Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bougainvillea and Barbed Wire

We peddled up hill and began our straddling of Mount Kenya, an impressive volcano that juts into the sky. It was a relatively quick cycling day on proper roads, passing children en route to school and lorries passing in both directions. The vista was spectacular and, in an odd way, reminiscent of Canada. How can an equatorial landscape resemble the true north strong and free? There are forests, planted in rows. The air is cooler and fresher than the stifling heat of the desert. There are tidy farms. Potatoes are sold by the roadside.

As we descended into the resort-ish town of Nanyuki, we could see the affluence of this community. More schools, more businesses, more vehicles. Once ensconced at the Sportsman's Arms campsite, we strolled into town to explore. For road-weary cyclists deprived of some trivial amenities, the experience of a western-style café with decadent sugary treats is sublime. One such oasis of indulgence is Dormans. It may look plain but the menu made us salivate.

After satisfying our cravings, we returned to camp for rider meeting. A shock of rich flowers hung over the wall enclosing our lodgings. At the top of the wall, barbed wire sent a clear message to the passersby: trespassers will be prosecuted. It strikes me that this juxtaposition of beauty and insecurity reflects a sad truth: some natural splendour is nurtured and guarded by those who can afford to protect it. Often the service industry excludes the people who otherwise would enjoy the bounty within their own environment.

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