“I almost feel obligated to have a White Cap with our new friend,” Danny said as he guided his ’76 maroon Range Rover on the A104.
I had spent the week in Nakuru, visiting Kerra, an Aussie girl I met in Malawi. I was only going to spend the night but a jam session had me booked to play at Rafiki’s, a local bar in town, set for Wednesday.
Travelling with Megan, my host in Nairobi, and her friend, Victoria, we passed the Saturday with Kerra and her housemate, Zoe, taking us up to the Menengai Crater, the world’s second largest volcanic crater and a couple of caves before taking us out to a 30th birthday bash.
I can’t remember much of what happened but I’ve been told I passed out on the bar (as has been my latest habit, for some reason), fell off said bar to the floor (apparently spraining my thumb in the process) and was practically carried by Kerra back home.
The second night was pizza night provided by Andrew and Ali along with a crate of beer and a bottle of Jack with his mate, Jameson. It was here that I auditioned to play at Rafiki’s.
The next night was Amy’s going away party as she headed back to the UK. It started at Tiki’s bar in a shopping centre and was followed by an amazing dinner cooked in the Krooga style by Jit, a Sikh Indian. When Amy brought out the tequila bottle I knew that the night would end without survivors.
Especially as she poured it straight from the bottle into everyone’s mouth.
From the dinner we hit Club 64 where apparently dancing was had for about 3 hours before I again passed out and was carried home.
On Wednesday Kerra set me up to help plant 400 acacia trees for Earth Day and then that evening was my debut performance in Kenya.
It wasn’t my best. I had to use an electric guitar which I’ve only ever played once before (I prefer the acoustic). This one just wasn’t sounding right to me. I just didn’t have the connection with it.
When my brother bought me a guitar for my birthday a few years ago we had gone to a few guitar stores in the city. I played on every six-string that was within the budget. My go-to song to connect with an instrument is America’s, Ventura Highway.
At the last store I sat and played on a Cort acoustic pick-up. When I had finished I looked up to my brother.
“That’s the one,” he said.
I fumbled through three songs before giving it over to the band I was opening up for to rescue the night.
The next morning I hitched a ride with Farah, the woman who had taken me to help plant 400 acacia trees at a local farm for Earth Day (although to me, every day is an Earth day).
She was on her way to Naivasha, about an hour’s drive south. I was dropped off at the service station and had barely stood on the road for two minutes when I saw the maroon Range Rover shoot past. Behind it, a flatbed truck crawled along carrying an unidentifiable sports car in its tray. It pulled over and as I was explaining my penniless ways, something that sounded like a runover cat being strangled by a baboon beeped out. I looked through the driver’s window.
It was the maroon Range Rover coming back and the driver was signalling me to go with him. I thanked the truck driver for stopping and moseyed on over to the Rover.
“Where ya headed?” Danny asked in his American accent.
His partner, Queen, climbed into the backseat as I settled into the front. I told my travel story and within half an hour I was invited to spend a weekend at their Punda Milias camp just outside of Nakuru with a day at Lake Nakuru National Park.
“You wanna go to Masaai Mara?” Danny asked.
“Won’t say ‘no’,” I grinned as he mentally noted to call his guide.
We chatted for the whole drive, passing the Great Rift Valley before hitting Nairobi.
“You’ve got time, right?” Danny asked as we pulled into the TRM shopping mall. They were on their way to Uganda to do a gorilla trek. Danny needed to get some shoes for the trek, “And we’ll have a beer at the bar.”
I grinned. “Never say no to alcohol.”
We sat in Saape Lounge (or was it Saake?) which resembled a seedy airport lounge. I’ve never been to a bar inside a shopping mall. Two White Caps were ordered and a Snaap for Queen (some sort of fizzy, pre-mixed beverage).
Danny and I teamed up against Queen who was determined to make us think that we’ve been pronouncing ‘buffalo’ wrong.
“It’s boof-allo,” she said.
“Can’t be,” I countered.
She asked the barmaid to say buffalo.
“You see?” Queen basked in her glory.
“It’s buffalo,” I argued. “There’s no ‘O’ in the beginning to justify Boof-allo.”
I then turned on Danny about the way American’s pronounce zebra (they say ‘zee-bra’). “There’s a great bit by the South African comedian, Trevor Noah, who says, ‘You don’t have them so you can’t name them.’”
“Do you have boof-allo in Australia?” Queen asked.
“No, we have buffalo. In the north. Water buffalo, imported from Asia back in the late 19th century.”
“How do you say flour?” Danny asked me.
“Flour,” I shrugged.
“It’s called flo,” Queen ha-rumphed.
“Flo?” I raised an eyebrow. “How do you spell it?”
I blinked. “What, you just decided to let the U and R feel good about themselves by leaving them in but not using them?”
“It’s how it’s pronounced,” she said.
We turned once again to the barmaid. “Flo,” she said.
“You’re just killing the English language, aren’t you?” I tsked.
“You hungry?” Danny asked.
“I could eat.”
“Let’s get some nyama and ugali.” Meat. And ugali, the maize flour which is the staple diet of every African country I’ve been to so far.
“Two beers and a Snaap, please,” Danny ordered from Winnie, the pretty barmaid he tried to set me up with at Classics, a local eatery where he and Queen used to hangout at when they worked in the slums of Nairobi. A kilo of meat and another round of beers later we headed out to a bar called The Carwash.
“The owner is my best friend in Kenya,” Danny said, explaining how he had met Mwangi who had studied in Philadelphia, USA.
Beers were immediately ordered (and Snaap for Queen) while Mwangi was telling me about a Rally Safari.
“We drive rally cars through the safari tracks.”
I explained what I was doing and got myself invited to join the 60 cars that were partaking in the rally on the first Saturday of May.
“You right to crash at Mwangi’s tonight?” Danny asked me as his and Queen’s taxi arrived to take them to the airport.
“Not a problem,” I grinned as another beer was placed before me. We hugged and exchanged contact details.
“This has been the greatest hitch I’ve ever hitched,” I was beaming as Danny and Queen headed out, leaving me with a great line:
“Tomorrow is the greatest day in the world.”
And it is, every time.