Photo Frenzy (Aug 11-15)

Given the less-than-frequent number of updates I’ve been able to post since arriving in Kenya, this will be another one of those somewhat rare updates where I combine multiple days. Partially in the interest of time. And partially because some of the days were very similar in terms of activities and I figure it’s probably best to just post photos. As such, there are more than the usual amount of photos with this update. In fact, there are not one, not two, but three galleries. There’s a gallery of general photos of the town of Wote. There’s a gallery for the short (but great) stay at Tsavo West National Park. And there’s a third gallery of photos that probably could’ve gone into one of the other galleries but I opted to make a third gallery instead. I’m not sure why. Of course, with all of the galleries it didn’t leave much room for photos in the body of this update. So, if you want to see photos, make sure you click through the galleries.

Two of many zebras at Tsavo West National Park.

Two of many zebras at Tsavo West National Park.

At the risk of sounding incredibly unoriginal, time really flies when you’re having fun. The fact that I’ve been in Kenya for over a week now seems inconceivable. I feel like I just arrived here. And yet the reality is that there’s a return flight to Amsterdam waiting for me only a few days from now. Now, just to be clear, this hasn’t been a holiday nor has it been all fun and games. Actually, there haven’t been any games but it has been mostly fun and we’ve accomplished and learned a lot.

And what have we learned, you may ask? Well, we’ve learned typical things about such things as Kenya, giraffes, and elephants. We also learned about farming silkworms and the whole process of silk production – an important aspect of Gage’s documentary. We’ve also learned the importance of a tripod and how to improvise in lieu of one. And, perhaps most importantly, we’ve learned that if you want dinner at 7:00 PM you should order it at 5:30 PM – and even then you might not get your food until 9:00 PM. There is definitely a different pace to the way things get done here. Side note: When you order chicken stew in Kenya it is essentially a death sentence to a local chicken who otherwise thought it was going to make it through the day. That fact may explain the added time required to get your dinner.

As for the food, there has been a wide variety available including several local dishes such as ugali, mandazi, chopati, pigeon peas, and a few vegetable dishes – the names of which escape me at the moment. But it’s all been good. Very good. I’ve even eaten goat a couple of times – it too was good but I’ve noticed that the meat in Kenya is MUCH less tender than what I’m used too. Of course, ordering food and drinks has occasionally been a challenge as the locals seem to struggle with our accents as much as we struggle with theirs. And our Swahili is more than a little lacking. Although, we now know that water is “maji”. That said, our use of said word did not seem to improve our success rate when ordering the clear beverage.

On the weekend we took a break from documentary work and went to Tsavo West National Park and spent the night at Severin Safari Camp. A VERY nice camp where we stayed in VERY nice tents. Although, I hesitate to call them tents because these were the nicest tents I’ve ever seen. I think “huts” would be a more accurate description. And “hut” might not even do them justice.

Given that Severin Safari camp is located in a national park in Kenya, it goes without saying (and yet I’m saying it anyway) that there were more than a few animals roaming around. While we didn’t see any big cats or elephants at the camp, we did see zebras, giraffes, impalas, and a plethora of birds – including one that swooped in to snag a giant bumblebee which was flying only a few feet from our dining table. Seriously, the bee was the size of a golf ball.

Given the close proximity to the animals, there were certain safety precautions in place while at the camp. Most notably, we needed to be escorted to and from our huts after dark by one of the three Maasai on duty. Even the animals know not to mess with the Maasai. Side note: Our first significant wildlife sighting actually occurred on the road to Severin Safari Camp and it came in the form of a giant female ostrich. She strode alongside of us for a while before easing her way in front of our van and taking a seat right in the middle of the VERY dusty road and proceeded to create a minor dust storm. Apparently it was her road. Fortunately, she didn’t demand a toll to pass and we carried on without incident.

First elephant sighting.

First elephant sighting.

Our afternoon and early evening was spent on a game drive through the maze of roads in the vicinity of the safari camp. There was no shortage of wildlife sightings. And our driver, Mohammed did a great job of traversing the dusty and sometimes awkwardly hilly and uneven roads. Along those roads we witnessed a plethora of zebras, impalas, and many a dik-dik (tiny deer-like animals), several baboons and giraffes, monkeys, and even a few elephants were kind enough to make an appearance. To top it off, the sunset was stunning. Truly stunning. No Photoshop required.

After the game drive, we returned to the camp for dinner before retiring to our respective huts for the night. I had no reason to summon a Maasai escort during the night; however, I did wake to a rustling sound outside my hut at about 5:00 AM. Despite the early hour I felt the need to investigate. My investigation revealed a large number of zebras and impalas casually walking past our huts. Several of the impalas stopped right next to my hut to graze for a bit. Unfortunately, it was very dark so I have no photos of the moment. Instead I just watched. It was all very cool.

Speaking of cool, the weather has been much warmer since leaving Nairobi and arriving in Wote. And Wote in the middle of August is dry. Very dry. And, VERY dusty. A stark contrast to the UK portion of this year’s cycle tour. That said, I’m not sure I’d want to ride my bicycle in Kenya (specifically Nairobi). Yes, it’s dry but the roads and drivers don’t leave me with the impression that it’s a particularly cycle-friendly area. I would certainly need a bicycle more suited to off-road riding than my current configuration. That said, I’m sure many have cycled through here. Who knows, maybe I will too. Someday.

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