At long last
17.12.2016 - 19.12.2016 80 °F
Happy Post-Christmas all,
SO! For those who are still choosing to spend your valuable time reading this nonsense, let's get back to it.
I had finally decided to pick up stakes at Naivasha and move on to Nakuru. Once again, Lake Naivasha and Fisherman's Camp are beautiful places with more wildlife than you can shake a lens at and I highly recommend.
The drive to Nakuru was uneventful save for a savvy English speaking single mom next to me who received no small amount of amusement from the constant overt attention a white man gets while riding in a matatu. She got a good laugh when she learned a man had asked to buy him a soda and, having no small change, I gave him 200 expecting the left overs. Not only did I not get the left overs, he actually came back few minutes later and said "you bought me a soda! HAHAHAHAhahahaha"...and left. Two dollars is a small price to pay to have learned the "buy me a soda" scam...and to always have small change...lol
When I arrived in Nakuru I found all my hotels and hostels of choice were booked up. This is not uncommon during the holiday season in countries where the locals are able to travel as well as foreigners. Kenya is one of these. The receptionist at one was very helpful though and called me a mototaxi to take me around until we found a place. I ended up at the WaterBuck, a high end destination for middle and upper-class Kenyans it seems.
I was the scruffiest looking person there and I hope I did not take anything away from anyone's family vacation ;-) There was a pool, a swanky bar, loads of helpful security staff, an excellent restaurant and the bathroom was bigger than the bedroom. I didn't know what to do with myself. All this for $57 a night. Motel 6 prices. Not quite the highest I've ever paid for a room while traveling (London still takes the cake at 86 pounds) but close.
I befriended a night guard named Florence after she found me lost twice in the space of two hours and helped me back to my room. As I've mentioned to others, you can put me in the middle of a square mile winding market or the nonsense streets of Varanasi and I'll always find my way, but I'm like Marcus when it comes to easy things; I'd get lost in my own museum.
Last-last Sunday I walked around looking for a tour company to take me to Lake Nakuru NP. Pega Tours was in the Lonely Planted so I started, and ended, there. The company is owned and run by a man named Peter Getere, a non-stop businessman always looking for new connections. He set me up with a tour of Nakuru NP on Monday and talked me in to a three day safari in Masai Mara Wed-Fri. After learning where I was staying and that I was a backpacker he also offered up his home (he has an AirBnB) for 2000 a night, saving me over half. This included dinner and breakfast with his family (Irene, Rachel, Marvin, Kim,Kevin, Ian, T.J., and the housekeeper Esther) and a bed in a dorm, bathroom attached.
--side note--As I write now from the rooftop of my new guesthouse in Kisumu, with a view of Lake Victoria, the 1:00 prayers have started wafting over from a speaker at the mosque in town. Islam is the only religion I know of that can rather force a surrounding area to listen to benedictions, but I love it. It's just so authentic and otherwordly a sound. I kind of wish they were allowed to do so in the states but then I remember 5am prayers as well and waffle on the subject ;-)
Anyhoo, the price of admission to Lake Nakuru is normally $80, payable in dollars or shillings, but it was lowered for the Christmas season to $60. Yay! That never happens. I opted for the Monday full-day tour from 6:30 to 6:30 for $50. Normally I would have had up to six other people in the pop-top van but I lucked out and went solo. Yay again! Just me and James the driver/guide. As a money saving tip, pack your own lunch on this tour. The lodge they stop at mid-day is very expensive if they are not serving buffet. Which they weren't. I asked James to lunch with me (fairly unheard of I guess and he was kindly chided by the serving staff for sitting with the tourists) and the total bill was $60 for both. More than the tour...lol
What made it all worth is was a baboon event. We were sitting in an attached covered area outside enjoying the four-course meal when, within the space of maybe eight seconds, a large baboon slid down the post supporting the awning, jumped atop the table next to us, stuffed a bread roll in his mouth, grabbed another to go (to the screams of the original female owner), leapt down, three wheeled it to a table two to the right of us, repeated the process (to the screams of the original male owner), and bolted over the short wall separating us from nature. I just started breaking up laughing. It was an amazing snatch-and-grab operation and obviously had been planned. The execution was flawless...lol
My laughing seemed to let James know that it was okay to laugh and the blatantly stunned looks of the victims slowly gave way to nervous titters.
All this right in front of a sign that said "Please do not feed the baboons".
The waitress came to the first table and asked if they would like more bread. "Oh no! I think we're fine thank you!"... It was great.
You'll see the rest of the day in pictures for the most part. I don't know how many I will post given that all the animals, save the rhino's, were seen again in Masai Mara. If anyone looks the place up you'll need to subtract the Flamingos. Due to water levels rising over the last three-five years the shoreline they used to flock to is now submerged, including the original main entrance to the park. Thus the dead Acacia trees in the photos. Lake Nakuru is alkaline btw. So all the Flamingos have headed to Lake Bagoria. Much to the sadness of those in Nakuru who grew up with them and those who's livelihoods depended on tourists wanting to see them.
That night was spent back at the Waterbuck as I had already paid. I saw Florence one more time and gave her a Christmas tip and my pair of reading glasses. These seem to be hard to get here and, according to her, require an expensive prescription so forget the pens and candy if you come here. Just stock up on dollar store reading glasses of various strengths and you'll be a hero to many. She left very suddenly so I think she was either about to cry or she thought I was wanting something nefarious in return and was uncomfortable. I certainly hope it was the former.
I'll give everyone a break and continue with Masai Mara in the next installment.