Trip Start Dec 22, 2011
129Trip End Apr 18, 2012
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Planning is an art. A skill. I understand that not everyone has the tools to see the bottom line and make sensible, thought out suggestions... or even stick to the un-thought out ones.. let alone make sure everyone is brought up to speed.
It was yet another early start, although I have to say that we tended to wake early to the sound of the monkeys using our roof as a slide, so it didn't cause any gritting of teeth and practised glowers on this occasion.
Packed and breakfasted, we sat and watched the crocs sunning themselves on the other bank and the sand banks mid river. Bridges are good, aren't they? When the first rubber dinghy pushed off, our little man walked alongside pulling the wobbly craft until we were a good quarter of the way across. The crocodile was not a big one. It was not that close, either, but still, legs are useful and playing Russian roulette with a croc only gives you two chances, not seven
The whole team safely across, we then learnt that Little Miss Forgetful had done her stuff yet again and managed to leave a shawl in the tent; so the river was crossed yet again and the crocs given a second opportunity. I reckon I am pretty whizzo at packing, but I do often seem to leave behind one carefully placed item.
A phone charger in a French chateau on night one of a month's trip, bathroom stuff, a swimmie on the back of the bathroom door in Michamvi: Nick is not a whizzo packer but he is normally a whizzo scooper upper of my leavings, but I had even fooled him this time by managing to roll it up in the discarded bedspread.
It was about an hour to the park gate, and we saw plenty of birds and squirrels and village life, but no game, as we took a different route to the one we came in on when we saw camels and the elephant family.
On reaching the village and finding a petrol station which actually had some diesel, the African filling station ballet began. Always a terrific and drawn out performance, this one. To start with, there are queues of vehicles approaching pumps from both directions. No boring left to right system here. There was the typical bus with people pouring out of every window and the roof piled high with their luggage tied on with assorted odd pieces of baler twine
What is the LUBE workshop? Most garages have a bay over which in large letters it says LUBE. We had a wide ranging discussion on the various possibilities of the service being offered. Was it like spray tanning?? Hmmmn. Classic.
Then we have the opportunistic salesmen, who are selling anything from hats & bananas to buckets.
“Jambo Mr Cowboy!” Nick was offered what looked like second hand flip flops, a machete or a boiled egg. These had been pre-boiled and chucked into an empty white plastic paint pot. He even had a pile of salt on the lid. Every base covered.
That man will go far.
Fuel! At last. As the attendant was filling the tank, he asked Andrew where he came from. “Scotland.” He continued to ask him questions.. was he enjoying his trip to Kenya? The rest of us waited for Andrew to release a torrent of Swahili, but business done we drove off leaving him none the wiser.
It seems I am not the only perverse one in the family who likes to play games.
The PLAN was to go back into the park by the next gate, as it would be an easier and quicker way back as Zoe and Chris had to get to Malindi to catch a plane at about 17.40. No problem.
Only this did not account for African bureaucracy.
When we got to the gate, the guy at the desk could not possibly let us in. He shook his head, clicking his tongue in a most deprecatory manner. We saw a lot of the whites of his eyes as he managed to inflate the situation into a massive insoluble international incident.
The queue behind us were dealt with and let through.
Chris patiently explained they had been given permission and we had to go through as they had a plane to catch.
Mr Jobsworth shook his head and prodded his finger in the air. More tongue clicking. He would ring up and check. Meanwhile the rest of the team sat about, eating cashews and breathing heavily.
By the time he relented and let us through, we had lost a lot of time and this meant that the rest of the drive though the park was at breakneck speed.
First a brief stop at some water falls where the rocks are almost blue and the muddy red water crashes down over them in a dramatic way. Trees carelessly thrown into odd corners as they had been ripped out by the roots and subsequently caught between the rocks.
Highlights were a group of giraffe who lollopped up to the road and then ran across just in front of us. What a sight! At one point we came to a stop on the track as a massive bull elephant who had been rolling in the red Tsavo dust was walking slowly in front of us. Traffic jam. Following him closely we admired his orange bum and body and his one magnificent tusk. The other one was not quite as grand, as half of it was missing in action.
The rest of the gallop through the park was interesting but speedy... as was the remainder of the trip home. Racing in a smother of red dust through the remote villages, children running out to wave as we thundered past; the red road stretching ever onwards, in a straight line over the next horizon.
[I have not done the safari thing of taking 728 pictures, as the first time I picked up my camera, it flashed up the message, “BATTERY EXHAUSTED”
Not surprisingly we were a tad journeyed out as we had been bumping around all day in the car for about eight hours and all at great speed. Dinner at another colonial institution run by a Welsh couple behind sentry patrolled gates confirmed once more that life out here would not be my choice.
However, it is cool to be lulled to sleep by the Indian Ocean as it races up the beach chasing the many xxs to xl crabs doing their farcical sideways scuttle dance with the sea.