June 19th, Friday
I am waiting for breakfast and as I sit outside the hut on a car seat the utmost stillness reigns, broken only by the “poor father” wood doves and a few other bird notes. Our hut which is a little rest house of the D.C.’s (District Commissioner) consists of two tiny rooms, no window, and two openings for entrance. We thought at first to do without nets but the mosquitoes soon arrived so we fixed them up. Sometime during the night I was awakened by the sound of matches striking, and found it was poor Pink, mosquito hunting, a huge hole in his net having let one in. Yesterday on arrival we were met by the chief, we presented him with a blanket and he returned a little later and asked us if we required eggs, milk and chickens! Accordingly they arrived, the cock being released wanders about in a friendly way eating crumbs and coming into the hut and I feel a murderess. The night was warm and still, not so today, as I write this in the evening for a violent thunder and rain storm has just broken over us with the usual preceding hurricane. The forest was obliterated by thick clouds and heavy rain and one could scarce believe it was the same peaceful place in which we have been wandering all day. We went off at about 9.30 armed with lunch and wandered up and down all day getting some new stuff and several enormous caterpillars. The road which has been cut through the absolutely impenetrable forest reminds me of the aisle of some immense cathedral for the trees which meet far overhead are like huge gothic arches. A lovely spot.
Last night when we returned we found tea all laid and the table decorated with flowers! Kisuelli being an old hand at safari is a gem on these occasions and one can leave all arrangements to him. He enquired by the way last night if he should make bread to which I replied certainly, how he intends doing this I know not but he evidently has ways and means. After a good day’s hunting including also a long fruitless search in pastures new we returned getting just caught by a violent storm. When we got down yesterday there were not many butterflies around, it was early and too cold, so after a bit of a search we decided to go to another place. There we came to a track leading to the far forest and up it we took the car. What a track. I wonder the car didn’t break in half. We stopped at the edge of a sharp drop and walked on and on right down to a river. Here we had lunch and Pink waded across. I sat down to await his return, choosing as it proved the better part for he came back not long after disgusted at complete failure. This part of the country has been devastated by locusts, all their crops have been eaten, the maize stands stark and bare and even the buffalo grass is but sticks, a dreadful prospect.
After a long day in the forest fearing lest the evening storm overtook us we hurried home and were horrified at the frightful noise the car made. Pink examined her innards and fears trouble. I hope this really is not so, with us stuck out in the wilds many miles from a garage. She wants oil, and hearing a car passing we hailed it. It proved to be Dr Ford of the Missions and he took our toto with him to bring back the necessary. I only hope it isn’t some mysterious break. I walked this morning to the Mission house up the road. All the way locust devastation is in evidence, not a thing has been left them and the prospect is indeed tragedy. After tea we returned to the forest for possible moths but found only 3. Instead we were rewarded by the most marvellous sight, fireflies in every direction, just like a scene on the stage, thousands of tiny lamps flitting here and there.
I am keeping camp today and shall pass the time writing and sewing. Meanwhile the local chief is holding a Baraza outside in the compound, an interminable and never ceasing flow of conversation or rather babble holds sway. The chief I presume is hearing petitions and adjusting grievances, anyway it sounds as though no one were paying the least attention to anyone. There is one amongst them dressed up to the nines, a skin, horns and a huge head dress of sticks decorated with masses of feathers.
June 23rd, Tuesday
I’ve just seen my son off for the day, he goes to pastures new and I shall be interested upon his return to see if he has met with any success. I am thankful that no Baraza holds sway outside today. I must confess that about tea time yesterday I had got a bit tired of the infernal din! I hear on enquiry that the much dressed individual here yesterday was a Jelua witch doctor. How I wish I’d had my camera for one seldom sees anything like that in our more civilised parts these days.
This new place is another forest about 10 miles distant and the hunting ground is the old road through it to Kakamega, long since in disuse. It winds its way through leafy shade and is utterly remote and fascinating. Soon surely the forest will have claimed its own again. Meanwhile we shared it with the butterflies, monkeys, squirrels and various frequenters of the ways who stopped to pass the time of day with us in their usual friendly way. If only the insects did not so furiously rage it would be perfect here.