time, money and effort. She used to cure and sell tobacco ever since and was dedicated to her business until her last days on earth. She knew hard work pays and life was too short not to enjoy! She was a typical Kalenjin! Yes, Kalenjins in general love drinking as a source of happiness, appreciation of life and appeasing of ancestors.
So, when she came back home in the evening, she would wake up all the ancestors in all corners with her happiness, laughter and scolds. That is the time she would square things out with you if you crossed her path. However, she was not violent. She would just entertain everyone, yell and make her point clear.
She would not miss saying proudly that she was the sister of the former President, Moi, and I truly believed it until I came of age. I would brag to my fellow kids that President Moi at that time was my grandfather since he was my grandma’s sister. That is until I learned that they were not related at all but her claims were simply because she came from the Tugen sub-tribe in Baringo, just like Moi. This dampened my heart. I had believed that I was so close to power and prestige! Poor me! Nevertheless, who knows?
Next, came warthogs from the swine family. Warthogs are small but very dangerous. They pretend to be humble and harmless. They kept staring at us the local fit tourists. We kept our distance because we knew how pretentious they are. They reminded me of few friends I have encountered in my life. They come too fast into your life, you trust them too soon and within no time, you are left wondering what just happened…
My experience with friends and ex-friends has made me choose and value a small circle of friends who are a good match for me; I try to make a concerted effort to be a good friend to them. It has taken me years to realize exactly what I need in a friendship, how I want to relate to my friends, and how I want to feel when I am around them. I do not want to spent more effort trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
As I wind up swimming in the beautiful hot spa after the marathon, I sense that age and emotional maturity, have helped me learn that life is not a straight line and to appreciate life and to let go of things and people that I have no control over.
More so, being LuPo, has made me value my roots and diverse culture, take good care of my body, soul and mind.
To sum it up, I promised myself to be a better friend, a better mother, a better partner and a better “friend picker.” Oh, and a more consistent local tourist!