DAY ONE: TUESDAY 16TH APRIL 2013.
Mombasa Raha. This is the first thought that cross your mind immediately you start feeling the blistering heat. And it sort of helps you adapt to the hot environment quickly.
The crimson rays of the early morning sun softly caress the chilly blue top of the Indian ocean, the rather luxurious bus which brought me to this festive town hoots loudly as though in a self- congratulatory fête. We enter the city and ten minutes later, I am picking my luggage and welcoming myself somewhat cheerily to Mombasa.
I am here for three reasons. The first is a mission to make sense of this whole life equation. It is called the 25th dimension. Because this is my 25th year, my silver jubilee, I’ll eat life with the proverbial big spoon. For just a year, I’m putting away my rather conservative, prim and proper nature. And embarking on a random journey of self discovery; it started off with me giving up my corporate job in upper hill and taking up a teaching career in a secondary school in a forest in a remote part of the rift valley, Baringo. Follow your passion, they say.
Secondly, I am here for the drama festivals. During the first school term, I wrote a play for my students newly formed drama club. Late night rehearsals and sleepless nights earned us third position, a most original play certificate and the best male actor in the county.
Thirdly, I have been fruitlessly trying to read my Kwani? Literary journal. The majuu edition. It is about life abroad. Since pwani si Kenya (the coast is not part of the Kenyan country) I hope to get an abroad-ish feeling as I navigate the numerous pages of the voluminous book.
The streets are already filled up with people. Most having breakfast at open roadside eateries. Low lying tables with piles of mahamri, chapatti-mayai and other foods which I’d never seen before have happy clients feasting. Friendly laughter and stories accompany the dishes yet it being a weekday, I miss the rush and traffic jams that are a part of the Nairobi Morning Madness.
I am with my girl, M. she too is here for the festival. We check in to a little Bed and breakfast place in town. The caretaker, a young man of Somali origin, is friendly and gives me a room to freshen up. ‘I’ll get you another room in the evening ,’ he says.
My jeans outfit is absolutely inappropriate. The heat is searing. I wear a little white cotton dress that is blown away in the coastal breeze then off we go to find the venue and some breakfast.
We find ourselves in a little restaurant inside an orthodox church premise. Their viazi karai (irish potatoes dipped in wheat floor then dip fried )is amazing,. We are given a jar of water even before the breakfast. We stroll off to the Aga Khan High school, the venue for the high school competitions.