Kakamega (2)

In the back room, was a huge cavern of a room where we were promptly served up some cold Tuskers.  This had to be a secret, we were told, as Kenyan law prohibits drinking before 5 p.m.  Bizarre law-makers.After we had drunk our fill, we headed out to find a boda-boda to take us to the crying stone.  The only thing to see in Kakamega.  It is, surprisingly, a big stone.  In fairness, it does look uncannily like a person. It somehow fills with rain and occasionally overflows giving a “weeping” effect, and thus it is believed by the local Luya tribe that when the crying stone cries, it is a bad omen.

On arriving there, we were swiftly accosted by a group of “guides” and children, who marched us up to the tribe “elder” who demanded money for the wives, in return for a tour of the rock.  This would have been fine, had he not been completely drunk.  After a brief, somewhat unimaginative tour of the stone, more money was demanded, in return for the “security” Mr. Drunken Deadbeat had provided.  We handed over the dosh, and rushed back to our bike, keen to get to our secluded forest treehouse – the main attraction to our weekend in Kakamega.

Kakamega is the only place in Kenya that hosts a large tropical rainforest.  This rainforest used to cross Africa, and stretched from the Congo to Kenya, but now little of it remains.  The forest village communities have set up commendable conservation schemes, with ecological and forest schools for local children.  The conservation centre has a forest guest house, a couple of metres away from the edge of the rainforest, perched on stilts.  No electricity or hot water.  This is where we had ventured to.

We settled into our room, and headed straight out into the forest with Abraham, our guide.  He took us deep into the rain forest, reeling off information about trees and the medicinal qualities of plants.  We climbed up to the top of a look out point, and when right on top, it started to rain.  Reeeeeally rain.  Tom and I had, of course, left our rain coats in the tree house – it having been such lovely weather when we set off.  Rule number one of rain forest tourism:  the weather may turn on you in the matter of minutes.  A lesson I will not forget in a hurry.  We got soaked to the skin, and sank knee deep in mud.  Pretty much the state in which we then had to spend the whole weekend.

In the evening we headed over to the “canteen”.  A mud hut, where a lady cooks meals over a fire by prior order.  Chickens run around inside the hut.  No electricity.  So there we were, together with a lone American backpacker we had befriended – eating ugali, beef stew and kachumbari, and downing as many beers as possible, in the pitch black, smoke bathed hut.  We took our remaining beers back to the treehouse and spent an evening in blind, tipsy conversation.  We were asleep by 10.  The joys of no electricity.

The next morning we headed down to the canteen for breakfast, where Tom and I were served “an egg” – the only egg – to share.  And some sugar with tea in it. (Not a slip of the tongue).

We then had a tour of the butterfly breeding house, and headed out on our 14 km rainforest trek with Eunice, our suspiciously unfit and unprepared guide.  The forest was truly beautiful, and we climbed up onto a peak with the best view ever.  We also went to a bat cake, where I got completely spooked by the bats who kept flying into me.

At one point on our walk back to camp, our path was blocked by a rhino horned viper.  A fat old snake, who is particularly vicious apparently.  “Is it dead?”  Eunice asks, turning to me.  Not a great sign.  “I don’t know Eunice, you’re the guide.”  Tom and I exchanged amused looks.  Now Eunice, ever the practical gal, picks up a stick and throws it at the snake.  The snake does not like this, and rears up, hissing.  Tom and I looked at each other, and ran.  In fairness to Eunice, the snake did slope off.  However, I’m not convinced “throw a stick at it”, is the first piece of advice in the handbook on dealing with poisonous snakes.

After our walk, we hopped back on the boda-boda and sped back into Kakamega town, to the tranquil haven of our backstreet pub, where we consumed plentiful ugali and nyama choma.  And of course Tuskers.  We also purchased a little flask of Kenya Cane, a dangerous sugar cane concoction.

In fairness to the Kenya Cane though, it did get us through the whole bus journey back to Nairobi, where we arrived at 4.30 in the morning.  It was certainly the fastest 8 hour bus trip I’ve ever been on 🙂

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