While our group was made up mostly of my family, we had a few of Ron’s friends that came along as well, and they were all such wonderful additions. Here Susan is teaching us all how to collect termites. (She, like my uncle, is an entomologist and a world expert on termites. She’s collected them from all over the world- but not Kenya! Her enthusiasm was contagious!)
Getting to spend more quality time with my nieces and nephews was a real highlight. So often when I visit, the care of my own children hampers my ability to connect deeply, and getting to share long rides and hear their laughs and commentary added an important dimension to the trip for me. I shared a room with Sabina and Talia and Capriel, so we had nightly chats, something I really cherished.
Capturing the sunrise
One of the things we all got a kick out of was seeing the items that were carried on these motorbikes. We saw stacks of crates, goats, a couch, a 15 foot metal pole being dragged behind one, and lots of these bundles of containers.
These are the equivalent of the American Taxi. These guys hang out waiting for someone to request a ride.
These dirt thoroughfares running alongside the paved roads were always busy with activity. Here you get a sense for some of the agricultural practices. We saw a few large scale farms, but many of these smaller plots.
Markets lining the roads. Beautifully displaying fresh produce. Note the construction. Branches for structure, plastic for shade and wind protection, Clay soil on top. Often each market stall would sell the same items. How do you know who to buy from? On our drive up, we skipped dinner, and just ate the snacks we’d brought on the airplane. Our driver was clearly starting to get hungry and asked if we’d like some bananas. That sounded tasty so I agreed, he slowed down on the side of the road in front of a row of markets like this, and within seconds we had 7 people with their arms loaded with fruit, thrusting their arms into my window begging for me to purchase theirs. I looked at them all and tried to express how I would love to buy something from all of them, but I didn’t need 40 bananas!
There is an arrangement for Safari guides to stop at these Curio Shops with western bathrooms. The tourists get a “cleaner” toilet, the guides get a meal, and the shop gets customers. They tell you all of the items are made locally. But it seems suspicious since the same items are in every gift shop. This particular shop had these two artisans in the back carving wooden figures out of ebony.
I love all the bright color!
One of the aspects of Kenya that attracted my attention was fencing. The majority of fences are handmade from organic materials- sticks, branches, even cactus. Occasionally you see wire. The one large industrial fence I saw was the land the current president took from the Maasai people.
When we planned the trip I was worried the long rides would be a drag, but they were anything but! There was so much to take in. I loved seeing the roadside farms, the groups of school children walking, the various kinds of buildings and homes. And over and over I was amazed by how so much of life in Africa is lived outside. I was reminded of how a few years ago in Seattle I was chatting with the man who was taking my donations at Goodwill. He had recently moved to the US from Ethiopia. I asked how he was doing, how he liked it. He said he was lonely. That back in Ethiopia there were always people out and about to be with, everyone knew everyone, there was such community. But that in the US people were busy, in their homes, and it was hard to meet people. Now I know just what he’s talking about. The sociality of the Kenyan people is so beautiful.
Lake Nakuru National park
After two days in the semi-arid Samburu region, we headed southwest to Lake Nakuru. There was something so mystical and peaceful about this area. The light was soft, and the flora creating a sort of ombre effect.
Lilac-Breasted Roller- the national bird of Kenya
We only saw rhinos in this park. And only from quite far away. But here is a mother and baby. Note the yellow bark acacias. They were so stunning in this park.
These guys just crack me up. They just look so miserable. Cape Buffalo rival hippos for most dangerous animal in Kenya.
Noe the birds all over the side of the Cape buffalo in the middle. They’re called Ox Peckers. The pick ticks, flies and parasites of these guys. While in some ways symbiotic, the ox peckers at time will pick and wounds and can open them up to infection. Note the flamingos in the background. This lake used to be famous for the thousands of flamingos that lived here. Rising water levels have changed the Ph of the water and made their food source less abudant so their numbers have dwindled significantly.
Before the trip we all filled out a little “Get to know you” sheet so we would have a bit of context about each other. One of the questions was “What is your spirit animal.” I off handedly said giraffe, because they’re long and lankey, somewhat awkward, while also graceful and sophisticated. Perhaps because of my off hand response I felt a real attraction to them. Their ability to move with such ease and grace seems to defy their anatomy. Even when they’re running they look like they’re moving in slow motion- because of the wave the moves through their entire body everytime they take a step. They’re just beautiful!
This is what Kenya’s starlings look like! Here’s a closeup of the thorny acacia tree. The majority of the trees we saw were acacias, and they all carry thorns of varying lengths- some up to 5″ long! This park had mostly the yellow bark acacias, which are simply stunning.
Looking at this picture I can still feel the wind in my face as I stood on my seat, holding on to the side of the land cruiser looking out the top. The fresh moist air, the vast undeveloped naturalness of everything made this place feel so sacred.
I worried I might feel cooped up being in a vehicle all day. I would have loved to walk through these gorgeous spaces and examine the floral and fauna up close, but that is prohibited in the national parks. Forrunately, a Land Cruiser is about as good as you can get to experiencing nature up close and personal, while staying safe inside a vehicle. I’ve never been a car person, but I exclaimed several times on our trip- “This is my dream car!” We drove over huge burms, across steep ravines, up steep rocky inclines, through thick grass- all with the windows down and the top up!