"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Building Futures, Inc.

Building Futures, Inc.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 21, 2010

This is our last day. We have a late checkout, so at least we'll be able to clean up after our game drive this morning. I continue to wake up at 3am, only this time I can't Skype everyone back home. I hope that if I ever make it back here, they have that resolved... although now that I think about it, the only way I'll get back here is if Andrea and the kids are with me, so I wouldn't need to Skype anyway. We'll see. It would be cool to get everyone out here for a vacation, though... a day or 2 in Maseno, a few days in Mombasa, a few days in Masai Mara. Yep, that would be cool.

After talking with Isaac and his brothers, we decided to leave closer to 1pm rather than 2:30. Apparently, they're worried about us having traffic issues as we get closer to Nairobi. We yield to their expertise, and set a departure time for 12:30pm. The Masco's decided to take a hot air balloon ride this morning rather than going out in the trucks. They're leaving at 5am, while everyone else gets to sleep in until 6. I wish I was one of them.... the sleeping people, not the balloon ride people.

Anywho, I'll write more from the airport. We'll be heading to breakfast in a couple hours. It's pitch black outside, and all you can hear are animals/birds in the trees. It's not a scary feeling though, rather a peaceful one. I'm looking forward to getting home, despite the fun I'm having here with Katie. I hope we're able to find a rhino today. They're my favorite animal, followed by the giraffe. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

It was an interesting final day. The park ride was nice. We started out by finding the 2 lions that caught the gazelle. They were sitting tucked under a shrub, eating gazelle. It was very rare. Again, we drove pretty close, and the lens did the rest. It's amazing to see these animals at work, and it's something else to hear it. We were close enough to hear them tearing and chewing and licking their lips. It was wild. Literally.

Saw some additional animals, too... ones that I wasn't able to get good pictures of earlier... along with the old standbys. We finally gave up on finding a rhino/leopard (Isaac said, "It's because the animals want you to come back."), because a vehicle had become stuck, and Isaac and his brother were going to help get them out.

In the stuck vehicle was a native Kenyan, who was now a US citizen, and had recently returned from Afghanistan, along with his wife/girlfriend (I can't remember which). We had already helped them out of the mud earlier in the day. That first trip was much more interesting. We pulled up, and much to my suprise, Rick was the first to get out to push. After getting him unstuck, Rick took the opportunity to do his best Johnny Weismuller. It would have been funnier if anyone knew who Johnny Weismuller was. Oh well. It certainly made me laugh, and Marilyn cringe. On the second trip, it was a much more narrow road, in a much deeper mud hole. This time, Rick stayed in the vehicle. While the others were working on getting them out of the mud, the girls were busy "checking the tire pressure" behind the last truck (you can figure that one out on your own).

Once again, on the way home, we saw some animals that I hadn't been able to take pictures of...

We got back to Sekenani, the girls that went on the balloon ride still haven't gotten back. We had lunch, cleaned ourselves up, and sat on the lanai chatting about the weeks events. It was a good opportunity to snap individual pictures of everyone. I bought everyone something to drink, and we waited for our departure... that turned out to be 2pm.

We paid extra money (for gas) so that the Land Rovers would shuttle everyone out to where the asphalt road began, to avoid the horrible ride. Rick, Marilyn, Ashley, Alex, Katie and I went even further, traveling with Isaac all the way to Narok to get to an ATM. On the way, we passed a huge group of Masai women with their heads painted red. This meant that they were either returning from or going to a wedding. Their were clad in brilliantly colored wraps that blew in the breeze. It was quite striking against the normally bland landscape in this area.

On our way to Narok, the trio of youngsters in the back (who would later be labeled "The Safari Girls") began to sing. Once again, it was everything from the Backstreet Boys to Madonna. Then, Rick had to break out with Celine Dion. The crowd in the Land Rover erupted... including Isaac. Celine Dion had even infected the Masai. He sung along with everyone else in the vehicle (besides Marilyn and me). If I can figure out how, I'll include the video clip... yes, there's a video clip.

We made it to the ATM in Narok, and when we got back to the gas station, we were thrilled to see that the bus was already there, and so were all the nurses. There was a bit of shopping inside the gas station, and the small market next door. Katie picked out this pretty cool wall tapestry, but that was about it. Everyone said their "goodbyes" to Isaac and his brothers, loaded onto the bus and we were on our way to Nairobi. It's a 2-3 hour trip, so we should be there in plenty of time. Shortly after our departure, Rick introduced the Safari Girls, and the hilarity ensued. They added show tunes to the playlist, and began with Part of Your World form Little Mermaid. I think the entire bus was singing. They went through every song they could think of... most of them were from my generation, and they did a great job with each one. No videos this time, though.

2 Hours later, the bus fell silent. Apparently, singing takes a lot out of you. Even Rick was quiet. 4 hours later, we began to enter Nairobi in darkness.

The only way I can describe Nairobi traffic is this: picture NYC during rush hour... but everyones hopped up on crack and RedBull. It was insane. Bumper to bumper, sudden bursts of speed, and all the while, homeless children selling peanuts or begging for money from the dashed white lines separating the lanes. It was nuts! ... and slow. After a wrong turn from our crack driver Ben, we finally arrived at the airport at 8:30pm. It was a sea of people. Long lines outside were followed by long lines in the terminal. Everyone finally made it in, and we met sporatically between gates. Everyone grabbed something to eat, or parused the gift shops. It's an airport that is sorely lacking in A/C, but nobody seemed to mind. Soon we'd be off to Dubai, while the rest of them left for Heathrow. Regardless, there's not much hope of getting home in time to see Kevin leave for the senior prom. Katie & I have missed his attending a Mercy dance, and the Junior Prom, now we'll miss him attending the Senior Ball. Super. We'll be stuck her in JFK until the plane leaves at 8:30... only 1 more hour to go. BTW Delta Airlines should be avoided at all costs.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


We started off on safari at 7:30am... but not after a good night's sleep that was followed by scrambled eggs, toast, fresh fruit and French pressed coffee. As we walked toward the dining area, Katie and I came upon a baboon sitting on the walkway. "Aggggh," she said.... not "exclaimed," or "yelled," rather, she just said it. It's quite humorous hearing her reactions. It was as if she crosses paths with baboons all the time, but she still needs to say something, so she said, "aggggh." She does it all day long, which is comforting because although she sits behind me in the Land Rover, it feels like she's right next to me.

We left with the same people as the day before, and that seems to be the norm for the other three vehicles as well. Even dinner the night before was the same set up... the meal was different, but the same people sat at the same table. This changed tonight, but I'll get to that after the pictures.

Rick (or "Lord Jim" as he asked to be called while wearing his pith helmet), Marilyn, Alex, Ashley, Katie and I set out with Isaac. The light was soft, and we saw a lot of animals. Most of the animals were easily visible... elephants, giraffe, gazelles, topi, warthogs, all pretty easy to see. The cheetah and lions were a little more difficult. We found the cheetah by watching other vehicles congregate in an area where the grass as fairly high. Nobody cared if it was cheating or not. The lions were more difficult. We drove through high grass that surrounded goups of green brush. We did that for quite some time before I spotted a tail flip up in the air - it was a groupd of 5 lionesses. It was mad cool! Here are the highlights.

The rhinoceros and the leopard continue to elude us, but Isaac has assured me that we'd find them tomorrow. We'd have a better chance of finding them in the morning as opposed to during the drive later today. We got back for lunch around 2:30pm, and were told that we'd head back out again at 3:30/4pm after lunch and some brief down-time.

We went out on time at 3:45pm, and went in search of some different lions that were said to have recently killed a gazelle. I spotted these two also. Isaac told me he'd hire me if I wanted to relocate. Isaac proceeded to drive the Land Rover within about 6 feet of the lions. The interesting thing was that they barely paid attention to us. They were apparently full, because after lifting their heads to see what the noise was, they dismissed us and went right back to sleep. In hindsight, that was the perfect reaction.

By the time we get back to the camp, it's getting dark, so we once again went through routine of cleaning up and preparing for dinner. This time I had the tillapia, and it was very good. It's nice eating vegetables, too. Besides skumawiki, we didn't come across many in Maseno.

A chocolate brownie later, and we were all in bed, thinking about the day behind us and the day ahead.

See you tomorrow.