Saturday, 29 August 2015

What's up, doc?

There comes a moment in long-haul travel, particularly if you are over six feet tall and it has been impossible for you to sleep on the plane, where it is dangerously easy to forget not only where you are, but also how long you have been travelling.

About halfway through a rickety bus journey from Nairobi to the remote village of Kajuki, along dusty, rutted, and red mud roads, I realised that there also comes a point where you begin to question where you left your sanity. Either that or you wonder if perhaps, against all the odds – crushed kneecaps, for example - you actually succeeded in falling asleep on the plane and have yet to wake up.

For me, that moment arose when, glancing through the grimy bus window, I watched – or thought I watched – as two human-sized rabbits fought each other in front of a skeletal hotel building. Doing a double take – how could I not? – I realised that my sleep-deprived brain was not playing tricks on me and that I had indeed watched this unlikely scene being played out.

Whether to advertise the hotel or just – you know – “because”, possibly on a whim, two grown men dressed from head to foot in furry rabbit costumes, upholstered model heads and all, were trading what I hoped were pretend blows by the side of the road. They appeared to be having fun, because even so completely disguised it was possible to see that they were laughing, as they parried slow hits and struggled to keep their heads from falling off.

The unlikeliness of such a situation took me some time to process, as the bus juddered and rolled its slow way along the road, swerving precariously to avoid donkey-pulled carts and straggling rows of goats, minded by lone children. Had the manager or owner of the hotel conceived this as some unusual marketing scheme? The irregularity of traffic on this road rather argued against it, unless the seemingly foolish optimism that had led to the construction of the hotel itself also extended to their skills at promotion. An alternative theory, that both men had, independently, come to the decision that morning to dress up as Bugs Bunnies, seemed equally improbable, but then I was new to the country, and had not slept properly for around forty hours.

Looking around at my fellow passengers, I was blearily surprised that nobody else seemed to have considered the sight remotely remarkable. Settling back into my seat, I resolved not to be thrown by this, and leaned my head against the pleasantly vibrating window, to watch the passing banana plantations give way to rice fields, until I drifted off to sleep.

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