Meru, the real Mountain viewSeptember 10, 2010
A serene view of the golden sun rays over the snow capped peak of Mount Kenya best describes the scene that first met my eye when I opened my hotel window yesterday morning. This is Meru, town, one of the highest cities, ahem, towns in Kenya. I have been spending quite some time in the area over the last year owing to exotic business escapades. I have got to grasp the place like my palm. I thought it’d be nice to promote some local tourism.
Meru sits at the base, more or less, of Kenya’s highest peak. Needless to say, it gets as cold as hell. It reminded me of the days when some of us had to be taken to the river in the ungodly hours of the AM in readiness for the cut. If they do this in Meru, you are guaranteed to have anesthesia until your are fully cured. So cold. The scenery is beautiful. Lotsa green.
The town is simple in it’s structure. At least on the outset. But spend some time and you start getting the feeling that there’s quite some bit of cash flowing around. You just need to walk into a cafe – lotsa them around – and look at the menu. A simple satisfactory meal goes for 250 bob. Isn’t Meru the bread basket of the country or something? Fries go for a burgained KES100 a plate, while you watch the potatoes grow outside your window.
But they can afford it. And they can afford a lot of other things. Hotels cost between 1000 and 2500 a night. Pretty high by Kenyan standards. Yet even on Monday they are always fully booked. Either lotsa outsiders visit the place (for business) or a lot of people are having mipangos. They have internet – YAAY! – mostly powered by Safaricom (for the corporates).
Meru, unlike Embu, has tonnes of places to have fun. If not Simba wells, you have Nakumatt Meru, Sports club, 3 steers, Meru Safari, County and a host of Nairobi West setups in the Makutano area. You then have the likes of Meru National park to visit and Kathita river in skinny dip in. The KEMU and UoN crowds make the area come alive, especially over the weekends.
Meru gives you a sense of generosity. I once ordered for a mandazi. What was placed before me looked something very close to a deep fried chapati. There’s a culture of urgency, with the town alive as early as 6 AM. I also got the chance to visit one of their main landmarks, the local Catholic church. It is richly built, with a Gothic structure and an air of stillness. I remember hearing some Gregorian chants as soon as I walked in.
I dunno what you’ve heard of Merus, but it is not true they walk around with Pangas and Jembes. They are very hospitable, with especially my hosts in my visits being very kind. So friendly in fact, the guy who sat next to me in the mat got all huggy once her started dozing. But Merus generally are as aggresive as it can get. Real go-getters.
Wusululululu! I have one word to describe them: Tigresses sublimity (I shall exercise expressional temperance). They seem to be well trained on how to take goooood care of their men. Be warned though, they tend to get what they want, with or without your consent. Trust me, I know.
Well, there may be a few issues with communication. Some guy once found me seated on a bench and told me, ‘Niendaendee kidogo tu nikae’. But well, you adopt.
All in all, Meru is one place you would love being in.