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Kenya Part 3 and final thoughts

See Kenya Part 1 and Part 2.

Our driver Samson fetched us from Archer's Post that morning. On the way out I took this quick picture, not realizing that two men had walked into the photo...


On the way back to Nairobi (about a 5 hour trip) it was interesting to watch the changing landscape.


And I got another view of Mt Kenya...


How beautiful!

As we approached Nairobi, our driver Samson told us that he wanted to buy some banana's for his children. He warned us not to open our windows, and I was prepared for the photo. People sell all kinds of things on the side of the road. (I mentioned earlier the roadside nurseries, which fascinated me, but there were also hawkers for fruit, and other goods.) We watched in some amusement where stationary cars are blanketed with hopeful sellers. Here Samson quickly seals the deal, and buys his bananas, and he is quick to wind up his windows, and start the car moving.


Nairobi traffic is notorious. It really has to be seen to be believed. Below are two photographs that really don't capture the traffic. The first is a photo of the traffic during the day on our way to various meetings that we had in Nairobi, and the second photo is a night shot as we sat in grid lock for what felt like hours...




I guess if you are planning any time in Nairobi, prepare for traffic. Leave plenty of time to get where you are going (and no an hour is not enough time!)

I was also intrigued by the contrasts in Kenya. Below are two photos that I thought portrayed these contrasts quite well. The first photo I am going to call "Nairobi Glass" ...


This is a typical glass skyscraper that could be in any city in the world. The next photo I am going to call "Construction"...


We visited (very briefly) United States International University

and University of Nairobi. (I believe we were at the North Campus?)

This photo is taken at the USIU... I believe the building in it, is the library. (Ever since I was a child I have always loved libraries.)


And this photo is inside that library...


 The photo below is at the University of Nairobi...


Once we had finished with our meetings, we need a place to simply hang before battling traffic to get to the airport to catch our flight home (via Heathrow.) Samson, our driver, took us to do some curio shopping (at my request) and then to a great place for a cup of tea. I had some fun haggling over my items. I bought Kevin a gorgeous beaded belt, and a few odds and ends that could fit in my suitcase. The place Samson took us, was perfect. It was so nice to simply sit outside, sipping our tea, and chatting. Below is a picture of Samson, and my colleague, (and traveling companion) Laura.


I call this photo... "Smiles are for free..."

Samson was a fabulous driver, and I would certainly recommend him to anyone who needs a reliable driver in Kenya. He is also an incredibly patient Swahili teacher.

Would I want to return to Kenya? Absolutely, yes.

This was a very intense week in Kenya. And yes, I was there for work. But it made me think how lucky students are to have these experiences. It also made me want to do more travel. Not the tourist trap kind - I really don't simply want to experience the resort experience, or the shopping experience, or the cruise experience (no offense, whatever floats your boat.) I want to see beautiful places, but I think that there should be something more. I want connection.



Kenya Part 2

Follow the link for Kenya Part 1.

The Kenya adventure continues...

While staying in Nanyuki we accompanied a group of graduate students to the Daraja Academy. We arrived in two vehicles.


I found it hot, and really felt that I was truly at the equator. (Of course, I was told several times that this time of year (Late May/ early June) is NOT the hot season.)


The photo above was the entrance to Daraja. The day we visited was a national holiday, so no classes. But we went to the veggie garden to help the girls. I use "we" under advisement. I have never been at the best of times very good at weeding (see my back yard) and I felt keenly my lack! I felt as though I was on Survivor - the one person most likely to be voted off the Island (or as someone commented, I would not be any threat to anyone, so would not want to be voted off the island.)


The students jumped right in, helping the girls, and practicing (or learning) their Swahili.

Afterwards, we joined the girls for lunch.


And after lunch we had a tour of the school.


 And this is a lab...


I loved the message on this wall...


After a tour, we ended up witnessing a school debate!


 The next day we headed off to Archers Post, Samburu to join up with our group of undergraduates. I noticed as we drove north that the surroundings got noticeably dryer, and the trees thornier.


 We spent one night at the Umoja Women's Village Camp site. I had a hut with electricity, a toilet and a shower. This is the interior of my hut...


Here are some other photo's of the camp site...


The photo above is a photo facing east overlooking the river, and the dining/ bar area.



 This is a photo of my hut.

After we got settled, we went to the Umoja's Women's village to visit. We were welcomed with song and dancing.


and we had a tour...


We went into the beading hut to be taught how to bead, and watch the women beading.


I found another thing that I was not very good at... another thing to be voted off the Island for (or not, depending on your point of view...)


I bought some curios made by the women, including a beautiful neck piece.

We were lucky enough to go on a game drive in the Samburu Nature Reserve. We stopped at the Women's Village to collect some of the children. They were so excited. 


They took it in turns to pose with our sunglasses. It was great to be in the bush and to see the animals.



I was so excited to see this Gerenuk (the first time I had ever seen one in the wild.)


They are beautiful!!! What a lovely long neck.



Look at these amazing giraffes. I also saw a Grevy's zebra - my first one.


From a distance they look like grey donkeys, the stripes are so thin and close together.

Then we saw a mother cheetah and two cubs, posing for us on an anthill. A real National Geographic moment.


I wanted to capture the surroundings. This is very like South Africa.


And then we saw this beautiful leopard up a tree.


 Absolutely stunning...


Heaven on earth...

See Kenya Part 1.

Kenya Part 1

I have had the best intentions to blog this as soon as I got back, but that didn't turn out the way I expected. I was lucky enough to be able to visit Kenya recently (Late May/ early June.) It was for work. It goes without saying that the opinions expressed in this blog are my own, and do not represent or reflect those of my employer.

My colleague and I arrived over an hour late at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi in the middle of the night. I paid $50 for a visa, and was fingerprinted and waved through. I was convinced that my checked bags would not make it, but they did. After grabbing some cash at one of the many ATMs on the way out, I managed to avoid the taxi touts, and we found the driver sent from the Wildebeest Eco Camp for an additional KSH2,500. The amount was added to the hotel bill when we checked out.

I was very glad we made this arrangement. Arriving bewildered, tired, jet lagged and disorientated in a foreign country does make one quite vulnerable. The driver fetched my colleague and I and shep herded us to his vehicle.

It was after midnight when we finally arrived, and I was shown to my tent. It was very comfortable, and I did have a midnight visitor - a very sweet white cat that tried to share my bed. I didn't want to be disloyal to Maddie, so I gently put my new feline friend outside.

I was woken up the next morning by the wonderful sounds... of birds.

The tent I stayed in was quite comfortable, and the breakfast provided on a gorgeous deck at the main house was very filling. It was very relaxing waking up to a lush verdant paradise, and the sound of birds.


This was my first trip to Kenya. Would it be anything like the place of my birth? Would it feel the same? Would it be at all familiar? The entire time I spent in Kenya I felt a strange sense of disorientation - as though I should feel "at home" but wasn't. My frame of reference - South Africa. The birds - some of them were the same, and then there would be a flash of the exotic and the unknown.

The next morning my colleague and I were met by our driver (pre arranged) and we made the drive north to Nanyuki. Nanyuki is about 92km from Nairobi. It had been so dark when I had arrived the night before, I was eager to get my first glimpse of Nairobi and the surroundings.

My first view of Nairobi...


My first impressions of Nairobi ? A large teeming city, and vibe that reminded me of Johannesburg. 

The countryside as we headed north towards Nanyuki was verdant, and rolling. I was amazed to see vendors on the side of the roads selling seedlings. I finally managed to take a photo of these road side plant nurseries, but it was only outside Nanyuki that I got organized enough!


 The photo above was taken on the way out of Nanyuki, but it is a nice example of the road side nurseries.


The condition of the roads once outside of Nairobi on the way to Nanyuki were in very good condition. Better than the condition of some roads here in Colorado! We had just enough time to take a photo of this tourist attraction: - the marker for the Equator. We were actually at the equator... I could feel the intensity of the sun's rays; I could feel my skin (even with the highest SPF that I could find) burning.


What I didn't realize was in fact that Nanyuki was cooler than where we ended up going. Context is an amazing thing.

The drive to Nanyuki from Nairobi was about 3 - 4 hours. There were a number of vehicles on the road - and the ever present Matatu's (mini bus taxis) and motor bikes. In Kenya motorists drive on the left side of the road, like South Africa. Overtaking where ever there is "space" happens more often than not. Drivers need nerves of steel, and so do the front seat passengers!

We ended up spending four nights in Nanyuki. I stayed at the Falcon Heights hotel. It was very comfortable. I enjoyed the breakfasts, and the gardens. The security was good, and our driver met us at the hotel each day.

Here is one of the photos of the Falcon Heights gardens...


I loved watching the birds.

We visited the Ol Pejeta Conservancy.  This visit was part of work as we had a student class based there for a number of days. While we were there we managed to get a little bit of "sight seeing."

The Conservancy has all the big five, and it has the Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Sanctuary, and Barack the blind black rhino. On the way in to meet up with the student group that was already on site we managed to see this African Buffalo...


And a couple of Grants Gazelle (a species of Gazelle I have never seen before.)


We met up with the student group, travelled with them to an afternoon of rangeland assessment, and finished up with some lectures. I felt so envious of what these students were experiencing! After we said our good byes, we headed for the Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Rescue Sanctuary. On the way there we came across this herd of waterbuck and helmeted guinea fowls.


It was raining, and we could only see one chimp behind fence.


Occassionally we would see one chimp swinging and jumping around on one of the jungle gyms on the other side of the fence.  At another part of the Conservancy, we were lead to Barack, the blind black rhino and allowed to feed him. It was surprisingly satisfying. I could feel the hot breath of the rhino as it breathed all over my hand, and munched on the hay I gave it.


View of Mt Kenya (in the clouds) from an abbreviated game drive in Ol Pejeta Conservancy.


 Oddly enough I really battled to spot Mt Kenya. It is huge and quite impressive, although it spent most of the time hiding behind clouds.

One of the days we were at Nanyuki we accompanied one of professors to the School to meet with one of the students who was completing a scholarship provided by the Samburu Youth Education Fund. We met Isaiah, who showed us around the school. We met his teacher. Isaiah is head boy at the school. 

Part 2 to follow...

Part 2.