A Travellerspoint blog

Day Two

The park.

semi-overcast 70 °F

Allllllright. Up at 9 today (I suppose yesterday now) for the park excursion. Quick check up off the back stairway to make sure everything was going well with the city's auto maintenance sector and we were off. Benjamin was the driver today (Timothy's friend). Another quiet Kenyan which is nice. That seems to be the norm so far; say something when you need to say something. I quite like it.

$47 to get into the park for a foreigner for future info. $10 to get my to companions in. Despite what the guide books say a sturdy 2 wheel drive car will do the job just fine. No need to hire out a 4x4. Yes...it's bumpy. Since when is bumpy a terrible thing Lonely Planet? Pictures maybe but you stop for pictures. We ourselves took a Toyota Something-not-available-in-the-states wagon. I hope Francis will not be too upset that his borrowed car came back with something around 200 more scratches due to Benjamin's uncanny ability to find the lesser traveled paths. I also pity the undercarriage but she held up wonderfully. And there is a very cheap paint shop in the back yard remember.

To get out of the pollution was (sorry for this) a real breath of fresh air. The climate was perfect and a good breeze was always helping. There were small Acacia trees, reeds, Lotus, many different interesting flowers that I was not allowed to get out and photograph. My companions were rather amusing on this point. I rolled down both my back windows fully as soon as we got into the park and they kept throwing furtive glances back my way. "Oh come on", I said. "Are my brave Masai guides scared of the little kittens?" Turns out we would have been lucky to have seen one today. I'm proud to say I spotted the head of what I assume was a female but there there are males without manes so I don't know. Benjamin stopped and backed up just in time for him to see her backside as she ran away in the brush (Timothy missed her). Good lord if those cats don't want to be seen they won't be. Perfectly suited for their environment. She looked like a rock at first, but rocks don't shake their heads.
Ben also proved to be a master of finding dead ends in a massive park. He was chided appropriately. The upside was that a couple of these dead ends were homes to park rangers. What a trip that must be. All the tourist buildings have iron bars on every vulnerable ingress but these dudes are just chilling in the bush. They would radio for us and tell us where the lions were last recorded and we would head there. To no avail today but I'm just fine with that. As you can see by the pictures there were plenty of animals out and about.

As a side note did you all know that Simba is Swahili for lion? Yay Disney, once again proving your originality....lol

On a social note it has been amusingly difficult to convince Ben and Tim that I don't need to be catered to. I had suggested we all get a meal break in the park for instance. More for them than me. They really don't understand eating once a day if you are white and can buy the whole world. When we got to the park's club restaurant we learned that you need to pre-book meals. I kept trying to say it was perfectly okay and whatnot buy they kept going back to the host trying to convince him to make something ready as I had expected it. I finally walked in to see the manager looking rather sheepish and uncomfortable and told them everything is fine, we'll eat after, I'm more worried about you two now quit acting like a tour company and lets go have fun. Quite the dichotomy for Ben as I could sense his eagerness to prove he doesn't cow to tourists and his disdain for those he thinks are snobbish...but he came around. His choice was pizza later...lol

As a follow up to Friday's excursion to the driving school it all went well. We took Matatu's (mini buses) outside of the city to his branch of choice and took care of things. I had thought it was a one-off kind of thing he just wanted to do but there is a space on the application for the "Sponsor" to sign and give his/her phone address etc. The woman behind the desk had a hesitant and slightly suspicious look about her when she looked at me. I wonder what some people expect in return for their sponsorship after this. She also came around. He'll take classes nearly every day for a month, then test. Afterwards he assures me he can find a better job and seems (in his Kenyan way) excited for the outcome. "Next time you visit, Shen (my name), I will be the one driving you around". He also pulled the "now you are a brother to me and I cannot leave you without company" thing....lol. That was nice but I assured him it was a business deal and he owes me nothing and that my sister can attest to my poor ability to be a relative.
That being said he caught a fever and has to work 12 hours tonight so I brought him chicken and ibuprofen. I'm sure he'll hit me up for a hospital visit in the morning...lol

I screwed up today and took a 6 hour nap (lord knows where that came from) but I'm still hoping to get a video of a short walk through town for those of you who are uninitiated in the ways of threading the organized chaos of city traffic in developing countries. It's 3am now and I'm not tired at all though so we'll see...lol

Cheers until next time!

(pictures will take some good time to load so if this pops up on your subscription just check back later)

Edit: Interwebs have come to a crawl. I hope to experience better traffic tomorrow for uploading pictures. 3 hours barely made a dent in uploading. Stay posted...lol Some are okay I promise!

Posted by sbinnell 14:49 Archived in Kenya Comments (0)

Day One

The future.

semi-overcast 70 °F

Dear White People (And Guamalian, and Philippinish),

Hello from the future! I am currently 11 hours ahead of most of you and 10 ahead of some. It's a lot different from your time. The airline services are run by an Arab company led by a Knight by the name of Sir Timothy Charles. Gone are the savage customs of Delta and United. I was given moist towels at regular intervals and fed 3 square meals including vegetable Biryani. So it was an Arab funded plane, overseen by an Englishman, serving Indian food, Piloted by an Australian. Oh and taxes have been abolished in the airports! Truly this time is a wonderful place.

Oddly, the farther I've gone into the future the darker the human race has become. Upon landing I discovered that everyone here is Nubian. I am, as far as I can tell, the only white man. Aside from the odd stare or tween titter this doesn't seem to surprise the locals. English is still used to a large extent. Even so, I have dipped my toe into their native tongue (what a strange way to put that) and as yet have command over four phrases: Karibu (welcome), Asanti (thank you), Poa (cool) and Si uso (not the face). I see no need to go any deeper as these should serve to get me into, out of, and around virtually any situation I can imagine.

The only downfall I can see so far is that the human race seems to have forgotten the myriad heath and social benefits of smoking cigarettes. It is illegal here to smoke on the street. Actually anywhere outside of designated smoking areas, of which I have seen none. I will do my best to bring back the lost lore of Phillip Morris and The American Spirit but for now I am relegated to a 9th floor balcony for medication. Which isn't so bad. The copious amounts of pollution in Nairobi Center keep my lungs fairly occupied the rest of the time.

Day One, as always, is mostly a recoup from travel day. I had a lovely full breakfast including an omelet, toast (bread really, untoasted, this is not uncommon), orange juice and coffee for 350 Kenyan shillings (Ksh). Exchange rate is about 100 Ksh to a dollar. This was at a local restaurant run by a very large and very nice Kenyan woman. I also bought Moon by James Herbert for a buck on the street. That will be my evenings for a couple nights as I am not supposed to go walking around after dark. I'm sure I would be fine but the locals seem to want to preserve the Last White Man and have warned me repeatedly. Seems like poking the bear to ignore them. That's not to say I can't go anywhere, I'd just have to take a taxi there and back. Later I will trek all the way across the street to the store-in-the-wall and see if they sell beer. If they do, who needs to go anywhere after dark? If they don't....well....I'll cross that bridge when I come to it....in a cab.

I have made moves to befriend an indigenous doorman. His Christian name is Timothy. Every time he brings up a relative, be it mom, dad, aunt, grandma, the story ends with "until he/she died". So we have a lot in common! He has wanted for some long time to get certified to be a taxi/bus driver so I have agreed to accompany him to the school and pay for his course. In return he will sell me his phone and sim card for a small sum and have his friend drive me around Nairobi National Park on Saturday at a much more reasonable price than a park guide. I'm fairly confident I can tell the difference between a wildebeest and a giraffe without a certified guide. I had asked that they hide me in the car to avoid the $50 dollar entrance fee but he was hesitant and felt we'd be searched for sure. This leads me to believe he is an honest man. More's the pity.

I've read that a lot of the animals, if not all, are rehabilitated. It is my ardent wish to find a very old, weak, toothless lion that can't fight so that I may pet him, feed him bits of food, and maybe crawl into his mouth as though I'm being eaten for a selfie. Fingers crossed.

I will try to post some pics of the outing on Saturday or Sunday. As of now I'm in Nairobi until Tuesday.


Posted by sbinnell 02:27 Archived in Kenya Comments (3)

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