Whenever Thika is mentioned, an industrial town bordering a vast pineapple plantation is what crosses the minds of many people. However, it would be rather an unfair imbalance to speak of Thika and fail to mention river Chania, because there would be no life in that banter whatsoever. Or so I think.
I got a call from one of my buddies to go for a team building retreat at Fourteen Falls Lodge near Chania River in Thika. I silently prayed and hoped it would be sunny before and during the material day. It was raining heavily around that time.
On the specific day, I left home at 7am and headed towards Munyu Road in Nairobi’s downtown where I boarded a matatu to Thika. While visiting Thika by public means, I always have two options for matatus; the populous Kenya Mpya buses or the fast Manchester Sacco shuttles.
Every time I choose Kenya Mpya, I must find something new to complain about. On my previous journey, I found myself sandwiched between two fatsos, whose armpits were really smelly. It was my worst experience ever.
On Kenya Mpya buses, you get passengers of every kind. If you miss a mama mboga coming from Wakulima Market with a sackful of vegetables, you won’t miss a broke lass or lad from JKUAT going back to school from a visit to Uhuru Park. Interesting!
Upon arrival at Thika, I joined my group of friends and we headed for Fourteen Falls Lodge. It was about 11am. At the lodge, our main objective was to have team building activities. After paying the required fee to the cashier, we were directed to the picnic section, located by the banks of Chania River.
As we got down to the river, we found signs and posts cautioning visitors against the presence of crocodiles and hippos.
This sent a cold chill down my spine, as I couldn’t imagine a croc paying us a courtesy call.
A heavy flooding had occurred that made most parts of the ground horribly wet and muddy. We waded through the muddy grounds as we looked for a dryer open area.
A young croc dashed out of a bush and crawled into the river. It was exciting to see a terrified baby crocodile in its natural habitat. Before I could take a snap, the juvenile croc disappeared in the water.
The next escapade involved walking on a suspended foot trail. To walk on the trail, you first have to climb a tree. Two strong cables supported the trail with mounted pieces of wood as the ground.
I neither wanted to be the first nor the last. The thought of a crocodile attack haunted me from time to time. On the trail, I freaked by the thought of the cables snapping. Finally, we made it to an open ground. That was to be our picnic site.
We sat to form a circle and the team leader read the Riot Act to us. Divided in two different groups of men and women, the climax of the team building activity was to prepare an omelet. Each team was provided with the ingredients and allocated 30 minutes.
Time and taste would determine the winner. The instructor hid the ingredients (two tomatoes, one green pepper, one onion and four eggs) in different locations. We were handed three matchsticks for each group and five tablespoons of cooking oil.
After instructions were given out, women assembled in a group to strategise, while men sprout helter-skelter in different directions to look for the hidden ingredients. After about three minutes, men had all the required items, and a surplus of one egg.
The excess egg meant that the women team would not have enough, hence a lower chance of winning. After three minutes of a heated argument, our group finally settled to make the fire.
We then sliced the tomatoes, onion and pepper and decided to fry them altogether. The thought of a crocodile attacking and stealing our omelet sent me into a celestial throne; it was a funny and a stupid joke.
“Two minutes!” announced the instructor. On checking, the top of our omelet looked like freshly beaten eggs. We had to do something. A member suggested that we cover it with a lid and add some coals on the lid to harden the top. And alas, the hack worked!
We then presented the ‘project’ to the judge and we were sure our omelet had won the contest going by the look the judge gave us. Unfortunately, we lost to the better cooks!