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Published: June 15th 2014
Out of Order
The Great Rift Valley toilet.
Nairobi was like an abusive boyfriend.
Sure, when we first met, there was this instant attraction. He was exotic and a little rough around the edges. Besides, I like the bad boys. As I got to know him, he seemed super charming and introduced me to his wonderful Kenyan family. They were beautiful people. I was in heaven. At all appearances, Nairobi seemed like a wonderful city.
We had a few great first dates, a day visiting the Sheldrick baby elephant sanctuary, a walk through the botanical gardens in Karen including the Blixen house, feeding some long-tongued giraffes, a couple museums. He also gave me a preview of his ugly side....but I sloughed it off in that wreckless 'I'm in love' abandon. Nairobi minimized his US Embassy bombing of 1998, he tried to skirt me past the painful poverty of the Kibera slums, and while I endured the aggressive salesmen at the knickknack markets, he was no where to be found. Our stroll through Freedom Park revealed a few of his shady cousins looking to hustle my Mzungu ass. Someone even mentioned his nickname was “Ni-robbery,” and I didn’t flinch.
I’ve met cities like him before.
Such a beautiful little soul. Trying so hard for the attention of anyone. She and I bonded.
I abruptly left my boyfriend Nairobi to see the rest of Kenya. Perhaps that is why he turned on me.
My Kenyan itinerary had me travelling by overland truck northwest towards Uganda with a bunch of Australians, one Afrikaner, and a couple of Canadians. Our united nations immediately bonded...and we gave the only Brit a hard time, as you do. We also lucked out with the tour leader, a jovial brut we called Captain Orange. He, as well as his crazy crew of three, kept us in stitches.
Animal, the camp cook was no nonsense and plain nuts. He liked to pretend he understood us...I don’t think he actually spoke English. A typical conversation would go like this. “Hey Animal? “Yeeeedsss?” “What time will dinner be served?” “Yeeedssss.” After four weeks of this, you would just bust a gut. He was also obsessive compulsive when it came to hand washing, I’m pretty sure I overdosed on Dettol a couple of times, but God love him, he cooked up African meals that were fresh and delicious. Meaty stews served with cornmeal Ugali, collard greens called sukuma wiki, with chapatti flat bread to sop up the gravy. No one went
A beautiful backdrop as this beast makes his way to the waterhole
hungry or suffered a running stomach under his charge.
Mr. John was our driver…or “Boss” as I called him, as he commanded the craziest of roads to get us to our destinations safely. Around camp he would just smoke a cigarette in the shadows and watch us, chuckling to himself, periodically. After about a week of begging him, he started playing his African radio extremely loud so that we could enjoy it too. For me, Kenyan music was like a song that never ended. An uppity beat of jingle jangle which was intoxicatingly addictive. We loved it. Our favourite song, Fundamentals by Ken Wa Maria, is brilliant!
To round out the crew, Princess Layla, our trainee-in-training, actually seemed to be on vacation with us, her wonderment and awe of her own country genuinely beautiful.
We followed the Great Rift Valley northwards and landed in a town called GilGil where we visited an orphanage. I’m not exactly a fan of this activity but when little Joyce ran directly at me and locked my hand in her tiny one to lead me out to the rusty playground so that I could push her on the swing, I changed my
Group Photo at Lake Nakuru
WE had such a wonderful group of people, aussies, canucks, and a brit.
mind. It was a joyful day. The kids were all very well looked after, healthy and so very excited to meet us. The teens standoffish as expected, they perceive this human safari as kitsch. I have to agree. The director politely guided us through their individual heartbreaking stories while we spent the day playing with them, most, mesmerized by our electronic gadgets. They sang us songs and we helped make lunch before we took the boys for a ride on our overland truck. A highlight for them.
Lake Nakuru was our next stop, this game reserve was teeming with wildlife, and as we made our way through the 188 square kilometres to find our campsite, we spotted water buffalo, impalas, waterbucks, flamingos, a white rhino, warthogs, giraffes, a lioness, and baboons. This was again the point where I started to regret not having a competent camera. Why oh why do I not just buy myself a good camera?
Oh right, I keep losing them.
So, most of my wildlife photos are black dots on the horizon….meanwhile everyone else in my group takes close-ups of the animal’s nostrils. Gah!
Nakuru means ‘dusty place’ in the Masai language, an
Our camp cook for the overland trip. He was beyond description!
acurate description I'm sure but actually, this soda lake amongst the Great Rift valley was lush and green due to the short rains of April. A favourite spot for the flamingos, I took a few pictures of far away pink marshmallows bobbing in the shallows while the rest of my savvy camera group got pictures of the flamingo's tonsils.
The Kenyan countryside was exactly how I pictured it would be, slightly dry savannah with those acacia trees dotting the landscape like feathery umbrellas. So truly beautiful, I actually enjoyed just sitting back and enjoying the view instead of scrambling like the rest to get that perfect shot.
Overland camping lifestyle is highly organized...and on a good day, I am not organized. It can be very stressful to make sure you pitch your tent before dark, arrange your items so you can find them easily without the assistance of a headlamp, and getting your underwear washed out and hung up to dry before you run out of underwear. I was exhausted and exhilarated for the first couple days...just what I needed for a vacation. Not. Thrilled by our campsite's locale situated near a waterfall, it was open for various
Lots of these beasts around the lake of Nakuru
animals to traipse through during the nighttime, so we pitched a close circle of tents in the freezing rain before retreating under tarps to help Animal cook our dinner.
Not a great weather start to four weeks of tenting, but I was optimistic.
Since it was Easter, I hid a bunch of chocolates around the camp for the group to hunt for first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, a gang of baboons woke up before us and found them, absolute chaos! Oops. After it all died down we were left to eat our banana pancakes in peace. Life can be entertaining under my watch.
As we exited the park, another game drive automatically occurred. Here we saw just about every animal on my must-see-animal-list! This is day one of four weeks of game drives! How could it possibly get any better?!
We made our way to Eldoret, home of famous Kenyan runners, the high elevation of this city is attributed as the reason most do so well in competitions around the world. We watched practice runs of young up-and-comers, of course some of the Australians took turns trying to beat them down the track. Our
Protecting Lake Nakuru
Friendly rangers try to keep the poachers at bay, a difficult feat when you have 180 km2 to cover
campsite outside of Eldoret was beautiful, situated in a garden-like property includng a weird cave-like bar with comfy couches and fireplaces. Hot showers were coveted by us girls, and we star-gazed and drank wine before bedding down for a chilly night.
So far, it hasn’t really felt like camping.
The following morning, we crossed the border into Uganda and I spent the next few weeks away from my boyfriend, Nairobi. To be honest, I forgot all about him. When I finally returned to Kenya a few weeks later, he had turned into a jealous, erratic, bat shit crazy, insufferable jerk.
I tried to get along, but we had many disagreements.
Nairobi caused chaotic four-hour traffic jams in his downtown core, I missed my plane. Diabolical. He threw steel scaffolding at my taxi in an apparent hissy-fit. I almost died. He apologized and tried to kiss it better. Back at the airport as I attempted to escape, he created trivial delays and ridiculous cancellations that were beyond my comprehension…I honestly believed Nairobi was in cahoots with Kenya Air to keep me there. Then he had escalating student protests, the constant threats of bombings, and a few ugly
Two brothers from another mother
Captain Orange and his Masai friend pose in front of the waterfall at Lake Nakuru
incidents that I'd rather not re-live here on my blog. Believe me though, it wasn't
I felt I was ‘Out of Order’ not 'Out of Africa'.
I decided I’d had enough of Nairobi's shit, and left his ass for good.
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