As the bright rays of the morning sun welcome you to the outskirts of Nakuru Town, Free Area is one of those semi-urban set ups with a site to behold. Set a few kilometers to Nakuru town from Nairobi, a row of churches and a few high block buildings mark this town. But the site that gets your attention is the expansive blue space that appears behind the few high blocks; a site visible from the bus station.
As a visitor, I was awed by this site and at the same time arrested my attention. I promised myself to hustle hard and decently and visit the great Lake Nakuru national park before I left the town. The site of the blue lake from the highway always invigorated an urge in me every morning as I passed the small town of Free Area and saw the blue uniqueness; as on the ground so above. An urge to go closer; touch the water, feel the breeze and if an opportunity presented itself; get into the water. This is the very adventure I wanted to get into.
A ridge in the ghetto
Days into months but I never got a chance until a day presented itself. In Unfortunate ways ranging from an experience with kanjo officers; a story for some other day and ending in a fortunate great hot afternoon on a ridge behind a ghetto watching the expanse of the wild animals’ natural habitat; living their best life. As far as the eyes can see, green vegetation, shrubs and tree scattered arbitrarily cover the expansive space beyond the vision of the naked eyes. Beyond that; the waters swallow the shrubs and trees and conquer the land to the end of vicinity. Looking at this from a ridge, nature smiles at you and reckons relief. A relief it enjoys because of an electric fence that restricts me from getting into the park. A fence that keeps a champ I met distraught. He wonders, ‘why they can’t let us build beyond this fence.’ ‘I need this for me to reset after a frustrating day and I think I am having a good time being here’ I had an answer ready.
The champ was a ghetto-raised son and a neighbor of the park since his mind started putting memories together. My answer resonated with his reasons for being at the ridge. “Nature is so free here. I came with the hope of seeing some buffaloes but they seem to be deeper inside.” I had to wait and see these animals. A few young warthogs were feeding a few paces from where we were. He threw a cabbage leaflet and they scattered; scared by the sudden disturbance. “They forget easily.” He reckoned. A few seconds later, they were a few paces from where I now sat alone beyond the fence watching the great mbuga.
A Wild Experience.
Resting below a tree was a huge black mass. I would not tell what the animal was; being relatively new to the wild life but as it stood on its legs, the broad long curved horns and a swig of the long tail left nothing for speculation. The buffalo he wanted to see was taking a rest a few meters from the ridge. On the east from the buffalo, a herd of gazelles; a speculation, was grazing in the open field. I speculated they were gazelles since reliance on a rookie sometimes poses a challenge when it comes to specify genres. In the far north from my big bull, a herd of zebras was taking cover under a tree from the scorching sun. From a naked eyes perspective, the sight was exquisite and attractive to the soul. A mix of the shrubs and bushes, the animals scattered like the trees and a long and wide stretch of the lake taking over inspires the spirit of adventure.
From the ridge where I was seated, the park occupies your vision and the only sight to the north is the upcoming skyscrapers beyond the forest in Nakuru town. Overhead are the big power lines and masts that cut through the park, across the lake and onwards; a sign of man’s previous activities across the park. As I observe the shrubs for signs of life, a continuous chain of dust taking to the sky signal another event inside the park that breaks my hawk keenness. A safari van in the distance is cutting through the park in the afternoon sun.
My imaginative mind throws me into the seat at the back left in the tour van, underneath the sunroof. To the left and right; surrounded. A close up look at the wild animals, the thrill of meeting nature in its form, cutting across the great lake and driving across the park. The imagination key was broken by the sudden break into reality. To get back to the market center of Free Area and catch a matatu ride to my crib, I had to cut across a ghetto where they recognized anyone new from a far and not a valley which I wished for. A wince of fear scared me but like the young warthogs, nature took my worries in. Under the heat of the sun, this experience was iron cast into my memory; an adventure that I wanted to pursue and an urge to tell of it in another canvas and travel in words to inspire the adventure spirit.