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Trip Report Nyamera's Stupidest Kenya Trip So Far ' Trip Report 2008

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First I'd like to explain the stupidity. Since 2003, I've been to Kenya 5 times including this one and I've always wanted to stay. This time I was so old and had spent so many years living only for my Kenya trips that there simply was no other option, but I still couldn't find a hole in the Kenya wall to stick in a toe. Next year I'll be really old and I don't even know if I'll be able to go to Kenya. I hope any first time visitors now understand why this report is oozing negativity. Had it been a 'once in a lifetime as there are so many other places to visit' kind of a trip, I'd be planning my second Kenya trip by now.

My photos can be seen here: http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingSignin.jsp?Uc=p2uww5u.a5f6smci&Uy=ufthzn&Upost_signin=Slideshow.jsp%3Fmode%3Dfromshare&Ux=0&UV=276173107171_445144468306&localeid=en_US
They are even worse than last year even though this year there was light and a completely different weather than previous years. My only explanation is that my eyes were very irritated due to sun and wind and I just aimed my camera blindly hoping there would be animals in the pictures. There are some amazing animals out of focus.

My itinerary ended up like this:
19 June Terminal Hotel, Nairobi ' 2 nights
21 June Nyumbu Camp, Maasai Mara ' 6 nights
27 June Terminal Hotel, Nairobi ' 3 nights
30 June Fisherman's Camp, Lake Naivasha ' 7 nights
7 July Terminal Hotel, Nairobi ' 5 nights

Now I'll try to remember what happened.

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    Day 1
    As always I took the morning flights to Amsterdam and Nairobi so that I would arrive in the evening and start my Kenya trip with a good night’s sleep. I also slept almost all the time on the plane, but not so much the night before as I had to get up at 1am and leave home at 3am. My father drove me to the airport and I made notes of the wildlife seen along the way – 16 roedeer and nothing else – the worst gameviewing so far.

    I was worried about what Nelson, cleaner at the Terminal Hotel, would say about my choice of safari company. He’s my friend and he has a safari company that I hadn’t booked with. I’d asked about where he gets vehicles and guides, without getting a proper reply, and that would be an explanation for my disloyalty, I thought, but I wasn’t sure. At Arlanda airport I tried to decide whether to buy him a t-shirt with a moose on it or The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. I finally settled for the book.

    On the flight to Nairobi, the British Somali man sitting next to me waked me up for my vegetarian meal. The tomato soup was quite tasty, but with just a little bit of turbulence, all passengers would have arrived in Nairobi looking like after a mayor crash. The plane looked completely full.

    In Nairobi I usually take a taxi to my hotel but this year I was picked up by Ernest Kamara, who was going to be my driver-guide from As You Like It. I asked him if I should call him Ernest or Kamara, but didn’t get a straight answer and as everybody else called him Kamara, I did the same. A man called Simon, if I remember correctly, accompanied him. I’d chosen As You Like It because its owner, Vivien, was the owner of the Mara camp I was interested in, Nyumbu Camp, and because Kamara was “the best” driver/guide. At $1645 for 6 nights it was my so far most expensive safari. It would have been even more expensive if it wasn’t because I got to use “the old Landcruiser”.

    We saw some sleeping marabous on the way to the Terminal Hotel, Kamara and Simon liked my Daim http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daim_bar . I was dropped off at the Terminal and Kamara would pick me up at 7.30 Saturday morning (it was Thursday evening).

    This year the Terminal was 1400 shillings for a single. They keep raising the prices, at least for the singles, and it’s no longer inexpensive. A triple is 2000 shillings. Nelson would be there in the morning and Jacob took my heavy (19 kilos at Arlanda) bag to the room. Before leaving he buttoned up the top button on my shirt and told me to “look smart”. Is that proper behaviour of a hotel employee? I remember that on my first trip to Kenya I thought people said I looked intelligent. Now Jacob didn’t think I looked smart enough.

    There was a healthy population of cockroaches in the room. As long as I’m not responsible for the cleanliness, I don’t mind. I actually prefer them to other insects as they’re so intelligent that there’s no risk I’d accidentally crush them when sleeping, not that that’s something that often happens with other insects.

    I had some Daim and tap water, showered and went to bed.

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    Day 2

    I was up early and had breakfast at the Dove Cage. The morning was cloudy and a bit chilly. Nelson had many things to tell and as I’m a bit slow I didn’t quite catch it all. He had lost his phone (recovered his number) and some small money during the troubles. The rest of the staff had slept at the hotel, but he went to and fro by matatu and sometimes 14 kilometres on foot. The worst problem had been food prices and availability. He had also sms:ed me about these things during the troubles. There had been insufficient rains and many food growers had been displaced from their land. Nelson predicted a serious famine in a couple of months. His safari company, now called Terminal Tours, had a new website and its own Mount Kenya guides. Some safaris were done in conjunction with Gametrackers. The boss didn’t know anything about the company and would have preferred Nelson to just do his job. He doesn’t pay enough for that though (some US$150 a month) and Nelson has many children, of which only 5 are his own. Nelson also has many projects to help people in his home village. The previous year I had mentioned that I was desperate to stay in Kenya and would consider marrying a Kenyan. Nelson had thought of that and had a nephew who really was like a brother whose wife had left him and who was working most of the time. I felt like he didn’t quite understand me. Was the nephew a gold level KPSGA guide? Nelson expected me to visit his village and some women that I had done business with. I said it would be too embarrassing to meet the nephew, but I really was worried about shower facilities and pressure to make donations I can’t afford. I’ll visit that village when I’ve found a way to stay in Kenya.

    Out on the streets of Nairobi I met Chris who does all kinds of business and who the previous year had cycled to Kilaguni and Ngulia in Tsavo West (I’m not convinced) to find out some things for me. Seven people had nearly killed him during the troubles and he had had to shave his dreadlocks so that nobody else would want to kill him or mistake him for a killer. Chris said that things were very bad and that he would have to follow me until I gave him some business. The quickest thing I could think of was photography business at his favourite sight – the Dedan Kimathi monument, “the original Rasta”.

    Some people wanted me to have a look at shops with curios made by IDPs (internally displaced people). I had a salad at Java House and returned to the Terminal where Nelson invited me to afternoon tea. After some not too clever shopping, I joined Nelson in the staff room for African tea. When the word “Kenyan” was mentioned”, the door opened and another staff member, Sammy, walked in saying, “no, I’m not Kenyan, I’m Ugandan”. I believed him, but Nelson said he just looked Ugandan because he was Luhya, from the west. They are darker and rounder. Sammy grabbed his jacket and told me that you could no longer go out at night without getting killed. It was getting dark, so I asked him if he would die. He wouldn’t because the city wasn’t dangerous, but in Kangemi where he lived you just eat and go to bed like a little baby or … (he made the international sign for having your throat cut). After he’d left, Nelson told me how hard he had to work since he was the only Kamba at the hotel and that most guest where there because of him. I could believe the latter, as the hotel doesn’t even have an email address. Then Nelson saw a friend from the Netherlands and invited him to tea, but the friend declined the invitation.

    I went to Nakumatt Lifestyle to buy some baby bananas and drinking yoghurt for breakfast. The man, I can’t remember his name, standing next to the shopping baskets greeted me shaking my hand, telling me how welcome I was to Kenya and “his shop”. He did this every time a visited Nakumatt during this trip and I have a slight feeling he was making fun of me in some way. I decided just to have some tomato soup and pineapple juice for dinner at Books First, opposite the Terminal. Some very load music was playing and the restaurant was full. Then I saw someone waving. It was Nelson’s Dutch fiend who invited me to share his table. He wasn’t eating. I think he preferred drinking and that’s what he was doing. He was staying in Kenya for several months, most of the time in Nairobi enjoying the nightlife. He was amazed that I hadn’t been to the “Madhouse” that was just around the corner. I think he meant the flying saucer shaped place called Florida 2000 in the guidebooks. There you walk in circles all the time and can just say bye bye to people you want to get rid of – apparently there’re quite a few of those - and the music was very good, he told me. He had mixed feeling about Sweden as you sometimes can drive for hours without seeing any people. That’s about the only positive thing I can say about my country - that sometimes there is some space. When the bill arrived it was handed to the Dutchman (don’t remember his name) and my soup was mixed with his wine. He insisted on paying and I didn’t protest too much, but said I’d buy him some wine if he were around when I got back from the Mara. He thought I should invite Nelson instead. I started calculating and felt quite content that I had got back the money I’d given away half involuntarily during the day. Apart from Chris there was another case of which I don’t remember the details and if I write about everything I’ll never get to the wildlife that I suppose most readers are interested in. The tomato soup was good, but had lots of chopped coriander that stuck on my teeth.

    I went to bed with mixed feelings: the marvellous unreality of going to the Mara the next day mixed with the stress of how much more impossible finding a way to stay seemed when on the ground in Kenya.

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    Day 3

    I was up at 5 and picked up by Kamara at 7.30. He gave me a blue As You Like It t-shirt with a crowned crane logo. It was cold and drizzling. The policeman at the permanent checkpoint after leaving Nairobi couldn’t find anything on As you Like It’s old Landcruiser that warranted a fine. I got off quickly at the Rift Valley viewpoint where I didn’t see any hyrax and didn’t want to buy any heavy soapstone. After Maai Mahi there were tommies, zebras and bustards. Everything was noticeably drier than the previous year and I couldn’t notice any improvement on the road except for a stretch before Narok. After a brief nose-powdering stop in Narok we continued towards the road to Sekenani Gate. I’d never approached the Mara from that direction before and was alarmed at the resemblance to Samburu. Kamara thought Samburu was much more desertlike, but I had been there during a normal June. There were herds of zebras and wildebeest, giraffes and the first topi, on his own in a zebra herd. There were also cows and shoats and very little grass. We sneaked westwards behind Mara Simba and Talek and soon we were at Nyumbu Camp. The sign said, “Nyumbu Authentic Safari Camp” and it had been almost exactly a 6-hour drive. It was very, very hot.

    Behind the car park there was a quite big, solid or half solid building where I suppose the kitchen and some staff quarters were. We were welcomed with juice and hot towels and there was some kind of briefing that I don’t really remember, but it felt a bit too much like Intrepids. Fortunately, Nyumbu couldn’t quite live up to it. The undulating surroundings were beautiful with tall, bad, dry grass and thorn trees, mostly whistling thorns. I could see a small herd of topis up on a hill. We had lunch that was tomato soup and buffet. The soup didn’t taste very much of tomato, but everything else was really nice. At Nyumbu they hadn’t been informed/didn’t remember that I was a vegetarian, but there was more than enough food that I could eat. There were two American couples staying at the camp.

    Then I was taken to my tent that was enormous. There was one double and one single bed, a laundry basket, a long low table, shelves with towels and space to put clothes and a rack where I could hang clothes. In the bathroom there was a bucket shower, a canvas washstand, and an “eco-toilet”. I had a big bucket full of water and a mug to pour it with. The used water was thrown out through the backzipper of the bathroom. The toilet had a bucket of earth and a mug. Instead of flushing you sprinkled 3-4 mugs of earth. It was not much more work and it was less noise polluting. All this could have fitted in a tent a third of the size of this one. Do people need to dance in their tents? My smiling tent steward, Peter, explained how everything worked. The tent was situated on a low stone and concrete platform and there were paths of the same material in the camp. I prefer not to have any solid structures, but maybe it’s useful when it rains.

    Instead of having a rest, I went out to have a look before the 4pm game drive. Fortunately, Nyumbu is unfenced, but I didn’t see any animals in camp. Outside there were some zebras and I was attacked by tsetse flies. The tsetses actually made me feel clever, as I had suspected that they would be there. I inspected the solar panels and got ready for the game drive.

    A mature Maasai man with long ears and the name Kiringai would be accompanying us on the game drives. I wondered why it on the map looked like Nyumbu was in Olare Orok Conservancy, but I’ve been told that it was in “the pristine Nyumbu Conservancy” and Kamara said that the Nyumbu Conservancy didn’t exist. There was just someone who was paying three rangers. All the Olare Orok signs that we came across were smashed to pieces.

    In the area around Nyumbu there were always zebras, topis, tommies, impalas and the occasional kongoni-hartebeest and Grant’s. We saw them all on the first game drive and also a jackal, and two hyenas that were running around, probably with a purpose. There were a couple of big giraffe herds mixed with zebras. One giraffe calf looked very young. Giraffe calves are extra cute because of their short backs and very vertical necks.

    I’d been told that Kamara was “the best” driver-guide and he probably was the best driver, but as a guide he was about average, which, for some reason, in Kenya isn’t that impressive. I had expected to learn a lot, but I didn’t. Some of this can be explained by my behaviour: I’m not the most communicative person and I was standing up in the wind and sun almost all the time, so there couldn’t be that much communication. The edge of the seat was almost straight under the padded edge of the roof where I was supposed to lean my arms; I had to bend my legs backwards a bit and my upper body forwards, so I often stood on the seat and thus I was even higher up. I don’t know if I’m too critical and demanding. On the first game drive there was a vulture on a thorn tree. I asked Kamara what kind of vulture it was and he got out the bird book. There aren’t that many vulture species in the Mara and it was quite obvious when we got nearer that it was a lappet-faced, which Kamara also found in the book. Kamara had some other qualities and I wouldn’t be complaining if it weren’t because of the pre-trip exaggerations.

    When back in camp the American couples told me that, as I was on my own, they’d come up with the idea that we should have one big table. They also decided to ask their guide to share the table. Then Peter asked me when I’d like to have a shower. I replied that I always shower before I go to bed, so he could fill it up at dinnertime and then I’d have the shower when I was ready. Peter preferred me to tell him right before showering so that the water would be hot. It felt like I’d experienced this before.

    Dinner was buffet style as well. It looked like Kamara was eating from a different buffet than I, as he was focused on meat and I on salads and desserts. The Americans were very, very nice, but I had a hard time keeping up with their conversation about grandchildren (I think). Not only did I have to think of something to say, but it also had to be socially acceptable and even nice. To them it came naturally and they must have thought I was very stupid and boring, which I probably am as I would have had the same problem even if they’d been talking about something interesting. At the same time I was trying to catch something of what Kamara and the Americans’ driver-guide, James from Nature Expeditions, were talking about in Swahili. I don’t understand much when people are talking, but I know some grammar, have a wordbook and can understand and make myself understood in writing. As I’m quite paranoid and prefer people to think I know less than I really do, I hardly said a complete sentence during this trip. Now I think that was a mistake. By the way, Nature Expeditions is the safari company of Nyumbu Camp and Nyumbu Camp is owned by As You Like It (I never quite got it). When I was thinking of moving to the campfire, there were strange noises and then some Maasai dancers appeared. They were Nyumbu staff and even the cook joined in. The different songs, dances and jumping went on for a long time and they seemed to enjoy it. They were actually good and didn’t sing Jambo Bwana, but this performance was repeated every time some guests were leaving the next day and it became a bit much.

    Kamara and James joined me at the campfire, but the Americans disappeared. Never during my six-night stay did any other guests show any interest in the fire. The nighttime game viewing was very bad. There were no animals at all, but we heard zebras and hyenas – and domestic dogs. James was very worried for the future of the Mara and said he would like the Mara Conservancy to take over the whole thing. He had some theories that Brian Heath’s skin colour was the reason there was no corruption in the Conservancy and I wasn’t very convinced. The latest disaster on the Narok side was that the senior warden had given Somak Safaris permission to build a lodge in the Lookout Hill area where there are forests that are the breeding ground for the black rhinos of the Mara. They were in fact already building the lodge. Somak Safaris are incidentally the only place in Nairobi where you can buy park tickets for the Narok side. James didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t get any support from “his community” because of the problem with illiteracy. They’d just think a new lodge was a good thing that would bring jobs and that James was envious. I said I could try to inform tourists on the Internet, if I got some more information and Kamara said that Vivien (owner of As You Like It) would be on the phone with ministers before knowing what it was all about. She had been very energetic with some rangers that didn’t do enough to help an orphaned elephant calf and she had helped so many people. Peter kept appearing to ask me when I wanted to have my shower and I kept saying that he could just bring the water and go to bed and that I’d shower when I was ready. It would be my own fault if the water were cold. Finally he did take the water to my tent and after a while I went to bed after the torture of an almost cold shower in a cold tent.

    It was windy and the tent made a lot of noise. I thought two elephants were leaning against it and that it was going to break. Then I thought that people were trying to get in, probably dead people, and for the first time ever I was completely terrified in a tent in Kenya. I got up with one of my torches and closed the bathroom zipper. After that there was less noise. I heard hyenas and zebras, but no lions.

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    Day 4

    As always (on safari) I was up at 5 am, thanks to my two alarm clocks. Every night at Nyumbu I had to say, “no thanks, I don’t need a wake-up call”. Unlike other camps they didn’t bring morning tea to the tents, at least not automatically, and I think that’s good. We were going on a full-day game drive and were taking lunch boxes, so we were having breakfast at the camp. I suppose you could take both breakfast and lunch with you, but I didn’t want to complicate things. Later breakfast times had been suggested to me by waiting staff, but I requested breakfast at 6.30, which really is the time you have to be out, and I was feeling like I was missing a lot of amazing animals. I hadn’t heard any lions during the night, but the previous year at Bushbuck, the night I heard no lions was the night they killed a giraffe 50 metres from camp. I did NOT want any eggs. The sole idea of a cooked breakfast makes me feel sick and I was in a hurry, but Kamara had a full plate of eggs and sausages.

    We were on our way before 7 and the topis were around. To prevent my usual safari eye problems I was wearing sunglasses against the wind. When Kiringai spitted out of the front seat window, my glasses got sprinkled. I considered asking him to stop spitting, but I didn’t – he stopped anyway. The morning was a bit chilly, but there were almost no clouds, which I found strange for the Mara in June. After an hour or so we were out on a grassy plain without much wildlife, but we could see two Intrepids vehicles (if I remember correctly), the first other vehicles we had sighted. They were watching three lionesses that looked hungry. They would have to move somewhere else to get someone to eat, as the grass looked completely empty, but maybe there were some hidden warthogs. Suddenly we were at Olkiombo airstrip, inside the reserve. I’d thought we’d enter through some gate, but if you don’t have to do that, Nyumbu has an excellent location for reaching different parts of the Mara. We saw elands that we hadn’t seen in the Nyumbu area, but later there were elands there as well. As we got closer to the Mara River there were very many zebras and they were happily accompanied by topis. We alighted from the Landcruiser to have a look at hippos and then Kamara started baiting birds, which was good as it’s the only way I can get decent bird photos. There were mostly weavers and babblers. It felt very good to be back at the Mara River.

    The sun was getting rather fierce and the zebras were moving closer and closer to the upper part of the double-crossing point upstream from the Serena – I think it’s called Paradise Crossing. Many topis did what they do best: they were standing on termite mounds, and admiring zebras surrounded one of them. There were three vehicles waiting for the zebras to cross the river and I decided that we too should wait even if we would have to spend the night there. I was so pleased with having my private vehicle, my private driver-guide and my private Kiringai, whatever his title was. There were some crocodiles that were waiting as well. A sole wildebeest was looking more determined than the zebras and eventually he crossed. The zebras didn’t follow the wildebeest. I was sitting on the roof in the scorching sun, but felt safe using protection factor 45. Only one other vehicle was still there. Its occupants had a white, or rather a toasted pink coloured, driver-guide, which is rarely seen and looked very expensive. The zebras approached the river warily and one by one to have a drink, bolting at any croc movement. After a while they started moving towards the other crossing point and the topis lined up behind them. I wanted to tell the topis that there was a bridge further south.

    Finally the last vehicle left and we were on our own. The zebras slowly returned to the first crossing point and some more, but not many, wildebeests appeared. It was almost 2pm and we decided to have lunch in the Landcruiser. My eyes were in a bad state even though I’d kept my sunglasses on almost all the time. I tried to wipe off the running mascara with a tissue and water. I have a hair problem that I had to attend to as well: my mental health would be so much better if my hair was wavy, but it’s straight with shorter strands that are nasty, ugly wisps that drive me mad. On safari I wear a lose braid instead of a braid put up with pins and the way it is messed up by the friction against my back is worse than a swarm of tsetse flies. And, I was red like a tomato, from the heat, I thought. Kamara and Kiringai looked nice and fresh: they never opened the roof hatch above the front seat, the little hair they had always looked the same and they had good naturally upturned eyelashes. I wanted to kill them, but they would never had understood why they had to die and I wouldn’t have liked to start the Landcruiser on my own so close to the Mara River. I’ll not mention lipgloss, in case I would offend any safari purists reading this. When I’d started digging into my lunchbox, I looked up and two zebras were crossing the river! Nobody followed them, but a stallion got very upset that they had crossed, calling them and trotting up and down along the river. I had an Aspirin with caffeine, as I do most days when I can’t take a siesta.

    Another hour passed and suddenly a big group of zebras were in the river with the intention of crossing as quickly as possible – I think it’s safe to say that was their intention. I got up on the roof again and felt like I was in exactly the place where I should always be. Though I was a bit irritated that not all people agree about what’s my place in the world. The water wasn’t high and those who crossed in the right place didn’t have to swim. Some slipped and fell on the crocodiles lying in the stream like battle ships waiting to attack (as Atravelynn so aptly put it), before getting on their feet again to continue. The crocs dragged away a wildebeest that was lucky and got loose. A zebra and another wildebeest were less lucky and got killed. If I had been there to tick off on a list with the pyramids, Taj Mahal, wildlife in Africa etc, I’d have preferred not to see any kills. Though I almost didn’t see them as the sun, the wind and the irritating obsession of having to photograph all the time had made my eyes quite useless. Once on the Mara Conservancy side the zebras and wildebeests hurried up the rocky slope and I lost sight of them when they got into the bushes on the top. I heard some excited words from Kamara and Kiringai, and Kamara asked me, “did you see?” I had missed a lion that jumped up from the bushes pouncing on a zebra that had just made it across the river. For over 20 minutes new groups of zebras kept jumping into the river. When the crossing stopped there were several very upset stallions that now had some of their mares on the other side. I don’t think that being the only vehicle at a river crossing had anything to do with the “troubles”. In 2007 I was stuck in a hole close to the Mara River for 4 hours at the same time of the day.

    There were lion coloured things of different sizes in the bush on the other side of the river and they were probably eating a zebra. Further downstream a gang of crocs were doing the same thing, taking turns showing their pale chests while chewing with their snouts in the air. Now was the time to cross for any topis tired of the Narok side, but they weren’t interested. A mare and a foul took the opportunity though.

    When we were about to head out onto the Paradise Plains, an Explorer vehicle appeared. In it were four girls in their 20s and Dennis, my driver from Intrepids 2007! Instead of telling him how happy I was to see him - after saying that we had just seen a river crossing - I asked him if he got the photos I sent him and why he hadn’t replied. He had received the photos, but could only send emails when in Nairobi, which I already knew. Dennis wanted to know when I’d be back and I told him that they would have to take down the fence first. The girls said that there was no fence where they were staying and they looked at me like I was really nasty. Then I said that I’ll be back if I got a really good offer for Explorer. If I were American I’d have started crying and I’d given Dennis nice gifts for his children. Not that he has any children. Though that could have changed in a year. I need to change my behaviour.

    Once out on the plain we came across another Heritage vehicle looking at a cheetah that came walking. The cheetah sat down on a termite mound. Some 100 metres away there were three, I think, other Heritage vehicles looking at another spotted cat on top of another termite mound. We went to have a look at the leopard, but it was getting late and we had to go. After another quick look at the cheetah we were racing back to camp. I don’t know how fast Kamara was driving, but standing up in the wind it felt like he was speeding. Sometimes I thought I saw servals and I asked him to stop, but I don’t know if there were any. Drops of rain were falling; it got dark and when we were close to camp, the skies opened up and the rain poured down forcing us to close the roof hatch. It wasn’t that easy to find the way to Nyumbu in the dark, but once there, a member of the staff was waiting with an umbrella. It had been a nice 12-hour game drive.

    I straightened out my hair and my eyes and noticed that my forehead and nose were very burnt. For a few seconds I wondered if making someone drive me around for 12 hours – even though most of the time had been spent parked next to the Mara River - could be considered abusive.

    An American group of 12 people from the same family had arrived. James and another guy from Nature Expeditions were their guides. I asked Kamara if he was tired, but he was used to driving from Lake Nakuru and then going directly on a game drive and he never got tired and never ever slept during the day. Though he said that the next day we’d go on a morning and an afternoon game drive and I said that we could do full-day game drives on alternate days. I mentioned a packed breakfast, but the chef had already retired to his bed. We would have breakfast in camp at 6.30. None of the Americans came to the campfire and neither did any animals or James. Kamara said that there were animals when there was water in the ditch bordering the camp. Peter wanted to know if my water had been cold the previous night and I said that it had been almost hot. He insisted that it would be so much better if we walked to my tent together and I agreed to come with him and get a bucket shower photo. I had forgotten to apply my eucalyptus-based mosquito repellent and the mosquitoes had found me. The night was less windy than the previous night, and again I heard hyenas and zebras.

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    Day 5

    We were on our way before 7am, the morning was very cold, Kiringai was spitting again and close to camp we encountered an elephant family on the move. On our way to Talek Gate I was reminded that Talek really is quite a big town. On my first trip to Kenya I stayed at a camp in the area – other camps have popped up like mushrooms since then - and regretted not having checked out the town more thoroughly, but now I’d not like to stay in such a developed area. For the first time this trip we passed through a gate. As a contrast to 2007 there were almost no minivans in the Talek area. The reason for this could have been that the big lion pride wasn’t around either, or at least we didn’t see them. We did see the collared hyenas and the waterbucks that always hang around near the gate. I never know where I am on game drives, but for this trip I had brought a map and I kept asking Kamara about our location. His explanations were rather approximate though. The Posee and Meta Plains were empty, empty, empty, except for small groups of topis and zebras, warthogs and some shy elands. There was a bigger herd of giraffes and an elephant family with a very angry calf. He just couldn’t stand us and kept mock charging and trumpeting. It must have been so frustrating for him that his mother and aunts didn’t assist him in turning the Landcruiser into a flat piece of metal scrap. Next to a small river/ditch Kiringai discovered rhino tracks and I almost thought that at last I’d see a Mara rhino, but it was nowhere to be found. Instead I found a tortoise. We saw some nice topis next to the gate. Kamara said that he never called them nyamera and that it’s mainly done in Tanzania.

    We were back in camp for lunch and I felt a bit irritated, as I would have preferred lunch next to the Mara River. Back in my tent I fortunately managed to set one of my alarm clocks before falling asleep and at 4pm we were out again.

    We headed in another direction and came upon three vehicles next to some riverine trees and a thicket. For a while I thought there were lion cubs in the thicket, but the attraction was a leopard with a cub in one of the trees. They were only visible for brief moments when moving to new branches. After some time one vehicle left, another moved to the other side of the river and we followed it seeing a hippo out and about on the way to the crossing. On the other side the leopardess was more visible and I discovered that there were two cubs sitting in different trees. The mother got down to the ground and into the bushes and the cubs started growling. I might be mistaken, but it sounded like they wanted their mother to help them descend. They managed to reach they ground by themselves and then they followed the mother along the bushy edge of the riverbank. They got out of sight and as it was getting late, we and the other vehicle left. After crossing the river we approached the approximate site were the leopards had disappeared just in case we’d be lucky and there came the mother walking in the open with the cubs trailing behind her. They descended into the river again and crossed in a sandy place with almost no water. Then they had a quick drink a bit further down, the mother lay down on the little beach and one of the cubs approached her, they rubbed cheeks, the cub had few slurps of milk, got up and played with mum’s tail for a moment and then disappeared into the papyrus. The second cub repeated the same procedure and then mother and second cub followed the first cub into the papyrus and we returned to camp.

    Kiringai said that the river where we saw the leopards was Olare Orok. Now I think it could have been Ntiakitiak, but I’m very disorientated. When we were there I had a feeling that we were outside the Reserve, but now I don’t think so. I don’t even think we did any game drives in Olare Orok Conservancy, except for the area around Nyumbu.

    James from Nature Expeditions asked us to phone him if we saw leopard cubs, or anything of that ilk, again. The Americans hadn’t seen “anything at all”. After dinner, Kamara told me that he and James had to drive to Talek for some nighttime shopping since the kitchen had run out of important breakfast items. Some guides like to escape to town as soon as they get an opportunity, but they really didn’t appear to be of that kind, at least not Kamara. One of the waiters, Samuel, joined me by the fire for security reasons! Though I never understood what the danger was. I talked about finding a way to stay in Kenya and Samuel told me about an English woman who had bought a plot and built a house not far away from Nyumbu. I could work for a couple of years in my country and then do the same. I don’t think Samuel had a realistic view on how much money I can get hold of at home. His comment to the advice I’d got on a blog about marrying a member of parliament was that the managing director of Basecamp, where he had worked before, had married the daughter of an important woman minister. I wouldn’t say “great minds”, but Kenya-orientated minds think alike, it’s just that some do more than thinking. Somehow we got into religion and I wondered why all Kenyans were religious. Samuel had some new information for me: people don’t fear God; they fear being cast away by their families and if your parents have given you a “Christian name”, you’d better spit in the morning to bless God. I did know that spitting was a way of blessing for the Maasai, but I didn’t know that spitting out of the window of the Landcruiser in the morning was a way to bless God.

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    Day 6

    We drove almost straight to the place where we had seen the leopards the previous evening. They weren’t there, (because?) instead there was a lion lying in a bush. The lion didn’t look like he had any plans to get up and do anything. I heard a drumming and it was Kamara tapping his fingers on the side of the vehicle. If we would have been the only people the lion would see that day, a little bit of “interaction” wouldn’t a have been a problem, but this was the Maasai Mara and making noises to attract the attention of lions is definitely against the rules, for good reasons. I tried to think of what to say, but Kamara stopped by himself.

    Out on an almost empty plain with tall yellow grass we found an elephant herd with a calf so tiny that you almost couldn’t see it. We followed the elephants and after an hour or so they reached a river with hippos (Olare Orok?) and descended to have a drink. Nature Expeditions’ two minivans with Americans from Nyumbu appeared out of nowhere. I would definitely not have liked to share a minivan, but I envied their sunroof, as it was getting very hot. The elephants walked into the water and crossed the river. They were supposed to get up on the other side in a single file following the matriarch, but one of them took a shortcut climbing onto a rock, which made the matriarch furious, and she pushed the insolent elephant back into the river.

    The elephants disappeared, but we found something better: a big herd of topis. They were standing in the sun with their eyes closed and were accompanied by some zebras that for some reason didn’t have the same eye problem as we have. There were a couple of kongonis as well, but I don’t remember if their eyes were closed. Suddenly we found ourselves on the Governors’ airstrip reading a sign with some words that I don’t remember, but it was something about how very forbidden it was to drive on the airstrip. We had a look at the nice green hippo soup next to the airstrip and I tried – unsuccessfully - to photograph some African jacanas. The hippos were better at collaborating. Close to Governors’ Camp there were plenty of giraffes. Without Governors’ vehicles, the area with its green grass and riverine woodland would easily be confused with paradise and at midday, as this was, there are no vehicles. It’s a place where you could look around and say, “waterbuck at 12 o’clock, lion at 1 o’clock, impala at 2 o’clock, zebra at 3 o’clock” and so on round the clock. In the shade of a tree almost on the road a lion was lying flat. Kamara started tapping on the vehicle door and I said that lions need a lot of sleep. “They are lazy”, said Kamara, but it’s not the same, as I know being a very sleepy person. At the same time Kiringai opened the vehicle door and picked up a pebble from the ground. Kamara told him that it wasn’t good to disturb the animals, but the pebble was already in the air over the Landcruiser. The lion didn’t even lift his head.

    We alighted for lunch at the hippo-viewing site upstream from Governors’. A huge biomass of hippos was sunbathing at the other side of the Mara River. To be able to finish this report some time soon, I’m avoiding writing about food, but I could mention in what order I ate the fruit in the lunchbox: I started with papaya, then watermelon, then orange, then banana, then mango, and I saved the pineapple for last as it’s my favourite.

    After lunch we came across some very boring baboons. Baboons are usually entertaining, but these only concentrated on foraging, picking nice blades of grass, and didn’t even pose for a photo. The lilac-breasted rollers knew how to pose, but not how to be in focus. Further eastwards we spent a long time with a herd of some 300 buffaloes. We got some angry stares, but all in all they were extremely pleasant to be around and they had some tiny calves. The warthogs also liked to be around the buffaloes. Governors’ vehicles started appearing and 2 of them came to look at the buffaloes. They were nice and open-sided, but I’d preferred to be without them. We moved on and found three topis. One of them looked young, but was almost fully-grown. He galloped slowly across the road and into the grass, apparently just for fun. Then he came back at top topi speed (and that is fast) with a cheetah at his haunches. We got between them and the cheetah stopped and started to walk away. I thought it a good idea not to follow her too closely in case she was hunting. There were some tommies that looked like more suitable prey than a topi. Kamara didn’t think that she was hunting, but that the topi had just galloped into her whiskers. A Governors’ vehicle appeared and drove up to the cheetah that disappeared into a long strand of croton thicket. We continued back to camp and on the way we saw many nice topis in very tall grass.

    The 12 Americans were leaving the following day, so there was a very long Maasai song and dance number and James held a speech about being ambassadors for Nyumbu. There was a problem: we would have to have breakfast in camp the following day, as the kitchen staff couldn’t find a thermos for the tea! I didn’t have to say anything. Kamara said the obvious, “just pack some juice”.

    Kamara didn’t have any ideas about how I could stay in Kenya, but knew how my trips could be cheaper: I should plan my next trip well in advance, talk to people I know and make them want to come. Nyumbu gave a free stay to the 16th guest in a group. He knew an American teacher who brought friends on trips and got his own trips for free without his friends knowing about it. I don’t even know that many people, I can’t plan things that long in advance and if I was to bring groups I’d prefer to be a proper travel agent. Kamara said that many Kenyan members of parliament were quite young and could cheat on me.

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    Day 7

    We were out at 6.30am and we found the elephant herd with the tiny baby closer to Nyumbu than the previous day. On the road to Musiara Gate a cheetah was walking in the same direction as we were driving. Then she walked into the grass towards some tommies. Kamara phoned Nature Expeditions and they arrived with the Americans who still hadn’t left and we continued towards Musiara Gate. We saw a lioness that started to descend into a small bushy riverbed. For a second we also saw a very small cub, but they got into the bushes and we could only see one of the lioness’s ears. It was almost 9am and we should have had breakfast at that spot waiting for the lions to do something. Kamara started following a track through Musiara but the track ended and he had to go back and try another one, and another. We returned to the place where the lions had been, but now there wasn’t even an ear. After returning to the gate for some instructions we continued on a good track and soon there was a male lion on a hill next to a bush. I was getting hungry, so I opened a plastic box with Maria biscuits in it that always was in the vehicle. I stuffed myself with biscuits while staring at the lion and his friend who was lying flat in a bush, in the same way some people eat popcorn when watching a film. A thought we could have biscuit for breakfast and then have the breakfast as lunch and stay out all day, but I didn’t say anything.

    Then we were back at the hippo viewing spot for breakfast. This time most hippos were in the water. I tried to photograph a woodpecker, but you really can’t tell what’s in the photo. Suddenly a few Maasai appeared out of nowhere with bundles that they started to unpack setting up a small curio market. One of them had some lion’s teeth to sell. I don’t know if they were authentic, but I told him that it was against the law to trade in lion’s teeth, which he found very funny. I bought a thin Maasai necklace from a seller with no lion’s teeth and as he didn’t have any change, I also bought a boring necklace of the kind of which I have hundreds. Kiringai thought the boring necklace was better than the Maasai one and I don’t think Kamara had any opinions about jewellery.

    We left the sellers to look for something more interesting. It was very hot and there were no other vehicles anywhere. The topis were standing with their eyes closed and their heads low. We didn’t see anything unusual, but there were lots of ostriches close to camp.

    The Americans were getting ready to leave. One woman almost screamed when she saw my face and I understood her. I’ve had some bad burning episodes when I was younger and should be very careful with the sun. I’m probably too wrinkly for my age and now I was even wrinklier, red - and greasier than normal, as I put on generous layers of cream. The woman asked me if I was a photographer or something and I said that you could see on my camera that I was not. I should have told her that they could have come to the campfire to find out how not interesting I was. After lunch I slept for half an hour or so and then I tried to do something about the way I looked.

    Then we were out again heading in the Ol Kiombo direction. We met the Nature Expeditions vehicles that had dropped off the Americans and James asked if we had seen the lion cubs. We dashed off to a spot were there were a couple of vehicles looking at a thicket were 6 lion cubs were playing rather wildly. The grass was a bit too tall for good vision. Kamara said that we could go to the other side of the bush, but only for 15 minutes, as it was an area where you were not allowed to drive. I thought we could wait until the lions came closer. One female was in the bush and two others were lying in the tall grass near us. More vehicles, mostly Heritage, arrived and a classic Mara traffic jam of some 8 vehicles was forming. Most of the vehicles went over to the other side, but then the cubs decided to join the lionesses next to where we were parked. A male was slowly approaching the bush where the cubs had been playing and when he was a couple of metres away two of the lionesses got up, froze for a second, and then they descended upon the lion like a growling lightning. The lion lay down in the grass and the lionesses did the same next to the bush. The cubs, that had been watching, trotted down to the lionesses to get licked. I heard a Heritage guide say that the lion must have been from the same pride as the lionesses, or they would have taken off with the cubs as soon as they’d noticed him approaching. Some of the cubs came up to us again. Kiringai started spitting at one of them. Spitting is blessing and the cub was fascinated, but I don’t know if it was the most appropriate thing to do. It was getting late and the vehicles started disappearing. For some time Kamara had been saying that we had to return to camp, but we waited until the last vehicle had left.

    Two young English brothers had arrived at Nyumbu with their two young driver-guides, or maybe one was a driver and one was a guide. After dinner the drivers came to the campfire. They told Kamara that their guests were very young, but had been to Zimbabwe and Uganda, so their family must have a lot of money. Kamara told them that I was a teacher and they didn’t look impressed. In Kenya I say I’m a teacher, though I’ve never put my foot in a teaching college and I’ve never wanted to be a teacher. It’s just that I’ve got the money for all my Kenya trips from teaching. The kitchen wanted to talk to Kamara and when he came back he said that they had asked him to drive to Talek for nighttime shopping again, but that the recently arrived drivers had volunteered instead. He had already had to go to Talek after lunch and he said that the camp staff weren’t very organized and the only camp vehicle was a tractor. When I was enquiring about going to Nyumbu I had asked about taking public transport to Talek and then do game drives in the camp vehicles, but in that case a Nature Expeditions minivan would have had to drive down from Nairobi. On the website there is a nice open-sided vehicle with a sunroof. Kamara had heard a lion early in the morning. I’m always up at 5, but didn’t hear anything. Now I had some hope of hearing lions, but there were only hyenas.

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    Day 8

    This day we were going on a full-day game drive to the Mara Triangle west of the Mara River that belongs to the Trans Mara County Council and is managed by the Mara Conservancy. We entered through Talek Gate and headed southwest.

    Next to Ol Keju Gem River there was a big Fig Tree vehicle and a leopard was sniffing out the side of the riverbank. There were double riverbeds with a rock part in the middle and very little water. The leopard crossed over to the middle of the river and had a drink from a puddle and the Fig Tree vehicle left. Then she (I think it was a female) lay down and started cleaning herself before rolling up to have a rest. She didn’t rest for long until she got up, walked into the mid-river grass, had a look around and disappeared out of sight. And we continued towards Lookout Hill.

    We drove up to the top of Lookout Hill. There was another vehicle surrounded by a group of tourists having breakfast. As there were no other vehicles in sight anywhere, they probably didn’t appreciate our presence, but we were there on a mission: to find the new Somak lodge. We couldn’t see any building work anywhere and Kamara said that the whole thing could have been a lie. I later emailed Somak without getting a reply and then I found information on the Mara Triangle website that they were developing an area along the Mara River. The most recent information I have is that “Somak have stopped developing the area at the moment, and there will be an external task force coming down at the end of August to review all current and planned building of camps and lodges in the Masai Mara”.

    When we had descended the hill Kamara got under the Landcruiser to fix a small problem and I had a little walk looking at topis. Kiringai did some Kamara watching. Then we continued towards Mara Bridge. On the way we crossed a lovely little river and after crossing Kiringai saw something on the ground. He picked it up and it was a mussel shell that could be made into beads. It made me think of what the brown waters of the Mara rivers are hiding besides crocs and hippos. Next to Mara Bridge there were some hippos and many bones and skulls of the wildebeest that drowned in 2007. At the gate there were nice toilets with a mirror and some agama lizards.

    When we entered the Mara Triangle it was already 11am and very hot. We had a look at an empty crossing point and the tall bad grass with scattered plains game. In some places the grass was burnt, which probably was a good idea, but it was just black with no animals. I thought I saw a lion in a bush, but it was a reedbuck, which is a rarer sight, but I didn’t see it that well. We stopped for lunch under a tree surrounded by billowing yellow grass. I’ve written about “empty” places, but there have always been some animals. Here there was nothing, at least no mammals, but there was a picnic table, which made it feel like Nairobi NP. I got a feeling that neither Kamara nor Kiringai were that familiar with the Mara Triangle. We returned to the Narok side before 2pm. During our stay in the Triangle we had seen approximately 6 other vehicles.

    We kept to the southern part of the reserve driving towards Keekorok. There was tall yellow grass and few animals. Then we descended deep into the depths of safari depravity, game viewing at the Keekorok waste pit (known from A Primate’s Memoir by Robert M. Sapolsky). It was covered with a strong wire net on a steel structure, but the baboons had broken into it anyway. There were also some marabous, a monitor lizard and impalas with babies. On our way to Talek Gate we met a topi that stared at us and then ran away at top topi speed for a 100 metres or so. When we caught up with him, after having looked at warthogs, he was very recognizable among the other topis because again he stared and then speeded away to the first place where we had met him. I wonder if he was trying to say something or if he was just neurotic. Closer to Talek we met the elephant herd with the tiny baby again. A couple of minivans were looking at them.

    After exiting Talek Gate we went in the direction of where we had seen the lion cubs the previous evening. They had moved, but we found them even though they were lying in tall grass, probably because there was a collection of Heritage vehicles. Now a male was lying close to the females and he was licking a cub. I don’t know if he was the same as the one that was told off the day before. It was a bit windy and my wispy hair was extremely irritating. Game viewing would be so much better with curls bouncing in the air. I kept my sunglasses on even when it was getting dark, in part because of the wind, but mostly because of what my runny eyes had done to my mascara. Kamara said we would soon have to return to camp. The Heritage vehicles left one by one and then we too said goodbye to the lions. I didn’t think too much about when I’d next be on a game drive. Now I had to find a way to stay in Kenya.

    We were back at Nyumbu after another 12-hour game drive. I do recommend full-day game drives. The best way to do them would be to have lunch in a place with shade and good wildlife and not to be too much in a hurry to sleep an hour or so in the vehicle, or in the grass if someone stays awake keeping watch. All game drive vehicles have mirrors. On a self-drive I would have no problem completely reorganizing my hair and washing my eyes and re-applying mascara out in a national park or reserve. The whole problem has to do with looking ridiculous.

    Peter came to my tent when I was getting ready for dinner and I asked him about tips. I am quite cheap, but as I want to be popular, I always make sure I tip more than what’s expected. First he said that tips weren’t expected, but after some pressure I got him to tell me what an approximate normal tip was. He mentioned a very low sum for the staff box and even lower sums for the waiter and for himself, and a little more for Kiringai. He couldn’t tell me about Kamara, but it would have to be more “important”. I had a problem with my waiter: I didn’t catch his name the first day and Kamara didn’t know when I asked him. Then it felt like too late to ask. That’s the problem with travelling with a driver-guide; you don’t spend enough time with the camp staff.

    Fortunately both the English boys and I were leaving the next day. A song and dance number just for me would almost have been embarrassing. Kiringai thought it a good idea to wear a warrior wig and after the Maasai dance a member of staff did a solo performance. I thought he had gone mad, but the manager, Philip, who held the speech about being ambassadors for Nyumbu, said it was a Kamba dance. It was definitely more lewd and unhinged than a Maasai dance.

    At night I heard hyenas and zebras, no lions.

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    Day 9

    Since we were leaving early in the morning, I wasn’t in a hurry and had requested to have breakfast at 7.30am to leave at 8.00am. I tipped and signed the guest book and Philip informed me that they had new tents with flush toilet and that I could tell people that they had a choice. Flush toilets seemed very unnecessary and water consuming to me.

    Go to Nyumbu. It’s a nice camp.

    Done.

    Kamara could have dropped me off in Naivasha, but my plan was to stay at Fisherman’s Camp that’s more expensive at the weekend, and it was Friday. I had sms:d to find out if the lower rates were from Sunday or Monday, but I hadn’t got a reply. We were returning to Nairobi.

    We left at 8.30am and saw the last topi close to camp. Instead of heading towards Talek and Sekenani we turned north towards Aitong. Everything was very dry and women were carrying big plastic water tanks. Kamara said that they had to walk very far to get water. I was going to say, “let them have water brought to them by Peter”, but I didn’t. Vivien had had a camp near Aitong, but sold it. The very big farm that has a sign next to the main road, Olerai Farm, had been the property of just one man, but now his 13 sons had inherited it. Kamara showed me an area before Narok that had been a forest not so long ago. Then he stopped to buy some charcoal for Vivien. It was much cheaper than in Nairobi. In a Narok we made a quick toilet stop. Vivien phoned and invited me to tea and I was very interested in meeting her. We saw some tommies and zebras and three giraffes before Maai Mahi. For the first time ever I got off at the Rift Valley viewpoint when there were only light clouds. There were no hyraxes though. A curio seller asked me, after finding out where I was from, to change a Swedish 10-kronor coin and I did even though I’d have preferred to keep my 100-shilling note that’s very useful. I think he was the same guy who last year told me he collected foreign coins and whom I gave 10 kronor. There was a dead donkey at the side of the road. We went through Kikuyu to avoid traffic jams. There was an interesting, but very dusty market.

    We reached Karen and, unsurprisingly, a big gate in a high hedge. Inside there was a not very big one-storey house and some other buildings. Vivien was a smiling little white woman in desert coloured camouflage trousers. I really began to like her when she told Kamara that I was a medium. Apparently he had decided that I needed a large T-shirt. Vivien and the administrator of As You Like It, George, were very interested in my plans and started talking about arranging a trip with a vehicle for the same price as I was going to pay, and I had to stop them saying it was not possible as Fisherman’s was 1000 shillings per night and the bus would be almost nothing. They said you needed a vehicle for Hell’s Gate and George phoned Fisherman’s to ask their price for one. I didn’t think of asking him to ask Fisherman’s when their lower price for a banda started. I was As You Like It’s first guest for the year, but they had good bookings for the high season. When the troubles started and no tourists were coming, Vivien had gone to Iraq to train some special forces at a camp. It was very good money. I tried to ask how she got that job, but she just showed me some photos and told me about the shipping container that she had lived in (don’t remember what it was called), that she had had her own shower and lost weight eating good Iraqi food with the Iraqis. It had been very nice to have people to talk to, as she usually only has her staff and “him inside” (there was a husband-like guy of whom I only saw the back in front of a computer). The owner of Fisherman’s had been in Iraq as well. What aspect of the Kenyan tourist industry qualifies you to train special forces in Iraq? I never found out.

    I’d definitely go somewhere dangerous to earn a lot of money. Though I find the business idea called the Iraq war so disgusting that it would not be an option. Perhaps I could train the Zapatistas, but I don’t think there’s any money in it and I don’t know if I would have my own shower. If anyone knows of something dangerous, but not too immoral that I could do for a lot of money without getting dirty and ugly, please email sannasusathotmaildotcom (I am serious).

    Vivien had just had lunch and kindly invited me to some steak. I reminded her that I’m a vegetarian and had some salad. A young girl and an older man were working in the kitchen and came serving some extra avocado and then pancakes and tea. Vivien kept apologizing for the informality.

    Vivien and George came up with a Nanyuki trip idea. They’d see if a couple of Americans were interested in 2 nights at a moderate hotel with visits to Sweetwaters and Mount Kenya the following week. Vivien was coming as well, which made it sound very fun. Then they came up with the price of $500. It was far too expensive, but I just said that I’d think about it. My plan was to see if I’d find something better in Naivasha and then negotiate the price if I was still interested. As the city centre is “awful” they also started looking for a place in Karen where I could stay. A nice rotweiler called Major and a loaf of fluff called Fluffy appeared. I think there was a dog under the fluff, but I’m not sure. Major and Fluffy almost went mad when Kamara appeared. He was very popular. In the garden there were squirrels, cordon-bleus and mannekins. Kamara told me that staying in town, as I had decided, was a lot better if I was going to take the bus to Naivasha and that Vivien just didn’t think that I should stay where the “Africans” were, as she was still in that kind of thinking. I also got to know that Vivien was 67. At the other side of the house there was a small stable where Vivien was going to show me her horse, but he wasn’t there. She found him with a young man next to the laundry line. He was a big, shiny thoroughbred stallion called Callimachus. Also, there was another dog. I don’t remember his name, but he didn’t get along very well with Fluffy and they had to be kept apart from each other.

    The reason for the flush toilets was that some irritating authority had forced Nyumbu to install them, as it was considered a permanent camp.

    Finally we were off to the Terminal Hotel. Kamara told me that I had to “start running a lot more” and maybe I understood what he meant. We caught the rush hour and got stuck in traffic jams. I don’t really know for how long we were stuck, but it could have been for hours. I just looked at Nairobi from another perspective. Kamara thought that I should negotiate the price if I was going to Nanyuki, as the price I’d been told was just something out of George’s head. Nelson was in the reception when we arrived at the Terminal and the first thing he said, to Kamara, was “now she looks like an African” and Kamara said, “she is an African”. But, I wasn’t black at all; I was not even brown, but red and peeling. I was disintegrating like in a B horror movie, and what’s African with that?

    I freshened up, went out to send an email to Fisherman’s and talked with Nelson. His Dutch friend had said that I didn’t talk much and that irritated me. I don’t normally talk that much, but thought that I had talked with the Dutchman. I told Nelson that his friend drank too much and something more. We decided to have dinner next day. It got late and I walked down Koinange Street to eat something somewhere. A man in a bowtie took me to the place where he was working in a back alley. I had to have my bag searched to be let into the local – don’t remember the name of it - that was in a basement. It was very dark and looked like some kind of club, and it was almost empty. There were no non-meat dishes on the menu, so I left. The man with the bowtie showed me Friday on Loita Street where I had some tomato soup and passion juice. The tomato soup was OK, if I remember correctly.

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    nyamera
    thanks for posting.
    but frankly - it's exhaustive to read your report due to the loooooong link posted.........

    sad - as i am very interested in what you have to report.
    i'll come back later when my nerves are somewhat more stable ;-)

    div

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    I'm on Day 3 and am thoroughly absorbed. Too bad it's my mom's birthday and I need to run off and do things for her.

    Have also viewed some of your photos; what are you talking about? They're good. You sure saw lots of cubs. And lots of topis.

    Thanks for giving us the good, the bad and the ugly--in short, the real, and all filtered through your unique and charming perspective --in your report.

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    nyamera,
    now i have read your report :-)
    very interesting!

    what is sad is that your driver didn't get you the right information about the wherabouts within the conservancies and the reserve :-(
    in that regard
    don't you think it's better to stay in a camp where you can rent a vehicle for sole use so that its driver guide, who is pretty familiar with the places and also the expected wildlife, can serve your expectations much better?

    i hope they don't built more lodges and camps within the reserve or the surrounding councils.

    what was interesting to me: you make use of mascara in the bush!
    to me it seems you are pretty much down to earth when it comes to safari, safari tents etc. and using mascara on safari is a contradiction - as far as i am concerned;-)

    i am really looking forward to read more of your trip experiences as yet i have not found a clue why this trip was "stupid" yet.

    seems the mara was pretty empty vehiclewise which definately was a bonus!

    div

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    nyamera,
    considering your photo footage i would definately say this was a wonderful safari!

    i am quite jealous in view to your leopard and lion cub encounters!
    wunderful pics!
    the leopard cub suckling, the leopardess almost posing for you, the tiny lion cubs, the cheetahs........gorgeous!
    i cannot wait to get to the bush myself!

    thanks for sharing!

    div

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    Div, I’m glad your nerves have stabilized. ;)

    Sole use is too expensive and Nyumbu didn’t even have camp vehicles, but I usually prefer camp guides and vehicles, also because they mostly are open-sided, and often I’ve had non-sole use vehicles for myself.

    We’ll see what the “task force” comes up with at the end of this month.

    Contradiction is my middle name.

    I was thinking of putting an (S) after all signs of stupidity, but then I thought it wasn’t necessary and now it’s too late.

    I only saw more than a handful of vehicles at the lion cub sightings and most of the time there were no other vehicles around. It was approximately the same in 2007 at the same time of the year though.

    The cats collaborated quite well, especially the leopards.

    Thanks for your comments. When will you be in the bush?

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    I can't imagine why you think the pictures are bad - they're wonderful.

    I so want to read your report but the formatting is too lg. for my poor eyes to adjust to.
    I'm curious enough though to put my lens in later and plow forward.

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    nya
    i am visiting south africa (briefly) followed by bot, zam and zim in oct/nov 08 - can't almost wait to leave............
    april 09 will be SA and zim or bot and in sep/oct 09 it MUST be the mara again!
    it's amazing - one has always a reason to get back on safari - next time i hope i see such tiny leo cubs :-)))

    as you say SUV is too expensive. that's also our concern but my husband is a wildlife photographer so it pays off. and we love to stay with animals for hours on end........
    in the earlier days we went to kicheche mara camp because they don't pack their cars to the limit and they do UNLIMITED game drives which is almost unique in the mara!

    maybe you consider that next time.........:-)

    div

    the reading is much better when you "open" a "reply"
    ;-)

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    Nyamera: Great detailed narrative and full of topi sightings as well as cats! The photos are wonderful and it looks like you had terrific sightings with not much traffic. Your time in Nairobi and interacting with people is interesting too as its different than what is typically reported on.

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    I'm through Day 2 and the coriander in the teeth. Thanks for the education on Daim. What a coincidence it is made by Marabou.

    You meet such characters and now one of them has a shaved head.

    While I usually like to get to the wildlife, you have such interesting tales leading up to it that I am happy for the delay.

    Day 3 tomorrow.

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    Thanks for the good read, Nyamera.

    Until Ms Nyamera Contradiction X figures out how to use tinyurl.com,
    the easiest way I've found to read the report is to select (highlight) the text,
    then paste it into Notepad (or any other text editor) and read from there.

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    Thanks for the comments!

    Sherry, I was just complaining about the pictures so that you would tell me how wonderful they are. ;) I’ve probably seen too many professional quality photos here on Fodor’s and on Safaritalk. Earlier I’ve blamed the lack of sun for my inability to capture the light in the eyes of the animals, but this time there was some sun. I’ve had a year to practise with my camera, but I’ve not even tried any other features than automatic. Everything looks so much better in reality. I thought I had got some good bird photos, but most are very blurry.

    Div, you have a couple of trips to look forward too. Nice!
    I’ve looked at Kicheche for previous trips, but have always ended up somewhere less expensive. Kicheche Bush Camp in Olare Orok looks interesting.

    PB, maybe all Fodorites should start reporting about human sightings and strange interactions.

    Lynn, the marabou was among the first African animals I learnt about as a child. On the chocolate bars there used to be a marabou silhouette on each square but now there’s only an M. I think they’ve returned to the marabou on the modern 99% (or so) cacao bars, but I’ll have to get one to confirm that I’ve not just been dreaming.

    Rizzuto, how am I supposed to figure out tinyurl when I can’t figure out my camera?

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    What a great read, you've improved my lunch. Soup, sandwich and Kenya.
    I read it in the post reply section as suggested - much easier. I was too lazy to transfer over to word.

    Don't worry about everything having to be wildlife related, as I actually love your stories, bend on life and the doings in Kenya.

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    nyanmera
    YES kicheche bush is fantastic - and more luxurious then the main camp and it's smaller! very intimate!
    but what i read from your personal expectations (regarding flush loo etc.) you certainly might much more appreciate the mara camp as it is a bit more rustic but still have all amentities you would expect from a decent bush camp.
    close to kicheche is suppu the leopardess.but i have already posted this. if you want to know and haven't read yet i'll post again.........
    when you fly in and stay for a week it's not THAT expensive as you have unlimited gamedrives incl. in the rate and from 5th day onward you get a discount.
    try them in the off season means between beg june until mid/end of july and you will be surprised that such a camp is THAT favourable!
    kicheche is heavily booked so we book our space for sep/oct 09 in oct or dec 08 at the latest!
    i don't know of a camp which offers that value for money! we have been to kicheche several times and they have clients which return year after year........for obvious reasons.

    div

    yes - we are quite excited in view to SA/bot/zam/zim despite it's going to be hot like hell......

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    Thanks, Sherry. Did you have tomato soup?
    I have perfect eyesight when I’m not bothered by the sun and the wind, so I didn’t quite understand why the report was difficult to read, or maybe it was the s-word. If the text is too wide you can also have something like “favourites” on the left of the screen and when you make that part wider my report becomes slimmer.

    Div, I prefer the location of Kicheche Bush. Last year I stayed close to the Kicheche Mara at a less expensive camp. Anyway, I can’t start planning my next safari yet. Now I have to find money to return to Kenya and when there I need to find a way to stay. Today I got a phone call that I’m starting a nightmarish 24/7 job on Friday and I suppose that could be the start for my next trip if I survive long enough.

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    nya
    i cross my fingers that the job is not too exhausting but highly paid so that you can return to kenya soon!

    it's really bad if one longs for the bush but is temporarily limited to dreaming about it or memories.

    anyway - head up....eventually you will make it!

    div

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    For "bad" pictures, those are really great. Loved them and you captured great close-ups! Thanks for sharing. I couldn't resist reading at least part of your report based on the title alone! I think I am ready to plan another trip--if I just didn't have two others I need to take first. www.pbase.com/pattyroth

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    I hope you like tomato soup.

    Just what the last few rhinos in the Mara need, a Somak lodge in their breeding ground. So it is already under way?

    How terrifying with elephants and dead people trying to get into your tent.

    Thanks for the info on the Marabou chocolate.

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    Great to know the Terminal Hotel is still there - assuming it's the one I think it is - on Moktah Daddah Street facing a small park.

    Last visited in 1991 - switched to the Gloria thereafter (and for subsequent visits) being cheaper and more central. Now can anyone tell me if that's still there too?

    Enjoyed your report, Nyamera!

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    I'm really enjoying your report so far! Thank you for writing it, even if you do think your trip was stupid. If it's any consolation, nothing you've told us so far about your time in Kenya is as stupid as my stupidest day at work.

    The dead people trying to get into your tent struck me, too. Eek! I'd definitely prefer elephants.

    Looking forward to the rest...

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    Div, thanks for crossing your fingers. The job is for 2 months to start with, but if I can stay until Christmas I’ll saved enough for a Kenya trip that has to be the definite Kenya trip.

    Tom, thanks for the link, but stupidity is a theme here and I don’t understand why I need tinyurl. My long photo link is on several lines, you just have to click on it and it’s not making the text wide.

    Pattyroth, thanks for your kind words, but photos like yours are the reason I have to apologize for mine.

    Leely and Lynn, I do like well made tomato soup and most of the tomato soups were OK or better. Only the soup at Nyumbu tasted a bit strange. Kamara actually asked if it really was tomato soup and was told it was cream of tomato soup. They must have put potato in it.

    Lynn, the Somak lodge was under way, but is now stopped until a “task force” has a look at it at the end of the month. That’s all I know.

    Afterall, the Terminal Hotel is near Jevanjee Gardens, but not facing them. That’s the Parkside. Since 2005 the Terminal is facing Nakumatt Lifestyle. It’s definitely on Moktar Daddah Street, so it must be the same hotel. Nelson was already working there in 1991. I’d never heard of the Gloria Hotel, but found it in this blog from last year: http://www.yachana.org/reports/wsf7/blog.html Where is the exact centre of Nairobi? The Gloria is closer to train and bus stations and I need a cheaper hotel, but I don’t think I can switch.

    MDK, now I really think I should have marked the stupidity with an (S). Maybe the trip wasn’t stupid – I was, considering that I had to find a way to stay in Kenya. I’ll try not to write about job stupidity, but I’ll probably fail. Maybe I should start a new thread for that.

    I’ll try to post 3 more days this very busy weekend or earlier. There will be very little wildlife though. At least not of the living kind.

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    I'm actually more interested in the Kiringai and Kamara interactions than I am in the wildlife, so don't leave any of that out! I like reading about all the other staff as regular people. I like your perspective.

    It would be nice to see some captions with your photos.

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    Day 4 and I have not found any stupidity yet.

    Your hair, mascara, and the unmentionable lip gloss all added to the suspense of the crossings in a strange way. It was like all the animals were participating in it from lions to crocs to zebras. Very exciting.

    The spit on the sunglasses would bother me.

    I forgot about the battle ship description. That's what your photos looked like.

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    Yes, I'm still waiting for the stupid part too...It must be like one of those games where you have to find the inconguous detail in the picture, and I haven't figured out how to play yet.

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    I don't want to be the last one to comment so I'm cheating and skipping to the end. I've only spotted a very corny marabou joke (aren't they all, though?) a few intensely embarrassing moments, even more surreal than usual Nairobi experiences and a lot of topis so far, but I do still have faith that the stupidity is coming. :-)



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    Thanks for your comments!

    Pattyroth, yes maybe I’m too kind. If I’m to tell the truth, there is a photo in your Tanzania gallery that should be deleted. I don’t like the hartebeests standing on a termite mound.

    Femi, I hadn’t thought of captions! Now I’m really stressed!

    Lynn, yes, zebras, wildebeests, crocs and lions were very active at the crossing while the hippos and we were looking on.

    Ann nyc, I thought it was obvious.

    Kimburu, what report are you commenting on? Marabou joke? No stupidity?

    Bat, no I’m not. I can agree that my report is though, but that’s only because I write how things really are while interesting people usually are too discreet when reporting.

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    If I had read the end of Day 5 earlier, I would never have made the comment about spitting bothering me. Those comments on religion are fascinating.

    So now we have the story behind the leopard cub sightings. Truely an amazing thing to see. The Americans who had seen "nothing" the whole day in the Mara must be very clever to avoid all wildlife or they kept their eyes closed.

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    So if they are not called "nyamera" in Kenya, what do they call them? Do they just use the word topi?

    No nyameras in Kenya. That little vocabulary tidbit could end up being profound.

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    Finally finished reading all your days and looking forward to the rest of the report to hear about fisherman's camp.
    I think you are too critical of yourself, you have some really wonderful pictures. And still waiting for the stupid parts.
    On our one and only safari to the Mara our guides "quiz questions"' was what was the swahili name for topi, and I got it right thanks to you. So I think some guides in Kenya do call them nyamera.

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    Nyamera - since you assited non-Daim eaters to get the marabou joke, I will not respond to your question of "What marabou joke?"

    I THINK I am reading the same report....and I THINK I typed a response to your question having said that I wouldn't.

    Anyway, now I have caught up, it's a wonderful story and your photographs are rather good - the pictures of the river crossing are dramatic and the hippo in the zebra line is priceless.

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    Lynn, religious spit isn’t that nice on your sunglasses either.
    The word topi is used. My camp will have the Maa name for topi, but I avoid writing it out here on Fodor’s in case any future guests would feel like using Google.

    Pattyroth, OK the hartebeests will be granted an exemption for when there are lions around.

    Joyce, when someone says a word is ”used in Tanzania” they usually mean that it’s used by those who speak proper Swahili, like your guide.

    Michael, I saw the hyrax in Nairobi NP.

    Thanks for all kind comments!

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    Thanks, Kimburu! Have you understood the stupidity, or do I have to include more embarrassing details in the next instalment?

    Lynn, “really old” is negative or positive in relation to what you have achieved in life.

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    Wow! I just finally read your whole report and now I think I have to apologize for mine!!! (TZ trip earlier). It brought back memories of a brief trip to Kenya 20 years ago (only a few days at Little Governor's camp),although I must say your experience was decidedly more unique!!!

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    Nyamera - This is a great read, thanks for such a personal account. Your, I guess I would say, mosaic flavored writing style is fun to read. I do hope you get to stay in some sort of resident Kenyan capacity some day.

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    Day 6--If #16 is free, I wonder what the vehicle makeup is. Hopefully not 8 and 8. Now 5, 5, and 6 would be ok. But like you, I don't know 16 people who I could ask to come to Africa. In fact, I rarely bring along 1.

    The clock illustration of animals at all the numbers is a good way of conveying their abundance. Speaking of abundance, biomass is perfect for the hippo pod.

    I really can't believe the rock throwing incident. I don't know whether to be relieved at the lion's inaction or to be disgusted that such acts must happen often enough that the lion is used to it.

    Member of parliment or any other elected official cheat? Come on, you must be joking.

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    Pattyroth, where is your report? I need a personal assistant to track all the reports that I have missed. The job would be on a volunteer basis though, maybe paying a volunteering fee high enough for me to go to Kenya.

    Favor, thanks for your very kind words. Is mosaic the same as incoherent?

    Lynn, Nyumbu doesn’t have any camp vehicles, so the offer was probably only for food and accommodation.

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    Nyamera,
    I don't think there is anything particularly negative about this trip, or your report, at all. Your photos are great, and you're giving us wonderful details. But, I do have to ask: is your goal to (a) live in Kenya or (b) to live in Kenya and be able to go on safari? I think they are vastly different from one another. If the former, then you can probably afford it and figure out a way to do it, if (and I know, this is a big if), you give up the latter. Safari is so expensive. Even at $100 USD per day, I bet two trips two Kenya would support you there for a pretty long time (by Kenyan standards). I am not being harsh, I promise, but only trying to help you. What is your long term goal? I ask this of you only because I'm going through a similar thought process myself. If you just want to live in Kenya, then take the money you'd spend on the next safari, rent a flat, on a six month basis or however long you can get a visa for, and just go for it. Yes, you'll give up your job, and yes, you'll be hanging by a thread, but you are never going to find a job by staying only a few nights in Nairobi. Instant gratification is so overrated. I have no idea how old you are, or where you are in your life. I do know, however, that the average cost of safari (even a cheap one) will support someone in Kenya for quite a while. Think about it. Throw caution to the wind, and as Nike says "just go for it".

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    Dana, thanks for telling the truth. My goal is to live in Kenya and be able to go on safari and I know very well that it’s not realistic. The report is far from finished and I was going to write about how I should try to do the next trip. The cost of one of my holiday trips would not be enough to stay for six months in the cheapest flat with a bathroom in a reasonably safe neighbourhood, but maybe three. Nairobi is expensive for a Nairobian. Even if I could afford six months I’d just wander between the flat and the market, maybe taking matatus to half interesting places that I could visit for free – and I would not meet a single person that I could ask about finding a job. What I would meet would be several people every day asking, begging and threatening me to give them a job. And then when I’d run out of money I’d have to leave without having seen a single topi. I spent almost 14 years trying to find a way to stay in another country. As it was a much richer country than Kenya, I actually “lived” there for those 14 years and was able to earn enough most of the time to have food and a roof over my head, but I didn’t get anywhere, not even to average living standard for the citizens of that country, that then was a bit lower than in my own country – and in Kenya that would be dangerous, unhealthy, illegal and ugly. The only way is to come to Kenya with a lot of money and that’s why I’m serious about going to work in some dangerous place, but I don’t know where, if not Iraq. If there were something in Kenya that I could go for, I’d definitely go for it. There is nothing here holding me back. I’ve got a job for two months or until Christmas if I’m “lucky” and it’s a job that I hate, and I don’t earn any money at all from my business. The only thing is a cat that’s not even mine and that would probably be well taken care of in my absence. Though that “probably” worries me a lot. I actually have to go somewhere even if I can’t go to Kenya, but I don’t want to go anywhere else. Re. my age and place in life: I’m not young and I’m nowhere. Maybe this should have been posted in another thread. Now I can’t send links to people to whom I would like to be seen as an interesting person that travels to Africa.

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    You are still interesting so stop being so hard on yourself and keep trying. You might not get anywhere anyway, but at least you will have exercised your mouth and your brain if not your biceps.

    Volume II coming soon?

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    Nyamera, your photos are wonderful! I can't believe you're disappointed - you must have some really terrific pics from previous trips. I'm leaving on my first safari in two weeks, to Tanzania. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined seeing that much wildlife. Did you happen to see more because you caught part of the migration or was that sort of the norm?

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    Leely, I’ve almost finished day 12, but today I’m so unprepared and hysterical for tomorrow that I don’t know if I can write anything. I’ve also noticed that Lynn has started posting her report.

    Aknards, I don’t have terrific pictures from previous trips. I’m talking about the technical quality of the photos and comparing it to what most people post. I was hoping to get a lot of bird pictures that I could play games with on Safaritalk. I did not catch the migration. There were some zebras from the northwest in the reserve while last year I only saw herds of zebras in the Aitong area and not a single one inside. I was lucky with the masses of zebras and the leopard cubs, but otherwise I had normal sightings. There were parts of the Mara where there was just tall yellow grass and almost no animals.
    Good look and have a wonderful trip.

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    Day 10

    I was out on the streets of the city in the sun, but soon I was inside Nakumatt Lifestyle where I got a VIP greeting and bought some baby bananas to have for breakfast while checking my email. Outside Nakumatt I met Chris who followed me and stayed with me at the Internet place, eating my bananas, and expanding his theory that he was the first person who saw me and therefore should get my business. I tried to say that he only saw me on my 4th trip and that there were people at the Terminal who had wanted to do business with me since my 2nd trip. Anyway, I couldn’t afford more safaris and was taking the bus to Naivasha the following Monday. I had a reply from Fisherman’s saying that their lower rates started on Sunday, but now I had already decided to go on Monday. Chris said he’d leave me, but he needed 40 shillings for the matatu to Safari Park Hotel where he had some business. When I’ve found a way to live in Kenya – and I’m not planning to be poor in Kenya – I’ll do some business with Chris.

    I walked up to University Way and got on a matatu to Westlands. I was going to have a look at Undugu Craft Shop – a fair trade project that might be of interest to Nyamera Kenya Imports. It was supposed to be on Woodvale Grove, but I walked down the whole length of the street without seeing it and then I thought about what I was doing. NKI needed to be killed and buried; I had to find a way to stay in Kenya and I couldn’t sell Kenyan curios in Kenya if I was going to be a rich person in Kenya. Instead I went to Chowpaty 100% vegetarian restaurant where I got far too much food. I couldn’t eat it all, so I got a doggie bag, which I didn’t ask for, as I didn’t have a kitchen. I thought about giving the food to the first person telling me he didn’t have money for food, which unfortunately is common in Nairobi, but nobody appeared. At the entrance of Sarit Centre a man asked me if I was interested in DVDs that he had at the back of the flower shop and I said yes, as I was interested in seeing the back of the flower shop. I told the seller that I thought I’d bought a DVD with six Africa themed films from him last year in the street and that several of the films finished halfway, but he said that he never sold anything in the street. I bought a DVD with 20 wildlife films for 500 shillings and then I asked him if he liked Indian food. Since it was still warm he accepted it. On the DVD cover he put a sticker with his name and phone number. I’ve checked and it’s the same name and number as on the DVD I bought in 2007.

    Then I had a look at Banana Shop where a found some interesting jewellery with West African glass beads and Ethiopian silver. I spent a long time thinking of buying something for myself, but decided that money was better to have than jewellery. I don’t remember what more I did.

    Back at the Terminal, Nelson suggested a restaurant behind Nakumatt and he said that he always had chicken curry. The only thing they could come up with for me was some chips; they couldn’t even chop up a tomato, so we left and went to Books First. I ordered a vegetable pizza and as there was no chicken curry Nelson insisted on having the same as I, even though there were other chicken dishes. Nelson was very critical of Books First and their slow service – I thought he exaggerated – but he liked the pizza even though it was Mzungu food and the restaurant a Mzungu place. I was the only Mzungu there, but that was because they were all asleep. The waitress handed me the bill before I had asked for it, so I suppose skin colour goes before sex when paying.

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    Day 11

    I had bought drinking yoghurt for breakfast for the last time; it had curdled and I threw it away. The reason was probably the much warmer than normal weather. I had some baby bananas though.

    It was time to visit the newly renovated National Museum. I hadn’t been there since 2004. In 2005 I was going to the museum the last afternoon, but instead I ended up at the police station with a high fever; in 2006 I couldn’t go to Kenya and in 2007 they were still renovating. I think they started the renovation in 2005. I walked up Harry Thuku Road, past the Norfolk that also was being renovated. At the curio stalls next to the Boulevard Hotel a woman forced me to have a look at the curios and I bought two pairs of earrings. I didn’t see John - a seller I met in 2003 and 2004. I thought I could take a shortcut through the Boulevard and asked the askari if I could have a look at the hotel. There was a big garden with a swimming pool, but I couldn’t find an exit to the other side, so I returned to where I had entered. I had to pass through the “dangerous” corner between Uhuru Highway and the Nairobi River. I don’t know why it’s dangerous, but everybody says it is. There was an army vehicle with ten or so armed soldiers. Could it really be that dangerous, or did they just happen to be there? From the bridge I saw an elderly man standing stark naked in the stream. The new gate and entrance of the museum looked much more colourful than the old one, but now, having the new version in my head, it’s difficult to remember the old one.

    The entrance fee for non-residents had been raised considerably from 200 shillings to 800. The area with the ticket and information desk looked very modern and shiny and there were some very clean toilets. There was a hall with a collection of gourds, new black’n’white photos of Kenya by some foreign photographer and some other items. Then I had a look at a gallery about the history of the museum, before proceeding to the human origins gallery that had many changes. There was a dimly lit room behind a closed door where the original human fossils were. You could see some of it as there was a glass, but you needed to get a special ticket to enter. Now I wondered if I’d seen the original fossils during my previous visits. I’d felt so sad for the Turkana Boy (Homo erectus), but maybe I’d been cheated, crying at an empty grave. Though the chance that he was still alive seemed slim. The mammals were fortunately the same dusty old stuffed ones arranged in a more attractive way – it wouldn’t be nice to kill new animals to exhibit them at the museum. There were no stuffed topis. I think the birds used to be on the upper floor, but now they had moved down to the ground floor. Many still had their old typed species plaques. If it weren’t for the new price, it would be worth returning to the museum several times just to learn birds.

    On the upper floor there was a big collection of traditional artefacts and Joy Adamson’s portraits, an exhibition of photos from Mexico and an African rock art exhibition. There was a lot of building going on, so there will probably be more exhibitions. The museum looked more modern, but it was still a real museum with dusty old exhibits instead of interactive beeping things.

    While looking at a picture of a group of elders drinking beer through straws from a communal pot, a boy - probably in his 20s - commented that it looked unhygienic. I’ve seen a lot worse, but couldn’t think of any examples, and didn’t know what to say. We continued viewing artefacts and after a while he told me that I was very beautiful. That was interesting and I was going to find out what I’d managed to hide and how, when I remembered that he meant that I looked rich. I jumped the Mexico exhibition, lost sight of the boy and went straight to the rock art that was extremely interesting.

    Somehow I drifted into the gift shop where they had the jewellery that I’d seen at Banana Box, but in a wider selection and at slightly lower prices. There was a new coffee lounge place called Savannah. As it was lunchtime, I had a sandwich, but regretted not having chosen a Greek salad instead. The boy who thought I looked rich appeared, sat down at a table and had an ice cream. Next to Savannah there was building work going on and it looked like there would be another restaurant. Earlier there had only been the university cafeteria. I returned to the gift shop, but decided definitely that I didn’t need any jewellery and then I left the museum. The boy was sitting next to the car park and I said goodbye to him. He got up and followed me saying that he’d thought I’d have a vehicle. How disappointing that must have been. Anyway he wanted us to have a coffee, but I said I had things to do. The boy thought we would meet again, but we didn’t. He irritated me because he reminded me of myself. Though he at least was young and cute and acted on his plans, unlike others. I hope he wasn’t the son of the owner of some small, unfenced safari camp. I never thought of visiting the snake park. The reptiles there looked quite sad when I was there on my first trip to Kenya and I don’t think it has been renovated.

    Back at the Terminal I was recommended to take a matatu to Naivasha, but I wanted a big bus. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to press my big heavy bag into a matatu; it would even be a bit rude.

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    Day 12

    I was up early and insisted on taking a BIG bus even though there were matatus just around the corner. I got into a taxi that would take me to a bus leaving for Naivasha, like Jolly Coach that had been mentioned by Kamara. The driver found a Jolly Coach next to their ticket office in the River Road area. If it weren’t for my heavy bag, I could have walked there. The ticket was only 100 shillings. After having left my bag in the luggage compartment, I got on the bus that was big, but a bit old with cracked seats. Departure would be in 45 minutes and I looked at luggage being hauled up on the roof with ropes while listening to Dolly Parton. The choice of music made me think that Jolly Coach was a Kikuyu company. The bus filled up with people and a preacher shouted a sermon in Swahili for 15 minutes or so.

    Then we were on our way – the wait had been closer to one and a half hour than 45 minutes. There were commercial Rift Valley viewpoints on the new highway as well, though higher and further away. On the radio there was a Swahili talk programme until when we were almost in Naivasha and it was switched to a Kikuyu talk programme. I’m almost sure it was Kikuyu and that they were talking about dandruff. We arrived in Naivasha Town and I took two steps in the light brown dust and could no longer see what colour my shoes were. Another passenger, Mohamed from Malindi, kindly offered to help me with my small bag. There were matatus some 10 metres away, but my bag was so heavy and my feet so dusty that I got into a taxi when the driver told me the price was 900 shillings and not the 1500 that I’ve been informed by Fisherman’s and soon we were driving down Moi South Road. As I’ve heard so much about a dying over fished lake surrounded by flower farms and people living in squalor, it actually didn’t look that bad – otherwise I might have been appalled. There were some zebras and there was a Red Cross IDP camp. The IDP camp looked empty though. We descended to Fisherman’s Camp, the bar was lifted and I was dropped off at the office.

    There was nobody at the office, so I went to the rather nice raised open-sided restaurant where Priscilla gave me the key to banda number 11 and pointed out the direction. Priscilla and the rest of the restaurant staff were wearing T-shirts with “Hard Rock Café Baghdad closed for renovation” on the front, and “Fisherman’s Camp is open” on the back. The banda was at some distance from the restaurant and after having picked up my bag, the walk was very slow, but fortunately Tobis, who was working with water activities, came and took the bag. A white middle-aged woman appeared when we got to the banda. She asked me if I was OK and then Tobis took off without having got a tip and the white woman disappeared while I stopped him. Later I was told that she was the boss and she sometimes hanged around the restaurant, but I never talked with her. Some people who asked the waiters about her husband were told that he was in Iraq.

    The banda was quite big with a very big bathroom, concrete floor, lots of insects, but no cockroaches- though maybe there are some now as one came as a stowaway in my necessaire - and papyrus walls. Outside there was a fireplace surrounded by some log seats. There was a sign with written rules on the wall, mostly regarding noise, but as I hadn’t planned making any noise, I don’t remember what it said. I had thought I’d be able to cook, but cooking appliances had to be rented for 500 shilling and then I’d have needed firewood, so instead I ended up spending a lot of money at the restaurant. Fisherman’s had green grass and the road going through the camp was only dusty in some parts. For some reason there were some heaps of dust placed on the lawn, but they could be avoided at daytime. There were tall yellow-barked acacias and a very papyrus fronted lakeview. I immediately saw some robin chats and then there were hoopoes, superb starlings, rollers, lovebirds, cattle egrets, ibises and many other birds. I went down to the jetty to have a look. There were pelicans, cormorants and egrets. The fish eagles’ screams were heard all the time at Fisherman’s and the eagles were often seen as well. Some 100 metres away along the papyrus a dozen or so hippo eyes and ears could be sighted above the water surface. I tried to photograph pied kingfishers hovering in the air, but I was never successful. At the huge campsite there were two overland trucks and a couple of smaller vehicles with tents.

    At the restaurant I had a dish with a tasty sounding name that I don’t remember, but it was too much white rice and green peas. High in a fever tree above me there were relaxed looking colobus monkeys. Fisherman’s also had vervet monkeys and a pair of dikdiks. After lunch I went for a walk to a shopping centre some 500 metres away. On maps it’s called Sulmac Dukas, but everybody just said “the village”. I had had some apprehensions about Lake Naivasha as it already before the troubles had a reputation for violent crime. Though I didn’t see any dangerous looking people at all. There was a good tarmac road to the village and then between the shops I reencountered the dust that could be put in small expensive looking containers and sold as eye shadow. A boy, 10 years old or so, shouted, “Give me your watch!” to me. He had a small camouflage coloured backpack that I would have needed for excursions in the Naivasha area, so I said, “Give me your backpack!”. He just ran away screaming, “Not my backpack!” I don’t think any grown up people noticed. Nobody looked at me. There were just a few small shops, so I went for a walk in the other direction and then I returned to Fisherman’s where I met a young guy called Ofin who guided bicycle trips to Hell’s Gate. I would get completely fried cycling in the sun, even my hands would be burned, so I asked him if it was possible to take a matatu to the gate and then walk. The gate was 2 km from the matatu stop and then I’d have to walk 9km to the gorge. Ofin also did boat trips to Crescent Island and Crater Lake, but as the price was per boat, it’d be expensive for one person.

    I returned to the banda and tried to reply to some sms. The delete button didn’t work and I kept pushing it until the phone got switched off, as the on/off button was the same as the delete button. Then it was impossible to switch it on. It was the worst thing that could have happened; I’d have preferred to drop my camera in the lake. I’d miss so many offers for extremely inexpensive safaris and I’d not be able to find a way to stay in Kenya. I went to the restaurant to see if there were any mobile phone wizards. There weren’t any; they thought I should bring the charger, which I did, but I still couldn’t switch the phone on. If I returned at 8 in the morning there would be someone who was good at phones. There was a knee high electric fence some 20 metres from the papyrus and it was switched on at 6.30pm when the hippos came up to graze. Osman, a night askari from Samburu, showed me two hippos that were grazing close to the papyrus in the dark. There was a spotlight in a tree, but they didn’t feel like grazing under it.

    Then I had dinner – tomato soup and a mixed salad. It was the best tomato soup I had this trip. I don’t always have tomato soup when in Kenya, there might even be trips when I haven’t had any at all. I think I had tomato soup at least three times at Fisherman’s.

    Ofin appeared and said there might be more hippos at Fish Eagle Inn that’s next to Fisherman’s. We went there to have a look. The electric fence at Fish Eagle was very close to the papyrus, so there wasn’t much of a “hippo lawn”. Then we heard an American woman calling, “Hey there. Don’t walk close to the fence. The hippos are very dangerous.” We walked towards her and she said, “Can you see us? Our guide told us that hippos kill people.” I’m writing approximately what she said. Ofin knows the exact words and is probably still impersonating her. When we got closer the American woman saw that Ofin was their guide from Hell’s Gate who had warned them about the hippos. There was a French woman as well and they had come from the Mara with two guides that had gone to town hours ago, and now they didn’t know how to start their campfire. They thought that they needed some small twigs to be glowing red before they could put on the heavier firewood. Ofin lighted the fire and I showed them my pictures from the Mara. The French-American campers were lining up beer bottles in the grass. They were having a party and invited us to some beer. I don’t drink beer and Ofin didn’t really drink anything alcoholic, but he had a beer anyway. It was getting very late and I had to get up early to fix my phone. Some guys appeared on a motorcycle, but they weren’t the guides. Ofin and I left and we heard the French woman scream, “She saw so much and we saw nothing!” and the American repeated the animals that I’d seen. Ofin told me that their guides were just some guys that they had found in the street in Nairobi.

    I asked Ofin about the Australian woman who was killed by a hippo in 2005. He had been there. A group of people crossed the fence from Fish Eagle to Fisherman’s. The lights were out at Fisherman’s and they got in the way of an angry hippo. Nobody was hurt except the woman that was killed. They must have thought that the electric fence was at the same level at Fisherman’s as at Fish Eagle. I didn’t ask when the fence was put up. I think I’ve read about some incidents with injured people before the fence.

    The banda was cooler than it would have been with canvas walls, but the shower was hot. I worried about my phone.

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    Day 7- I couldn't help but laugh at the woman who screamed when she saw you. I hope you thought it was funny.

    This spitting thing is getting out of hand. I have not experienced that from other guides. Have you? Has anyone else?

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    I agree with Leely, Nyamera. You are too hard on yourself. Way too hard. You might be old, so am I. Remember, though, that the older we get the wiser we become. Most people never even figure out what they want in life. You have. You should allow yourself the credit you deserve for that. Many people who do know what they want never even try to achieve it because they think it will be too difficult. You should definitely pat yourself on the back for that one. Many people who do try to achieve their goals give up after a single disappointment. You definitely need to give yourself a big congratulations for your persistence. I know you will one day have your dream, Nyamera.

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    Nyamera,

    I understand some of your negativity. It is a healthy dose of reality. Lots of people would like to live in Africa, but very few get to. Those that do, often have connections. It is a long shot. But don't make that dose of reality too healthy or it may deter you from actions you can take that just might pay off.

    Here are some questions that you don't have to respond to here if you don't want to.

    What if you gave staying in Kenya a 3 month shot if that's how long you think you can manage and what are the downsides if you fail to become established in Kenya?...

    Would you come home and have to live like a homeless person until you got established again? Or would a friend or family member take you back in?

    Would your lack of a nest egg at that point in your life be devastating to you? You could compare to how much nest egg you have now.

    Are there tremendous opportunities you would be losing out on by taking off for 3 months?

    Are you fearful that if you did not succeed after 3 months, that your dream would die? And if your dream did die, do you fear severe, debilitating depression or do you think you could re-direct yourself or just be satisfied with occasional trips to Africa?

    Do you fear for your safety because you would have to stay in an area that is not safe? Then double your expenditure on housing and stay 45 days. It's better than nothing and safety is paramount.

    In other words, why not try 3 months or whatever you can afford and try to get hired, what is the worst that can happen?

    You might even discover that living in Kenya is so different than visiting that you don't want to stay anyway. Would that crush you or free you?

    When you write you are not young, is there an age at which you think you could not try 3 months (or whatever) in Kenya? Go before you reach that age.

    The only thing holding you back is a cat. Start searching for a good home for it, which I think you said you have.

    I'd plan so the 3 months don't span an election. With the recent election over, that shouldn't be hard.


    How about being a maid? Wouldn't rich people over there like a Swedish maid? If you could make some local pastries, that would set you apart from your average maid, I would think.

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    I just got back from a weekend away and now have to catch up on your report! My old report is titled: Safari for Photography with Roy. I think you can do a search for it and pick Tanzania for the country and it should pop right up. (of this same forum, of course!)

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    Thanks, ann, for your kind comments.

    Lynn, I think that woman had a very normal reaction.
    I haven’t come across spitting guides before. Maybe I should have named the report “Spitting on the Lion Cubs”. Nobody seems to be getting the obvious stupidity anyway. ;)

    Dana and Tom, I think you are too kind. Wanting is very easy and I’m still waiting for the wisdom to appear. Persisting without having a clue about what to do could be called stupid.

    Lynn, thanks for thinking so many thoughts for me. I’d like to answer your questions in a more discreet thread, but right now I’m in a serious emergency (new teaching job).
    Maids in Kenya are treated almost like slaves because they are almost for free.

    Pattyroth, I’ll try to find your report this weekend.

    Safarimama, your grandmother should have gone to Kenya.

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    I get it; that's the stupidity!!!! of course!!!! my grandmother went to Chicago, married my grandfather there, another Swedish immigrant, depression hit after 5 kids - back to Sweden ... not to Kenya. I was born in Stockholm, looking for my roots in the USA and ending up in Seattle; I should have gone to Kenya!!!! The stupidity!!!
    Oh well, I'm leaving in a few hours for Kenya, but not permanently, although it may as well be. I just got back from there less than 3 weeks ago!!!! Now that IS stupid!!!

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    Day 8

    Your luck with leopards in the Mara is astounding. Whatever goes on between Aubrey and me to rustle up the honey badgers, you have going on with the leopards.

    My game viewing, no matter how spectacular will always fall a bit short for me from now on. I'll be thinking about how much better it would be with bouncing curls. I'll never be able go get rid of that stupid thought. Hmm, maybe I've found the stupidity.

    I'll have to ask for a Kamba dance on my next visit to the Mara.

    An emergency until Christmas should help pay for your emergency-recovery trip to Kenya or wherever you choose to go.

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    I too suffer from the eternal lack of bouncy curls!! I too will forever have curl envy! I think it is always back to the old saying of wanting what you don't have. I also suffer from the waspy pieces that fly in your face and get in your mouth and eyes and sometimes even foul up your pictures. I am glad to know others have this problem as I have never discussed it with anyone before! Ann

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    Nyamera,
    I think you're going about this all wrong. What you need to do is take this journal to a publisher and sign a deal to write your first book. You'll get a big, fat advance ($$$!) that you can live on while you write and travel in Kenya.

    I'm only slightly joking, Nyamera. Your stream of conciousness style of writing is wonderful - full of detail and observations and insights - that are poignant, humorous and very touching. I'm no expert but I think you have a knack for narrative. I guess, to state the obvious, I'm enjoying your report very much.

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    Lynn, maybe I could finance a life in Kenya selling some leopard-attracting potion. It would be a scam, but I think it could work in the Mara.

    Now I’m not that sure that I want the stupidity to be found.

    All money will always be for Kenya.

    Aowens, it’s good to know that someone understands this serious problem.

    Leely, next to the hairbrush with inbuilt mirror, the mobile phone is the most important safari tool. Though if I had bouncy curls I wouldn’t need a phone. I’d just take a Maasai blanket and walk into any national park or reserve without a guide for a couple of months. I’m so jealous.

    Aknards, thanks, your comment is exactly the kind I want to see here. ;) Unfortunately I’m not a writer. If I were, I’d have at least one novel in a drawer somewhere, but I don’t. I do have some ideas for a novel though.

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    Hi Nyamera. I can tell you from personal experience that having a novel sitting in a drawer is not all it's cracked up to be. ;)

    I love the idea of leopard potion. Maybe you could also market a leopard cub potion, which you could sell for three times as much.

    Now I'm going to join in Leely's (implied) cry of "more more more!"

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    MDK, I’d feel very pleased with myself if I had a drawer novel.

    Leopard potion or something even shadier is what I have to think about if I’m going to get anything done. Cub potion sounds like an excellent idea.

    I’ll try to write something this weekend, but I really have to prepare lessons and learn names.

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    waiting to hear about your trip to crater lake, we have pictures of us on that same rock out cropping that you are sitting on overlooking the lake. it brought back nice memories.
    and wondering is you had the rejuvenator drink at the lodge?

    joyce

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    Day 9

    "If anyone knows of something dangerous, but not too immoral that I could do for a lot of money without getting dirty and ugly, please email "

    Your emergency may be close, except it's not lots of money and hopefully there is nothing immoral.

    I was beginning to wonder if you'd enjoy any more tomato soup.

    The Iraq training mission is most amusing. Vivien sounds like the kind of woman who could help you find work if she can train Iraqis at age 67.

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    Lynn, there’s probably more immorality than money in the emergency. I meant something that I could do for a couple of months and then live in Kenya for years on the money.

    A week after I got home I got an “After your safari”-email from George saying “Please send us your brief comments as far as our services and organization
    of your Safari is concerned or any recommendation you might have .
    This will highly helps us to plan even better in future.”
    I made the mistake of taking this seriously and I haven’t got any more emails. I just have to think of the future Nyamera Camp to know that it was a kind of email that would only be sent looking for praise that could be published on my website.

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    Day 13

    I was up early hoping to find a solution to my dramatic phone problem. For breakfast I had tea with toast and jam and that’s what I had all mornings. The price was 190 shillings, which is more expensive than in Nairobi. No mobile phone wizards appeared, but Ofin did, telling me that I should go to a real phone repair place in the village, and off we went. The repair shop was on the second floor of a small wooden building, and in a cramped office a young man with a tiny screwdriver opened up my phone. I nearly fainted, but tried to look calm. He said it was something with the rubber and then he tested about every single function before showing me that the on/off and delete button had returned to functioning perfectly. The price was 500 shillings. The repairman had changed the ring tone and switched the phone from Celtel to Safaricom, but that wasn’t a problem since I don’t understand the difference between phone companies and nobody is supposed to phone me while I’m in Kenya.

    I had a message from George at As You Like It. They had 3 Americans that were interested in a 2-night trip to Nanyuki on Thursday (it was Tuesday) and the price would be an insane $595. I replied that I had a problem with high prices and group trips and then I got a message from Vivien saying that the Americans were nice NGO people and asking how much I was willing to pay. I have a problem with nice people as well, but I didn’t write that. I just said that I had things to do in Naivasha and didn’t want to leave, which was true. I wouldn’t have paid a penny more than $250. Then I sms:ed that I was interested in an afternoon game drive in Nairobi National Park. It would be $140 including lunch and I just agreed even though it was too expensive. I think I paid $50 in 2005, but that was a shared game drive without lunch and before the park fees were raised to $40. I’d been quoted hideous prices when walking into safari companies to ask about Nairobi NP.

    I decided to do some business with Ofin forking out 5000 shillings for a sole use motorboat. He said that since it was so dry, the animals had disappeared from Crescent Island and Crater Lake would be better. We decided to meet at the Fish Eagle jetty at 11am. I took my leather sandals in a plastic bag and decided to wear flip-flops in case there would be mud getting in and out of the boat. I imagined that to get to the Crater Lake there would be a short walk in green shade with buffaloes.

    Down at the Fish Eagle jetty there were five men plus Ofin and a guy called Simon that Ofin presented as his “trainee”. We put on life vests and took off along the papyrus. We had a closer look at the hippos and then Ofin got out a couple of small tilapias that he had bought from some fishermen at the jetty. He was going to throw them to the fish eagles so that I could get good pictures. I felt very uneasy about this, mostly for the tilapias themselves and because I wanted a cero-fatality trip, but also because the eagles could catch their own fish and the tilapias were human food fish. I was too slow to get any water surface pictures and we continued. Ofin pointed out flower farms and where the workers lived on the hill slopes. Though there was more un-developed land than I would have imagined. We landed on a muddy beach full of shoats and then we started a dusty walk in the midday sun through the Crater Lake Sanctuary. The fee for visiting this sanctuary was 800 shillings, so I would pay 5800 for the trip. There was dust, dust, dust, short very dry grass and tall yellow-barked acacias. Zebras and giraffes could be seen in good numbers and they weren’t particularly afraid of humans. The dikdiks and kongonis were more wary. I happened to say “kongoni anakimbia” when one of them ran away and Ofin told me he and Simon had got really “scared” as I didn’t have an accent. Almost nobody speaks Swahili without an accent, so they must have meant that I didn’t have an English accent. I told them that I knew how to say some things in Swahili, but that I didn’t understand anything. I wonder what they had been saying about me … Ofin found some leopard tracks. Leopards were almost never seen, but one was probably watching us. I never put on my leather sandals and I must say that flip-flops really are the perfect game walk shoes. First I wasn’t too happy with the dust and the frying sun, but the animals made it a really pleasant 2-hour or so walk without seeing any other people. Only the last ascending part was a little bit though for someone completely out of shape, but it would be nothing for any normal person. Up on the viewpoint the crater looked ridiculously scenic with its jungly walls and jade green lake with pink flamingos.

    We descended to the Crater Lake Camp and walked down to have a look at the flamingos. The beach was so full of flamingo excrement that instead of wading, I took a garden hose to wash my dusty feet. I don’t know how much of my time at Lake Naivasha was spent scrubbing feet and shoes. Ofin found the feet washing unnecessary, as I would get dusty again on the walk back. We had lunch and I asked Ofin about the owner of Crater Lake Camp that was shot in 2005. Ofin had been there with some guests in the morning of the fatidic day. Some robbers shot the owner in the car park. They didn’t need to shoot him to rob, so there could have been some land dispute involved. Simon wanted to talk about football, but both Ofin and I thought it was a really silly game. Ofin never watched it on television and was only interested in Animal Planet. He cuddled the animal print cushions of the armchair and I got a photo of him. Simon didn’t want to smile on photos, as he wanted to look like a gangster. I never asked them how old they were. Ofin showed quite a bit of knowledge and had probably read more than a couple of wildlife books. Guiding in Kenya would be so much better if people like him were given driver’s licenses instead of giving wildlife books to drivers that will never open them anyway.

    Then we went down to the water for a walk to the other side of the crater. There was some evidence of buffaloes, but we didn’t see the animals themselves. We did see some colobus monkeys in the trees. Climbing up to the crater rim was a bit much for my level of fitness, but I didn’t complain. When Ofin and Simon asked me if I was OK I just said, “maybe” and “I think so”. The get up on the viewpoint on this side of the crater I took off the flip-flops and climbed barefoot as it was a rocky and steep climb. Then we were down on the other side of the crater. There was a fence and a farm to one side. A young woman came walking with a baby on the front and a big bundle on the back. Ofin said she had been working on the farm and now was walking home to the other side of some hills in the distance. He didn’t add that she didn’t complain, but I really hadn’t complained either. There was a herd of some 20 buffaloes and we walked rather close to them. Ofin said that they felt very safe in a herd and weren’t dangerous at all. Simon said that he felt very safe with us, but wouldn’t be walking anywhere in the sanctuary on his own. Besides the usual zebras and giraffes, we also saw some waterbucks and tommies. Elands were supposed to be around, but we didn’t see them. Then Ofin discovered leopard tracks again. We met a herd of cows that were returning from having had a drink of the lake with their Maasai herder. I tried to photograph some paradise flycatchers, but they didn’t cooperate. At the beach there were two Maasai teenagers, one of them retarded, and some shoats. Two men were waiting in the motorboat and it had been an approximately 1½-hour walk.

    We boarded the boat and set off. After just some 100 metres the motor stalled and the captain started taking it apart. The Maasai teenagers began dancing and the retarded one shouted, “kufa, kufa, kufa” (die, die, die). I don’t know why I didn’t ask what he really was shouting. Ofin and Simon were laughing at him and he could have been saying, “kuja”, which is a Kenyan way of saying, “come”, though the correct way would be to say “njoo” to one person and “njooni” to more than one person. The captain got the motor started, but after a while it stalled again. Ofin and Simon were talking and joking all the time. They imitated waiters at the coast and their clever – and very offensive to the guests – way of communicating orders to the kitchen and Ofin imitated the American lady that had warned us of the hippos. She was the funniest person he had ever met. They had a theory that Kenyans were the worst dressed people in the world. Ofin had seen a man dancing at a club in Kisumu wearing a life jacket and there were Maasai that during the hottest time of the year in January wore a shuka, then a warm coat, a blanket and a woollen hat. They were having fun and seemed to like each other very much. According to media, in January Simon’s community were trying to ethnically cleanse Naivasha of people like Ofin.

    When we finally reached the Fish Eagle jetty it was time to switch on the hippo fence. I can recommend a boat trip to Crater Lake with Ofin, but it would be a lot less expensive with a matatu.

    Agnes was working at the restaurant. I think the restaurant staff worked for 3 days and then had 2 days off, which isn’t bad for Kenya, but they had to wear silly t-shirts. A waiter called Jeremiah had asked her to tell me that he had waited to invite me to a soda in the village before he had to take the bus to Nairobi. Agnes’s face lit up every time she saw new guests approaching the restaurant. There was a Dutch guy that was interested in playing golf in Naivasha and Agnes phoned her friend who was the president of a golf club in Nairobi and arranged for the Dutchman to be the guest of someone so that he didn’t have to pay a fee. Agnes’s husband was a safari driver, but when looking at my photos her eyes became round and she asked me, “What is that animal?” I think she understood that I wanted to be a wildlife expert. Her husband was in the Mara, her 2-year daughter was with her brother in law in Nairobi and was being taken care of by a “girl” and her older daughter was somewhere else at school. I decided to study Agnes to learn social skills.

    There were two young girls from New Zealand in the restaurant and they asked Agnes if there were any torches that they could borrow. It was almost impossible for them to find and open their tent in the dark. There weren’t any torches, but she offered them a candle. As I had four torches (an absolute minimum on my packing list) I said they could borrow my small blue torch that was in my bag. I had my big red metallic torch on the bar, as Agnes had observed that it was the same colour as my phone that I had lying neatly beside it. The girls asked if they could buy the torch, but I say they could buy my big black torch the next day as the small one had the name of a school where I had worked on it. I had no fond memories of the school, but wanted to keep the torch anyway. The girls asked me if it was a Kenyan school and I had to tell them that unfortunately it wasn’t. My plan was to charge them a Cadbury chocolate bar for the black torch.

    Osman appeared saying that there were some hippos and I grabbed my torch to have a look. I walked carefully so that I wouldn’t touch the electric fence or step in the heaps of dust having to scrub my shoes again. Further down the fence a herd of hippos were grazing. We walked closer, but Osman told me and an English speaking non-American couple, that I couldn’t see well in the dark, to keep a distance from the fence. He said that sometimes people aren’t careful and there is trouble. I added something about how dangerous hippos were and how important it was to be careful. Then Osman pointed out a tiny, tiny calf and I stepped forward shining my torch at the really tiny calf. At the same second the big territorial bull charged and I jumped into a heap of dust when aiming to get behind a tree. The bull stopped before the fence and the English speaking man said that he now had something to tell his grandchildren. We watched the hippos at a safe distance for a while and then I returned to the restaurant where a woman had taken my chair with my bag hanging on it. She was in a group that had arrived in vehicles and were sitting in a ring next to the bar. They were white and I don’t know if they were tourists from another place or if they were living in Naivasha. I said, “Sorry, this is my bag” and took the bag with my camera and binoculars in it and she stared angrily at me. I don’t know if it’s against bar etiquette to occupy a space with your phone on the bar and bag on a chair when you’re away for a while to watch hippos. There were other chairs a couple of metres away. I paid and said goodnight to Agnes and the group, but only Agnes said goodnight to me. I think I had been too far away for them to notice that I had molested a baby hippo, but I’m not sure.

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    The trip to Crater Lake is not quite stupid enough, despite Simon and Ofin.... although the fish eagle story is a bit silly. The baby hippo encounter is really quite stupid, but I don't think the bag and torch placement breached etiquette... although I am not sure what you could have done... perhaps you are supposed to chat to them first and then casually drop into the conversation that your bag is there and you'd better pick it up so they can get more comfortable... Just guessing - you should have asked Agnes.

    I'll have to read the rest when I get back.

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    Kimburu, it looks like I’ve finally told something that everyone will recognize as stupid – the baby hippo “encounter”. Though the real stupidity in this report is not finding a way to stay in Kenya and harassing hippos wouldn’t necessary lessen my chances, as long as I kept quiet about it.
    Simon and Ofin weren’t stupid.
    Safari njema!

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    Hi there Nyamera,

    Just got back from Kenya on the 1st and just finished reading your report. You're always an entertaining read! I enjoy your take on life - an interesting and slightly zany perspective.

    As you may remember, I was most interested in the part of your trip pertaining to As You Like It Safaris and Nyumbu Camp, since we also used the same company and stayed 3 nights at Nyumbu Camp. Being our first safari, I can see where our "take" could be different to yours. We all felt we had an incredible experience. Like you, we had great wildlife sightings. But unlike you, we did have the new Landcruiser. What a wonderful vehicle! It was one of the best we came across. And what a difference this must have made! Especially for my father-in-law, who is still recovering from a fairly recent operation.

    If I stop posting, I can start writing our trip report. Just wish I had more of your abilities in that department!

    Thanks again, Nyamera, for sharing your journey. It's only stupid when you don't try - don't give it go - don't follow your dreams...

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    "the real stupidity in this report is not finding a way to stay in Kenya"

    Of course ... sometimes I forget that's what you were trying to do.... following you around is so interesting. :-)

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    Welcome back, somuch2c!
    I’m very curious about your report. Write something recognisable in the title. I’m missing so many reports lately and don’t know when I’ll be able to catch up. I’ll probably read yours even if it’ll cause me huge work problems. I very much regret not having finished mine as soon as I got home. The old Landcruiser wouldn’t have been a problem if I’d been a normal hat wearing safari goer. Start writing now. You don’t need any special abilities (as I know from experience) as long as you’re half literate and remember things (or have notes). Just write what happened.

    Kimburu, don’t forget that you’ve promised to do something stupid within an hour of landing!

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    finally read all of day 13, i'm really impressed that you hiked all that way to Crater Lake. We drove in and up to the top of that overlook.
    where there lots of dead flamingos? the shore was littered with bones when we walked around the lake and the lake was very green.
    my sister in law said it was not like that the first time they visited and the lake had been clear.

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    Day 11

    Were you doing reports in 2005? I want to read about the fever at the police station. Obviously everything turned out ok. If there is a link, please put it at the end of this report. If I already read that report, it would be worth looking at again.

    Great description of the National Museum. I hope you are right that the animals were the same. No topi is an outrageous omission.

    Don't sell yourself short. Maybe you look both beautiful AND rich.

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    Joyce, thanks! I’m glad someone is impressed with my hiking to Crater Lake. Ofin and Simon certainly weren’t. I didn’t see any dead flamingos, but there weren’t that many live ones either. There were more flamingos at Oloiden that’s nearby. The lake was definitely green, jade green and not clear.
    The Crater Lake Sanctuary is almost better than the Crater Lake itself and I think you can walk there without a guide.

    Lynn, I still haven’t checked my 20 wildlife films on one DVD. I hope they are there.

    2005 was my first Kenya trip after discovering Fodor’s and I wrote a report that you read. It was more condensed than this one and I didn’t expect people to be that interested. It’s here:
    http://fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=4&tid=34652401

    There’s a risk I look stupid and rich.

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    Day 14

    Early in the morning I thought a big animal, possibly a leopard, was tap dancing on my roof, but when I got out I saw that there was nothing but some vervets. Then, when I’d had breakfast, the Kiwi girls appeared in the restaurant and I remembered that I had to go and fetch the black torch.

    On the way to my banda a bird guide called Bruno stopped me. I needed to learn more about birds and was interested in a one-hour bird walk, but Bruno’s price was 3,000 shillings. Not only had I already spent too much money, but 3,000 was exactly what I’d been told I’d have to charge people for my services to get a half-decent income after paying high taxes and social security as a self-employed person and I would never dare to ask anyone to pay me that much; a couple of years earlier I’d been told that 300 shillings per day was a better than average pay for camp staff and Nelson was earning $150 per month (10,000 shillings?). Of course, Bruno asked me to tell him how much I was willing to pay, but I just wanted to know the “normal” price and I wanted to pay the lowest price that would still feel like a good deal to him. There was no way he would give me this information, so I went to ask Agnes who asked me if a motorboat was included in the price. She didn’t know the “normal” price, but said that Bruno would give me a better price and that he would not be offended at all because I’d asked her, which I found hard to believe. The price came down to 1,500, which still was too expensive, but I was willing to pay to keep everyone happy. I suppose Bruno had heard of my trip to Crater Lake.

    We went on a walk down to the jetty and around Fisherman’s. There were many birds, but not that many that I wouldn’t have been able to identify on my own; right now I can only think of the African citril. The bird walk was about finding birds and identifying them, and I think Bruno was good at it. He didn’t tell me anything about bird behaviour though. He said he would give me some extra bird time at the public beach, so we went for a (relatively) long walk in the ferocious sun along the road. There were very few birds at the roadside, but at the public beach there were hoopoes, LBRs, white fronted bee-eaters, drongos, the ever-present pied kingfishers and some others, that I don’t remember. The public beach wasn’t dusty as the ground was dry-mud lake bottom with short, green grass. There were women doing their laundry on the shore and laying the clothes to dry on the grass, men with donkeys carrying big water containers up to where the flower farm workers lived, and some grazing sheep. It ended up being a 2-hour bird walk.

    When back at Fisherman’s I took my black torch and went to look for the girls from New Zealand. Agnes wasn’t completely sure, but she thought they had already left! I asked her and some other people if the Kiwis had handed them my blue torch, but it was nowhere to be found.

    I had booked for 3 nights, but hadn’t seen enough of Naivasha and had no idea of where to go next. Agnes looked in the book and saw that my banda was booked for Friday! There were other bandas though. I would have to talk to the manager, Moses, the next morning to find out if I’d have to move and if I would be able to pay the normal price instead of the weekend price. I enjoyed having my own little house in such a lovely spot with hippos and colobus monkeys, but I had to go somewhere else to find a way to stay in Kenya. Time was slipping away.

    I decided to have tea at Elsamere and got on a matatu for only 10 shillings. Ofin had said that there would be hundreds of cakes to choose from and that there was no limit on how much you could eat. The road after entering the gate was dusty and there were zebra tracks. The old Land Rover in which George Adamson was shot to death was placed at the entrance of the house. The tea was 600 shillings and I was the only guest, so I could choose when I wanted to watch the film. I decided to start with the ancient video that at times reminded me more of “The War of the Ants” than an interview with Joy Adamson. I had some problems staying awake. Then I had a look at the museum with bits and pieces like Joy’s typewriter and the dress that she wore when meeting queen Elizabeth II. I bought a mouse pad with a drawing of Elsa lying on a sun bed, or tent cot, or most likely a tent cot used as a sun bed. Then it was time for tea. There were just 6 kinds of cake, but I couldn’t have eaten more anyway. One of them was a squash pie that could have been a nasty surprise if I hadn’t noticed that it wasn’t sweet before taking the first bite. The waiter told me that the wildlife was much better than at Fisherman’s and that they sometimes had elands on the lawn. Now I have looked at their website and only the usual hippos, colobus and fish eagles are mentioned. Did he really say anything about elands and did I see zebra tracks? I do remember that I thought about staying at Elsamere, but changed my mind when I was told that it was $100 per night. I went out onto the back of the garden with the lake view. There was a sign about a nature trail and some wooden steps down to the jetty. There was also a warning sign about dangerous animals, but at the jetty there was just a small clearing with papyrus at both sides, so I don’t know if the steps were the nature trail. I did see a giant kingfisher. I would have liked to see the conservation centre, but it was getting late, so I left.

    I decided to walk back to Fisherman’s. It was getting dark but there were lots of people walking or cycling and I lost count of how many of them asked me where I was from and how they could come to my country. Almost all of them were from western Kenya and working on flower farms. They were all on their way somewhere and nobody insisted on following me forever. There were splendid lake views and the sun was sleepy and mellow.

    In the evening I asked if my blue torch had turned up at the restaurant, but it hadn’t. I talked with a Sri Lankan man and an American mother with a teenage son on an overland trip. They had no Kiwis in their group and they thought that the girls had been in another truck that left at midday. I didn’t keep track of other guests at Fisherman’s as they spent most of their time out on excursions or around their own tents and campfires. I hardly talked to any of them, but these people told me that they had been to Ngorongoro and Serengeti without seeing a male lion, their cook came down with malaria on the first day and their tour leader, who had never done the trip herself, got the flu. They weren’t told what was going to happen, but just what time they should be waiting, and they ended up wasting a lot of time waiting. They didn’t know that you could arrange a trip the way you wanted it with any of the hundreds of safari companies in Nairobi, but after seeing my photos, the Sri Lankan decided that it was what he would do the next time. In the morning they would be picked up by two smaller vehicles and driven to the Mara for a 2-night safari. I gave them some advice about what to do if there were “no animals” in the Mara and they thought I was very clever. That’s what’s nice about other tourists; all Kenyans think that I’m very stupid. They also thought that not knowing where I was going next was very ”brave” and I found that an interesting way of interpreting my lack of initiative. I thought we should do some hippo watching, but the mother and son had to return to their tent as they were getting up very early. I waited for the Sri Lankan man to finish his beer and he started telling me that his wife lived in England and when he called me darling Osman appeared. The beer was finished and I said, “let’s go and have a look at the hippos”, but the Sri Lankan disappeared in the dark.

    I would have liked to tell the overland travellers that you have to be very careful with hippos. All nine members of the herd with the tiny baby were grazing at the other end of the camp. I watched them for a long time in a very respectful way and I didn’t upset a single hippo.

    This night I missed my blue torch.

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    Hi Nyamera,
    To find a way to live in Kenya is hard, but not impossible. I had the same dream for many years, and now live there for 6 months of the year and am back in the UK for what it pleases us to call 'summer'. However, its not so easy to live there when the majic has been stripped away and you have to fend for yourself. Atypical day would be to get up, look out of the windows and admire all the wildlife in your 'garden'- then raid the larder (with supplies you have brought up from Nairobi in my case)- and see what you can find to eat...hoping its been sunny and you have some solar power is good...if not then maybe you have some gas with to cook, if not get out the charcoal burner! A trip to the local Masai market every week is good, hopefully if you get there when they have just killed a cow you can get some decent meat - its usually 2-300ksh kg - but because its fresh it really is tough so it will need a long slow cook on the charcoal burner to tenderise it. At the same time you can get some vegetables, potatoes, greens, may be carrots, rice, ground maize and onions are ususally available along with avocado and pineapple - and some eggs, but you will have to float them to check they are fresh - they often arne't ! The rest of the time is pretty much yours to do what you want with.De bugging the bed is always worth spending some time on - and wear and tear mean a continual maintenance job is always on going. There is no great need to go on game drives, since everything comes to you in time. I have a leopard around most nights, cheetah are always about, and all the elephants you could want . Probably rhino is the only animal I'd have to go to look for.

    I bought some land and built a small house specifically to allow me to do this.It wasn't easy an dthere were 3-4 abortive attempts. There will be those that criticise that the Masai will end up with nothing - and this is possibly true, but that's what life is about. If the Masai I bought from chose to spend it all in a bar, then hopefully the bar owner will make a profit and send his children to school or something. Also, I know that apart from my small and discretely hidden house, my land is protected for ever as far as the wildlife are concerned - and if I ever get the chance to buy adjacent land, maybe I can increase my holding. However, I am not young and enjoy my retirement away from the UK cold in winter. When I move on to the plains in the sky I have left it to members of the Masai community to preserve for the wildlife.
    Hopefully, on the way I can put something back and improve the life of some of the people in the Masai villages - especially the women who seem to have a most unenviable lifestyle by Western standards.
    I will continue to strive to leave the world a better place than when I arrived and hopefully will not be condemmed too much for living my life at peace.
    I know you will find a way to do the same if you really want to - I promise you it is possible,
    Kind regards,

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    Hi canary111,
    Your lifestyle with leopards and elephants in the garden is more than I am hoping for. I could live in Nairobi if I were able to go on safari a couple of times a year, but even this seem completely impossible. Are you the English woman I was told about at Nyumbu Camp? It sounds like you are able to live half the year in Kenya because you’re retired with a decent pension. Am I correct? Unless I start earning some serious money right now, my chances of ever being able to retire are rather slim.
    Thanks for sharing the practicalities of your Kenyan life. I’m very interested in knowing more. How do you get water? Are you far from Talek where I suppose you can buy food all days of the week? I’m not a meat eater, so I would live on rice and vegetables, or only rice when out of vegetables. And, in case all cooking appliances would fail I’d need some dry food in store, like some kind of biscuits. I’m not handy at all, but I suppose I could learn.
    Thanks for “knowing” that I will find a way.

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    Hi Nyamera,
    See, you're beginning to get the hang of it already....if there is no fresh food available -and if for some reason you can't get to the market - as when the river is flooded - then some dried biscuits will do fine. I collect water from rainfall during the rainy season, and keep in underground tanks. This is fine for washing but I use bottled water for drinking - and always keep a good supply of antibiotics handy just in case I get it wrong !
    I took an earlyish retirement - and in reality, I find it costs less to live in Kenya for the winter than it does to heat a house in the UK over the winter - even on a UK state pension you could be quite comfortable once you get out of the 'tourist' loop.Though I concede I will probably end up in the UK in the long term since with time my sorry carcase will start to fall to bits and I will need to plunder the Nationl Health Service.
    To actually earn a living in Kenya would be hard since there are so many Kenyans without a job at the moment; I don't know how you would go about it although I have a few friends who work for the UN who often seem to be around. What skills do you have, and may I ask how old you are? Maybe there is a wildlife research programme or something - I have seen many research students about at times.If you come to the Mara again maybe we could meet up - I am usually around between Oct and April every year and leave when the rain starts.
    To have a dream and a sense of purpose is a wonderful aim - always keep focussed on it and be positive - it only took me 8 years to find a way to make it happen, so you have plenty of time yet!
    Kind regards,

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    Canary111, the biscuits would be in a tightly closed tin. I wouldn’t worry about food as long as I had money. Water for washing is what could leave me sleepless. What kind of toilet have you got, btw? The real problem is earning a living.

    I’m in my very late 30s and I can’t say I have any skills at all. I can only get work as a Spanish teacher when nobody else is available. I’m not a teacher and I can’t say I enjoy teaching. When I can’t find a teaching job I sell Kenyan curios, but I don’t earn any money from that. I don’t know much about the pension system in my country – I put my fingers in my ears and hum a silly melody when people talk about pensions -, but I’ve heard that it’s been changed for the worse and women who have worked part time when their children were young worry about poverty in old age. I spent my first 14 years as a supposedly adult person doing low-paid under the table work in Spain. Someone with the lowest pension could probably – at the moment – have a very good standard of living compared to the neighbours in a Kenyan village, but I don’t think it would be possible to have a vehicle, go on safari or visit the home country. When/if I reach retirement age, that will be later than now, only defect people – those who have been in prison, been ill or been abroad – will have the lowest pension and it will probably be even more difficult to live on. I can’t expect to get any pension at all and I can’t wait 30 more years to start living. There’s no way at all that I can get a job in Kenya. It’s been discussed in other threads. I’ve thought about marrying a rich and corrupt Kenyan and I’ve been recommended trying an MP, but I’m too old and un-talented for that. I got some inspiration hearing about Kenyans in the tourist industry earning very good money in Iraq. That kind of vulturing would be a bit too immoral even for me, but I’ve started thinking of going somewhere dangerous to earn money for a life in Kenya. I just don’t know where and how. Now I’ve told you too much about my uselessness and spent too much time that should have been spent preparing lessons.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’d love to meet up, but I always go to Kenya in June when schools finish. I hope you’ll manage to stay away from the NHS for many more years.
    Salaam

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    Day 12

    Dolly Parton plus a Swahili sermon. You gotta love the big bus.

    I hope the phone and safari offer work out in Day 13 for you.

    How could you not think your photos were great? They made the French woman scream in jealousy and the American woman chant all your sightings!

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    Nyamera,

    You are the funniest person i have ever read about in this forum. I have been following your thread since you posted and right now i have printed the whole story ( As its a bit tricky to read it from the forum, i have copied it in microsoft office and printed so right now i have a hard copy of Nyamera's stupidest Kenya trip so far, interesting) and it keeps me busy when i need something to occupy my mind.

    Are you a swede? if yes, have you ever thought of working in Sudan? there are several National Swedish organizations that are having operations in Sudan and it could be nice to try them out e.g SRSA,SRC etc. I know mostly they need persons with certain qualifications but at times you can get some jobs that does not require much especially in that desert of Darfur and the pay check is good!

    You should try!.




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    Nyamera, my head is spinning. I interpreted your self-description of 'really old' as meaning you are too old. Finding out that you are in your late 30s changes your options. What's to stop you from getting trained in something that could earn a good salary, saving your money and then retiring to Kenya?

    Here are some ideas:
    --Work at an airline that offers free flights as a benefit, so your safaris would be cheaper.

    --Get training at a particular skill where you can immediately get a good paying job. I'm not sure what country you are in, so I'm not sure whether the choices are different, but here in the US examples would be dental hygienist or paralegal.

    --Get a job that you can do primarily at home, but exchange assignments via the internet, so you can earn money while living in Kenya but employed by a firm in your home country. I realize that you would most likely not have personal high-speed internet access, but I'm sure you could figure out a way to get to an internet cafe a couple times a week. For example, how about proofreading?

    But I really think the most important thing is to stop thinking of yourself as so old!

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    Katie the Editor - are you out there? Nyamera would be a great writer for your Fodors Safari Guidebook and she gives a very different perspective and experience than most of the safari goers here on this forum. I don't know how Fodors works, but maybe you could hire her or at least pay for her safaris in exchange for her writing the good bad and ugly about each place as well as logistics???? She would be a great asset to your team!!

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    Lynn, you’d never get Dolly Parton on a matatu, but maybe a sermon or three.

    The motifs are great, not the photos themselves.

    Leely2, I regret not having finished the report before getting a phone call from a school, or maybe if I’d dedicated 24/7 to NKI I might have been able to say “no thanks” to the school, or maybe not … I was inefficient both at curio selling and report writing. I don’t now what I was doing this summer.

    the michaels, I feel like printing what you’ve written about being the “funniest person”. There are people, like pupils, that don’t think I’m funny at all.

    I’ve had a look at the Rescue Service website. Their lowest pay is twice as much as I’m earning now, but there are no jobs that I could apply for and it’s unlikely there will be any in the future. I’ll think and investigate further on Friday evening. Somalia sounds better (more dangerous) than Sudan though, and I’d need a shadier organisation. Is there any oil in Somalia? Thanks for the idea!

    ann-nyc, thanks for spinning your head. I would not like to be an economical dental hygienist to be able to take an early retirement at 65. For reasons that I could write about in a more discreet thread, though I’m already being too indiscreet here, I will never go back to school. Maybe I could teach myself to be a proofreader, but making someone hire me over the Internet from Kenya sounds more difficult than marrying an MP, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating. “Old” is relative to what I’ve not achieved in life.

    Aowens, you’re on the VIP list of Nyamera Camp!

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    Nyamera,

    Sorry there is no oil in Somalia, thats why no country is interested in it ( nothing to invest out of it like Sudan) .However, the pay is good in Somalia than any other African countries as no one who is willing to work there...the friends I know who used to work there tells me its a hot zone! But the good thing if you get a job there,you will be going for your R&R in Nairobi.

    Good day.

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    Day 15

    In the morning I went looking for Moses, but he wasn’t around. Just in case I would have to pay the weekend rates, I decided to check out the neighbouring accommodation options. First Fish Eagle Inn next door. Fish Eagle is a hotel with a campsite. There is a swimming pool, but I’m not interested in that kind of thing. There was also a peacock, which was more interesting and it explained some strange sounds. The place looked very quiet and a self-contained (en suite) single room was 2,220 shillings per night. I never had a look at the room. Then I had to check out Camp Carnelley’s that was bordering Fisherman’s on the other side. Unlike Fish Eagle the camp had no direct access from Fisherman’s, so I had to walk all the way up to the road and then almost halfway to “the village” before descending on a long and dusty driveway. Fisherman’s used to be even bigger than now, but the owner died leaving the camp to two sons with different ideas of how to run it. They decided to split it up and the son with a burnt face created Camp Carnelley’s. At least it’s what I was told. Carnelley’s looked much like Fisherman’s, but was smaller and the restaurant was more basic and down to earth. There were a couple of interesting vegetarian options, but it was too early to have lunch. I was shown a bigger more luxurious banda than the one I had at Fisherman’s. It would cost me 2,000 per night. There were also some nice smaller bandas that only cost 800 shillings, but they had shared bathrooms, and for that reason weren’t anything I would consider.

    After Carnelley’s I crossed the road to have a look at Top Camp and it was a long, dusty, uphill walk in almost desert like conditions with dry bushes and euphorbias. When I was finally getting closer to the camp I heard what to me sounded like a very unhappy buffalo until I saw cows at the other side of the fence behind Top Camp. I found some construction workers at the camp and after a while a woman who would show me the bandas appeared. There was a big banda with a complete kitchen and a nice bathroom for the price of 4,000 shillings and the cheapest banda without shower cost 1,400 per night. There were splendid lake views, but I wouldn’t recommend Top Camp to anyone without a vehicle and I wouldn’t recommend the area to any cows looking for grass. The descent was downhill (I expect people of all intellectual levels to read this report) but it was even hotter and drier. I met, or rather caught up with, an old Maasai man who touched his stomach as if he was hungry. It would have felt more authentic if he had told me, even in Maa, that he was broke and needed to buy some food. He probably needed some cash for something so I gave him a very small sum. Then came a pickup truck on its way down from Top Camp and the Maasai man jumped into the passenger seat. I was a bit disappointed at not having been offered a lift in the back of the truck, but I hadn’t even asked. Back at Fisherman’s I met Moses who told me I could stay over the weekend for 1,000 per night. I would have to move to number 12 or, if the person who had booked number 11 agreed, I could stay. I’d have to come to Moses in the morning to find out if I’d have to move or not.

    I sat down in the green grass next to the papyrus looking at an outstretched vervet that was being groomed by another vervet. Top Camp is often recommended as a quieter alternative to Fisherman’s, but I would still recommend the latter, even in high season with people on overland trips throwing up in every bush. The camps could be called Camp of Death and Camp of Life.

    I decided that sitting in the grass waiting for something interesting to appear was more in tune with my physical and mental condition than walking in the midday sun was, so I just stayed in the grass. Five sheep accompanied by a herder were grazing and I was falling asleep when a pickup truck arrived and parked on the driveway to the jetty. Ten men got off the truck and came running towards me in single file with pangas (machetes) in their hands. I asked them what was happening and one of them replied in a hushed voice, “we’re taking action against poachers”, “fish thieves”, added another of them. I didn’t ask them if they were going to cut the poachers into pieces, but I got up to see what they would do. I didn’t want to go into the papyrus, as there could be mud and hippos, and after a while I went to the restaurant to have lunch. Ofin and Simon came and got into the papyrus and then the poacher hunters left.

    In the afternoon I met Ofin who said that the men with pangas had been from Fisheries and had caught two poachers. As I didn’t even notice, it must have been very un-dramatic. There was a two months’ fishing moratorium. Ofin recommended a trip to Oloiden Lake for 1,500 shillings and off we went. We got on a matatu that had its last stop at Oserian flower farm and then we started walking towards Kongoni hoping that an infrequent Kongonibound matatu would appear. We were lucky with the matatu and soon we were in Kongoni village that was even dustier than the dustiest places I had seen so far. On the way there we saw some zebras and impalas. Just behind the village there was a stretch of woodland, and after a short walk among the trees we saw the lake that wasn’t as insanely scenic as Crater Lake, but bigger and scenic enough - and there was no fee for visiting it. Oloiden used to be a bay of Lake Naivasha, but that was a long time ago and now it’s a soda lake with flamingo numbers that reminded more of Lake Nakuru than of Crater Lake. There were hippos and a tree full of cormorants, a hamerkop eating a fish, some shoats with a herder and a small herd of zebras. Ofin said that there usually were more varied plains game. I finally got an open mouth hippo picture and I started collecting bird feathers. It was getting late and Ofin said we’d better leave before it got dark.

    On the way back to Kongoni we passed a clearing between the trees with the most idyllic looking camp consisting of two large octagonal tents and a kitchen tent with a big heap of chopped cucumber or squash. There was just one person who looked like a young ranger, but was a soldier of the Kenyan army, and what looked like a mobile luxury camp was an army camp. The soldier was from western Kenya. Ofin knew him and stopped to talk for a while. Back in Kongoni there was a prayer meeting with a shouting preacher. A matatu was departing and we hopped on. Two sheep were loaded through the back door and were made to lie under the seat. It looked uncomfortable and stressful, but I suppose that it was better than a long walk on a leash. I could easily have visited Oloiden on my own for almost nothing and Crater Lake is also reachable on foot from Kongoni, but the walk is a bit longer and there’s an 800-shilling fee. Being guided by Ofin made me feel like a big, fat, pink baby tourist, which I suppose in many ways is an apt description of what I am.

    This night there were no hippos. Osman said that they had gone somewhere else to graze. I packed my bags to be ready to move to banda 12 the next morning.

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    Day 13, I think.

    I got some laughs from Simon's and Ofin's behavior and antics but stopped laughing at the ethnic cleansing news. Well placed.

    You really travel with 4 torches? You should post your packing list. I can't imagine what else is on it.

    I've been wanting to read an account of the Crater Lake or Crescent Island. Thanks for the Crater Lake details, flamingo feces and all.

    I hope the emergency is going as well as you can expect an emergency to go.

    I'll check out the 2005 report again, especially the fever in the police station.

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    Lynn, I do travel with 4 torches, but now I have to get a new torch. I also need some kind of bigger more powerful torch. Maybe some day I’ll post a packing list.

    I’ll write about Crescent Island as well.

    I already have problems with the emergency and working 24/7 isn’t enough to solve them. Besides finishing my own, there are so many reports that I need to keep up with and I also need to post about some African wildlife issues, but I don’t want to be too heavily involved in any thread.

    There is news about the “Somak Lodge”. http://www.nation.co.ke/News/-/1056/469428/-/tkd4lc/-/index.html

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    Interesting article (and I loved the accompanying demonstration photo). I don't know much about this although it does sound as if there are many, many camps and lodges in the Mara. And to build in a rhino breeding ground? Yikes.

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    Nyamera, first let me say that I have been on 7 safaris (5 in Kenya.) I am a very senior citizen but these safaris have made me younger! Have enjoyed your threads immensely and I just want to include a quote that I keep near me among my reading matereial. I don't know who the author is but here itis: Title is East African Highlands "It is a world from which one comes back changed. Long afterwards gazelles still galloped through my dreams or stood gazing at me out of their soft and watchful eyes, and as I returned each daybreak, unbelieving, to my familiar room. I realized increasingly that this world would never again be the same for having visited that one. Nor does it leave you when you go away. Knowing its landscapes and sounds (even more its silence) how it feels and smells - just knowing it is there - sets it forever in its own special light,somewhere in the mind's eye."

    Anybody know the author?

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    emowens - love the quote, googled it and found it on a safari website which states by Evelyn Ames, A Glimpse of Eden

    Nyamera
    Loving your report and your way of writing as always.

    Julie

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    Leely2, on my map the confluence of Ol Keju Ronkai and the Mara is a wooded area, but a bit north of Lookout Hill where I was told the camp was being built. It could well be hippo breeding ground and the Mara is already over-developed, but it sounds like the main reason for the conflict is politicians with financial interests in different camps. William ole Ntimama is a nasty inciter of violence, but I suppose it’s good that he’s on the side of the rhinos. I don’t really know that much though.

    Hello emowens! Thanks for commenting. Are you sure that the safaris have made you younger? I’m so much more aware that time is slipping away and time spent outside Kenya is time lost. Your quote is very true, but the mind’s eye is not enough even though it doesn’t need mascara. I investigated a bit and found out that it’s from A Glimpse of Paradise by Evelyn Ames.

    I just got a phone call that I’m restarting private Spanish classes on Saturdays. I was going to continue the report and participate in threads on Friday evenings! Now I have some very unpleasant things to do – not doing them is risking the job that I hate and desperately need - and I really should be in bed to survive tomorrow. I’m sure people who are busier than I manage to keep up with everything important and Kenyan, but I’m just too useless.

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    Day 16

    My bags were ready for a move and I went to look for Moses, but couldn’t find him. Priscilla checked the book and said that I wasn’t moving until the next day. There had been a name written on the Friday lines, but it was crossed out and re-written on Saturday. Then I met Ofin who told me that the animals now were back on Crescent Island.

    I’d been thinking of checking my email, but there was a sign at the office saying it was 100 shillings for ten minutes – ten times as expensive as in Nairobi. Now I decided to do it anyway. A man whose name I don’t remember said a could have a special 200-shilling surfing card for long stay guests, and showed me the way to a computer at the back of the restaurant. I had some connection problems, wrote a reply to an email and when I was going to send it I was disconnected. Then I was told Moses had opened the office and that I could try the computer there. At the office Moses asked how much I’d paid and I discovered that he had never heard anything about surfing cards. He went to talk to the other guy and came back saying it was OK. I kept getting disconnected and never managed to send the email and then Moses said there was no time left on my card and that I had to pay another 200. I said I might just as well throw my money into the lake and then I went down to the jetty to do almost exactly that. It’s very possible that Fisherman’s had an expensive Internet connection that they needed to make guests pay for, but I felt irritated anyway.

    Bye, bye, big fat pink baby tourist. I was going to rent a small rowing boat and paddle it on my own to where the hippos were - I’m not that good at rowing. Unfortunately, the rowing boat was too big for me to paddle on my own, so I had to take Tobis with me. I got a very heavy wooden oar and remembered that my previous paddling experience was restricted to a rubber dinghy with plastic oars and downriver. I almost couldn’t lift the oar, but tried to look fit, which took a lot of charm from the hippo viewing. I asked Tobis how close we could paddle to the hippos without disturbing them and risking ending up in the water, but he was only interested in how close I wanted to go. I don’t know how often boats are attacked as it isn’t international nor Kenyan news as long as nobody gets killed, but a couple of years ago I read about a Swedish mother and daughter that ended up in the waters of Lake Naivasha when rowing too close to a hippo. I really didn’t want my camera, and definitely not my phone, to get wet. The hippos looked at us but I don’t think they got upset at all. I can recommend a hippo viewing paddling trip. I think it was just 500 shillings for an hour. Though a better way of doing it would have been to buy a plastic inflatable boat at a toy store in Nairobi and then donating it to some child after the hippo viewing.

    After lunch I saw some information that the fees for Crescent Island were $14. I had read that if trying the get there by land there could be problems with a landowner whose land you’d have to cross, but Agnes, who was back from Nairobi where she had eaten hamburgers at Nandos with her husband and youngest daughter, said I would have no problems taking a matatu and then walking to Crescent Island.

    Soon I was up on the road to wait for a matatu. The skies were getting dark and I saw it as a sign that the python rain goddess, Omieri, from the west, would make an apparition. I got on a matatu and was assured that I’d be let off at the right place. In “the village” there was a woman wearing a t-shirt with “Fisherpeople Have Human Rights Too” printed on it. I got off at Sanctuary Farm. There was a guard at the gate and he told me how to get to Crescent Island and not to take any notice of the un-welcoming signs. There were fences everywhere, lots of dust, very little grass and the sun was out to fry me again. Besides some horses there were zebras, so there must have been some kind of passage between the fences. After a long walk I reached a sandy racecourse with a lone wildebeest grazing on the middle of it. Someone had turned the trunk of a yellow barked acacia into a giant green foot with pink toenails. I continued my walk and came across some very European looking cattle with a herder who confirmed that I was on the right way. Then there was a gate and a sign saying “Bushy Island”.

    The green bushiness was a complete contrast to what I’d seen so far and a giraffe was standing in the middle of the road. I went inside and 9 more giraffes appeared. The giraffes were definitely worth the long dusty walk and I thought they were just the beginning. I wanted to stay with them, but continued my walk passing a hill with some round huts and a nice looking house. A slim brown dog approached me growling. I could pat him, but then he started growling again. I didn’t feel comfortable with him at all. Then his pit bull-style friend appeared and came running towards me barking like a more normal dog and when he reached me he became very friendly. I continued and came across a herd of impalas and then I saw the Crescent Island sign and a sign saying, “the animals are wild … your own risk …etc.” No one was there to charge me the entrance fee, so I entered and looked around still without seeing anyone. There was a tall, very dry slope and I continued walking on the road at the base of the slope, maybe hoping to save the $14. I didn’t see any mammals at all. Some crowned plovers were very angry with me and suddenly someone looking like a ranger appeared at the top of the slope. I prepared myself to look like a stupid tourist, which wouldn’t be much of an effort. The ranger was carrying a price list on which I could see that the fee for non-residents was $25. Crescent Island was closing at 5pm and it was already almost 4.30, so I didn’t want to pay and said that I would be back the following day. The ranger consulted a female voice with a “white” Swahili accent on the walkie-talkie and she asked him to say they were very sorry and that I was welcome back the next day. I saw the impalas again, but I only heard the dogs and the giraffes had disappeared. There were a couple of more wildebeest on the racecourse and the sun was still fierce. I started fantasizing about warm soapy water for my very dirty feet and sandals. My plan was to have a look at the horse riding activity at Sanctuary Farm. I felt too paranoid to wear a loose braid on a matatu, but it could be interesting to see what it looked like. Then a blue Land Rover appeared and the white couple in it asked me where I was going. They were going to town, but could give me a lift up to the road and I hopped into the vehicle. Up on the road I was asked to slam the door hard to shut it and I managed to do it. This might seem a bit irrelevant to write about, but when I am given practical instructions like pressing the key to the left to close a door, I never manage to do it and it makes me come across as very stupid.

    I was back at Fisherman’s before dark and did some colobus watching. There were good-sized, but not huge spiders in my banda. When I showed photos of them to Agnes she told me I should kill them. Agnes was very talented at dealing with people, but clueless about animals. Jeremiah was there as well and he said he had to talk to me about something important before I was leaving.

    My torch hadn’t appeared and there were no hippos this night either. I didn’t bother to pack my bags.

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    Leely2, school is never peaceful. To me it’s always like several theatre performances before a hostile, or just bored (when you’re lucky), audience every day. And you’re considered fortunate if you get time to prepare these performances and aren’t bombarded with other school chores. Everything bad that happens is always the teacher’s fault; especially if the teacher is unqualified, but worst of all is that my job is being advertised when I need to stay at least until Christmas. I’m thinking of asking for advice about the group I have in English, but I’m afraid to get too involved in a thread.

    This is exactly the kind of thing I should not be writing. When the report is finished I’ll post it on Safaritalk without unrelated whining.

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    Day 14,

    Those pesky vervets, impersonating a tap dancing leopard--I always knew they were clever.

    Even more people are impressed with your photos and may plan another safari based upon them.

    I hope you increased your ornithological knowledge after the bird walk.

    Your description of the emergency is as fascinating in its bluntness and perceptiveness as your descrption of your travels.

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    Day 17

    At breakfast I was informed that I could stay in banda number 11 - my banda - for the two remaining nights, and then I put a water bottle in my small bag. I don’t normally carry bottles of water around, but I was going to have a picnic lunch on Crescent Island. It was getting too late to go to “the village” to buy food. Instead I bought a small packet of long-life milk, two bread buns and two bananas, and then I got on a matatu to Sanctuary Farm. Even though I, like the previous day, was wearing my leather sandals and not my flip flops (I was afraid of developing a pain between my toes) I bounced down to Crescent Island in 45 minutes. The pit bull type dog and a big brown dog gave me a barking welcome, and the growling dog was nowhere to be seen.

    At the gate to Crescent Island there was a ranger who told me that to pay the entrance fee I’d have to walk up the tall dusty slope to a red-roofed house, which reminded me of bad service, but didn’t bother me, as I wanted to see the house. The garden was a green oasis full of birds and a young white, or even blond, woman appeared. She had long eyelashes, a nice dog and a wooden box where she put my 1,400 shillings. There was a good exchange rate for paying in shillings. I wouldn’t have to pay anything extra for a guide, but if he was “really, really good” I could tip him 200 shillings. On a table was the shedded skin of a big python. I was told to walk along the road at the top of the slope where a guide would meet me- and so I did. Outside a wooden hut two guides were sitting. I’d been thinking of whether I needed a guide or not and decided that I did if I was going to find a python, but the guides thought I could walk on my own, and said it was too dry to find a python anyway. I was told to keep away from bushy areas where buffaloes could be lurking and to leave my ticket with them and then collect it on my return. The guides said it would be a good idea to join a big group down the slope, but the group was too far away for me to catch up with even if I’d have wanted to. The animals were down on the outside of the crescent where I couldn’t see them. The crescent shape was clearly visible from the top of the island, which made me feel quite sure of not getting lost. It was very hot and this time it wasn’t some other person that was making me walk in the midday sun.

    I decided to start with the inside of the crescent, and since the buffaloes and I had similar preferences, I had to walk quite close to the bushes next to the shore. I could always jump into the lake – with the hippos – if I were attacked. The possible presence of buffaloes made me feel slim and tanned, and I’m sure my eyes would have been open if anyone would have photographed me (they usually aren’t). It was a very pleasant feeling compared to the sadness I’d felt most of the time at Lake Naivasha. There were some guinea fowls and dikdiks that kept running away, a waterbuck having a drink of lake water and in the water there were hippos. For a while the animals were so scarce that I started photographing dead crayfish.

    I reached the tip of the crescent and turned to the outer side where there was a lake bottom plain of dry mud with short green grass. After a while I saw some wildebeests and then some good-sized waterbuck herds. There were zebras and tommies and up among the yellow barked acacias there were some giraffes. I didn’t see any people at all. The sky had turned overcast and I could see dustdevils in the direction of Naivasha town. My plan had been to find a tree with good shade to have lunch under, but as the sun had been hidden, I just sat down on the plain among the animals. I arranged a still life out of my lunch and photographed it. Later it occurred to me that it would have been so much better with a wildebeest skull thrown in, but then I had already eaten most of the it, except a bun that was really tasteless and should be used for bird baiting. There was a tommie fawn on his own looking for his mother and I didn’t know what to do. As there were no predators, he’d probably starve to death. After a while I saw him joining a tommie herd in the distance, too far away to be sure that he found his mother. I wasn’t completely happy and the animals kept their distance from me (20 metres or so), but I thought that sitting there on the ground was one of less than two handfuls of highlights of my life and a little bit better than watching the zebra crossing in the Mara. Big numbers of wild animals is the only thing that makes life on earth bearable. I don’t know how to explain it, but it has something to do with noses, ears, whiskers, stares and being like me but completely different. People are irritatingly and stressfully identical to me. Though in Kenya they are a bit more entertaining.

    There was thunder and lightning in the distance, and pelicans came circling on the wind above my head. I failed at getting a good picture of them and then I got up to continue my game walk. I found two dead wildebeests that were only nibbled at and higher up in a drier more wooded area there was a dead impala. I discovered that I had blisters on my heels and started regretting trying to walk in anything else than flip-flops. I had to put the back straps of my sandals under my feet and developed a shuffling walk. I encountered a couple of giraffes and Grant’s gazelles and then it started raining and I decided to return to where the guides were. Several pairs of crowned plovers got upset with me and one even made almost frightening aerial attacks.

    There were four guides/rangers at the wooden hut and they all thought I should be glad that I didn’t see any buffaloes. I asked them if the animals at been away earlier in the week and the guides said that they were always around as they had nowhere to go.

    The rain stopped before I reached Bushy Island and I got an sms from George (As you Like It) asking me when I’d be back in Nairobi (Monday). I thought about returning to Crescent Island, but I had already spent over four hours there. I didn’t see the dogs. Instead a young man from Samburu appeared. He was in the tourist industry and living on Bushy Island. He showed me a giraffe that was almost hidden in the bushes and some wildebeests on the racecourse. Then he asked me if I could find him a job in Sweden. This time the walk was much longer than 45 minutes. When almost up on the road I was found by another young man, who had seen me in the morning and decided that he had to ask me to help him find a job in the tourist industry. I told him that I was just a tourist, but he wasn’t convinced that I couldn’t get people jobs. He also suggested “sponsorship” and he wanted to come to Fisherman’s to sell me some asparagus. Buying asparagus is something I could and should have done, but I was so tired and lazy that I just explained that I wasn’t self-catering and wasn’t interested.

    Back at Fisherman’s everything was wet as there had been good rains. I started scrubbing myself and then I lay down on my bed. A vehicle playing repetitive music with incestuous swearwords in the lyrics arrived and I decided to get up before falling asleep. When I got up I saw that a group of young Kenyans were touristing at Fisherman’s. It was interesting, as you don’t see that many Kenyan tourists in Kenya. I got an sms from Kamara asking me if I could do the Nairobi NP game drive on Monday. I said Tuesday would be better as I didn’t know what time I’d be in Nairobi. It was OK and As you Like It would find someone to take me there as Kamara would be home in Nakuru (where he had moved in January).

    Then Jeremiah appeared asking me if he could spend the night in my banda. The reason for wanting this was that he had “loved” me since the first time he saw me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not out and about that much, but I found this improper behaviour from someone who had told me about his wife and two children. I told Jeremiah there were three beds and that he could spend the night if he brought his wife, and he wasn’t imaginative enough to find this even more “interesting”. He suggested just giving me a massage and then leaving, but I preferred a massage in the restaurant, which he wouldn’t give me as his boss could see it.

    This night the nine hippos were back - because of the rain, said Osman. And a camper said that he had spent 26 years in Kenya – all his life, I suppose - without seeing a hippo out of the water.

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    Day 15

    A big fat pink baby tourist--I'm still chuckling at that. If you are then many of the rest of us are too.

    I can imagine the thoughts going through your head when the line of panga toting men approached. I'm glad there is an effort to thwart poaching of any kind, including the fish.

    Have you though about dental hygenist?

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    Day 16

    For a pink baby tourist, you are pretty adventurous. I think it was good you had a rowing partner in the boat and did not go hippo viewing alone.

    I take it you did not kill the spiders as you were told to do.

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    Leely2, there has already been some serious stupidity in this report. Though stupidest of all is my inability to continue writing.

    Lynn, I hope the spiders are still alive.

    Dental hygienist? It’s 3 years at school and I don’t want to be a dental hygienist. Do I have to? Can’t anyone come up with something dangerous that wouldn’t require going to school? I’d like a completely teenage-free work environment, but I wouldn’t mind some landmines. The michaels had some good ideas about the rescue service, but they are only looking for specialists. http://www.raddningsverket.se/templates/SRV_news____19744.aspx

    This thread should be about my stupidest trip so far ...

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    Day 17 Loved your still life lunch and observations around that time of people and animals.

    Jeremiah seems a bit stupid.

    Maybe the stupidity is all of us looking for stupidity in your report when there really is no stupidity, just yearning against great odds.

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    I've caught up at last. Actually it's Nyamera's best trip report so far. I am no longer going to dispute the stupidity of the trip, but I really like reading the report. I hope there is more...

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    Thanks, Tempusfugit.

    Lynn, thanks for the very telling phrase “yearning against great odds”. The reason the odds are so great is that I’m so stupid.

    Thanks, Kimburu. I will finish the report before Christmas. What about your report? You promised some stupidity, but I’ve only heard about wild dogs and pangolin.

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    Day 18

    In the morning I went for a walk to “the village” where I didn’t do anything. I should have walked up to Top Camp to see if there had been a transformation after the rains, but I didn’t. Instead I tried to photograph some hoopoes that kept flying away. I was tired and sat down in the grass waiting for the birds to come. I had my small bird book and decided to read it cover to cover, but was too sleepy. I was going to lie down to sleep when two vaguely familiar men came strolling along the papyrus edge, sodas in hands, and sat down on a bench not far from me. They definitely looked like they knew me, so I got up to talk to them. One of them, James, said that we had talked when I was walking back to Fisherman’s from Elsamere and I pretended that I remembered him. He wanted to know when I was leaving and what I would give him as a farewell gift. I got irritated and asked him if I looked like Father Christmas, but James just smiled patiently saying that he needed a mobile phone with Internet. I said he could get some Swedish words if he gave me some Kisii words and we started exchanging. Though I didn’t even bother to go and get my pen and notebook from where I’d been sitting in the grass, and now I don’t remember anything. James’s friend added some words, but I think he was basically there as a hanger-on or moral support or something. Then James started asking me how to visit Sweden and I told him the approximate airfare. I’m not sure the visa application would be completely straightforward, but I didn’t say anything about that. James had a good job in the flower industry, but he would never be able to pay the airfare. He said he could pay a little bit and then I could sponsor him. I told him I needed someone to sponsor my Kenya trips, but that was a stupid thing to say, as I had obviously been able to visit Kenya several times without sponsorship. After a while James said he should be heading home for lunch. He would have invited me if he were living on his own, but now his wife was there – and then he left saying he’d be back to say goodbye the next morning when I was leaving.

    I returned to the grass and then I went to the restaurant were James and his friend were sitting at a table having some chips. I said hello and went straight to the bar for my last lunch at Fisherman’s. After lunch I bought a small Cadbury fruit and nuts bar of the kind I’d planned for the torch-stealing Kiwis to buy me. At home there’s no Cadbury chocolate, for some reason, but for the same price I’d got three similarly sized good low-quality chocolate bars.

    Back at my banda I ate the chocolate and then I fell asleep.

    When I woke up I went down to the jetty. There were pied kingfishers everywhere, but I was again too slow to photograph them hovering over the water. Then I went after the hoopoes that were equally un-cooperative. It got dark and the nine hippos came up to graze. A young girl who had recently arrived in Kenya kept asking if they were real.

    I was going to finish my last dinner with the Amarula cheesecake that I’d thought about every time that I’d read the menu which I was beginning to know by heart, but it wasn’t available this night and I had chocolate cake instead. It was like a slightly moist chocolate sponge cake and it was served with curdled un-whipped cream. I don’t know why.

    I said goodbye to the hippos and returned to my banda where I started packing and photographing my spiders. Then I wondered if I could have spent the day in some better way.

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    Day 18
    You went from not killing spiders to photographing them. Did any of those spider shots make it into the album? Sorry, I couldn't recall.

    The amarula cheesecake will lure you back if nothing else does.

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    Patty, Lynn and Leely2, thanks for reading even the least interesting instalments.

    Almost all my photos are in the album (no editing and still no captions…) and there are several spider shots. One is of a six-legged spider that I asked about on Safaritalk and was assured that the legs will grow out.

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    Day 19

    I had my last breakfast at Fisherman’s and paid for the 4 nights that were still unpaid. Priscilla was at the bar. For the last time I asked if a little blue torch had turned up and then I decided to consider it just a torch.

    I finished packing and left a tip for Lorna who was doing the housekeeping. It was for cleaning after me as she hadn’t cleaned the banda a single time during my stay. Maybe I was supposed to hand her the key that I carried around all the time, as I wasn’t passing through a reception. I never asked. I had got a new towel when I asked for one. I could have used the same one for a week if it hadn’t been because I’d kept washing my feet several times a day. Lorna had done some laundry for me, but then I had tipped each time that I’d paid for the laundry.

    I still had the bun from my picnic at Crescent Island and as I hadn’t been able to photograph any of the robin chats that were always around the banda, I decided to try some baiting, but not a single bird appeared!

    I really didn’t want other people to stay in my banda, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I just took my bags and left. Some of the Fisherman’s staff were spreading out the dust heaps over the grass and saying that I’d have tell them when I was leaving so that they could come and say goodbye. When I got to the office, Tobis appeared and offered to help me with my big bag. I didn’t know if I should take a taxi or matatu to Naivasha. My bag was too big for a matatu, but Ofin and Simon, who had appeared as well, told me a matatu would be the best option. Some people I hadn’t even talked with would miss me terribly. Maybe I too should start saying things like that?

    I got on a matatu and my big bag was put up on the roof without any ropes. I didn’t like it, but it would be tied up in the “village” that was just some 500 metres away. The bag got to share the roof with a sofa and I thought I must have been the first tourist spending 7 nights at Lake Naivasha without visiting Hell’s Gate. I would definitely return to Lake Naivasha, but I felt I had lost a lot of time, as it wasn’t a place where I could find a way to stay in Kenya. Nairobi was probably the only place in the world where anything could happen.

    In Naivasha Town I asked to be let off at a bus stop, but instead I was dropped next to a Nairobi-bound matatu. The turnboy of the first matatu told me not to pay more than 250 shillings for the trip to Nairobi while the Fisherman’s – Naivasha Town fare was 100 for me and another 100 for my bag. Jolly Coach was 100 for both of us, but the matatu would drop me off near the Terminal and was leaving in a second, so I hopped on. I sat in the first row with my bag on my lap trying to keep it off other people’s laps as much as possible. At the next stop I was told I’d be more comfortable further back, so I moved seats waiting for my bag to be handed over and put on the floor, but the turnboy kept it in the front on a narrow “shelf” behind the driver, but mostly leaning on the lap of a woman who had just got on. The turnboy thought the bag was better in the front and as I felt how I was getting less popular for each second that passed, I told the woman we would switch seats at the next stop, and so we did. I sat with my knees lifted and to the side. Though it wasn’t that much of a problem as the drive was just an hour and a half or so. I took up too much space, but at least the woman sitting next to me most of the time didn’t have my bag on her lap. Instead she had a little girl who couldn’t have been more than a year old and had very long eyelashes. At a stop the mother bought a grilled sausage that the girl had almost finished when we arrived in Nairobi!

    I alighted next to Jevanjee Gardens, very close to the Terminal, and fortunately a professional bag carrier found me and took my big bag. In Nairobi it had rained heavily for a couple of days, but now it was warm and sunny. Nelson was working. He said that he had read the book that was better than he’d expected and he’d learnt a lot about Iraq. Then he started talking about some women who wanted to do business with me. Nyamera Kenya Imports was the last thing I wanted to think about, but I said I was interested and could see the women later in the week, as I was going to Nairobi National Park the following day. Nelson didn’t complain that I was going with As You Like It, probably because he had approved of Kamara.

    While freshening up, I got an sms from James asking if I’d had a safe journey. I replied and then he asked about the “mobile with Internet” that I had “promised” him. I sent a message to George at As You Like It to ask about what time we would meet for the game drive and the reply was “9am” which sounded like a very favourable time for starting an afternoon game drive, or at least that’s what I thought at the moment. Then I went to check my email at the place next to Nakumatt.

    Out on the streets I enjoyed the warm sun and general loveliness until a man told me he’d like us to have a cup of coffee. It wasn’t that fun as he was even older than I. His reason for wanting to have a coffee was that he needed a girlfriend like me. I know the word “need” is used in a special way in Kenyan English, but it irritates me anyway. I considered asking him if he’d thought about why I would need a boyfriend like him, but it could have become too nasty. Though he’d probably not have understood the question. How difficult is it to say, “I happen to be the owner of a small unfenced camp in the Mara”? Why is it that Nairobi street hustlers don’t know how to lie? Some do lie, telling you they’re refugees from Sudan, “intellectuals like you” (a teacher!) and on the way to Uppsala University, but they all tell the same lie and haven’t considered that tourists lie as well – like saying they’re teachers when they’ve never been to teaching collage. I’m thinking of starting an NGO that would teach Nairobi street hustlers how to lie. I’ll apply for funding from the European Union and it’ll be enough to pay me the salary I deserve, a house next to Nairobi NP and one in the Mara for my well-deserved time off. I’ll appear in interviews with a breathtakingly beautiful background looking smug and talking about “teaching how to fish”.

    As I’d decided to quit my restaurant habit, I bought some chocolate, baby bananas and long-life milk at Uchumi and the man who needed a girlfriend was still there when I left the supermarket, so I returned to the Terminal where I had some chocolate and then I fell asleep.

    It was dark when I woke up. I had dedicated part of my last afternoon at Lake Naivasha to the 20th century pursuit of writing postcards and now I had to find a post box. I walked down Loita Street where I found another branch of Savannah – the coffee shop place at the National Museum. The area around the post office at the other side of Kenyatta Avenue looked very empty and dark, but I didn’t allow myself to slow down my steps, any hesitation would mean that I’d never be able to live in Kenya. I didn’t have to get down to the post office, as there was a post box up on the pavement, but now I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to walk into the darkness anyway.

    For some reason, I “needed” a pizza and ended up at Trattoria. I was shown to a table “outside”. There’s a screen so that nobody on the road sees you, which might be just as well, but you can’t see anyone inside the restaurant either. All Kenyans chose to sit inside and I regretted not having said that I wanted to sit there too. The food is a bit expensive by Kenyan standards, but not compared to Sweden, I thought until I understood that, unlike at other restaurants, VAT and a service fee aren’t included in the price on the menu. I had a Hortelana that was good, but not as perfect as I remembered. Then I had an Amaretto ice cream, which I can recommend. Once out on the street again, I was approached by a woman who couldn’t afford to feed her children. I gave her a small note and then four or five other women appeared. I said that I didn’t have any more small notes, which was true, but they said they could share a big note. One of them kept repeating, “remember that life is sad, remember that life is sad”. What was I supposed to reply? “Yes, it is when you only have six nights of your trip in a prime wildlife area”? If I’d been in their situation, my children would have starved to death, as I would never had dared to ask people in the street for money. I suggested they ask someone else, but they said there was nobody else they could ask. Thoughts that these women never would give me a anything if the situation were reversed came into my mind and then I turned 180º and started running.

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    Day 20

    I only had to wait in the street for twenty minutes– quite good considering Nairobi traffic - before George showed up almost unrecognisable wearing a three-piece suit as he was going to the bank. The old landcruiser was waiting in Koinange Street because of the traffic and Gabriel would be my driver. George wanted to charge me $150 before I reminded him that we had agreed on $140. I paid 9,000 shilling, which is a lot of money. Gabriel was different to my previous guides as he was older and was wearing jeans and sunglasses and had been to America. He spoke very good English and immediately started informing me about the different buildings that we were passing. Once inside the national park we made the usual stop at the 1989 ivory burning site. As a contrast to 2005 when I didn’t see a single zebra, but had seen hundreds of them outside the park, there were lots of zebras everywhere, many of them pregnant. Then there were impalas, hartebeests, giraffes, ostriches, some buffaloes, elands and a crocodile lying in exactly the same place where I had seen it in 2005, so I decided it was the same croc. Gabriel called the zebras “zeebras”. He was quite good at identifying birds (I think) and had ideas about what would be a good photo.

    The sun was again out on a rampage and I was standing up in the roof hatch. We met another vehicle and the driver told us they’d seen lions. We never found the lions and then it was lunchtime and we went to the Hippo Pool. When I returned from having explored the bathroom of the picnic site Gabriel told me that there was a sleeping ranger under the round sun roofed picnic area. As a fellow narcoleptic, I thought we should leave him alone and then we went to have a look at the hippos. We heard hippo sounds, but the dense vegetation hanging over the water’s edge made it impossible to see them. There were some nice terrapins and fresh buffalo evidence. Some Indian style young people arrived - two boys and a girl. The oldest boy, who was talking the most, had an American accent. They weren’t that quiet, but the young ranger didn’t wake up. These youngsters and Gabriel thought it was quite a problem that the ranger was sleeping when on duty and they tried to wake him up, without success. The girl was tickling him with a strand of grass and everyone agreed that the ranger was drunk as a skunk. They also took some photos. When I returned after having photographed some vervet monkeys, I was told that the ranger had talked. Gabriel had told him that the head warden had been there and the ranger replied, “I don’t care”. Then Gabriel said that there were poachers around and the ranger said, “let them go” and fell asleep again. I too decided to get some sleeping ranger photos. Gabriel thought that the ranger gave a very bad image of Kenya, but I’ve seen so much worse. Before leaving, the three young people told us that they’d seen 7 rhinos.

    Gabriel got out a very advanced-looking multi compartment picnic carrier. All the sandwiches had ham in them except one with peanut butter and jam, so I ate that one. Gabriel thought that Kamara should have made sure that the kitchen knew I was a vegetarian and I told him that Vivien – whom Gabriel referred to as his “partner” (I didn’t ask in what way) - had been informed a couple of times as well. There was watermelon, biscuits and, best of all, a Kit Kat, so I couldn’t really complain about the lunch. The vervets were very interested in our lunch and we had to keep chasing them away. It wasn’t much fun as I’d liked to share some biscuits with them, if it weren’t because they can become aggressive. It was very hot and I wasn’t in a hurry since we’d spend the afternoon in the park.

    It was so hot that I had to sit down in the landcruiser to try to get some shade. The buffaloes were lying under trees, but the giraffes where out and about everywhere. Gabriel had an idea about how the line of a tree branch would make a good photo. For any other of the guides I’ve had, to say a thing like that would have been as expected as a request to borrow my lip-gloss. We stopped at a couple of viewpoints. At one of them a hyrax came running with another hyrax after it. The chased hyrax disappeared and the chaser stopped to roll in the dust and pose for a photo. I was feeling pretty certain that we’d see rhinos when we suddenly were at Maasai gate and Gabriel just drove out of the park. I didn’t know what to say. I had wanted an afternoon game drive and it was not yet 3pm, but maybe I should have understood that when the starting time was changed to 9am the finishing time would be changed as well. If Kamara had been my guide I’d probably had started communicating better with him in the absence of Kiringai and I’d asked him to return to the park, but I’m not so sure of that either. I got a glimpse of Maasai Lodge and of a palatial house with a view into the park that according to Gabriel had been for sale for I don’t remember how much.

    Back in town Gabriel stopped on Koinange because of the parking problems on Moktar Daddah. First he, most unusually, for a second tried to say “no thanks” to a tip. He gave me a couple of solid ice water bottles. The ice and the peanut butter give a hint of what nationality As You Like It mostly caters to. Back at the Terminal I fell asleep.

    After a while there was a knock on my door. Nelson wanted to show me some jewellery samples. The only interesting item was a spiral bangle with small glass beads in different colours. Some of Nelson’s friends were at the Tuesday Maasai Market – which I always miss - near the Terminal. He asked me not to leave, as they would soon be at the hotel. I was in no mood for Nyamera Kenya Imports when all I wanted to do was to export myself to Kenya, but I had made some kind of promise. After a long wait the women arrived. They weren’t the same as the previous year and I don’t even think they were Kamba as Nelson spoke to them in Swahili. They spread out the jewellery all over my hot little room. There were no spiral bangles, but they would make some for me that would be ready on Thursday. I bought some jewellery at the asking price that was quite low, and then the women left.

    I don’t know what I did in the evening, but I didn’t visit ZanzeBar. The only serious pre-trip advice I’d been given about how to be able to stay in Kenya had come from a blogger who told me to visit this bar frequented by members of parliament. I’d “just” have to seduce and marry one of them. I wouldn’t have known how to recognise an MP and I’d definitely not have known how to seduce him, and besides that, I don’t want to be married – especially not to a Kenyan politician. Anyway, to have something to write about, I could have checked out the place and had a glass of pineapple juice, but I wasn’t in the right mood.

    Now some real stupidity: when I was planning this trip, I asked the director of a safari company with safari prices not within my budget (but probably not more expensive than As you Like It) what they would charge for an afternoon game drive in Nairobi NP and he told me he could take me there in his own car. I’d just have to pay for the park fees and petrol, as money wasn’t everything! Quite sensational! I thought about visiting the company’s office, but too many months had passed.

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    Day 20 at last.

    I hope the 7 rhino don't get poached while the ranger is sleeping off his alcohol.

    I'm impressed you remember the exact location of a hippo from a few years back.

    I say zeebra too, but I don't say Keenya.

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    nyamera,

    you're still so young, late thirties! ann_nyc had some great suggestions. i particularly like the idea of flight attendant. i have two friends, one of whom started at age 48. training was short and simple; they both make good salaries and benes; and fly for free on all partner airlines.

    but, i'm still voting for the novel (as in book) approach to pave your road to kenya. your writing is so full of character, characters and humor - fabulous!

    enjoying your stupidity immensely,
    anita

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    Lynn, fortunately I haven’t heard anything about poached rhino in Nairobi NP.

    It was a croc!

    I’m glad you don’t say Keenya. ;)

    Anita, flight attendant? It sounds like there would be lots of competition from young alert people. Though maybe I’d manage to keep quiet about seasickness pills at job interviews. If I were to train for a job I’d like something where I could become the best. I’d better start writing that novel. ;)

    I’m a high school teacher at the moment, btw. I thought they would be more mature, but as it’s a school with a sports profile some 98% of the pupils suffer from ADHD.

    Thanks for your nice comments! I could think of so many nasty comments on this report …


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    Lynn, I need someone to plan for me so that I can avoid stupidity.

    Leely, the report will definitely be finished before Christmas. There are just 3 ½ days left and I didn’t do anything at all during those last days, except having a manicure.

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    Day 21

    I don’t know what I did in the morning. I probably just walked the streets and fought with a computer at some Internet café. For some reason, I decided to have lunch at Savannah in Loita Street. There was something very wrong with the Greek salad. After a while I knew what it was – there were no tomatoes in it! I didn’t catch the attention of the waiter until after I’d finished the very deficient salad. Then I ordered a cappuccino, which is a stupid thing to do when you don’t like coffee. I got two biscuits as a compensation for the missing tomatoes.

    Back at the Terminal I started searching for my ticket. It was Wednesday the 9th of July and I would be leaving on the 12th – Saturday. It couldn’t be true. I needed to find proof that I had a week or more to find a way to stay. I found a paper where I’d listed the days and left space for animal sightings and other important notes. Of course, I hadn’t written a word and that’s why I’m writing this report from memory, but on that paper the 12th was on Sunday! Unfortunately I discovered that I’d counted with 31 days in June and then I found the e-ticket. I decided to start doing something serious about Nyamera Kenya Imports at the same time as I was looking for a way to stay.

    I hopped on a matatu to Westlands and then I walked the whole length (not that long) of Woodvale Grove to find Undugu, but the shop apparently wasn’t there. After asking a man in the street I was shown the very visible sign and entered to have a look. The jewellery wasn’t particularly interesting, but there were some nice bigger house ware items like bowls and baskets. Though I didn’t want to pay for having them shipped to where I didn’t want to return. I bought some organic fair-trade sun dried pineapple. Maybe it would be better to sell something edible, but I haven’t ordered anything.

    Then I went straight to Banana Box at the Sarit Centre to have a look at the jewellery that I’d been interested in for myself, but decided that I didn’t need. As it was sold at Banana Box, I supposed it was fair-trade. The trademark was Africa Speeks and there was a website written on a label. I checked the website at the expensive Internet place on the top floor, but there wasn’t any contact information. I had to fill in my own contact information and the website didn’t look updated. Then I think I had a look at some shops and Uchumi supermarket where I didn’t buy any cheese this year.

    When the shops had closed, I decided to have dinner at the food court at Sarit Centre. The vegetarian thali at Funtime had lots of delicious dishes, sauces and breads that I wouldn’t know the name of. A Wahindi couple sat down at the table next to me and I decided to observe them and learn the correct way of eating this kind of food. The woman used a fork and the man used bread or his fingers, even for sticky dishes, so I don’t think there was a method. I got a dessert that was like a little spherical doughnut in hot syrup.

    In the ladies’ room a girl in her 20s was having a serious fight with her hair. She asked me if I was American. I don’t think that had ever happened before. People usually suppose I’m Russian or Ukrainian, or sometimes German or British, or even Brazilian. I’ll have to start a diet. She also wanted me to confirm that there was a lot of money in Sweden. I was going to say that there was but that it was only available to some people, but as I was in Nairobi, I must have got hold of some of the money, so I just agreed. The girl told me that in Kenya everything was a struggle.

    On my way back to the city centre I sat so deep inside the matatu that I didn’t bother getting off at University Way or next to Jevanjee Gardens. I alighted at the same stop as most of the other passengers and discovered that I was east of Moi Avenue after dark. There were a lot of people everywhere and no one of them looked dangerous.

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    I laughed at that too, especially in conjunction with the wonderful statement about having the cookies as a compensation for not having tomatoes! I think the reason your writing is so entertaining is that you write what you think, without censoring it. It brings a fresh and amusing point of view.

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    Day 22 has been almost finished for a while now, but I’ve been busy, injured (wildlife related) and thinking that there are more important things to do than writing a frivolous and stupid trip report.
    ann-nyc, you’re right that I just write what I think. I’m too lazy to try to write something proper. There are some things that been left out though. As keeping secrets from Fodorites is cheating, I’ll have to write some kind of conclusion and include them there. ;)

    I’d have left out the thought about looking like an American if it weren’t because so many Fodorites are Americans.

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    Day 22

    In the morning Nelson brought me the bangles that I’d ordered. He also wanted to tell me that he was very disappointed. He had expected us to do things together this year, but now he suspected that I was an individualist, as I was always walking around on my own. I would have to come with him to the Village Market shopping mall next day when there was a Maasai market. It sounded interesting enough and I hadn’t been to Village Market, so I agreed.

    I don’t think I had any specific plans for where I was going when Nelson stopped me to tell me that there was a problem and he had to go home to his children for a couple of days. He wouldn’t tell me to exact problem, so we bid farewell and I decided to go to Village Market immediately on my own. I didn’t feel like spending what could be my last full day in Kenya in a shopping mall. This year I actually was a bit cleverer than last year and asked a well-dressed woman – instead of some young man asking me what I was looking for - where I could find the matatu, and then I actually found it almost immediately outside the Odeon ex-cinema. The fare was 30 shilling and the heat was so suffocating that I had to get out my fan. I changed to another matatu along the road, but didn’t have to pay again. Then I arrived in Gigiri that’s UN country with UNEP red plated gaz guzzlers – a Kenyan blogger has photos of red plated Hummers on his blog - and employees trying to spend their inflated salaries at Village Market. (I am aware that the old Land Cruiser wasn’t a biogas vehicle.) The mall looked like a luxury hotel, with little bridges over water, and the Mzungu percentage was far above any not strictly tourist related place I’ve ever visited in Kenya. The Nairobi street hustlers really should hang around at Village Market, or maybe not.

    I tried to have a look around and felt slightly confused walking in circles. There were the usual touristy shops like the Kikoy.com, Kazuri and Kitengela Glasss. Though I don’t know if tourists shop at Kitengela Glass, as the items are both heavy and fragile. I tried to find a beige shirt at a Kenyan clothes shop the name of which I can’t remember, but that I think of as “Emin Pasha”. The name is probably in Maa and there’s one word starting with E and one starting with P. Anyway, I couldn’t find a shirt and I didn’t even look at the silly expensive shops. Instead I found a leaflet saying that a manicure was 500 shillings, and remembering an April Fools joke about manicure on safari made me pluck up courage descending into the very pink interior of Dream Nails. In spite of a low nail quality with peeling nails I’d never used the services of a professional manicurist, probably because I prefer to spend my money in East Africa. Eunice had seen worse though and she started polishing, polishing, polishing, laying in soapy water and massaging with oil. The treatment must have gone on for at least 45 minutes. I asked her what language she was talking with another girl, and that was a stupid thing to do as I heard it was Kikuyu. To appear as a clever person I should have said, “you’re talking Kikuyu”, but that would only be clever for a tourist and not for a person living in Kenya, so I don’t really know how to be clever. My nails became smooth, but it can’t be a sustainable practise to polish peeling nails, as they’ll end up so thin that they’ll disappear. I tipped Eunice and paid a middle aged Mhindi woman and after that Eunice painted my nails pink, as it’s clever not to dig for money with newly painted nails. I didn’t want a pedicure. I suspected my feet were dusty. The Kikuyu word for nail is “ruara”, by the way.

    I bought two filled chocolates at an expensive chocolate shop – one dark with amaretto filling and one milk chocolate with passion fruit filling - and thought it should have been the other way around. I had a déjà vu that I’d bought the same flavours and thought the same thought. Though maybe I did at Sarit Centre in 2007.

    Then I walked around the food court for a long time before deciding on the Turkish place where I had vegetarian meze. It was identical to Lebanese food and very good.

    I don’t remember what more I did at Village Market. Once out on the street again there was a matatu waiting, so I hopped on without having a look around. Passing City Park I saw people sitting in the warm sunny grass and Sykes monkeys running around. On Nature Kenya’s website it says that “Sykes' monkeys are friendly and gentle and seldom bite” – unlike the vervets and baboons that can also be seen in the park. I have to visit City Park. I also saw a big mitumba - second hand clothes – market that I have to visit as well. Nairobi really is a lovely green city in the sun – sometimes.

    I can’t remember what I did in the evening. I probably checked the Internet at the place on the top floor of Sherlock’s Den that’s a very lively restaurant in the Nakumatt Lifestyle mall. I was walking along Koinange Street late in the evening when I met the waiter from Savannah. He thought it quite funny that I didn’t get any tomatoes and wanted us to have a drink. I thought it was too late. I don’t know why I’m so boring.

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    An individualist with bangles and painted nails is a force to be reckoned with, even if the manicure was the result of an April Fools joke. I plead guilty to posting the "ruara" joke.

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    Lynn, I wonder if I’m the only one who has understood that you’re the baddest of Fodorites.

    I just have to write a few lines more to finish the report, but I’m not entirely sure I’ll manage to do it before Christmas. If I don’t finish this year I’ll deserve some kind of punishment.

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    "In spite of a low nail quality with peeling nails I’d never used the services of a professional manicurist, probably because I prefer to spend my money in East Africa."

    Getting a manicure in Nairobi is a way of doing both simultaneously. And you say you're not clever.

    Merry Christmas!

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    Day 23

    I remember visiting Zanzibar Shop in the morning and then I think I was looking for books without buying any because they were too heavy, and because I would never have the time to read them anyway. I’d been sneezing since I arrived in Naivasha and now my throat had begun feeling sore. I decided to have lunch at Savannah. It’s a boring place, but I wanted to tell the waiter that I wasn’t boring. Though he was serving other tables and was quite busy.

    I got another sms from James – “When are you sending the money?” I forgot to write that when at Village Market I got an sms from him saying something like, “I had bicycle collision with zebra. Big repair bill. Need assistance.” I didn’t know what to reply. I suspected that he had made up the story, and I wouldn’t know how to send money to Naivasha anyway. It would have been rude to say, “I don’t believe you”. If he’d told me his problem face to face, I’d thought, “there may be some truth in this” and contributed to part of the repair bill and James would have been annoyed at my lack of generosity while I’d have been annoyed at being lied to. I tried to sms my brother to ask him what to reply – not because he’s an expert at this kind of situation, but because he’s attentive to his mobile phone. The message didn’t get through until I was back at the Terminal and then he asked me, “Do you know this person? Is he trustworthy?” The only thing I really knew about James was that he was after my money and I suspected that he thought he’d made an investment in a morning at Fisherman’s and now wanted something out of it. I didn’t reply.

    As always, I bought some passion fruit at Nakumatt, but I still thought that it was possible to find a way to stay in Kenya. Even if I’d get on the plane, someone knowing what to do could be seated next to me. The enthusiastic Nakumatt greeter wasn’t there.

    In the afternoon I found myself at the Hilton Arcade where the least expensive curio shops are. I think they buy leftovers from other curio shops. As expected, I found my bangles for a lower price that I’d paid.

    Then the rain started to pour down and for the first time I got soaked in the streets of Nairobi. The shops were closing, but I sought shelter inside one selling semi precious stones in ugly gold jewellery. Then I ran all the way up to Java House to have lemon and ginger tea with honey that I thought would be good for my throat. The rain continued and promised making Nairobi into a sparkling emerald of a city in the morning, but I would have to leave in the dark to catch my flight at 8.15 am. Why did KLM/Kenya Airways change the 11 something flight?

    After the tea – that didn’t even contain tea, but was very lemony – and a fruit salad, I returned to the Terminal where I met Alex whom I hadn’t seen this year, which proves that my stay in Kenya was far too short. Alex picks up guests at the airport and he would drive me there in the morning. I’d been told by KLM to check in 3 hours before departure at 8.15 am, but I decided there was no way I was getting up before 3 am, so I asked Alex to be at the Terminal at 5.15.

    Then I did some packing, showered and went to bed remembering that I hadn’t seen Chris after returning from Naivasha.

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    Day 24

    I was up at 3am and went down the stairs at 5am – slowly, with frequent stops, as my bag was a bit heavy. At the bottom of the stairs there was a mattress with bed linen and Jacob was sleeping on it. He got up in his pyjamas saying that they were opening the hotel at 5am anyway when I excused myself for having woken him up. Benson had been sleeping behind the reception desk. Alex arrived at 5.15 and we left in the dark. The trip to the airport was less than 20 minutes door to door and Alex said he’d look for a way for me to stay in Kenya.

    I think there was a delay as I remember sitting on the floor waiting for quite some time, but my memories from the airport aren’t very clear. At least I know that I bought Signs of the Wild by Clive Walker, Histories of the Hanged by David Anderson and a Toblerone. It wasn’t raining and it the sun wasn’t shining. There was no superb starling on the wing of the plane. A young Irish girl was sitting next to me. She could have known a thing or two about living in Kenya, but she put on a facemask, plugged in earplugs and went to sleep. I was exactly the same, but with a red nose and pink fingernails.

    The End

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    Thanks for your great report, Nyamera! Hey, have you seen the "Live you(r) dream in Kenya" thread and considered applying for the teaching job at the camp? I'm sure you could get a TON of positive referrals from your fellow Fodorites.

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    The next time I want someone to loan me money, I'll remember the zebra and bicycle story. Repeating that one outside of Africa would be stupid.

    No superub starling, so I'll settle for the red nose and pink fingernail ending.

    You've written another insightful tale.

    Fitting that you'd wrap it up in 2008. Maybe 2009 will be the year you can enjoy an extended stay in Kenya.

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    ShayTay and Lynn,
    I’m feeling accomplished having finished the report the same year as the trip, but after 2 hours of 2009 things weren’t improving until I saw your comments. I’ve already posted some negative thoughts about not being a teacher and neo-colonial toenails on Safaritalk, regarding the teaching thread. I could definitely use a ton of positive referrals. Thanks, Shay! I also saw that you thought of me on the teaching thread here on Fodor’s. You’re on my VIP list.
    I don’t think James was looking for a loan.
    Happy New Year!

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    You didn't say whether you sat in the aeroplane looking through the window at the decrepit old Nairobi airport with tears in your eyes. I know I did, both when leaving myself and when reading your last two days reports. So, are you prepared to stay in Kenya for months with little income but having your accommodation paid for? Our Kenyan friend who is going home in June said that it is easy to get a job teaching English in a Kenyan country school. Not much money. You would need to buy a return ticket of course. You would need to do an 'adult teach English as a second language' course, I would think. Then you would need to make enquiries with whichever government department handles that (or I will ask my Kenyan friend). You are obviously prepared to live reasonably basically and are brave enough to travel on matatus so living in a village where the villagers love and respect you couldn't be too hard. Then give yourself 6 months or whatever you can manage (forget that you don't care to teach, this would be different) and then you might just meet the sort of people who could help you to stay. That is what I would do if I didn't have small children and dogs and if I wanted so desperately to be somewhere else. I wouldn't die wondering. Teachers are the one thing that Kenya needs so maybe they wouldn't be so fussy about qualifications.

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    Twaffle, I had tears in my eyes during much of the trip, not only because of the sun and the wind. At takeoff I usually sit with my forehead against the wall looking out of the window and I stay that way until I look approximately normal. I suppose I look like I’m very interested in clouds.

    If I were a native English speaker I’d try teaching English for free accommodation. Now I don’t feel confident enough and I’m sure that in any village there will be someone who speaks better English than I do. I’ve been kind of hoping that when in Kenya I’d run into some inexpensive volunteer opportunity and that I’d be invited to join in some way, but I don’t really have a skill to offer. Anyway, this would only mean a longer and hopefully less stupid visit to Kenya. I’m not that sure I’d meet any people that could help me to stay, and even if I did they wouldn’t help me while I’m the kind of person that make people cry with my trip reports. I need to become energetic and cheerful, and then maybe competence won’t be that important … Does anyone know of a pill? Though I can always cheer myself up thinking that I don’t have children or dogs – the child thought really is the only thing that works, together with reading comments from kind, helpful and understanding Fodorites.

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    Reading your posts, I'd never have known that you weren't a "native English speaker." If your writing is any indication, I don't think you'd have a problem getting a job teaching English. I wish you the best in getting back to Kenya, long-term. Someone there will recognize your value!

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    Thanks, Safarimama! It’s a lovely little film and it reminds me that I should have told As You Like It how wonderful they were when I got an “After your safari” email.
    Happy New Year!

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    Nyamera, if you want to pursue the English teaching, there are a couple of things you can do to increase your qualifications. First of all, I will say that your written English is certainly good enough -- I've taken 'official' courses in how to do ESL teaching, and there were definitely students whose English was not as good as yours. I assume you don't have a strong accent?

    The 'gold standard' is the CELTA or the Trinity course. I took the CELTA. It's a great course, and is offered in many locations around the world, but rather expensive (a couple of thousand dollars).

    Prior to that, sort of as a trial balloon, I took an online class, to see if I would even like it, or have any skill in it. I tried a course through www.i-to-i.com/tefl/
    The basic course is surprisingly good (but you don't get teaching practice). FYI, the grammer course add-on isn't as good -- it doesn't really teach you, it just tests you.

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    Happy New Year and thank you for completing this! If we are optimists we will say that now it is only about 5 months until you return to Kenya. How is your manicure holding up?

    Karibu!

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  11. 11 Overland trip Iceland to South Africa
  12. 12 Trip Report Don't go to Morrocco!
  13. 13 boutique hotel in tel aviv?
  14. 14 Terrorism, Ebola - no more please
  15. 15 First time in Africa on safari
  16. 16 South Africa Peer-to-Peer Vehicle Rentals
  17. 17 Trip Report Saruni Samburu & Tortilis Amboseli - An amazing experience
  18. 18 Trip Report 2 Weeks In Iran: So Far Away From The Clichés!
  19. 19 Cairo Hotels and Safety
  20. 20 Trip Report 15 days, 5 walks, 4 medinas, 3 gal of mint tea, 2 camel rides, one Morocco!
  21. 21 Trip Report Namibia - Camping Tour
  22. 22 Dubai Airport: is it safe for a woman traveling alone?
  23. 23 Two weeks in Qatar, how much money to budget?
  24. 24 Transport Available from Harare to Victoria Falls - 17 Aug 2014
  25. 25 Trip Report Tanzania Safari - The Good, The Bad, The Unexpected and The Amazing!!
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