Kisumu was never on my list of places to explore on my trip to Kenya. I did not even know that it existed, even after being in Nairobi for a few days. It is one of my best spontaneous jaunts ever. My side trip to Kisumu was birthed by my frustrations with Nairobi. Three days in and I knew I had had enough.
I wanted to see more of the country so I started googling smaller cities and towns. What I read of Kisumu had me taking a matatu from Karen down to the town centre and changing my bus reservation. This was a great decision and one that gave me a whole new and wonderful experience in Kenya. Lesson: check out other places in a country and do not form a blanket impression of it based on one place.
I took Easy Coach to get to Kisumu from Nairobi and I went on to Kampala using the same bus company. The service was good.
My time in Kisumu started off a bit rough. I had gone to book a place on Booking.com as soon as I decided to go there. When I got to the guesthouse I was told that my room had been given away but I could lodge in the host’s house. This did not come from the host so of course I was taken aback by this. I proceeded to use their internet to go back to Booking.com and find another place. I had taken the contact information of the tuk tuk driver who dropped me off so used Google Talk to call him and ask him to take me to the other place. This was a great decision. I was upgraded at the other hotel too. Follow your instincts.
Chilling by Lake Victoria in Kisumu
I like chilling and Lake Victoria in Kisumu was perfect for this. Enjoying well cooked fish while doing this was even better. The lake is a major resource for the town in many ways. Can you believe they use it as a car wash too – poor animals in that body of water.
I went down to the lake a few times in the time I spent in Kisumu. On one occasion I had a good chat with some fellows who hang out there. I felt like I was home in Jamaica. We sat under a big tree and ‘reasoned’ as we say in Jamaica.
Bob Marley was a major topic of conversation and again I marvel at how popular he is in the world even in death.
I was particularly interested in why some of them had blue eyes. Here were a number of dark skinned people with blue eyes. It was very fascinating. Their explanation was that something in the lake causes this after years working on the lake. I am not sure if there is any truth this. They all worked on the lake in different capacities so their explanation may have some weight.
I often wondered if I was still in Kenya. There was a very chill vibe here and though people were markedly poorer they seemed more content. They related well and I blended in well and felt at home.
One young man waxed greatly about my calves and their beauty in their culture. It is rather ironic because in high school a mean girl criticised me for this.
We often hear how dangerous Nairobi is and use it to paint the entire country. Yes, one should be careful but there are many areas that are peaceful.
Kisumu is so peaceful and the perfect place to unwind. I hope it never gets overrun with tourists but I know more jobs would be created from this.
I look back and think of how much I enjoyed my daily chats with the different receptionists at the hotel each day. You know when people are being genuine and not just doing their jobs. I also enjoyed going to the local market and picking out fresh fruits, which for me adds to the richness of my experience.
Kisumu is well worth a stopover to unwind, relax and rejuvenate. I am happy I gave into spontaneity and went there.