ahhh … more border towns. However, this is the real border town as oppose to the earlier mentioned Marsabit. This is one that is literally cut into half; Kenya’s Moyale and Ethiopia’s Moyale.
The tension in the air can be slice with a knife, as we pulled up to the centre of town – which is literally a ‘T’ junction with the most sigh posts and lined shops I had seen for days now. I managed a few shots on the sly – only to misplaced them alongside many others!
Being more Muslim (judging by the number of burqa worn and segregation of genders on separate sides of the road and two mosques within a 1 kilometre radius) I am uncertain if its personal bias, effects of satellite TV news, or the various tribal warnings and Turbi massacre that made my skin crawl and can’t help but feel wary about the town and its inhabitants. Let’s just say, never have I readily parted with USD5 for one lousy hot and dusty little of bottled water, than now, and even then, it was just acquired within 50 steps of the truck that had its engine running in case I needed to make a dash.
Suddenly, I was eager to get to the prison camp that was to be my “home” for the night.
Somehow, staring across the grounds and walking around with countless of raging hormones giving me fly kisses felt safer that being out there. Even with the arrival of news that the town was facing water shortages which translates to no shower for my 3mm dust coated body an clothes, and bloody stinky drop/ basic toilets, I was not compelled to make some well-water deal outside the barracks gates.
“Wet wipes would suffice“, I told myself and thank god I had the sense to buy a large sized Rexona deodorant in the last Nakumatt along my route.
See, you generally do not apply anything scented in Africa – unless you’ll like to be tramped over by an elephant or gorged by a lion … but somehow, my sixth sense nagged me into the largest and last Nakumatt outlet to grab the largest deodorant there is. And if the Heavenly Gods were not heavenly enough, it started to rain some 2 hours upon arriving in the prison camp. Having not washed my hair for 2 days now, with strands forming their own natural clique, I could not resist but dance in the rain in the middle of the open grounds.
The not so great news is, the rain was merely light showers that didn’t last long enough, transforming the dust in my hair to mud! I was immediately reminded of the Afghanhound I had as a child who loved digging a mud pit in my garden and soaking herself in it, only to ascend the stairs to lie on my mother’s bed! With that thought, I shrugged and resigned to the fact that if it was destined, I too shall be hitting the ‘bed’ with muddy hair. Alas, with carefully maneuvering of highly expensive bottled water over my head, I was half decent to head out to the prison camp’s canteen for dinner.
The prison camp’s canteen was anything but a prison camp and/or a canteen. And there was nothing Muslim about the joint at all. It was crawling with testosterone hormone enjoying large flat screen television sets screening English Premier League, while chomping away at nyama choma (grilled meat) that’s washed down by pints of Tusker beer served by the few well endowed women with luscious hair, pouty lips and I shall not elaborate further.
Once again, I was the center of attention*, and soon a source of entertainment as one of the beer girl openly displayed her attraction by touching me endlessly including caressing my face and running her fingers across my lips – all in full view my fellow travelers who were transfixed with shocked and to the envy of the local males in the bar/ pub/ prison camp canteen! Unsure if my reaction would cause a stir and potentially a fight – set against the background of Liverpool’s poor performance that evening – I sat still through my ordeal, until my British driver came to my rescue by reinforcing by way of physical affection that the beer girl was messing with his girl. That seemed to work as she backed off with a hiss! I shall not comment on the means.
Upon taking our leave, we were compelled to shake at least 20 drunk Kenyan men’s hands …
phew! what a night indeed. After all the “excitement” I slept like a baby under the cloudless sky filled with stars, dreaming of nothing, 200 metres away from the closest ‘cage’.
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* There’s something about being Chinese descendent that seems to excite Africans! with girls running their fingers through my hair and insisting that I photograph with them.
None of the photos are Penelope Haque’s – lost my CF cards!!!