Our Next Stop, Tsavo



Tsavo We spend the night in Panalis Resort, Mwatate Town, Taita – Taveta County, south of Tsavo East National park.

It is a quaint resort with lots of facilities to enjoy — a tennis court, a hiking spot, outdoor pool, designated smoking area, rental bicycle services – among other services, but it is neither of this brilliant customer acquisition and retention service techniques that make me swear to never be unfaithful to Panalis, whenever in Taita – Taveta; it is their Wi-Fi — Strong and reliable. And the scenic view of mountains from its broad room windows.

I am more a reader than I am a dreamer and I have done both far too much to not feel exhausted and aches in the mind. I lay in the spongy bed, sleepless and imagining that if it was a few hours before dusk, I’d go biking, or hiking or compete other drinking visitors in their spree and eat their BBQ thereafter, or just sit, lazy in the restaurant (à la carte) lazing, admiring Amina’s derriere. That Mama, Wah! I think to myself.

However, the night is dead, silent, in the grizzling heat of the coastal Mwatate town, and nothing can be fun at this hour, I guess than to feel the warmth of a woman’s thighs, who I don’t have. I strip to the heat and swat mosquitoes with my shirt as I turn the TV on.

The next channel is as boring as the last then I bumped on M-net Movie zone and it’s playing a movie of a teddy bear. A mother-fucking teddy, talking, probably rated PG, and he has a name too, a name that befits his character. Paddington — fluent —resolute and lovable — spreading joy and marmalade where ever he goes. He stops at a shop, to get a book that I later learn is for his Aunt, Lucy, turning 100 years old, in days.

I can’t help but think of him as a joke.

A runaway wild ‘joke’ that probably (before I switched on to this channel), knocked out some old beggar around the pastel-colored homes by Mr. Brown’s house’ — street then stole his clothes and now roams, free, with that old brown hat (a cobbler’s hat) and the nose shorts and a blue snowy trench coat.

He is a well-thought character, in precision and execution and in my slumber, he makes me envious, of the family, he chooses to live with; actually, it is the family that takes him in. Watch Paddington 2 to get the whole story straight.

My point to sharing Paddington’s story, however, is his plight, when their home is destroyed years earlier. I know I love polar bears. I’d do anything to touch one, and feel it’s fur tickle my knuckles and bristle all hair in me… and to talk to her, and tell her to be a good girl back in the woods, as if it’s the end of summer and she has to go back to school and her teacher reported a possible use of drugs, to inflame her unending fury and I’m playing the cool guardian.

As a matter of fact, I have been to Alaska more than once, where she goes to school. The first time I set foot there was over winter, when the snow was white and furiously blowing, whizzing wild with the winds of the north, almost tearing our sledge a apart, a sledge sprauchled by wolf-like dogs — flurry — growling — in dislike and disapproval of their slog and of our presumed merry comfort.

Happens, this was just but a silly dream in a nap, on the toilet seat, when I was still a fat little kid.

My next visit happened a week ago, on NatGeo Wild. I sat in my cousins living room glued to the TV for a while long episode on survival series; jaguars eating crocodiles (Not in Alaska though) — throttling a grown ass crock and fishing it out of a wild flowing river, like it was a small tilapia on a young boy’s bait.

He tore her belly and ate her heart and drunk up the unborn content in her eggs. Uh! Jittery. Uh? Then there was the wild bear fighting its brother for lack of a fucking 2 CM thick snow on the sea to allow them ease of fishing. What they did was blame each other for the change of weather and fought.

The narrator too passed the blame on something else. Luckily, not any of the bears but on global warming. He said the species would be extinct if something wasn’t done contrary to what we are already doing, putting the polar regions at more risk of inexistence.

Then I thought, ‘when I grow up, I don’t want to go to an Alaska that doesn’t have snow or bears or a freaking blowing wind, piercing spine, my black wrinkled skin, with cold, grim and taciturn.

I don’t want to live in Alaska without being sure that I’ll catch pneumonia and die for not keeping warm always.’ “I want a Greenland that’s sarcastic of its name because white is that I ever want to know for it’s green.” I’ve howled, like a wolf in the twilight. I now remember the words, vividly, but I’m not sure if I also talked in my sleep (Had imaginary conversations).

I don’t want to be sure until I’m sure Paddington got his book and made it to Aunt Lucy’s birthday. But it’s too late. It’s hours since the next movie played and the next and now this — with old scenes like from ‘the good the bad and the ugly’.

I hear a tap knock on the door, it’s a second knock. I think I woke to the first, then a female voice asking,

“Sir, Are you OK?”

“Who’s asking, Why” I shout back reaching for the door.

“Room service,” she says,

“It’s just that I heard you scream from the other end. Are you ok?”

“Scream? Tell me about it,” I challenge. “I was asleep,” I say

“Sorry for interrupting your sleep then.” “No worries. I reply opening the door to ask, “Did I scream like… uuuuuiiiii… or it was timid, gentlemanly. I mean.”

She giggles and shyly says, “actually, it was more of a shout on something, Alaskan, Greenland, extinct, than a scream.

It didn’t make any sense considering…”

She stops, probably thinking she’s said a lot to beg the question of how long she’d been standing at my door. The whole night? Probably not. But my dream seemed to have been a night long thing.

“Breakfast is ready, in case you need it brought to your room, I’ll be glad to be of service.” The name tag on her lapel says, Rachael.

I brush her off. Later we (not me and Rachel or Amina) (Me and Benard) drive North to Tsavo East National park to meet other visitors and show them into the park. I’m on grey summer shorts, a white v-neck shirt and sunglasses draped on my forehead. Benard looks good too, today he is the guide like I am the storyteller. We pass through large sisal plantations, fact — they are amongst the largest in the world.

Heat is settling in by the minute — too much to melt my overnight frozen drinking water, in a few minutes. An hour later, we pass the privately owned Taita hills wildlife sanctuary. It lays adjacent to Tsavo West National park and the Lumo community sanctuary (a vital wildlife corridor between Tsavo East and West National parks).

When we get to Tsavo — life begins — literally. It is as much an archeological site as it is a game reserve — with good road systems, rhino reserves, the best rock climbing terrain, Springs and most importantly, animals. Natural habitat animals.

Talk of the Cape buffaloes, the African leopard, the Tanzanian cheetah, the east African lion, Thompson’s, gazelle all living in harmony except if hunger gets between them and the meat eaters have to feed. It should be relieving to later see elephants trudge on the scarce vegetation, towards river Tsavo, where we wait. And wait, but until we get radio signals from other guides spread all over the park, we can only dread the spectacle of a pride hunting scene while we hope not to get scorched by the heat or be devoured by the beasts of the East.