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Finally - My Trip Report - Tanzania & Kenya - May/June '05

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Aug 8th, 2005, 12:04 PM
  #41
sandi
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Part X -

Day 15 – June 9, 2005

To be honest, I don’t recall that Eileen and Susan went out on a game drive this morning. In fact, I don’t think so, as we would be leaving after breakfast for the Talek Gate… game drive all along the way. Here we would transfer for our continuing drive to our next camp.

After breakfast the vehicle was packed with all our luggage plus one additional item. A “potty seat” – yes, indeed! Susan had made a comment at dinner that I wasn’t all that keen on bush stops for nature calls and even if I needed to would hold out till we got to wherever we were going. Sure, it sounds funny, but I believe I’ve only used the bush twice in too many years on safari. I’m definitely prepared if need be, but I avoid doing so, if at all possible.

Well, this wooden potty was a hoot… but there is was right between our luggage on the seat behind where Eileen and I sat. Susan was sitting next to Daryl up front and the tracker was on the very rear seat.

Saying our good-byes with hugs and kisses all around we got into our chariot and were on our way. This first leg would be a good three-hours, so we were prepared not only with the potty, but were given blankets that were rubber/plastic coated on the reverse to protect from mud that was likely to kick-back… and there was mud at many of places along our route. These were perfect for Eileen and I, but Susan was okay without one as she sitting up front… besides the car engine which also provided warmth.

Animal sightings were few, but sufficient to keep our cameras clicking away. Shortly after passing thru the Sand River Gate, we took a left turn heading West across the Mara to a point where we turned North. I don’t believe we saw another camp vehicle the entire way, but then most safari goers are usually back at camp from their morning game drives during the time we were traveling. Surprisingly, the three-hours went pretty fast and before we knew it, there in front of us was the Talek Gate. This Gate, like the Sand River Gate, takes you outside the Mara itself, onto private conservation land surrounding the Mara.

Upon reaching our transfer point, Daryl noticed that our ongoing guide/driver hadn’t arrived. But, he actually had arrived, but was stuck on the far side of a large truck bogged down in the very muddy road on the other side of the gate. Being the gentleman he was, Daryl removed the potty seat from the vehicle and walked it over to the loo, located off the side of the road. There he left it for us to do with as we saw fit.

Nature taken care of, as we walked back to the Cottar’s vehicle we noticed some crazy driver navigating his way at right angle around the truck. An idiot we thought, but those Land Rovers are amazing machines. Right past the truck, the vehicle righted itself and stopped at the gate. This was our driver… Mischak. Introductions made, the guys transferred our luggage, we said our good-byes and off we went.

Sure enough, Mischak repeated his idiotic move to get past the truck… and at right angles in the ditch with us hanging on for fear or tumbling out… got around the truck and were out of there. Mischak was a delight, a Masai, an only son and proud that he and his family owned nine head of cattle. He had been a guide for a number of years and loved his work. We later learned that he’s been voted one of the best of the Mara camp guides.

We had about a two-hour drive ahead of us and here on the conservation lands found the grasses lower and saw more game. There were topi, zebra, wildebeest, elephants, Tommies, impala, Grant’s gazelles, eland. For me, it was especially nice to see so many Tommies which are one of my favorites.

Climbing a hill we came upon a mating pair of lions… just “resting” in the grass along the road. The male was magnificent… looked well fed and healthy; the female was a beauty and also in excellent health. We were able to get real close and completely ignored by these two who couldn’t care less. So we kept clicking away with our cameras… and spent some time hoping to see a mating. During a mating period which goes on for about a week, the pair will “do the nasty” every ten to fifteen minutes, then rest… then go at it again. In no rush, we waited. At one point the female got up and nudged (teased) the male, but he showed little interest… until he decided to get up and stroll down the road. She followed, he followed… and just when we thought something would happen… they decided this particular patch of grass looked good and just collapsed to nap again.

Micshak’s take… this was probably due it being towards the end of the mating cycle… they were just tuckered out! Who wouldn’t be, doing “the nasty” every ten to fifteen minutes… even the best of us!!!

Heading off, within the next thirty minutes we could see a small forest in the distance. This is where our camp was located. And as happened, at each and every camp, before you arrive, the guide radios that guests are on their way so the Welcome Committee is there to for you. The same here at Elephant Pepper Camp.

We are welcomed by Paul and Gillian Wood, the managers and some staff. It was nice to finally stretch our legs. A wet towel to refresh ourselves and a cool drink hit the spot. We were shown to our tents, luggage brought in… but lunch was waiting, so we walked back to the dining tent. Here we met Lou and Christine, honeymooners from the States. The introductions were made around as we sat for another delicious meal. Take my word, every meal we had in Kenya was outstanding… the reason I don’t go into detail is because nothing was bad. Everything agreed with us… especially those tomatoes and all fresh vegetables in both countries. This is one thing I can repeat over and over – great tomatoes and other veggies!

The honeymooners we learned lived in the Los Angeles area, but had a place in NYC; would be spending five days here at Elephant Pepper before continuing their itinerary. In most places they’d be spending 3 or 4- days each, but I can’t remember all the stops they had scheduled. In total, they’d be spending three-weeks in Africa.

With Lunch over, we returned to our tent to get a good look at our home for the day and next morning. This was the most basic or rustic of the camps we’ve stayed and it’s not all that rustic. There are comfy real beds with mattresses, lovely bedspreads, towels, wash cloths. A flush toilet (a chemical long-drop); a typical bladder shower… hot water provided as needed; two wash basins, one on either side in the rear of the tent which is separately zippered – in other words, while right there at the tent, it’s not technically “en-suite” as you have to unzip the rear of tent to access the area. But you don’t have to leave the tent and walk a distance. We learned that Elephant Pepper would be remodeling the tents so guests won’t have to go thru the unzipping (probably for next season). For light, they provide a battery powered lantern. Barely sufficient for night reading, so those clip-on book lights should be considered for those who enjoy a read before retiring.

There is a small dressing/make-up table with mirror, though the lighting is limited. It’s probably better to put on make-up (a bit of color on the lids, masscara and cheek and lip color) outside the tent where there is plenty of light and something I’ve seen many women doing over the years. I’ve also seen women curling their hair with butane curling irons sitting outside their tents; now that butane is no longer allowed by airport security, there aren’t many of these devices being packed for safari.

Sitting outside the tent, there is nothing out there but the Mara. Though Elephant Pepper is located in a small forest area, immediately outside these trees are the open Mara plains. No fences, no wires… but the askari do monitor the surroundings constantly for inquisitive visitors. However, while here we didn’t even find the rascal vervet monkeys coming around to steal our dinner rolls or whatever they could get their grimy paws on!

Before leaving on our afternoon game drive, we stopped into the library tent, where we met up with Gillian and Elliot, their 2-year old… so typically English in his Wellies… she was reading a story to him. A bit shy, but expected as we were strangers. We all commented on what an amazing it must be to be growing up here in Africa… little of which he’ll probably remember as a grown-up (the very early years, that is). Soon enough, Mischak came to collect us for our afternoon game drive.

In the vehicle, we head out onto the plains and almost immediately come across a pride of sisters under a lone tree. It was rather cute watching them constantly moving to keep under the shade of the tree staying out of the direct sun. Hey, it was nap time. A few of these lions would periodically look up to see who their visitors were, but otherwise, their nap was most important and they kept moving into that shade. Some of their sleeping positions were funny, especially when they’d fall into deep sleep, on their backs, with legs up in the air. It’s real easy to spend extended periods of time just watching these cats. But we had more ahead of us.

We must have been out over an hour finding zebra, Tommies, impala, topi and giraffes in the distance, when all of a sudden the radio crackled “Duma, Duma” – and off we went. It happened so quickly, Eileen had this inquisitive look wondering where we were heading. Well, Susan and I certainly didn’t know specifics, but we’d be pleasantly surprised once we got to wherever it was. It probably took 20-minutes and there in front of us were three vehicles spaced a good distance from one another… but on the bonnet of one was this magnificent cheetah. She was just sitting there scanning the horizon. We stopped the vehicle right where we were, in awe. She was a beauty.

But within about a minute of arriving, the cheetah jumped off the bonnet and started stalking… not really, but she seemed to have a destination. Mischak started our vehicle and maneuvered us kind of in the path of where this gal was heading and stopped. She kept coming our way and all of a sudden our vehicle looked as appealing as the one she just left. And there she was sitting on the bonnet of ours.

I’ve seen plenty of these photos – brochures and on film, but this was a first for me, for real… as it was for Susan and certainly for Eileen. Though the cat could definitely see us popping our heads out from the top and thru the windscreen… it didn’t seem to phase here. Apparently, “bonnet sitting” isn’t that unusual in the Mara. Unlike other cats that have the advantage of their powerful jaws to bring down prey, cheetahs don’t. So with their known speed, they chase down their prey and with their smaller jaws smother their prey to death. The ideal way of finding their next meal is from high ground… scanning for what’s out there. Termite mounds are a perfect high place from which to do this, however, in the Mara there are few, if any, termite mounds more then a 1-ft high… so the vehicles are an ideal alternative.

Needless to say, all of our cameras were clicking away. After taking a dozen photos and Susan doing likewise, the two of us were so caught up with this sight, we actually had tears rolling down our cheeks. This gal was in good health, relatively young (Mischak said about 3-4 yrs old) and she was beautiful. While Susan and I were emotionally caught up, Eileen was switching between her two digitals and one APS… getting so flustered that at one point she exclaimed “my goodness, this is so amazing, I don’t know what else to do.” At this point I just broke out laughing.

The other vehicles kept their distance… though you could hear the cameras clicking away. With the sun setting, even with all the excitement… it was time for sundowners. Of course, we had no intention of leaving the vehicle, though Mischak said it was unlikely the cat would even move or be a danger to us… but why break her concentration. So Mischak just opened the cool box, removing the wine, sodas, chips and other nibbles and we toasted this fine lady right where we were.

This bit of excitement lasted at minimum for 45-minutes, when all of a sudden the cheetah was up and off into the plains. It happened so quickly, but in the almost dark, it was difficult to see what she might have seen. Once she was gone all the occupants of the three vehicles got out to stretch their legs… comments all around were pure excitement. With the Mara in full darkness (we were actually on private conservation land… or would had to have been off the reserve by 6:30pm) it was time to get back to camp which was clear over the other end from where we were.

Pulling off the plain and into the road our headlights hit on another cheetah. Was it her? No! It was a male. It was her consort, sort of! Mischak said he was out of his territory but had often been seen in the same area with the lady… “is something going on here, maybe?” Making this turn and almost running of the male happened so quickly that Eileen took a photo of the ditch he had climbed out of. But she got him on the next click. We tracked him for a minute or so and then continued back to camp… but not so quick, there was more.

Not a minute later… right in front of us, were four young lions – two male, two female – (maybe 2-to 3-yrs old) looking for dinner. They just kept walking, not turning towards our lights or even the sound of the vehicle… just walking and looking. To our right and left we could see “eyes” – very alert, but not scurrying away. And these four kept walking down the road. Susan and Eileen managed to get some photos… but I couldn’t get focus on anything in the dark. I tried every mode on my camera with no luck. It didn’t even help when Mischak put on the spotlight. Eileen couldn’t see anything in her screen or viewfinder, so she just pointed in the direction of the cats and clicked. Susan seemed to have better luck with her old standby 35mm. The few photos that came out can be seen in our album.

Whew… well, if this wasn’t one unbelievable game drive! We were jabbering away all the way back to camp. By the time we arrived back at camp, one would have thought they’d be sending out the rescue team… but no. They knew we’d be back and the delay had to be due to something unusual… and it was.

We quickly cleaned up and were back at the camp fire to tell our tales. Christine and Lou were already set with their drinks, as was Gillian. Paul saw to it that we got our drinks, while the waiter passed around hors d’ouevres. We were all finally able to take a breath and realize just how exciting our afternoon had been.

We eventually adjourned to the dining tent for dinner. The table was beautifully set… quite elegant for a rustic camp. Little details were evident in the flower arrangements… the china, silver and glassware. Can’t say this enough, but we enjoyed another outstanding meal. The beef was so tender (like buttr!)…as were the veggies and wonderful potatoes, all served. No buffet here, except for breakfast and lunch… dinner (all courses) was always served. In fact, besides cold foods at breakfast or lunch, hot foods were always served… at all the camps where we stayed.

Dinner was a hit all around and Paul is a marvelous story teller with a wonderful sense of humor. He kept all of us in stitches. Surprisingly, unlike the managers I’ve met throughout my stays in Kenya or Tanzania, where managers are mostly African by birth or long-time resident aliens, Gillian and Paul have only been in Africa for five-years… originally from the UK. You’d never know they were newcomers.

Finishing up, we were served our after dinner drinks out at the camp fire and we were all star gazing… very easy to do. For all of us familiar with the Northern sky, it was interesting to spend time acclimating ourselves with the Southern Cross… though we had our first lesson up at Sabuk.

Well, tomorrow is going to be our last full day on safari. How time flies… sadly it’s going to have to end. So off we go to our tents and dreamtime and what wonderful dreams after a dream-come-true afternoon.

... to be continued

 
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Aug 9th, 2005, 02:50 AM
  #42
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 250
Wow, I held my breath the whole time I was reading that last section - you really brought it to life for us. Thanks Sandi.

Also loved the idea of the potty - never seen one of those but then I'm more than happy to use the nearest bush!

Thanks and keep going gal, you've got us sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for each instalment.
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Aug 9th, 2005, 05:52 AM
  #43
 
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Ahh, Sandi, you are killing me! This is so wonderful. First, you got to see all of this and second, you can tell us about it so well that we are there.
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Aug 10th, 2005, 05:08 AM
  #44
sandi
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Part XI -

Day 16 – June 10, 2005

This is it… our last safari day. It seems like only yesterday that we arrived in Tanzania and here we are… it's coming to the end. It’s just not fair.

As usual, Eileen and Susan went out on the morning game drive while I took my time getting out of bed and ready for breakfast. It was about 8:30am while I was sitting outside the tent and simply enjoying the quiet and breathing the fresh air… when Gillian and Paul walked over to the tent. To my surprise then informed me that this morning we were going to have a Bush Breakfast, but this was supposed to be a surprise of sorts and they were informing me ahead of time.

Both Lou and Christine has gone out on their morning drive expecting a bush breakfast, but when they’d be arriving at the area where their supposed breakfast would take place, they’d find that the hamper was void of food. And for the girls, when they arrived wherever (the same as Lou and Christine or another… I didn’t know)… they’d find that the table and chairs were missing. Therefore, both groups would have to return to somewhere… and that is where the breakfast would be set-up. Well, of course, I was game as apparently Gillian and Paul had everything set-up.

I grabbed my bag and with the two of them and little Elliot and Mischak driving, we headed out onto the Mara. It was a short drive, but a good distance from the camp. On the way, Paul kept repeating that we had to be looking for squared shaped markings (like chair or table legs) to see where whomever had “stolen” the furniture could have taken these. Naturally, I played along with this, though no body could hear this conversation but the three of us.

We finally pulled up to an open field that had actually been mowed… finding two tables set up. One was a long table at which all of us could sit… with table cloth, china, glassware, silverware, chairs, coffee and juice thermoses, etc. The second table… smaller, contained the cold cereals, milk and next to this a washing stand. Leaving the vehicle, we could hear growls which were obviously not “real lions” but to which we said to Elliot “hear those growls, go look to see where the lions are!” Shame on us adults, but it was actually his parents who were saying this to him. Off Elliot went, in his little Wellies. in the direction of the sounds. “Elliot, go find the lions.” Traversing thru the high grasses and then the mowed area and tables he continued to some bushes from where the cook and waiter popped out their heads to Elliot’s surprise, but he did laugh and thought it all very funny.

Needless to say, I was impressed with the setup and what must have gone into just mowing the plains. In fact, Gillian said that when they came out here two days earlier, they hoped no one would see them and wonder “what are these folks up to?” The rest of the setup was brought out to the area earlier this morning.

Arriving when we did, we had to wait for the others and before long Susan and Eileen arrived quite hysterical in finding this surprise… having been looking for “square” leg markings in the Mara plains, when advised that the furniture for the breakfast setup must have been stolen!!!

Elliot had been placed on a booster cushion in one of the chairs around the table while the rest of us… especially Paul and Mischak with their binoculars scanned the horizon for Lou and Christine’s vehicle. While waiting we enjoyed Mimosas.

Before long, Lou and Christine arrived and were surprised by the setup having wondered how their “breakfast” hamper could have been forgotten. They were pleased with this surprise.

Now that all were present we were able to take our seats and enjoy this lovely setting. And before getting started, Paul had a small surprise for Eileen… a birthday cupcake with candle to celebrate in Kenya (besides the surprise we had for her while in Tanzania). Maybe is wasn’t a cake, but just as thoughtful and appreciated. Of course, I had arranged for both of these when originally planning the trip, though I had no idea at which camp in Kenya we’d celebrate her birthday.

Here we were in the middle of the Mara, on a lawn mowed, tables set and a kitchen staff to prepare our meal… and not a care about wild animals. Though there was a tracker keeping an eye out that there would be no animals to upset our meal.

Not unlike, if we had been at camp, whatever we wished was prepared… as mentioned, cold cereals, cheeses, yogurt, cooked eggs (any style) toast, bacon, ham… a regular breakfast meal. No scrimping even out here.

Conversation was lively, and Paul’s sense of humor was a hoot. We learned that Lou and Christine had a loft in Manhattan which they had sublet while in California. And, of course, the question, “what are you doing in California?” It took a bit of prying, but it finally came out that they “were in the business” (in other words… TV or movies). She an actress and he a producer of a well know TV program about politics!

Of course, we wanted to know details… but that would give away the upcoming season, and Lou wasn’t telling. As it turns out Eileen and I knew some of the other principals of this very successful TV program – producers, to be exact – so it then became easy to discuss the subject at hand. It turned out to be a great time for all and the meal was perfect with great people and here we all were in the middle of the Mara! Who could have imagined!

All of a sudden there was a crackle on the radio. Apparently, our host at our next stop wanted to have an idea of when the three of us would be arriving. Since it would take about an hour or so to get there, we knew we’d have to be finishing up, returning to camp, gathering our stuff and be heading out. We finished our meal… the packing up was left to the cook and waiter while the three of us returned to camp.

Lou and Christine arranged with Paul to head off to the local market for a few hours. They were interested in get a “real” rather then “touristy” encounter with the local Masai and the Friday market fit the bill. Goodbyes and exchange of emails… the three of us returned to camp with Gillian and Elliot with Mischak.

Back at camp our luggage was loaded in the vehicle (no potty needed for this stretch) and we had the opportunity to meet the entire staff – other guides, trackers, askari, kitchen and housekeeping staff… not unlike our goodbye at Sabuk. It’s really nice to meet the people who make your stay at any of these small camps as wonderful as they are.

Before we left, Gillian asked us to sign their guest book… which entries were the first for the 2005 season. It was our pleasure to do so. Then off we went.

The trip to our last camp, also on private conservation lands was a little over an hour long… traversing much of the area we were on last evening. I actually recognized landmarks along the way, especially an antenna (the real world does show up in strange ways even in the Mara… which we learned wasn’t for cell phones, but for radios). Along the way there were zebra, tummies, a few wildies, topi and impala.

The area we finally came upon had a small Masai community living in mostly cinderblock houses… not many typical mud/stick/hide manyatta-type huts. There was one such building marked as a church, even a hotel called The New Hotel! We wondered what the “old” hotel looked like, as this wasn’t but the size of a single room. There were a number of local Masai walking to/from wherever the weekly market was setup… we couldn’t see any gathering of people along our way. The scenery changed from open plains to forest and at a distance we could just make out some permanent dwellings.

This was Saruni Camp – which is located off a road that comes from/goes to Nairobi in a Northeast direction, but situated on the West side of the Mara that doesn’t see visitors traveling in minibuses. Here, you need 4WD if driving… but most guests fly-in to camp. There is a private airstrip 15-minutes from camp and the airstrip used by Mara River Camp a bit further, with scheduled flights in and out.

Making a turn off the main road, this one is bumpy and loaded with small rocks, which naturally doesn’t invite visitors unless planning on staying for a few days. As we approach closer, the view of the camp appears more like cottages on the side of a hill in the Alps… not one in Kenya. This should be interesting!

And then we arrived at Saruni. The staff is there to welcome us, as is Riccardo Orizio, the owner/host. Wow! And women here to welcome us also! How lovely and refreshing! Of course, there have been women at every other camp we stayed, but for some reason this was different… they were in the forefront, not behind the men. We were introduced to William the head Masai guide and Cecelia the “top gal.” She’s actually in charge of the Masai Wellbeing spa! Of course, the first thought from the three of us was the “Cecelia” song which by now she’s gotten used to people singing and which she knew well even before coming to Saruni. A lovely young woman!

... Day 16 - to be continued
 
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Aug 12th, 2005, 06:49 AM
  #45
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,479
Hi Sandi


I don't know how I missed this part of your report. The bush breakfast was such a lovely gesture.

The potty is a hoot.

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Aug 12th, 2005, 02:45 PM
  #46
sandi
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Everyone - Here this JazzDrew - Hope to have the balance of our last safari day done early next week. Then there's our final day in Nairobi.

When I look at the calendar I can't believe that today is 2-months since we arrived home... and I've been ready to return ever since.

Glad you're all enjoying. And, now that I've finally found a Journal for this report... that's my next project. But I'm not rewriting (not in this life!), rather printing on half-sheet 8-1/2"x11" paper and gluing to the journal pages. There's still the decision in figuring which of the photos to enlarge, but bought lots of frames last week. This may all be completed just in time for my next trip.

 
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Aug 17th, 2005, 02:06 PM
  #47
 
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Sandi! Oh Sandi! Still really enjoying your report and hoping for the grand finale soon.

What an amazing trip--lucky ladies.
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Aug 17th, 2005, 02:35 PM
  #48
sandi
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Leely - where have you been these past days?

Thanks for your feedback. I know I promised the finale early this week, but have been caught up with friends from out of town, "work" (blah) and general stuff... but it's on the agenda. And, yes, this was by far my best trip in so many ways. Just hang in there all, I promise to finish this saga!
 
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Aug 17th, 2005, 02:54 PM
  #49
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Oh good. Something excellent to look forward to. Thanks for taking the time to craft a report that's just like being there.

I'm going to have to dig deep and gently nudge JazzDrew too--I don't think he's finished yet, or has he and I somehow missed it?
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Aug 18th, 2005, 03:23 PM
  #50
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 13
hi sandi!!!
I just ask for Cottars information last week because patty advised me at other forum that you can tell me some information about it.
wow Sandi, what nice report have you write from your trip. I've really enjoyed and get lot of details and information about all.

Thank you very much to share your experience!!! and my congratulations for your incredible wonderful way to explain!!!

the only thing I'm very sorry is not to understand very well some expresions, I need to learn more english for it, so it has been also a tryining for me.

THANKS SANDI!!!
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Aug 19th, 2005, 06:56 AM
  #51
sandi
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voramar -

Thanks for your kind comments. You did quite well explaining yourself. I'm glad that I was able to help.

Continue your reading on Fodor's and I'm sure you'll understand more of the expressions.

To everyone else - I haven't forgotten the rest of this report. I seriously hope to get to it this week-end... but don't hate me if I don't!
 
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Aug 20th, 2005, 05:48 PM
  #52
cds
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Sandi - this is wonderful - thank you for sharing! I can well imagine just how emotional it was to be THAT CLOSE to that lovely cheetah. You were so lucky!

Cindi
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Aug 29th, 2005, 04:59 AM
  #53
sandi
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Day 16 - continued

First, let me say - thank you all for waiting on the balance of our trip report. I know it's taken a long time to get to this point... but what follows should be the last sections.

At Saruni -
Before being shown to our rooms, we say good-bye to Mischak who has been such a wonderful guide and thanked him for the amazing experience the day before. We later learned that Mischak has been voted "the best Mara guide." How many “best” there are, who knows, but he certainly was.

Luggage unloaded from the vehicle, Riccardo escorts us to our rooms. There are three cabins/tents to the left, practically hanging off the side of the mountain – here Susan is shown to hers. Further on is the public area with welcoming fireplace, seating indoors and out; also the dining area which is family-style – one long table.

This is also where you’ll find the library – separate room - which is probably the most extensive I’ve seen at any lodge/camp anywhere in Africa… neatly labeled by language (many) and, it seemed, contained every issue of National Geographic. Guess you couldn't expect anything from a journalist! If one chose to visit during rainy season, you could easily spend months in here.

Walking thru this area, further on are three more cabins/tents, also on the side of the mountain. Ours is the next to the last. The portion of the room set on the mountain is permanent, while the other side is canvas with wide screened windows with roll-down flaps. The room is very large with a large separate bathroom containing two washbasins, large open shower stall with views into the Mara… amazing, also loo and a bidet. Bathrobes and water provided. Power is solar, but sadly don’t support a hair blower and none are provided. Have to talk to Ric about this!

Off the main sleeping area are doors that fold open to a deck… which we are reminded to close whenever we leave the room as the baboons just love getting into trouble inside, if we don't.

Saruni is a small camp for only 12 guests. In addition, Riccardo has built his own house a short distance from the main camp – would we have loved to have had the opportunity to see inside… sadly, we didn’t, but understandable. However, we did learn that there are extra rooms in his house should there be heavy demand in the main camp – like being overbooked during the Migration.

After a quick freshening-up, we walk back for lunch and meet the other guests who were gathered on the outside deck. Surprisingly, I notice some familiar faces… two or four of whom had been in another vehicle the previous evening during our experience with the cheetah. They were only too glad to mention that after the cheetah departed and they were returning to camp, came upon her on the prowl and while she was focused on a larger Tommy, caught a little one that got in the way. Boy, what I would have given to see that kill… (not really - poor Tommy!)

Nearing 1pm, we adjourned to the dining area, where Riccardo, being the perfect host was assigning seats for guests to get to know one another, but one couple didn’t want to be separated… so be it. Riccardo, naturally, was seated at the head of the table, Susan to his right, Eileen to his left. To Eileen’s left, was William the head Masai guide. To Susan’s right I sat… next to me, Davide who is a friend of Riccardo’s visiting from Italy… also his accountant. The money man, sort of. The rest of the guests further down the table with two of the other guides interspersed amongst them.

Of course, there was wine and the salad was outstanding…those delicious tomatoes, and finally, Italian food! There was soup, which I passed on, then risotto and mini-pizza, all of which was better then great! Looking around the table and gazing out on the landscape, for a moment I was in Tuscany – only better, as it was “Tuscany in Afree-kah!”

Conversation was interesting, leisurely and mixed. Then from some corner of my ear I heard a subject being talked about on the other side of the table between Eileen and William and almost dropped my silverware. FSM - Female sexual mutilazation! WOW! Not necessarily what one would expect to hear during a meal… I knew Eileen certainly didn't broach the subject. Interested in what was being said, nosey me… I rudely interrupted my conversation with my luncheon companion - an intelligent and handsome may, to listen.

Surprisingly, William (I learned later) had brought up the subject along with other issues as they relate to women in Masai and/or African culture. Susan had also joined in the listening – I believe Riccardo who was right there, either, just ignored it, or somehow disappeared – I really don’t remember where he was. I too listened and from all indication William indicated that the younger generation, men specifically, were completely against these rituals, though it seemed to be taking the women longer to come to a new mindset. While I was tempted to ask lots of questions, as I’m sure were Eileen and Susan, we treaded lightly and just listened.

William was well spoken and educated and knew what he knew and how he felt and conveyed that there were many young men that felt as he did; were doing their utmost not to bring this abuse upon the current and new generations of women.

What I found quite refreshing was that all of the young men we had met during our trip, were well educated (and if I haven’t mentioned this previously) waited to marry… most in their mid- to late-20s, their wives weren’t teenagers, rather young women in their early 20s and none yet had families and weren’t in a rush to do so.

Needless to say, coming in on the end of Eileen and William’s conversation and only hearing a few of William’s thoughts on the subject… further discussion would have to be for another time, even if tempted not to leave this much talked about subject of interest to women worldwide. We graciously thanked our host – Riccardo somehow reappeared… though he was probably there the entire time, but I had re-focused. And poor charming, Davide, I had to apologize for ignoring him. Sandi, shame on you, bad girl!

Before leaving the table, Cecilia came to sit with us to let us know what services were available at the Masai Wellness Spa at Saruni. I know Eileen’s eyes were wide-open when she heard the word “massage,” but we really didn’t have that much time. Though it was delightful just to listen to her speak, her enthusiasm and the sparkle in her eyes… a real gem.

So we returned to our room and both of us immediately checked the prices for the Spa services which were competitive – sort of, though always at a premium while on holiday – but were blown away by the price of a manicure – USD$40… are they crazy? Back home in NYC, we can get both a manicure and pedicure for USD$19-$22 – Monday to Wednesday and USD$25 the balance of the week. Spoiled, we may be, with a nail salon on almost every street in Manhattan, but that costly “just for a manicure?” Truth be told, I admit that I spent USD$25 at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club a few years earlier… but I was desperate. In fact, our stop at MKSC then was for this reason only - I knew after a week of safari, I would need to have my nails done. Fru-fru gal that I am. I’m going to have to have a serious discussion about this with Riccardo? Though I’m sure there are plenty of female guests who probably go for the “big bucks.”

Ok, back to serious stuff…

We had some time before our afternoon game drive, so from our deck enjoyed watching the waterbuck that came to the salt-lick not far from our sight. Also the baboons treading across the high grass in front of us… so sneaky, looking our way and sneaking up the hill towards us, then looking back ignoring us, but sneaking up behind the bushes and trees. It was a hoot watching them. Unfortunately, they were so quick that whatever pictures we took were just not focused – blurry!

At about 3:30pm we returned for tea and then readied ourselves for our game drive. Other vehicles had left or were leaving and with only one vehicle waiting, figured this was ours. Unlike at the other camps where we also had opened vehicles, those had doors that opened for easy access… these were truly like those in South Africa – the ones you climb into. I was up and in my seat in a snap being familiar with the machinations of where your feet go in order not to get your legs twisted while attempting this feat. That’s when I noticed that Saruni graciously provides steps which make access easier. Will remember these for the next time, but the steps weren’t really necessary.

And guess who we were going to have as our guide? Riccardo! Alongside him was our Masai tracker. Eileen and I were in the first seats, Susan and Davide behind us. And off we went. It was rather nice driving through the forest to get down into the plains and once out there we came across topi, eland, Tommies and zebra. Then Riccardo surprised us by sneaking up on a hyena den where he knew there were young pups. From a distance we could see the little ones right outside the den and you’d think they’d run inside… but no. We slowly crept up in the vehicle, stopping a few times until the pups realized we meant no harm. And there they were… two of them. Really cute as pups; not the ugly animal they turn into once grown, most with tails that look like a washed out mop. One of these pups was more curious then the other staying out there… the other hiding behind or moving in/out of the den. They were about 3-months old and Riccardo noticed that their color was changing from the dark color when born, slowly lightening over the months… but a ways to go till they were truly lighter in color.

We stayed awhile watching then left for greener pastures. Across the plains we spotted only two other vehicles at a distance. These could have been other Saruni vehicles or from other camps… couldn’t tell. Continuing on, all of a sudden – there she was again “the cheetah.” The same girl… I could tell! It sure was the same cheetah and up to her old tricks… sitting on the bonnet of another safari vehicle. We moved into position to watch her and noticed the people in the vehicle – rather interesting. Four young woman, two young men (late teens, early 20s, maybe)… dressed in conservative clothing… the girls wearing white kerchiefs. Mennonites!

Previously, I always seem to forget their sect… often thinking first Amish (the clothing is distinctly different… but the Mennonite name always seems to escape me) and there I was… the name just popped out of my mouth. How lucky, they being in the same position we had been the night before. There were only three vehicles here.

Again, the cheetah sat their regally scanning the horizon, totally ignoring anything other then where her next meal might be. She was very aware that there was a Masai man walking the plains some distance away. But otherwise she was gorgeous and oblivious of us humans. And, of course, we had to get more photos. Then we just sat and watched and watched… the sky changed, the sun beginning to set… as we continued to watch. All of a sudden she was off the bonnet and on the prowl. Though most of the grass in this overall area was rather short, this particular spot was higher, so the others took out their nocs to see where she was heading. Not liking nocs myself, I focused on her and watched her moving in the direction of an impala, easily a mile or more in the distance. The impala with eyes focused in the opposite direction… had no idea she was out there. And we waited and watched as she crept up slowly, but surely. We must have sat there watching and waiting… ready to start the motor as soon as she’d take off… but nothing happened for 30-minutes. Finally, actually getting dark that even with the nocs, the others lost her, though I could see that the impala had not moved at all.

So, time for “sundowners” – and off we went. It was rather cold as the wind picked up and out came the Masai blankets. Finally we arrived at an area under a few desert date trees… that look like acacia but aren’t. It was a pleasure to get out of the vehicle, stretch our legs and partake. Eileen, Susan, Davide and Riccardo did, I passed, though did nibble on the chips. No worry out here about anyone doing breathalyzer tests.

From where we were parked, we could actually see a building with bright lights and wondered where this was, what it was…
Welcome to Little Tokyo! That’s what everyone calls this lodge (don’t recall the exact name). It’s geared towards Japanese guests with such amenities to satisfy. Well, why not… though very strange to see this in the Mara.

We learned that Riccardo is married to a Pediatrician, British, with a practice in the UK, though they have established a children’s care center in the Mara area.

Well, packing up the beverages, back in the vehicle… it’s real dark now, we start heading back to camp. The tracker has the spot light out to brighten the “road” or whatever we were driving on… some plains, some roads. Ric was doing quite well. At one point we did stop for a Bush Baby that the tracker spotted in a tree. We could certainly hear it, but not see.

Before we knew it, having no idea myself which direction we were traveling, we were on the road leading back to the camp – there was The New Hotel on our left. Arriving back at camp, we were greeted by staff and this time provided the steps to remove ourselves from the vehicle. Admittedly, in the dark it is easier to use the steps. We were the last vehicle to return, the others arriving right ahead of us. I wonder whether there is a contest between guide/drivers as to who returns last?

Most of the guests were at the fireplace enjoying drinks while we returned to our room to freshen up. But I was absolutely exhausted… finally, at the end of our safari time and actually decided to pass on dinner. I wasn’t even hungry, was tired – even though I knew I’d be missing a great meal. While Eileen showered and changed clothing, I got ready to shower next and get under the covers. I tell Eileen express my disappointment in not joining the others for dinner… that I was not ill (I wasn’t, just really tired and didn’t need anyone hovering over me), but I’d love dessert, whatever it might be.

Once Eileen was out, I was into the shower then made myself comfy on these really firm mattresses. I had time to write in my journal, read a little of the book I had with me, but hadn’t turned more then 10-pages throughout the trip. With a knock on the door, came someone to roll down the window flaps… and about half-hour later, my dessert – a mousse. Can’t go wrong with “eat dessert first, life is short.” It was just what I needed… had only a taste, very good, but that was enough. Then I was off to neverland. I never heard Eileen return.



Here I must mention – that food was plentiful, tasty and beautifully presented at just about every hotel/lodge/camp. Some better then others, but never bad. Dessert, of course, always the best. Sure the beef in Tanzania could have been more tender, but, I lost 6-lbs and Susan lost 7-lbs… don’t know about Eileen as she’s yet to say. Considering we had little exercise I was right on target as on all other vacations – on average I loose between 6-10-lbs. How or why it returns not long after arriving home – a mystery or is it black magic??? So, in the end… it’s better to be on vacation.

... to be continued
 
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Aug 29th, 2005, 05:18 AM
  #54
sandi
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Day 17 – June 11, 2005

Ok, so I was a party pooper last evening, but I was really tired and slept so well. Up with the sun, we finished packing, showered, dressed and went to breakfast. Though it was going to be another full day for Susan (she wasn’t leaving until tomorrow's afternoon flight to NBO) we were told we’d have our game drive on the way to the airport… so no need to be up at the crack of dawn. I certainly had no intention to be out early and it was fine with Eileen. Surprisingly, when we arrived at the dining area, we were the only guests. Everyone else must have been out on their morning drives… probably doing bush breakfasts, as if not they would have returned by this hour.

Riccardo joined the three of us for breakfast and when we finished we’d be off to the airstrip. Before leaving, we poked our heads into the gift shop/(Ric’s office) to see what was available… but found nothing to purchase, though there were some interesting clothing items.

Saying our goodbyes to Davide who wasn’t joining us for this last game drive and others from the camp, we were in our vehicle sometime between 9 to 9:30am… along with Riccardo our guide/driver, again, and a Masai tracker.

Instead of driving downhill from the camp, as we did yesterday afternoon, we headed higher into the forested hills which brought us to an amazing point onto which to lookout at the Mara in all it’s glory. We sat here for a few minutes… probably each in our own “special place” saying our own goodbyes to what nature and beauty had afforded us. It was very poignant for me!

For those who come to Saruni by private charter instead of scheduled flights, there is an airstrip in this area… 15-minutes from the camp.

From up here we were able to enjoy different landscapes - trees, bushes and even some animals just going about being animals. Now descending onto the Mara flats we came across zebra, Tommies and real big warthogs. And further along the way, even a few elephants walking along right next to our vehicle. Riccardo was taking his time getting us to the airstrip, passing the Mara River before arriving to wait for our flight.

Riccardo checked us in for our flight and advised that we’d be back in time for take-off. … We then reversed direction as there was one more stop to make – to the Mara River. Quite perceptive of Riccardo.

Eileen and I had started our trip at the Grumeti in Tanzania, so it only made sense that we end at the Mara River. Both are the lifeblood of these major eco-systems – the Serengeti and the Mara. The waters were at mid level… and not a suspension bridge in sight! The hippos here were being hippos; our tracker even spotted a small croc hiding on one of the river outcrops… though it was difficult for our untrained eyed to actually make this out as a croc. The river was flowing, muddy… with high banks on both sides.

I paused to think that in about six-weeks this area would be covered with millions of wildebeest, zebra, Tommies and other antelope – and the ever-present predators – and so the “cycle of life” would continue. And we’d be – well, not here!

Feeling tears welling up in my eyes, I took a deep breath, said a small prayer – to return sooner then later… gathered myself and asked Riccardo to take a last photo of us. What a great back-drop – certainly better then the fear on our faces when we arrived at Grumeti – our first steps into baboon poop, which turned out to be a good omen.

Back in the vehicle, returning to the airstrip we could see our plane circling for a landing. We were at the Mara River Camp airstrip where we had just enough time to visit the loo that flushed and was clean. No tiny plane this time… rather one for about 45. There were quite a number of vehicles waiting for arriving passengers and a number of small groups getting ready to depart.

With kisses all around and wishing we were staying another day along with Susan… we boarded for the short flight to Nairobi.

Once airborne and being the last pick-up of passengers we flew direct to Nairobi arriving in an hour. Off the plane and there waiting for us was our driver who had picked us up a week earlier when we first flew north to Laikipia. How fast the time flies. He gathered our bags and drove to the Intercontinental Hotel for the day till our departure that evening.

Arriving here, we were welcomed as old friends… considering we had only been here so short a time the week earlier. Our driver said that he’d return for us at 8pm. We checked into our room, freshened up and were out in a few minutes. We had some shopping to do.

Yes, we were going walking and shopping in Nairobi… the city “where nobody walks in Nairobi” – the “nobody” meaning the tourists. Unlike the “nobody walks in LA” … everybody walks in Nairobi and so were we - going to walk. Of course, we left anything of value in our room – cameras, cash, jewelry – we had heard the tales… and so down to the Concierge Desk.

Here we inquired as to where the Hilton Hotel was in relation to the Intercontinental – well, “it’s right down the block, two traffic circles.” “Do you want us to get you a taxi?” “Why? No, we’re walking.” Needless to say, we got both a smile and a curious look. And off we went.

It was a beautiful Saturday… sun shining, temps in the low 70s. The city actually looked lovely – clean and fresh, flowers growing. The area has many government buildings including city hall… a business district. It took us a block or two before we familiarized ourselves with the drivers coming from the other side of the road and the traffic circles; New Yorkers aren’t all that used to anything but traffic lights… but we got the hang of it. We walked along minding our own business, as were locals going about whatever they were. Nobody even gave us a glance. And there at the second traffic circle was the Hilton and our destination – The Collector’s Den.

Though Eileen had spent time here the week before, we had some more souvenirs to buy… as I hadn’t bought a thing and did need a few gifts. Here too we were welcomed as old friends (well, I should be since I’ve been shopping here often during the past 10-years)… and the only ones in the shop at this time. This was good as we had all the attention we needed, especially in the back room where they do have some interesting pieces of jewelry. Not being rushed, I managed to go through the entire shop which had been expanded since my last serious stop here. Eileen did some damage in the jewelry department and I found the few items I needed. That’s when a group arrived - I recognized faces that we had seen on our flight from the Mara, and a group traveling with Micato Tours. At this point, I just took a seat out of the way knowing that they wouldn’t be too long… then we could finish and pay up.

It was about 4pm when we left with our purchases and walked back to the hotel. Again, it was a lovely walk and we felt perfectly safe. Granted, I might be uneasy walking the streets at night, but this area was full of shops and restaurants and seemed busy at all hours.

Back at the hotel, the Concierge was all smiles when we walked through the doors. He almost gave us a high-five for showing faith in his city.

Dropped off our goodies in the room and decided to end our stay with “sundowners” at The Norfolk Hotel. Inasmuch as we had already spent over two-weeks in Africa and hadn’t exchanged any USD to local currency, we did so at the currency desk. The rep said that it would cost 300Ksh each way to The Norfolk - I handed over USD$10 and received 740Ksh… not the best rate of exchange which would have been closer to 760Ksh, but the difference only amounted to pennies.

With money in our pockets, we were into a taxi. We asked the driver how much it would cost and was told 200Ksh… a bargain. It probably took 10-minutes to get to The Norfolk, where we paid the drive 300Ksh and he immediately offered to wait for us. We thanked him, but told him we’d be a few hours and would get another taxi for the return.

Once here, we walked up to the Delamere Terrace where we were seated and ordered our drinks. What a lovely way to finally wind-down and relax before our long flight home. It was a lovely afternoon, the sun soon setting and in my mind I was already wondering how soon before I’d be planning a return trip. After a few rounds of drinks, we decided to also have dinner here. So many choices, but the one thing I hadn’t eaten in the past two-weeks had been a good hamburger… I was easy to please. Likewise, Eileen ordered something quite ordinary (don’t recall). Food arrived and was just perfect… again the beef in Kenya was outstanding. To finish off our meal, we decided to share a few scoops of ice cream, but which flavors - that was easy - one each of vanilla, chocolate & strawberry.

Before leaving and being a few years since I had been at this hotel, we took a look around inside the lobby. And WOW, they certainly changed things… opened up the lobby, better lighting, an open-area bar to the left. She was looking pretty good for an old lady. Eileen, liked what she saw. Well, enough of that… maybe I’ll stay here on my next visit in Nairobi.

Outside, we got into a taxi and returned to the Intercontinental to pack our last-minute purchases and have our bags brought down to the lobby. Right on time, our driver was there to take us to the airport. The ride was about 20-minutes. Unloading our bags and placing them on luggage carts we waited on a long line to enter the terminal. Everyone had to have their bags xrayed and bodies scanned before even getting to the check-in desk. Check-in went quickly and our bags weren’t all that much heavier then when we departed New York… that is unless you consider the one extra bag I had. So be it… but nowhere near being overweight.

From here we cleared Immigration/Customs, went through another security check and body scan… took the escalator upstairs to the departure terminal/gates. When we had arrived a little over a week earlier, I didn’t take the time to notice the terminal… and though it still doesn’t compare to many modern terminals around the world… the place looked much better – more lights, shops – then I remembered.

Once at our gate, again another que waiting for carryon bags to be xrayed and bodies scanned… then inside the waiting area where we found seats and waited for boarding. From the number of people in the area, I knew this was going to be a full load and it was… not an empty seat.

Right on schedule we were airborne and on our way to AMS; arriving here on schedule…

... to be continued
... to be continued
 
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Aug 29th, 2005, 05:38 AM
  #55
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
Hi Sandi,

Great trip report -- definitely whetting my appetite for east Africa! The Starbeds sound magical.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 29th, 2005, 05:47 AM
  #56
sandi
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Day 18 – June 12, 2005

…..we had about three-hours before boarding of our next flight. Fortunately, we found an area on the second level with lounge chairs which were great for a nap. For us “steerage” passengers if not a member of one of the airlines clubs there isn’t the luxury of comfortably sleep, even if I can sleep on flights. Most European/International airports now have these lounge chairs… time for these to appear in the States. I haven’t seen them anywhere yet. If someone has, do tell!

Having taken the pillows from the first flight, these were perfect for a good nap and nap I did… as did Eileen. By 8:15am we headed to the gate for our ongoing flight.

Here, we again had to go through carryon luggage xray and body scans… and noticed for the first time “no cigarette lighters permitted” – which appears to be a US rule only and sure enough I had two lighters in my backpack. Surprisingly, the alarm never went off for these. Who really cares, as we were homeward bound.

On board, I’m sitting in the B seat, Eileen across the aisle in the C seat… I’ve got an empty seat next to me – a treat. Finally, airborne, we’re out about an hour when the guy seating next to Eileen calls over the attendant complaining that something is leaking from overhead. Opening the compartment there is an apparent leak from a package stored and which doesn’t belong to seat holder below. It’s determined to belong to a passenger seated further back.

Disgusting as this sounds – there were maggots surrounding the package and in the compartment. It was amazing that the owner of the package seemed so upset when the attendant removed his package and packed it in a plastic bag for inspection once we landed in the States. The attendant was wearing plastic gloves and cleaning out the compartment – brave girl… and this is part of her job description? You wouldn’t get me to do this. It was also noticeable from where Eileen was seated that some of these creepy-crawlies were on the floor and seats. It didn’t take Eileen but a second to offer her seat to the guy next to her (he and his wife were returning from their honeymoon) and took the once empty seat next to me. Needless to say, during the entire trip you could see lots of eyes focused on that overhead bin to see if anything was dropping or creeping about.

If the plane had more empty seats, I’m sure all of us in that row would have moved as far away as possible. What in the world could have been in the owner’s bag to cause maggots – food or a “dead body?” This was probably the most disgusting thing that I’ve ever experienced while in the air.

The remainder of the flight was uneventful. Arriving at Newark’s Liberty Airport, we cleared Immigration quickly and went to retrieve our luggage. And, of course, here in the good old USofA is the only place where arriving international passengers have to pay for a luggage cart! This pisses me off and for $3 no less… what ever happened to the 50-cent fee and 25-cent refund on returning the cart? How many years ago was that??? Thinking about it I haven’t used a cart in more then 25-years… bags-with-wheels. But this time we had soft-sided duffle bags so had no choice.

Not a pleasant “welcome” to foreigners arriving in the States.

It didn’t take much time for the luggage to arrive except that ours didn’t. How interesting. We’ve been around the world and our bags were always there… and here in our own backyard – no bags. I immediately inquired about the location of Customer Service and headed in that direction, but not before I asked the attendant at the luggage carts to return my $3. Hey, no bags, no need for a cart… I want my money back. Surprisingly, she sheepishly took $3 from her pocket (the actual money is in the machine and not accessible) It wasn’t a matter of being cheap… which I’m not, rather the principle! I thanked her and off to find out where were or when we’d see our bags.

We arrived at Customer Service and luckily were second in que. In front of us a honeymoon couple who happened to have been sitting right in front of us on the plane. Here in NY for their honeymoon and no bags – not too happy. There was only one rep behind the counter and I just knew this would take forever. When we turned around there must have been 20+ other passengers also wondering where their bags were - they'd be here at least another hour.

The honeymooners put in their claim and were provided a claim check for about $100 each for necessities they’d need till their bags arrived. Though based on how they were dressed, we told them they were attired properly for the area they’d be visiting - the hotel they were staying at in Soho.

We then put in our respective claims and were only given an 800# to call (this was our final home destination) so no money for us. The agent told us our bags would be on the next day’s flight, though I had hoped they would be on the next flight to New York which arrived at JFK about 4pm that afternoon… but no, on the same flight that we arrived on into EWR – so next day.

No need to get excited – it’s only dirty laundry, so we left for outside to find our limo and driver whom we had called to advise of our delay. Outside, the temps were easily in the 90s and we were a bit overdressed. Within five-minutes our limo arrived and into the air-conditioning and on our way into Manhattan. Delayed baggage on a return flight wasn’t something new for me… can’t do much about it, besides, the airline does deliver your bags right to your front door.

We were home in less then an hour, encountering some traffic arriving into mid-town Manhattan in the middle of the day on Sunday. My preference is to arrive at JFK which is a faster ride and comes into Manhattan on the eastside where we both live; but then we would have had a 8-hr layover in AMS – no thank you! From mid-town we were home rather quickly.

I did, however, have my carryon, so had all my important stuff; Eileen, however, didn’t… all the more reason to always have important items with you.

Home! Good, but sad. It did look good, as did my own bed. Now I was ready to start thinking about my next trip to Africa - after doing my photos and even trip report.

As many of you know, this was a special trip for me. Having planned to travel with my long-time partner, his passing did change things. However, he was with me in Africa, more then he could know… though maybe he did. There were so many times that I could feel he was either laughing with me, at me or we were fussing with one another about something ridiculous. That was good and sustaining. And it was good to know that I have friends to whom I can count on to make up for the absence – Eileen did just that, as did Susan and Michael. And though the people we met along the way weren’t aware of my loss… they too made this a special and wonderful visit to the countries I love so much.

P.S. At 9:30pm that evening my phone rang. The voice on the other end asked specifically where my house was located as he had my bag for delivery… so much for delivery the next day. But it wasn’t until about 12:30am (actually the next day) that my phone rang and the guy asked that I come down to collect my bag. Sorry, but I don’t think so… I was in my nightshirt. He’d have to bring it up to my apartment… about which he complained saying he couldn’t double-park his van on the chance of getting a ticket. I told him that at that hour the “ticket police” were sleeping and he’d just have to put on his directional (there’s a coffee shop right there and it would appear that he went in to get a cup). He wasn’t too pleased, but rang the doorbell and was up with the bag in a “New York-minute” where I met him and quickly signed for my property.

The next morning Eileen called rather perturbed. First thing upon waking she had called the airline inquiring about her bag and was advised that it had been delivered. She was annoyed with her doorman for not advising her of this, but hey, it was the middle of the night and he probably felt that the morning was soon enough. He knew she had arrived from an overseas flight and it made sense to him not to wake her – the bags were safe. She finally calmed down… she had her bags.

Interesting though - Eileen had learned from the airline that our bags had indeed been on our arriving flight from AMS, but the ramp personnel simply forgot to unload two containers of luggage to be put on the carousel.

So “all’s well that ends well!” What a Welcome Home!

THE END!

If anyone has questions, ask. If not, I hope you enjoyed our adventure with us.
 
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Aug 29th, 2005, 05:52 AM
  #57
sandi
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jasher -

You actually got in there between these last three sections - you devil.

Yes, the Starbeds were wonderful - do check the photo album for the pictures. Definitely worth a visit to the Laikipia area to visit Sabuk (our favorite stop) for a few days and at least 1-nt at Loisaba's Starbeds. A beautiful area that many don't visit, but should. The Samburu are wonderful and so colorful. Just go for it.

Very glad we included this in our trip and do plan a return to visit other ranches in the area.
 
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Aug 29th, 2005, 06:04 AM
  #58
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,501
Sandi,

So sorry to read about the maggots. My medical training gave me a high gross-ness threshold, but maggots dropping from above go right past it. Ugh! I would have asked to be bumped to first class. Did you ever find out what was in the bag?

I've read a bit about the Laikipia area, which seems to fall off the radar on many people's trips to Kenya -- it's definitely on my list! The Lewa reserve also sounds wonderful. BTW, I heard back from Joyce at Wildtrek (I think you were the one who recommended her). The pricing is still pretty scary, though!

I'm so glad to read that you had a wonderful trip, even without your partner.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 29th, 2005, 09:06 AM
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Sandi, thanks for sharing this long and detailed trip report. You give some information that’s not that easy to come by – like bathroom light and the marital status of bush pilots.

I hope your next trip will be just as wonderful.
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Aug 29th, 2005, 09:16 AM
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Soaring highs: starbeds.

Plummeting lows: maggots!

This trip had everything. Just beautiful, Sandi.
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