The soil was as red as a can of paint. The sun was hot, the air was hot, the breezes were hot. Everything shied and shriveled under the sun, except the acacia trees. With their thorny branches and needles littered all over the floor, even my thick hiking shoes couldn’t protect me from getting pricked. They truly are nature’s defense. Once I stepped on one, I understood why people used them to protect themselves against lions and other wild animals.
It was the fall of my last year in college, and technically speaking I had no reason to be there because I already finished all my classes, but when the opportunity presented itself, I simply couldn’t resist. A post graduation trip if you will.
Even though the focus of this trip was to study archaeology, it was so much more. I will never forget the time we visited this place called Lothagam and I thought we landed on mars. This place was red, full of strange rocks, and when you stood on top of one of its peaks you felt like you can look on forever. It was miles and miles of red rocks.
Then there was the time we visited Lake Turkana, where we swam in the world’s largest alkaline lake and visited the strange island right in the middle of it called, Central Island. The water was a dark jade green and smooth like soap water. It felt like you were in a huge bubble bath. This place looked like it came straight out of Jurassic Park. The island in the middle was literally a volcano from millions of years ago that was covered up, and now we were standing on the tip top of it. The beach was full of black volcanic rocks and sand, and it was so hot, SO hot. You could not walk on it without flip flops. When we finished our hike we were so overheated that we jumped into the lake without even caring that there were crocodiles in it. Yikes!
The Turkana people were fascinating, but I’m not sure if we were more fascinated by them or if they were more fascinated by us. Everywhere I went little kids and adults would come up to touch my hair and my classmate’s hair. They would twirl it and try to braid it, confused by why the braids wouldn’t stay.
I remember very vividly their actions, their manners, and the way they spoke their language. I remember them staring right back at us curiously, amused that each of the members of our group looked so different. I remember their shiny, smooth dark- brown faces, their beaded necklaces, and their clothing.
I remember looking out from the edge of our campus and just seeing the land stretch for miles and miles till you couldn’t see anymore.
And when it rained (an unusual event), you can see the sky darken from the horizon and lightning splitting the sky.
I remember the muddy yet fertile river next to our school, and how cool it felt when we jumped into it after a long, hot, day.
I remember the locals running after our lori (truck) to return the coca-cola bottles they drank.
I remember our lori going up rocky roads, almost at a 90 degree angle, and thinking we were going to roll backwards or flip over anytime.
I remember sitting in the shades of our lori and palm trees having biscuits and chai tea.
I remember the dark night skies filled with so many bright stars that I could’ve sworn the sky was falling down. I always felt like I was dreaming.
I remember seeing the milky way for the first time in my life.
I remember seeing lightning split across the sky when it was about to rain.
I remember experiencing my first rain shower in the desert.
I remember seeing double rainbows for the first time.
I remember sleeping in the open sky under nothing but a mosquito net held up by a string tied up to two trucks.
I remember seeing the security guard in our school holding a rifle ready for any unwelcome intruders.
I remember trying to measure the flow of the river, the elevation of the hills, and trying to catch bees.
I remember the coolness of the night while sleeping on the veranda of our school.
I remember being woken up in the middle of the night by some strange bird hawking in the distant.