All Hail Kisii


Thursday started pretty late for us. We were switching van and driver and they took a while to arrive at Kericho’s Tea Hotel. Once loaded up though, we began driving around looking for the first shot of the day. An earlier plan to scope out a monkey sanctuary the night receptionist had told us about fell through.

Apparently, some visitors had caused trouble at the site. Despite it having no cover charge, all hotel guests wishing to go there need a letter from the hotel. Ain’t nobody got time for dat. Kericho Arboretum turned out to be full of high schoolers shooting the breeze. Leaving the achingly beautiful tea farms behind, we sped towards Kisii.

The weather became strange. Temperatures kept fluctuating and we shifted uncomfortably in our seats. Luckily, we spotted a smoking kiln while driving through Sotik, Bomet and happily scrambled out to the van to check it out. Geoffrey Onyancha’s towering clay pyramid was the perfect spot to shoot.

When we spoke later I jokingly asked if his wife ever questioned his blood-shot eyes. He laughed, said that she knew it wasn’t from bangi. Geoffrey tells me he sells a single brick for between 8 and 10 shillings, bricks that take 3 months to produce. He’s educating his children off the payments so he’s constantly working. Geoffrey interrupted our chat to quickly call his workers when a empty lorry drove past us in a narrow pathway.

We drove on, eager to shore up our image stock. In Kisii, a massive quarry caught our attention. The moss-covered monolith had been hacked into a thing of rugged beauty—small caves, zinnias dug out of the brown walls; chunky blocks scattered across the ground, brown pools of water.

Tito the Tarzan - Photo by Cindy K
Tito the Tarzan – Photo by Cindy K

The light was quickly fading, the skies were ominously grey so we planned to return the next day. We didn’t go very far before the heavy clouds let loose. It rained and rained and rained until the water turned solid and hailstones battered the poor souls who hadn’t found refuge yet.

We took a thrashing too, in a sense, since Geoffrey’s shoot ended up being the only one we got in that day. We checked in with the rest of the Unexpected Kenya team and the rain disrupted their plans as well.

*wipes brow*

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