Everything and Nothing about the Agricultural Town of Eldoret, Kenya
there is something special about this agricultural, efficient, town. make a point to drop in some time, and you most definitely will be enchanted.
By Iloti Mutoka, Moi University
The Kenyan night sky is an amazing sight, especially in the countryside. The stars populate the sky like the ants in the ground, almost alive in their radiant symphony of light. The soundtrack accompanying this amazing sight is the cacophony of the tropical night, crickets forming the backbeat to the din of bats and owls and the shrieks of marsupials.
This is Eldoret, the home of the famous Kenyan long-distance athletes. Here is the town where Kenya began to cultivate her greatest claim to international fame. Here Kipchoge Keino, Moses Kiptanui and Paul Tergat honed their natural talents, to become colossuses in their fields.
The people here are friendly, and warm. It is hard to believe that this was the epicenter of the unspeakable violence that rocked Kenya in 2008, a result of the built up tensions between two communities that form the bulk of the population of this hilly town. The scars remain, but the vibrancy and the optimism that the residents of this burg have for the future is infectious.
There is not much to do here, to be honest. Eldoret is an extremely functional town, filled with agro-vet shops and wholesale dukas run by descendants of south Asians brought in as cheap labour during the building of the “Lunatic Express”, the railway that was to link the coast of Kenya to the rich hinterlands of Uganda. There are no galleries, no parks, no theatres, or museums. There is a vibrant nightlife, however, and Kenyans here do not disappoint, night clubs like Spree and Signature competing for custom with typical gusto and verve; drinks and meals are affordable, at $3 for an ice cold beer and about $5 for a full meal at a decent cafeteria.
That said, the town is a marvel. The people are always smiling, ready to help, almost annoying in their effusiveness. There may not be traditional ‘fun’ things to do, but distraction in Eldoret takes on a more serious nature. There are working tours of farms, and anybody interested in finding out how this town with a population of just under 300,000, keeps churning out elite athlete after elite athlete is free to visit and if they can manage it, train with them as they battle the pre-dawn chill and mud in their effort to better their best.
There are a large number of children’s’ homes in and around the town, and you are invited to spend a day with any of the beautiful children and their kind handlers. Any gifts and donations are simply bonuses you may bring; the real reward is sharing your time with these remarkable souls that have survived the most gruesome of life stories with smiles and hearts of gold.
You can go to Eldoret by air; it is serviced by the excellent Eldoret International Airport, 18km (11 mi) from the centre of the town. Passenger train services are due to resume when the refurbishment of the same is complete. The trip from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is a relatively pleasant 5 hour trip, the road, like most African highways, is constantly under repair in one section or another, but is gradually coming up to standard.
The weather of this town is unpredictable, as is true of the weather in the tropics, and you are advised to carry an umbrella and a jacket, and wear sensible hiking boots. The weather changes treacherously quickly here.
All in all, there is something special about this agricultural, efficient, town. Make a point to drop in some time, and you most definitely will be enchanted.