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Trip report Africa in our hearts and memories

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As I never received any public speaking or essay writing awards, please keep that in mind as you read through...
We began our journey on 9/11 at 6:20 a.m.
Our taxi service collected us for a typically 1.5 hr drive to Detroit airport.
However....road construction had begun and we sat in bumper to bumper traffic and the panic began to set in. Arrived Detroit airport at 8:45 for our 10:20 flight. Fortunately, because it was 9/11, the airport was deserted and we walked directly up to the NW counter. We were assured that our luggage would be checked straight through to Johannesburg and we would not have to collect it in Washington, Dulles.
More on that later....After waiting for the minute of silence in memory of 9/11, we quickly cleared security. Flight was on time and surprisingly full. We made our way to the South African Airlines counter upon arrival to obtain boarding passes and AGAIN asked if our luggage would be sent directly to Johannesburg. We were assured it was.
Our flight from Dulles to Johannesburg was only about 1/2 full, so everyone on board was able to jockey for 2 empty seats. What a bonus! We both caught about 6 straight hours of sleep and arrived feeling fairly rested. Passport control was a breeze, but then the luggage nightmare began. Only one of our 3 checked bags arrived and it was the "extra bag" we planned to leave with E & S in Nairobi anyway, as it contained only "Cape Town clothes" and gifts for Kennedy. We made our way to luggage control where we were told that "the bag that we received came by mistake" as all our bags had been tagged for NAIROBI. The explanation was that if you have a 'less than 24 hour layover', the bags are automatically sent on - even though we arrived in JoBurg at 3:45 p.m. and were not flying to Nairobi until 9:30 a.m. the following day. However, because there were no more flights that day to Nairobi, our bags could be retrieved - but it would take at least 3 hours and they could not be delivered to our airport hotel, we would have to come back for them. Desperately needing a shower, we opted to shuttle to our hotel and return in 3 hours. We were staying at the Southern Sun - which is only a five minute ride. We did go back to the airport in 3 hours and 45 minutes later, the bags materialized. Lesson learned - ALWAYS check your luggage after it is ticketed to see the airport code. Another shuttle to the Southern Sun - changed clothes (finally)
and enjoyed a free 'happy hour' with great South African wine accompanied by free hors d'oueuvres. That was our dinner. Asleep by 8 p.m. Up at 4:30 a.m. Buffet breakfast (included in price of room) at 6 a.m.
Shuttle back to airport at 7:30. Easy line for check in and we made SURE the luggage tags said Nairobi. This South African flight was very full. A nice lunch accompanied by wine was served and we landed in Nairobi at 2:30 p.m. The shortest line was the one for people needing visas - we quickly filled out the form along with the required $50 USD pp. Hurray!! our luggage was waiting for us. We easily spotted George, our Eastern and Southern driver, who met us with a great big smile. The weather was overcast and drizzly - traffic was very slow from the airport to downtown Nairobi, but the sights and sounds made it an interesting trip There were many people selling goods between the lanes of traffic - everything from soccer balls to caution signs. Our first wildlife sighting - maribou storks. We arrived at the Nairobi Safari Club, greeted with a warm facecloth and glass of juice. A quick check in and George bid us good night and that he would collect us at 8 a.m. to begin our safari!
The Safari Club is in need of updating - let's just say it is 'tired'. We had an okay dinner in the hotel dining room and called it a day.

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    After a buffet breakfast, we checked out and met George at 8 a.m. to begin our safari. Our drive from Nairobi to Sweetwater began. The traffic in Nairobi was heavy, but thinned out as we left the city. We passed by plantations and farms growing pineapple,
    mango, coffee, tea, bananas and large greenhouses which exported flowers to Europe. We passed churches, villages, temples, markets, farmers using oxen to pull their plows, boys herding cows and goats, women selling charcoal and produce by the side of the road. We crossed over muddy rivers, passed rice paddies and went through countless police checks. The local buses were painted with wild colours and people walked along the side of the road or rode on rickety bicycles. Our first pit stop was at a curio shop with local crafts for sale. Our next stop was at the equator, where a demonstration on water rotation is given. There was a system where each shop keeper has a turn greeting the next arriving tourist, then escorting them to their own stall to "have a look". I purchased 3 carved animals as gifts, and I am not fond of bargaining, I am sure I paid more than I could have, but I always feel the extra spent is more important to the shop keeper than to me. We arrived at Ol Pejeta House (Sweetwaters) at 1:15, where we were greeted with the warm face cloth and juice and the entire staff came to meet us. It is difficult to describe how amazing our room was. Apparently we were assigned the deluxe suite - we actually had four separate rooms - our bed was 12 feet wide surrounded by beautiful curtains - we had a spacious living room, dressing room, shower room, bathroom and a separate bath tub room with vanity. Decorating the walls were fabulous prints and African motif plates. Sliding glass doors led to our patio, which overlooked a lovely swimming pool.
    We enjoyed lunch, dinner and breakfast the next morning - we were served by a full wait staff even though there were only the two of us and another group of 6 folks from Germany staying there.

    Following lunch, we met with George at 3:30 for our game drive.
    How exciting to see our first amazing variety of animals and birds.
    Spotted: warthog, impala, giraffe, gazelle, cape buffalo, grevys zebra,
    common zebra, oryx, baboons, waterbok, bushbok, elephant, blue starling, saddle billed stork, crown crane, yellow neck quail, Egyptian goose, guinea hen.
    to be continued...

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