Back to the modern way of life

Trip Start Mar 13, 2010
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6
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Trip End Feb 13, 2011


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Where I stayed
Karen Camp

Flag of Kenya  ,
Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wow, well we're back in Nairobi after what feels like a whirlwind 6 weeks with the Maasai. I think myself and Annie share the feeling that we've been in Kenya for both much longer than and no-where near a month-and-a-half. Our time in Kajiado finished with a bang - on Saturday (24th), our hosts held a 'small' family gathering of around 50 close relatives (I later found out that just going to cousins, they have over 200 family!).

It was a good party, I started the day at around 9-10 a.m. slaughtering a goat and tucking in to the usual (please see Good Friday Goat Slaughtering for further info on the menu) whilst Annie helped cook and clean and perform other task suited to a woman. I also helped strengthen Anglo-Kenyan relations with an in-depth discussion of the World Cup, and why France have no chance of winning said competition. Around 8 hours later the eating stopped, and snacking commenced whilst the majority of guest left. I then dazzled some of the remaining crowd with my Derren Brown/David Blaine/Paul Daniels-esque magic. Then we ate dinner. As you can see, the Kenyan party, much like the rest of Kenyan life, revolves around an almost unbelievable amount of food!

On Sunday, with several people choking back tears (guesses on the back of a postcard please) we had to pack and - after a light lunch - we boarded the taxi to Kenya with Johnson (host father) and 2 of our host brothers coming for the ride. I'm certainly glad we paid a bit extra and didn't go with the Matatu (mental Kenyan minibus-type thing) option. Parts of the tarmac roads were actually worse than being on dirt-track, and during one overtake-whilst-going-up-steep-hill (obviously whilst completely blind to what was coming up the other side and in a car with less power than the Scottish Parliament) we - almost literally - met a bus that flashed it's lights whilst speeding up to try and catch us on the wrong side of the road. Seriously, if you merged the driving styles of the Portuguese, Italians and French, you'd end up with something similar!

Anyhow, my heart was returning to normal levels when we drove into the Karen area of Nairobi. It's a very nice area - reminiscent of the colonial period still, with massive houses, huge gardens, and, presumably, bigger security bills. It's where the film 'Out of Africa' was both set and filmed if that gives you an idea of the standard we're talking - we almost visited the Karen Blixen museum, but it's also scandalously expensive, so I've decided to just by 'Out of Africa' on DVD when we get back to the UK. Our hotel - Karen Camp - also has a very colonial feel to it, and is very relaxing. It was certainly nice to enjoy a beer for the first time in almost 2 months.

Having experienced the life of living without electricity, running water and other such western comforts, being back in the big city with fancy gadgets like lightbulbs, television (with football none the less - I can tell you Annie was thrilled when she saw the Birmingham derby playing on TV when we walked in to reception!), and hot showers feels slightly strange. Although I can - with absolute certainty - say that the weirdest thing about no longer being out in the sticks is once again sitting whilst using the toilet!

So, since arriving what have we done? Not much to be honest with you. Relaxing before our overland to Cape Town has been priority number 1. Although we did have a trip in a Matatu when going into Nairobi itself - an experience I can tell you! The Matatu is basically a minibus with seating for about 9 people. Although apparently an acceptable number to fit in when busy is nearer 20 people, and the driver, and a conductor. The conductor, in fairness, does spend most of the journey hanging out of the open side-door, banging the roof whenever he spots someone who may or may not be waiting for a crazy minibus, crammed full of people, with music so loud and bass so pounding, that it's a rule that you're only allowed to use your mobile to text in case you ruin the terrible 80s music for the driver.

The only other thing we've been up to, and its worth saving this one until last, was going to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi National Park. It's the kind of place that helps rescue orphaned pachyderms from around Kenya, then looks after them until they can be safely re-introduced to the wild. And boy, were those elephants cute! They ranged from 6 months to a few years old, and importantly seemed to enjoy the surroundings. Each elephants has it's own assigned 'foster-parent' - a keeper who lives with it 24 hours every day. We walked past the stables area, and you can actually see the bunk beds that the keepers sleep in inside each elephant stable. They only let tourists in for 1 hour each day, and you get to see the elephants come out and play - and if you're really lucky they come over to the rope barrier (or underneath it if they fancy) and let you cuddle/pet them. Most fun - especially for under 3 pounds a person. Eat your heart out London Zoo!

Now time is running short, and I need to get going, so enjoy the photos (if we can actually upload any on this connection!) and we'll write again when we next get the chance on our journey down to South Africa.

Peace out,

Mark

P.S
The Internet connection problems are ongoing hence only a few photos per entry. Will try to upload more when we can.
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