Chogoria dreams and memories. This little town came to some notoriety in the early 20th century as a mission village. A group of Scottish missionaries from the Presbyterian Church settled there, after agreement with the local clansmen and the Church and faith took a firm root in the society.
As children, we spent many a school holiday visiting our grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins there. Our grandfather, a dear gentle man, had passed away in the early 1960s. Family gatherings meant a long drive up winding dusty roads, along sheer cliffs that dropped dizzying heights into riverbeds, obscured by dense, lush green foliage below. Round the sharp bends, only one vehicle could go either direction at a time. My sister and I screamed every time a truck overloaded with sand came our way. Mum would tuck our heads down into her lap, soothing us as she told us stories of her own childhood.
Four to five hours later, we would arrive. Glad to find a firm footing once more. Our arrival eased by the view of forests, open tea farms and closer to Chogoria, coffee farms. Our grandmother always waiting, greeting us with her warm smile and hugs. Our mother’s voice always thick with emotion, as she greeted her. Grandma would always rush us to a warm basin, to wash our faces and another, to soak our feet. By the time we had washed up, some fried meat would be waiting. As soon as we finished that, there was hot cocoa, with a touch of tea and coffee too. We loved it. The mountain air that felt chilly on arrival, would feel warm and comfortable with our grandma’s treats. We would rush up to Mum and show off the large denominations our ‘Jojo’ handed our pocket-money for sweets and soda.
In those days, different parts of Kenya had different sweets, sodas and milk. No flavoured milk here – that was the preserve of Mombasa. Babito and Pepto were my absolute favourites – Pepsi products. Tangawizi – a gingery non-root beer soda was another. Mirinda in its typically long-necked bottles. Delicious memories. With a tons of sweets in our pockets and stuffed with soda, we would head out to the stream nearby. Our favourite spot was a green clearing, accessed by a footpath across the farm. We gathered tree seed pods naturally shaped like little canoes. Emptied of their seeds, we turned them upright, and loosed them in the water. The boat race had begun. Squeals and screams of delight filling the air and we often heard our parents laughter in the distance.
We would return to trenches of gentle fire and pots of different foods, gently simmering away. All their natural goodness in the delightful smells that filled the air. More laughter, chatter and banter. Once we had shared the evening meal, stories of our grandparents shared. Loving and joyful memories of the Chogoria connexions I love!