I’m in the Schiphol Airport in Holland waiting to fly home…I’m flying business class (Yippee! so I get to use the special lounge and have little sandwiches and free drinks, I had a bloody Mary, yummy.)
Like David said, too many countries in too little time. I’m not sure I’d change anything though. Next time I think we’ll try just one locale (or at the least one country) and then day trips. It’s been a bit of a grind, packing up and moving everyday. Especially when changing languages, cultures, and driving etiquette.
Kenya was astonishing. The time that we spent with Kakuta and his family will be by far the most memorable portion of this trip. The Maasai are a people whose way of life (except for everyone having cell phones) has changed little in generations(okay, it’s probably changing faster than they’d like.) Staying with them was a little unbelievable. Then add the trip to Amboseli National Park and all the wildlife…over the top. You can see why we were on overload once we hit Istanbul. It’s like our life just went “tilt.” (for you who haven’t a clue to that cultural reference, it’s as if someone hit the pinball machine too hard and the whole system comes to a halt…at least temporarily.)
So here are the pics. (I need to thank Rob, my roommate for turning me onto this camera. It’s a Canon 710A IS. It’s been great. I’ve dropped it a few times and it has a dent on the top. We stopped at a camera shop in South Africa to borrow a small screw driver set to put the case back together after a particularly spectacular fall…off the tips of the fingers quarter back fumble fall…)
We arrived in Nairobi a bit weary after South Africa. We had been on the move everyday; we were thinking maybe we can just relax in Nairobi. Well this is a city with a similar reputation to Johannesburg: In your face with crime, poverty, and all the harsh realities of a major metropolitan African city. Its other name, according to the travel book, is Nairobbery. We didn’t have any problems with crime while we were there, but we had been forewarned so were cautious. Needless to say, we didn’t get to relax much in Nairobi.
Given all the pics I’ve taken (about 2300,) I don’t have that many from here.
The Maasai market was jam packed with everyone wanting once again to be our best friend, “we are like brothers!”
This woman caught my eye and I had to get a picture: she sounded british, inappropriately dressed for an outdoor market, in fake Zebra print and fake designer bag. (the Maasai woman in the foreground was not happy about my taking her picture, she wanted me to pay, but I didn’t even know she was in the pic…I walked away when she didn’t understand I wasn’t taking her picture…I guess I was.)
These shady characters
found us in the local fish market
and convinced us to follow them across town to a place they were selling older beaded, carved, and traditional work. We almost turned around a number of times because they looked somewhat nefarious. But in the end we saw some really good and unique work. It all was too much to take in and the process to purchase just a few items was convoluted as well. You don’t want to be carrying hundreds of dollars worth of Kenyan Shillings on you. It took multiple trips to the ATM and half the time the ATMs would refuse our card…again the things we normally take for granted.
The last image we have from Nairobi (I took this as we were leaving for Maasai land, he was seated outside a grocery store.)
David has already described our trip to Simba Camp. I’ve never been on roads quite like that before. I was amazed that the van stayed together. A few pics from Simba Camp
(We are standing on a mound of decaying mud and cow dung bricks that were never fired.)
We took a walk with the warriors to a slight rise that got us above all the surrounding area and gave us the vista to really appreciate the sunset. On this trip we encountered the thorns of the Acacia: it has an evolutionary edge over all the other plants. Those thorns are sharp and some varieties don’t let go.
The next day was our trip to Amboseli.
This park is known for it’s large African Elephants. And there are lots of them.
(notice the unique way the mother carries the infant elephant?)
Malibu Stork: Ugly Bird and not afraid of me! Look at that beak.
These are unattached bachelor water buffalo. They reminded me of Tom, David and myself: Getting older and cantankerous. Water Buffalo kill more tourists every year than any other animal in Africa.
One of the things I really wanted to see on this trip was Mount Kilimanjaro “rising like an empress above the Serengeti….”
Does anyone get that reference? (Send me a response if you do. Miwako knew the reference and I’ve had the lyric wrong for 20 years…it rises like Olympus not an empress…she’ll always be the empress for me…)
When we arrived on the first day to Simba Camp, the empress was covered in clouds and the weather forecast didn’t look very good. Next day we got up at 5am to be on the road and have a better chance of seeing some of the larger carnivore that hide out during the middle of the day. Again the mountain was shrouded. So we kept teasing Kakuta to make the mountain appear. And as if by magic or by our teasing, it happened. She revealed herself in all her majesty.
This was one highlight, among so many.
This is the Vervet Monkey…
This little guy was a pest.
The monkey’s in Maasailand are not revered or thought highly of as in Ubud, Bali. While David was beading at the midday rest, this Vervet decided to abscond with his beading wax and climb up on the roof to eat it…Apparently it didn’t taste so go, so he threw it back. Later he tried to take David’s beads but David was ready and scared the little mischief-maker off. They have been fed by tourist so now think it’s their right to demand the sugar or left over orange juice. Apparently they aren’t nice about it…they usually bite first and ask questions later
(This is Joseph, not his given name, who took us on a bird walk. I think we saw more than a hundred different species in two hours. This is he and I with an elephant femur.)
This was one of the last images from our safari.
A lone Flat Top Acacia Tree towering over the savannah expanse. Having seen it on TV and in books doesn’t do it justice. It was just one more image to cap off our experience. After awhile the adjectives just go lacking. It was all overwhelming and somehow unbelievable.
Next day we had until about noon to visit with Kakuta’s family and give David a chance to meet with the Maasai women/beaders.
David and the women
Cattle give the Maasai their wealth and identity.
Kakuta with his mother in her home.
Kakuta’s second mother.
Lastly a child from the village.
We had an quite a visit with Kakuta and his family. I think that both David and I would like to go back and help out. We have many more stories of our very short time there but I’ve gone on and on and on about such a short time.
The trip back to Nairobi was much like the trip out except with less dust and more mud. We went from the van to the airport and on to Zurich and Istanbul…
more to come.