Three Old Men Loose In Naivasha

Peter was back. Now this was the Peter who featured in my very first Going Places twenty nine years ago in 1991. He was out here on holiday from the UK, and I took him for a picnic to Lake Magadi. I love that place – its wildness, its stark beauty. But when we got there Peter asked, ‘Why have you brought me here?’ As I said in that first article, I can never be sure that others will like what I like.

Anyway, Peter has been back on holiday, and he brought his friend Roger with him. I asked Peter what he would like to do. He said he was very interested in birds. I asked about Roger. ‘Oh, Roger will be fine,’ Peter said. ‘He loves talking about politics and, anyway, he will go with the flow.’

I thought I was on a winner. I chose another lake. I booked Camp Carnelly’s at Lake Naivasha, which must be one of the finest birding sites in the world. At Carnelly’s the best bandas are only Khs.8,000 a night – per banda and not per person. They have a view of the lake; they have comfortable beds and hot showers. And the food in the bar-restaurant is special – varied, imaginative and more sophisticated than you might expect from a place called a camp.

However, on the way there Peter told me that he had been reading that most unreliable guide, Trip Advisor, and someone had written that the bandas at Carnelly’s are over-rated and over-priced; the windows have no glass, and there are clouds of mosquitos. So I was relieved when we found that their allocated Banda 3 had glass windows. A fish eagle was calling from a tree by the lakeshore, and a sunbird was flitting from blossom to blossom near the banda’s veranda. Idyllic.

So when I met up with them at breakfast – a full English breakfast, by the way, and included in the room price – I expected smiley faces. But both looked down in the mouth.

‘Is there a problem?’ I asked.

‘Roger has lost his wallet. We think it must have been stolen,’ Peter said.

It was a sombre breakfast. Roger was wondering what time his wife would be getting up in the UK, so he could ask her to cancel all his credit cards. But then he said, ‘Just a minute!’ He felt in the left back pocket of his shorts and pulled out his wallet. He had suddenly remembered that before going to bed he had transferred the wallet from his trousers to his shorts and must have put it in the wrong pocket.

Later, when closing the back door of my Defender when arriving at the Fish Eagle Hotel to watch the England v Ireland rugby match, Peter slammed the door shut with my finger still in the way. I have never felt such pain. For the first time in my life the shock was so much I fainted and slowly slid to the ground – so they told me later.

Recovered, I sat at the bar with my two friends to watch the match. The barman couldn’t find the right channel. We hassled him for quite a while until I Googled to check the start time – only to discover that it wasn’t until the next day.

Otherwise, the day was fine. The sun stayed out. The morning boat ride with Robert, the excellent guide from Carnelly’s, was very successful. Peter saw plenty of birds. Roger went well with the flow. The lunch down the road at the Ranch House Bistro went down well too. And the whiskey I drank instead of eating dinner in order to dull the pain of my crushed finger ensured a night’s sleep.

If any of you have seen the British comedy Last of the Summer Wine…. the day for us three old men was just like that.

Published in Kenya’s Sunday Nation