The ladies ‘official photo’ taken on dinner night. In shorts is the Birthday boy Milan.
The gents ‘official photo’ taken on dinner night

If you are reading this it means we are already back from our Mombasa vacation safe and sound. What began has a noble and simple idea came to materialize, pass and can be classified as a tremendous success. (Many thanks to the two conceivers of the idea: Faith Wangari and Michele Robinson). Allow me to give you first hand insights on how it all went down.
 On Thursday 11th October 2018, a group of 15 friends (myself included) set out on a four day trip to South Coast. After a few weeks of planning, the day had finally come. Had I been writing a composition about this in my primary school days, I could have described it as “the much awaited day” or “the D-day”.  Sometimes I wonder why we loved such phrases so much for no reason.
So we leave the University of Nairobi School of law, Parklands quite early in the morning (we are aspiring lawyers by the way). As we make our way through inner roads of the area in a matatu, I am struck by how quick Parklands come to life in the morning. The streets are filling with people who seem to be heading for different places. There are people in hoods. They are probably murderers who have successfully completed their assignments. Or maybe they are just early birds who want to have a feel of how the worm tastes like. I see Indians heading for the temple. I know you all wonder how services are conducted in temples. I also wonder too at times. Along the roads, there are taxi drivers poising themselves strategically probably waiting to get their first customers of the day.
Apart from our matatu driver getting chased by the police for parking at a wrong place, we made it in time for the train to Syokimau, where we would be checking in for the morning SGR train that leaves for Mombasa at exactly 8.20 am.
Inside the train, as we head to Syokimau, I feel the vibrancy and the excitement about this trip. Who wouldn’t be excited? Who wouldn’t love a vacation with 15 of his best friends after two bloody long semesters? We are, however, fourteen in the train because one of us decided to use a flight to Mombasa. Jerry Mageto. Yes. Such people exist. They are the kinds that Uber instead of taking matatus. They prefer flights to trains. And yeah, you guessed it right, they get their clothes from Mr. Price unlike most of us who wear designs brought in town by the great Koja fashion warriors. 
So here we are the 14 of us. Me (Brandon). Ian Keganda. Esther Chihaavi. Michele Robinson. Rogers Andagalu. Milan Kiptum. Toby Laibon. Sarah Suzanne. Diane Seruya. Faith Cherop. Lucy Khanyili. Emma Mwangi. Saruni Murguyiah (If you are reading this Saruni, please know that I need help in pronouncing your surname). And of course Faith Wangari. Who can forget this stunning lady?As we head for Syokimau, I feel relieved that things are falling in place just as planned. Ian Keganda has started taking selfies at this point of course. I mean who else can think of selfies at 7 am in the morning. There is laughter. There is happiness. There are crosswords. Crosswords from People’s Daily newspaper.  And of course there is a novel: SILVER LININGS by Tessa Sullivan. Guess who it belongs to? You guess is as good as mine. By 7.30 am, so many selfies and pictures have been taken. Whatsapp statuses are awash with pictures of people smiling with tags like “Vacation loading”, “Mombasa here we come”, “Mombasa be good to us priss” and many others that I have since forgotten.
We reach Syokimau right in time for Mombasa train. I should take this chance to laud the thorough check up and scanning that has been mounted at the entrance of that place. If any of you people reading this is planning to carry a gun or a bomb to the train please don’t because you will be caught. They have dogs that can detect even the smell of that metallic part of your earphones when placed deep inside a suitcase packed with clothes. After the scans and checks, I go for the tickets. I have never felt more fatherly than I did in in this trip. (That feeling stuck within me for the better part of the journey. Me being fatherly to someone like Toby. Shouldn’t it be the other way round?)  I had the entire trip’s money by the way. For the first time in my life I felt unsafe. That’s what having more than eighty thousand Kenyan shillings in your pockets does to you. But collecting the money also came with some positives. Like I recently received a message from KCB M-Pesa informing me that my loan limit had shot up and that I could borrow as much as 20000/=. Very tempting I thought. They probably think that I have finally achieved financial stability. Anyways, I come back from the ticket machine and guess what I find. More selfies. Without me of course. (Hata sikufeel vibaya).
At exactly 8.20 am, we are all settled in the now famous SGR train heading for the Mombasa terminus. We are all sitting in the same area. Michele Robinson brought her Bluetooth speaker with her (People with Bluetooth speakers think they’ve made it in life). The whole train now gets to listen to her playlist. That’s just how insensitive millenials have become these days. There is Otile Brown somewhere in the playlist. And because this is Michele, we are forced to listen to Cardi B, Quavo, Travis, Young Thug and the likes. There are also cards and there is a board for this game called Monopoly (Poor game. Nobody played it for the whole trip). So people play cards. Not me though. I find a seat by the window next to Lucy and enjoy my trip in my own way; SILVER LININGS.  The music and the cards go on for the better part of the journey till most are tired. And then there comes ‘The Unawares Challenge’. I don’t know whose idea this was but I loved it. The pictures were categorically stunning.
Beside me, Lucy is listening to music. Probably Nyashinski. She loves Nyashinski. (As I write this, I wonder whether Nyashinski has any tattoos or piercings because for Lucy to love you if you are a man you must have tattoos or piercings). The train is now probably hundreds of kilometres from Nairobi. Its speed is 95km/hr as indicated on the screen in front of us. I look through the window and make some discoveries. How many of you knew that the railway line is fenced on both sides all the way to Mombasa? Don’t be shy if you didn’t. I didn’t know too.
We pass through places that are very dry. Places that have shrubs that look like small animals from a distant. We pass through places with scattered houses and places with houses that look uninhabited. We also pass through grasslands, beautiful sceneries like those we used to write about in compositions, places with sisal plantations and places with absolutely no sign of human life. At some point, I sleep. I even dream in the course of my slumber. I get this weird dream that the train has changed its course and is headed to China. The dream is about inanimate things gaining senses and seeking their owners. And I wonder what or who could have made the SGR train to even imagine that the Chinese are its owners. Maybe the train has also noticed the high number of Chinese staff at the various stations and gained some rough ideas. I wake up from this weird dream just as the train is almost reaching Beijing. When I wake up, I find that we are at the Mtito Andei station.
I wake up to the sight of kids running around the narrow pathway in the middle. My people, on the other hand, are snacking. Esther Chihaavi is passing around some snacks. It seemed that she carried crisps that could feed the whole fourteen of us throughout the whole journey. Lucy also offers me some crisps. There are biscuits from Michele. Such gentle and generous ladies they are. Who am I to decline food? If any of you readers are planning a vacation look for these ladies. You won’t fall short of snacks. I guarantee you.
Lucy and I have a small chit-chat about poems, music and the train before I drift back to sleep. I don’t remember the number of times I slept but at some point, after so many hours, I woke up and realized that we are very close to the Mombasa terminus. And then we reached our destination. It’s always a relief to reach a destination. It feels like a conquest. At the terminus, Simon Mutinda is waiting for us. He is our ‘Mombasa correspondent’. Alongside Saruni. The two direct us to  a matatu that takes us to Likoni. Likoni is where we have to take a ferry to the other side of the Coastal area. Another matatu is then supposed to take us to Diani at a cottage called Quivers where we would be spending the next few days.
On our way to Diani, I notice that my friends are quite tired. It seems they used up all their energy in the train to play cards and to sing. Later in the evening when we reach Quivers, the cottage, the energy and vibrancy resurfaced from nowhere. Lovers of water like Faith Cherop did not waste any time. They thrust themselves immediately into the pool. And before long half of us were in the pool. I, of course, couldn’t swim till later in the evening because some people had to go shopping and I was definitely one of them. 
Day one ended on a very high note. I woke up the next day to find breakfast ready. Delicious pancakes prepared by Milan and of course sausages, bread and tea prepared by Sarah Suzanne who was our mother superior. Day two was rainy and we spent it inside the pool. Just swimming from morning to late afternoon. It was so much fun. Playing with a ball in the pool was fun. (By the way Toby, the game is called Water Polo. I thought you should know). We raced in the pool. And because most of us didn’t want to drown and die in Diani, we left the deep end for Jerry, Esther, Milan and Toby. I strongly feel that the only reason Toby can navigate the deep end is because of his height. The others probably learnt swimming in the earlier primary school days at whatever ‘groups of schools’ they attended.
Then there was the dinner. As gentlemen, we prepared some of the meals, set the tables and waited for the ladies then ushered them to their seats. And they didn’t disappoint. They dressed up for it. They killed it. Then a cake was cut afterwards in celebration of Lucy and Milan’s Birthdays. Then we took photos. It was a beautiful evening. The best of a lifetime The day ended with most of us very exhausted. And I remember retiring to bed late. I slept soundly with no dreams.
Then came Saturday. The beach. Yes. The white sandy beach. Nothing could be more fun than playing the ball at the beach. We swam in the ocean. We ate some roasted fish whose name I don’t remember. And then I took a solo beach walk. I came to a place with whites and blacks swimming together. And I joined them. And I found myself easily blending. Then they invited me for a boat ride. Such generous people. ( Rabsha, Kimberly, Jon and Ray if you are reading this, please email me the pictures we took together). We ended Saturday with fun games, telling personal stories and asking one another personality questions concerning life, love, taste and school. I am still yet to find my guilty pleasure.
Even the sweetest and nicest of all vacations come to an end. Sunday came glaring at us with that cruel reality. Our time was up. But at least we still managed to have a group swim that morning for the last time before departing. The journey back to Nairobi wasn’t much interesting. Tomorrow was Monday anyway. Who could blame us? We ferried ourselves to the Modern Coast station from where we departed at exactly 10.30 pm.
  That, ladies and gentlemen, is a summary of our four-day vacation in South Coast. I know not if we will pull of another one like it but who knows. With these fifteen people, anything is possible. 

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