My first view of Kenya was from driving down the wrong side of the road (they drive like the Brits here) and from the inside of a guarded concrete wall in a house that makes me feel like a rich 1940s British hunter (there might be a movie reference there). Tomorrow I will experience Nairobi.
After returning from my walk, I saw my first uncaged monkey, actually monkeys. A total of seven blue samango monkeys swung in the trees on the property, played on the roof of the servants' quarters, and took food from the servants' hands.
We went to a Nairobi grocery store and it left me waiting for my “African” experience to start. It wouldn’t have been difficult to convince me that we actually just traveled to Washington, D.C. We leave for safari tomorrow and I can't imagine what that trip will bring.
View from the Car
On a separate occasion, we got a flat tire and had to change it on the side of the dirt road. A bunch of children ran over from herding cattle to see what was going on. They had no shoes, barely any clothes and could barely speak Swahili. They wanted water, pens, and money (emphasis on the first two). They also fell in love with my digital camera. More people from their village came to see what was going on and try to sell us goods.
There are fewer than 400 black rhinos in this world and one of them sucked on my fingers. I bottle fed a baby rhino named Lola, after her financial sponsor. Besides the rhino and amazing view of Lewa’s vast plains we also saw a pride of lions, seven total. We got within ten feet of them in our safari car and even though they are playful and cuddly, from ten feet it is clear how powerful they are. We ended our safari with a camel ride.
We went from the luxury of Lewa to the wilderness of the Abadares. It was definitely winter there. We stayed in a power-less isolated (except for the animals and one man with a gun) fishing cabin.
The drive to the lodge took two hours longer than expected and we were driving through the rainforest and up a mountain on wet dirt roads in the dark. There were plenty of mishaps including a buffalo blocking our way.
We did an 8.5 mile trail hike to a waterfall only to see a second of a waterfall and lots of fog.
The Maasai Mara
We saw some other animals, including getting really close to a handful of elephants as we entered the camp. We were the only ones at the camp; us, the Maasai guides, and the adventure-junkie British owner. This is the most exciting place we've been.
The Mara easily tops Lewa in number of animals and adventure. We were circled in our safari car by three hyenas who called to each other.
Susan (my aunt) was a few feet away from an eight-foot spitting cobra that was ready to attack.
She was sitting on the porch of our safari tent and innocently reading when she heard a noise, looked to her left, and saw a black cobra coiled up and mouth open about two feet away from her face.
We left the camp at 6:00 am to see the Wildebeest cross the Mara River. At the crossing, we saw over 1,000 wildebeest and handful of confused zebras (scared zebras sound like yippy little dogs) cross the river. About ten wildebeest didn't make it across.
It is dangerous for them to cross because the current is strong, the river bank is steep, and the crocodiles eat daily. We saw some well-fed crocs and many Wildebeest carcasses, proof of cat killings.
Back in Nairobi
After returning from the Mara I walked around their neighborhood in Nairobi. It is such an interesting place. The houses are huge and beautiful but they are blocked by walls and tall bushes. There are no sidewalks; I walked on dirt.
The next day (our last in Kenya) we went to a market in the city. Each vendor has their own stand and they sell everything there (fruit, jewelry, rugs, everything).
On the day we left, we woke up at 5:30 in the morning to pack up our stuff and get to the airport. We had a long day of flying ahead of us to end our vacation. We were only in Kenya for twelve days but it felt like months. Each safari and trip to Nairobi were so unique that they felt like separate vacations.
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