From Kalokol to Eliye

On the beach at Kalokol, the sky is pregnant with a sense of foreboding. The breeze is becoming cooler. The mountains appear crafted from he dusty horizon. There are only fisherman and birds here.

We drive back through the town. The only buildings not made of tin sheeting are the churches and mobile phone masts.

The drive today is spectacular. All my anger has dissipated. Do I get angry with others when really I am cross because I feel I cannot express my wishes and needs? Ekai can be forgiven a bit of quietness. He’s delightful. He stops whenever I want and he puts up with all my wishes. He’s used to driving NGO staff rather than tourists.

Is there also a sense of homecoming today? Of overness? The teleology I talked about the other day at play again? The beauty of seeing everything that is good about something once it is drawing to a close? The fickleness of human nature?

If I wanted my ‘Constant Gardener’ moment, then Eliye is it.

Let’s put the politics of the film aside for a moment: I remember having misgivings when I saw it, though it is too long ago to remember what they were. I also know that many Kenyans I have spoken to in the last few days do not like the film.

I instead focus on its cinematography. Again, I remember little other than a few vivid scenes. In one such scene, a man (if I remember, deeply upset by events) drives across a scorched and barren landscape before sitting lonely on a stone beach aside Lake Turkana. He is an insignificant figure, powerlessly small when surrounded by the vast lake and rocky expanse. Even more powerless against time, as the sun sets around him.

For some reason, I’ve always loved bleak, barren, or empty landscapes. I blame my mum: every school holiday from being five or six years old my younger sister and I found ourselves in the Lake District, usually in hail, rain or wind, walking welly-deep in mud. To this day, my father and sister largely avoid the outside, but my mum and I have always loved it. In my case, the thicker the fog or mud, or the harder the hailstone or wind, the better.

Anyhow, I’ve not been completely honest. I’m on holiday, after all, and it’s January. At Eliye Springs the sun causes the waves on the sapphire-coloured lake water to sparkle (locally they call it the Jade Sea), and the sandy beach, fringed by large green palm trees, is anything but bleak. As I sit and read in the resort’s bar, I see the saltwater waves and the lake’s islands on the horizon. I cannot see it’s other side. It is unlike any lake I know. One of the hotel’s goats sneezes behind me, and couple of chickens wander past. I am the only guest: there are more goat and chicken steps than human ones tonight.

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