I recall when we were younger my parents’ version of a vacation during the December Holidays would be to ship us away to Nyeri, Karatina in a village called Mugii. We were meant to live with our grandparents and cousins for the whole month. I honestly dreaded those trips, simply because it meant not seeing my estate friends and having no electricity for a full month. Nonetheless, once our cousins started trooping in none of the later mattered anymore. We eventually became assimilated to the village way of life.
We would wake up early, at sunrise, to catch the view of Mt. Kenya in the far distance with its snowy peak. The sky being very clear at this hour presented a perfect view of Mt. Kenya. We would stare at the mountain relentlessly until it got completely covered by clouds. The vast hills adorned with tea vegetation were and still is an unmistaken sight to behold and like clockwork, the courier train heading to Nairobi would snake along the same hills roughly at the same hour. My grandparents’ farm, in my opinion, is the untapped and ideal countryside get away.
Our days would be characterized by running around the farm barefoot, playing games and rolling around the grass being completely oblivious of the presence of safari ants. I recall this one time my younger brother was rolling around a patch of grass unbeknown to him of an army of safari ants that had started to form. The ants latched on his clothes and started biting him. He ran to the house screaming and had to strip all his clothes! That was extremely hilarious.
Once in a while, we would attempt to help the grownups harvest coffee beans. The said grownups would pack the beans after sorting them in a sack and load them onto a cart. We would then embark on an hour-long trek to the coffee factory. Other times, my late grandfather would take us with him whenever he went to graze the cows. That old man was a wealth of knowledge. He would give us stories of when he was a boy, how he grew up, the history of our people and his experience during the Mau Mau.
Darkness would soon descend and a majority of us would gather outside my grandmother’s wooden kitchen caught up in endless banter. Some of the boys and girls occupied themselves by chasing after fireflies and watching them glow in their tiny hands. My favorite part was staring at the many stars in the sky they were never that many in the city.
We cared very little about television; electricity was yet to be connected in the village thus people relied on either lanterns or solar lighting. This meant the TV (for those who owned one) would only come on in the evening and it was a reserve for the adults to catch up on the latest news. It, however, never seemed to bother us we were having fun either way, with or without TV.
After the holidays we would be brought back to Nairobi to prepare for school. We now had to put on our town kids hats until December.
In retrospect, those trips/vacations gave us an amazing childhood and joyful memories that most of us will have forever. Not only was it fun but educational as well. We learned from an early age that milk came from cows, food originated from the garden and not from the supermarket 🙂 . Practical lessons for growing children curious about their environment. I’m certain for a majority of you, your experiences of the December holidays were more or less similar to mine.
In comparison to the local modern traveler, going to the village is most often than not a shunned upon idea. Which begs the question why? Should we do something about it? I attempt to answer these two questions in my next post, see you soon.