Kenya was right around the end of September because I flew straight to Nairobi after my time in London. We had Kemi, the consultant that ended up leaving the project, in tow, and once we met up at the airport (different flights), we had a cab to the hotel, a change of clothes, and were off to WV's offices in a part of town called the Westlands. Nairobi was my first exposure to what I can only call darkest Africa. The thing with ZA is that its developed - its still got many 3rd world elements, but they're contained (for the most part) to certain cellular areas now. The places I spend most of my time here feel closer to a European setting, just with a major crime problem.
Back to Nairobi. Worked a couple of days out of the WV offices there, which are actually the regional offices for Africa, as well as the national offices for Kenya, Somalia, and Southern Sudan (the last two can't operate safely in their own countries). Mainly with technical staff so I didn't meet a lot of the functional people I've run into since. Thursday night we all headed out to Carnivore, a kind of novelty restaurant that you apparently have to go to if you're in Nairobi. Its this huge bbq pit basically and they're serving up all kinds of meats on skewers that were more like swords - the dudes carry the stuff around and then slice it off onto your plate for you. I had a lot, but the only exotic stuff they had that night was ostrich, crocodile, and something else I can't remember. Lots of other stuff though too.
Also, I had a first. I was the project lead and I made the executive decision to whip out the AmEx and treat everyone to dinner. Now, I've charged in plenty of dinners before, but all after getting the nod from some SE who I knew would back me on getting the few-hundred-to-few-thousand $ charged in. Except for that one project where we were out all the time but that doesn't really count. Anyway, this was the first time I went ahead and picked up the tab knowing I was the guy who I needed to ask about it. So I asked me, and I said yes, and I did it. Go me.
On Friday I caught a mini-bus type safari deal thing with a number of strangers / new friends off to Masai Mara. There was an Irish guy and gal who were both down on a volunteer work project, as well as an American gal volunteering at an orphanage outside of Nairobi, an older French dude who was in town as a lecturer, a Polish couple on vacation, and an Asian guy about my age from San Jose, of all places. And there was our guide, who I think was Nathanael, but that's scratched out on one of my shabby folded pieces of note-ery that I still have to find in my growing pile of them, when I find some time to clean the desk, hopefully this weekend.
The drive there was pretty interesting. It was long and the roads were not very good, where they did exist. In some places, you weren't really sure if they did. We stopped for a lunch of goat stew and a corn/bean mash mix thing. After leaving Nairobi it was pretty clear that we were striking well out into the real 3rd world at that point. We started passing small Masai villages and came across the occasional small town, and probably 6-7 hours outside of Nairobi, we arrived at the edge of the national park, where our camp was. We got there in time to do a quick evening drive, but didn't see a ton, although I saw my first ostrich (in Africa, that is). That night at the camp, our camp security - local Masai teens that were there to keep out animals that might come in and eat us - did some local dance type stuff for us which was pretty cool. Then one of them showed me a lion's tooth on a necklace. From a lion he killed, with his spear and sword. Yes, I most certainly would like to buy that, thank you very much. Carolien broke it when I showed it to her a week or two later, and I still need to get it back from her. Its as long as my index finger, and the coolest thing I've acquired whilst here.
The next day we did a full-day drive, which included getting over into Tanzania, as well as seeing my first Hippo, and finally my first Cheetah. Also saw the post-migration - not the actual migration itself but rather where they had migrated to and were now hanging out. Pretty cool to see Gnu and Buffalo in such massive numbers. Also, we stopped at a lodge in the middle of the park for drinks / shopping, but I stayed close to the van because there were suspicious looking monkeys around and I didn't want my stuff messed with. Let's be honest - what monkeys aren't suspicious looking? In fact, forget the looking part - monkeys are just plain suspicious. My suspicions were quickly confirmed.
Next thing I know, I'm the lone defender of our stuff in the van, doing battle with endless hordes of hungry shrieking demon beasts, with their little claws and fangs. And beady little eyes filled with human-hate. Coming in the van through the windows, sunroof, the door, it was seriously like something out of a Steven King novel. Soon they had driven me from the van, but not without my gear. I fought as long as I could, but I just couldn't get all the bags out. There came a point when I had to save myself. Some of the food in the Polish couple's bag had to be sacrificed. Such were the gruesome costs of war with the spawn of Satan.
When we got back to the camp that evening I went and toured the Masai village across the road from our camp - it was pretty cool to see how they live, build their homes, make their fires, herd their animals, etc..
Next day was a morning drive, highlighted with my first big male lion sighting. He was sitting about 10m from the butt-end of a zebra. That was all that was left there, nothing from that end up. No bones, no head, nothing. Just the butt.
Saw a lot more lion, and a lot of elephant. Then I got on a plane back to Nairobi, not envying my new friends their long drive back. Here's how bad the roads are - that 6-7 hour drive out took exactly 30 minutes to fly. On a prop plane no less.
Had some time to blog at the lounge at the Nairobi airport, which was one of the first blogs I wrote from Africa, way back in September, which is kinda when I about started retro-blogging anyway, so that means I'm starting to get a bit repetitive and there won't be many more of these types of posts, because pretty soon I'll be all caught-up and actually real blogging instead, for a change. Theoretically.
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"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."