How I ‘kissed’ a giraffe in Kenya [Article]

Delight Apartment,

Diani Rd, Kilimani,

Nairobi, Kenya

Hey Jacky,

You know I didn’t really read the small note in that beautiful gift bag until later? Well, it’s stuck in the bag and that is where it will forever remain. Interestingly, anytime I pick those beautiful words to read, I find something new.

From my reading today, I noticed you addressed me as “Eugenia, my Abena”… ;-).  That’s so cool Jacky. You are one of a kind. I love you girl. And I miss you really bad. You are the reason I never regret my Kenya trip, even though it happened at a period I was broke. Just broke. (Not so broke like Betty will want the world to believe).

Anytime I miss you girl, all I do is to reminisce our times together; as I’m doing now on all our time in Kenya. The only difference today is I’m gonna pour out my heart to you.

The Good

The All-Day-Walk in Stone Town…

Mine! Would you believe this was my all time best moment on our 10-day trip? Forget the fact that it was after a 16 hour bus ride to Dar-Es-Salaam, plus, another 2 hour ferry ride to Zanzibar. There was something fun about the walk in Stone Town. Never mind that we were tired. The market tour, the movie hours, the beautiful Zanzibar art works and the never ending Hakuna Matata brands, wow! Then the food at Lukmans Restaurant; if there was ever a moment I was so full I couldn’t even lift a finger, this was it. But I needed that much food for the long walk on stones. To think there was still plenty to eat later at the night food market…

You know, a friend asked if I had met the beautiful Zanzibar women and guess whose images flooded my mind….. our crazy Mapepe. She was the only woman who stood out. But if anyone asked me today if I saw the beautiful women of Zanzibar, I would without hesitation, say yes. The men too were, you know; God bless the Kind heart of Abdul; our host and tour guide. I still don’t know how and why he dedicated his whole day to following three crazy people around. Well, I can’t fault him; it was so obvious he’s such a nice person.

And then the glorious moment, the search for wifi and how that led us to the pub. You recall how we rejuvenated from the stress of the long walks? Oh mine how we lit up the whole place! We brought everyone to the dance floor when hitherto all they wanted to do was just to sit and sip.

Anyway, this takes me to my next beautiful moment…

When the sea went haywire

We couldn’t have visited Zanzibar without visiting their beaches. To be brutally honest, I have never been on a beach so beautiful, or shore so clean. It was also my first time seeing a low tide and to watch the sea actually “get missing”. Such amazement! It was great standing on the sea bed and watching the water whirl with such force and grace. Don’t mind the fact that the untimely rains and our failed snorkeling experience partly thwarted our beach plans. The moments with “Papa Maasai” made up for the lost moments huh? Hihihi

Habera Kibra and the Bone Factory

Maybe this should have topped my chart, but hey, you know I love fun more right? Now, let me congratulate you for the great job you are doing with the men at the bone factory. When you first told me about it, I thought it was another of Jacky’s work to pass off time in a maybe boring country. I loved that you didn’t state it on the itinerary until we were in Kenya and the fact that it was one of our first visits. These men will forever appreciate you for the change you brought to their little factory and all the light you’ve shone on their work (sure, that included dragging me there). Now I wear my bracelets with so much pride you can’t imagine. Each time I handed a little bone souvenir to anyone, you will certainly hear me proudly say, “I did that myself, and it’s made from a bone”.

But that isn’t all that you doing in Kenya’s biggest slum. I can’t walk through Kibera without recognizing your daily impartation on those smart student journalists. I felt goose bumps as I listened to their presentations and all of their questions. I’m sure we could have spent the whole day there without regrets.

Mama Oliech and her Ugali

Hey, don’t read this with a doubt. I loved uagli. Come on, you won’t want me telling the world that I didn’t enjoy the same meal Mr Zuckerberg had from that same famous Mama Oliech? The fish was the tastiest I have had my whole life (and here, I am not exaggerating) so if the ugali was a little too hard and the sauce not my usual “spicy and hot”, the taste of the fried tilapia was enough to make up for it. (And I hope that wasn’t a confirmation of the facebook perception of me liking food).

What did you say was the name of that Ethiopian meal again? I still laugh at the image of the tray full of assorted sauce and something that looks like aboloo. I enjoyed it! Gracias!

The sexy giraffes and stealer monkeys

Jacky, if there was anything new I learned about myself on my 10 day visit, it was that I wasn’t as daring and adventurous as I always believed myself to be. Uh! You saw that right? How was I to “kiss” a giraffe and pretend everything was gonna be ok? But you, the coolest tour guide and friend was around to soothe me.  I now show my photos to the world as though I freely took those shots. And yes, those unbelievable stealing monkeys at the park too. How my heart leaped into my mouth when that monkey started chasing me for the hidden popcorn in my pocket. Yes, I know you warned us about those snatchers, but how was I to know they would smell a park of popcorn stacked away in my pocket? Girl, I still get the shivers when I recall the photo moments. How I had to pretend I was ok though shaken to the marrow. It’s definitely another moment of self-discovered bravery, couldn’t have done it without you.

Your nice friends

Girl I can’t hark back to these holidays and not think about your beautiful friends. I am not surprised you have surrounded yourself with beautiful people for you are one hell of a beautiful soul. You gave up your bedroom so that we could be comfortable. And Jah bless the beautiful souls of your friends and housemates who embraced us and all our Ghanaianess (you know this right). You should know that the little time we spent with Kadija et al, stands out anytime thoughts of you and Kenya cross my mind. Keep being you girl, and drag all the beautiful ones to your corner.

The cute guys syndrome

And let me not forget all the cute guys we met on our way up and down. I know lots of them did not know what we thought about them, with our laughter and giggles. You remember the doctor from Dr Congo? And oh, your Diamond! We should have gone looking for him.

The ugly

Anyway, it was not all laughter and smiles for me. There were ugly scenes too Jacky. And Captain Jack Sparrow cannot go unmentioned. That man wanted to fleece yet another group of tourists of their dollars, only this time he failed to research who these new would-be victims were from. I am very glad we didn’t cower (well, who would have when there is Jacky and Betty around). Let me reserve the drama at the police station and our subsequent date with the Police Commander for another day.

 The most beautiful

And if there was anything I wanted to learn from you so bad, it was your bargaining skill; the right price for the right prize. I am sure you learned that from Ghana and here I am, having spent 30 years of my life in Ghana, jealously learning it from you. You won’t believe I still cannot do it like you do. I need some tutorials ma’am. Don’t worry; I will pay if I have to. Yes, I need it that bad.

You were a very welcoming host. I honestly will want to know if we annoyed you… even in the slightest way. Com’on, I know we did. But you never showed that, not even for a second. Do you ever get angry at all? Even when you were not too well, you still managed to make us happy. You made breakfast and did our laundry. What else could we have asked for, sweetheart?

I could go on and on. But in sum, I have learned how to be a good host (because I am going to invite Patricia to Ghana and pamper her like you did me). I can’t wait to have you also visit. I am looking forward to it.

But the bigger expectation here, Jacky, is our next vacation. Spain? Madagascar? Canada? It doesn’t matter where you are girl, I will surely find you next year and we will have another bout of a good time.

I love you.

Your sweet Abena

NB: Thank you from a very satisfied heart for that bag. If only you could see the big smile i wear anytime I use it. Now I understand why you kept saying all the bags I chose on our shopping sprees were not too nice. You already bought the nicest and secretly kept it for me. You are just lovely.

About the author: The author, Eugenia Tenkorang is a broadcast journalist at Citi FM in Accra. She wrote this piece after her visit to Kenya early this year. The article originally titled ‘To Jacky,’ was culled from her blog, abenawrites.blogspot.com.

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