Tana River, Africa

From an anonymous river lover who grew up on the Tana River:

When I was growing up on the Tana River in Kenya, the days were hot and the river was the best way to cool off. The faster you ran into the river, the faster you cooled off. But one day when I dashed into the water, I had to put my brakes on hard! A hippopotamus reared up in front of me, mouth wide open. Wheeling about, I tore for shore. Once there, I grabbed a handful of sand, for an old myth said that if you didn’t, you would stumble and fall when the hippo reached shore. They were fast on land, so you didn’t want to ignore that kind of advice. And if they got sand on their feet before you grabbed sand–watch out!! They were especially fast then, as you stumbled about. Today when I think of that river, I always see that enormous mouth rising up out of it, spraying water everywhere.

The other thing that comes to mind about the Tana is the way we used sandals (flipflops) to fish. We punched a hole in the bottom of the flipflop, threaded a fishing line though it, baited the hook with a juicy grasshopper, and tossed the line into the water. Then we watched flipflop floating atop the river. When the flipflop dipped under the water, we knew a fish was nibbling.

  • Kenya’s longest river
  • Length: 440 miles or 708 km
  • Empties in the Indian Ocean