Our day on this part of our walk started in the place where we’d stopped the day before. We’d marked the spot. That’s what Terry Fox did every day in his Marathon of Hope. That was particularly fitting on this date because we’d decided to dedicate our walk to Terry. We gathered–all wearing our Terry Fox shirts–posed for our pictures and were off.

Terry Fox is one of my heroes, and in my view one of the greatest Canadian heroes of all time. In writing my novel Run I got to know Terry. I ran marathons along the Trans-Canada in places he’d run. I read every book about him and saw every video, interviewed his family and his best friend, Doug. I know Terry. Walking along with the boys I explained who Terry was, his background, history and legacy. They were amazed.

Terry was with me that day. Terry is often with me. He was there walking across the Sahara to research Just Deserts, climbing Kilimanjaro to write Between Heaven and Earth, and he was with me throughout this walk. There are times in all of those journeys when I was tired, sore, and wanted to stop moving. I knew that Terry would have kept on going. I kept on going.

***

All along this journey scenes in the novel have been inspired by things that I saw. The man in the pink sunglasses is another example. He works in Kikima sharpening metal objects and his eye protection is a pair of pink plastic sunglasses. Safety over style.

The machete you see in the video belongs to Matt. He purchased that machete in the Kikima market and asked the friendly neighborhood sharpener to put an edge on it. I love the picture and the video and knew this scene would find itself in the story somewhere.

Just a side note: After the walk I left Kikima to go down to Nairobi to welcome my wife and eleven other Canadians. First we went on a two-day safari and then they returned with me to Kikima to stay at Ruth and Henry’s home beside the Children’s Resident.

Upon returning I was pulled over to the side of the property and quietly informed that they had had a cobra on the property which they had to kill. This was rather surprising to me and to them as they said they hadn’t had a cobra there in decades. They described how it had ‘chased’ the children around the play area.

“Chased?” I asked. “Are you sure it was a cobra . . . it sounds more like what a Black Mamba would do.”

They showed me the pictures they taken. It was indeed a Mamba—nickname “The kiss of death” because of its deadly bite.

The night watchman and caretaker chased the snake down a hole by our new building. Using a stick and Matt’s newly sharpened machete they killed it. Subsequently they cut it into pieces–it was filled with eggs–and set it on fire. Supposedly the smell drives away other snakes. I hope it works and it’s another twenty years before one appears on our grounds.

Interestingly, Matt may have the only machete in Canada used to kill a Black Mamba. Great thanks to our sharpener and his pink sunglasses.

In Chapter 21, Muchoki and Jata strike up a conversation with the man roasting and selling the maize and he tells them of a spot just up the stream where they can get water. Muchoki offers to carry a container and get water for the man. He brings back water–doing the man a favor–and the wishes to do them a favor in return. Actually two favors. He gives them a piece of maize and then offers them more–an opportunity to get to Machakos.

Big trucks filled with sand are regular sights on the highways. Workers dig the sand from the dry river beds which they bring to be used to make cement. Often you’ll see them driving along with the workers on the open back of the truck, sitting on top of the sand. I decided that once again my two characters needed help. They would ride into Machakos–perhaps not in style but not on foot.

Fortunately–or unfortunately–we didn’t ride those 16 kilometers on the back of a truck. Instead we finished our maize and started to walk. After all, for Terry Fox, 16 kilometres was just a short stroll.