A Travellerspoint blog

Back in Nairobi

Lenny agreed to drive us back to Nairobi yesterday. We stopped at a tea farm on the way in. Kenya is the #3 producer of tea in the world, who knew! The tea fields are beautiful and tea is grown and harvested all year long. The pickers only pluck the top two leaves from each stem. Then they are sent to the factory where the tender leaves are separated from the more coarse. From there they are dried and processed.

Then Lenny took us to a coffee field. He parked us under an acai tree. In the past, elders would bring goats to this tree and sacrifice them to the gods to ward off drought and pests. The coffee beans are left on the vines till they are red and ready to pick. Here that time is in August-October. We didn't actually take a tour as chat with Lenny as we were pulled over at the side of the road.

Nairobi is a crazy busy place. We thought it would be fun to take one driving class just to see what they would teach you. It is wild...everyone merges at will, ignores stop lights, and pedestrians walk out t will in front of buses, vans whatever. I have to say Dean and I have been very adept at the jumping out in front of traffic.

Last night we decided we would venture out for pizza. We were told very clearly it was not safe for us to walk anywhere. So we took a cab the 4 blocks. For whatever reason no matter how hard we try we keep getting two pizzas for the price of one. quite the bargin but way too much food. Luckily we can always find someone who is willing to "take care" the extras.

At the moment, we are sitting in an internet cafe listening to Tina Turner "Simply the Best". This afternoon we will tour Nairobi Park. We tried to contact my SSNDs here but phones don't seem to always work. There is also a water shortage in parts of the city. We are so lucky to have the infrastructure we have in the states.

We checked out TV last night. The US has managed to outsource our best quality TV/music shows (read sarcasm), Beautiful People, College Hill and some really hard core rap music. Someone from Australia actually told us he understands the US because of the lyrics of rap music!

Tomorrow we head home. It's been great but I think we are ready. Look forward to seeing you all soon. We will post more photos when we get home and have high speed internet.

Posted by Anadean 00:47 Comments (0)

Amboseli and more

Our travel companions are now, Kristin and Ross, Ian also from England- his job was made redundant (layoff) so he has decided to travel for 6 months. Dean and I are starting to feel lazy in our minimal 3 weeks. Our van had an unfortunate run in with one of the many ruts, bumps and wholes in the road. Broken axel in the middle of national park. So the next morning one of the other safari companies took us out with their people. It worked out fine.

Camp here is tents on concrete slabs with beds. No electricity. At night there was an gianormous canopy of stars. Dean and I found it very fun to be standing outside our tent brushing our teeth under so many stars. Just gorgeous.

The van was repaired after another day and we headed out to Tsavo West...another 8 hours. The roads are not exactly paved. We had moments of pavement but generally you are driving on red dirt and rocks. It makes for bumpy slow going. We got to see some of Tsavo and that night our cook, Simon, prepared a great meal. He works for the safari companies whenever he can to earn money. He is putting himself through chef school so he can hopefully get good work. He is married with 3 children but his family lives very far from Nairobi near Mount Kenya. He gets to go home every 6 months or so to see them. Nairobi is to expensive and unsafe for his family. We celebrated his 46th birthday with him.

We had another run in with our driver, Lenny because although Tsavo, has rhino sanctuary, a lava flow, caves, and waterfall, we were told we would be leaving early in the morning and not see any of it. little bit angry must say. To appease the whole group, he did take us back to the park the next morning. We looked for black rhinos desperately without success. Guess what we did then.... that's right drive 6 hours back to Nairobi to drop off people then head out another 3 hours to get to Navasha.

But the great thing is it is now our driver Lenny and Dean and I. Lenny says he wants us to be happy, whatever we want. So our hotel here is great, hot water, electricity, good food and good beds. We told him we wanted a whole day in Hell's Gate today and we got it. It was fabulous. It is the only park you can walk and bike in.

We got there about 9AM, rented bikes and pedaled past zebra, water buffulo, warthogs and the like on a 7km ride to the Gorge. Our bikes were functional, except no gear switching and Dean had no brakes but who needs those. At the Gorge we hired a guide who took us on a 3 hour hike, rock climbing, over, under, wet, dry, mud tour of the gorge. It was great. We loved every minute of it. Then a return bike back out. We stopped at Fischers Tower, a large rock 25m tall. There we sat and caught up or journals while a very curious Rock Hyroxes (small brown furry thing) came to check us out.

We got back to our hotel. Lenny is happy, we are happy and then we found this internet cafe to boot! Some days are just to good for words.

Posted by Anadean 08:34 Comments (0)

safari a go go

We have been on the road for the past 7 days. Several nights we had no electricity much less internet. That is the joy of safari. We started at Masi Mara. Immediately we saw, lions, gazelle, wildebeast, giraffle and a host of waterbuffulo. It was amazing. It is a very busy park, usually we just had to spot the herd of tour vans and we would find the animals. We stayed 2 nights in a permanent tent camp. So that means beds and bathroom on a concrete slab. It was great. We met 4 girls from Spain, a couple from Australia, and people from England.

In our van, was a guy from Australia, Turek, who has been traveling for 3 months and plans to travel for another 3. He may be stopping into St. Louis. We also have a couple, Tobin and Hela, they are about 1 month into their 3 months of travel. Last we have Steph, who works for the Associated Press in London but is Canadian. Her friend Ann-Marie was with us but only minimally. She got sick our first day on the road and was ill for all of safari. Yes, I had to get nurse like and get the girl on some antibiotics. 3 of our companions were coming off climbing Killamanjaro. They all said fabulous so now it is on my to do list along with Gorilla trekking in Tanzania. Next trip:)

We left there to head to Lake Nakuru. This lake is home to thousands of flamingo. It is like looking at a sea of pink. The park itself is gorgeous. We also got to see baboons up close and a little animal called dossi. Cute brown, very guinea pig like. We only had a couple hours there then our group split up. We picked up 2 new travellers, Ross and Kristin from England. Then we proceeded to drive back to Nairobi, where we picked up more people and then onward to Amboseli national park. Now let me just clarify. On our 10 days of safari we are to go to two other parks that were a mere hour from where we were. But instead of that, we drove 8 hours south to hit two parks down there, so that we could then turn around and drive 8-10 back in the other direction. This was our first inkling that maybe our safari company was not alll that and a bag of chips. We made it clear we were not happy but to no avail.

So we arrived at Amboseli at dusk. It was beautiful. very different from the other parks and reserves. Amboseli is a huge lake bed that has water in parts and is completely dry in other parts. The water is from snow melt off from Mount Kilamanjaro. The mountain can be seen from Amboseli. Though it is the height of winter, there is little snow at the top.

Posted by Anadean 08:13 Comments (0)

Nairobi

We arrived today in Nairobi. It is an interesting city kinda like St. Louis in that it is a big city but people walk around like it's a small town. We set up our safari through a company called Big Time Safaris. We actually got a great deal and will be covering Massai Mara, Naivasha, Lake Nukuru, Samburu, Amboseli and Tsavo West over 10 days. We will stay in actual tents with sleeping bags and misquito netting, permanent tents and budget hotels. We are looking forward to it.

We may not be able to update for awhile. My camera battery charger dropped dead yesterday...unfortunate. Thankfully Dean is a fabulous photographer and my nephew gave me a disposable camera just before I left town. Thanks Craig:) Ok folks, we are off to adventure.

Posted by Anadean 09:26 Comments (0)

Robben Island

We headed back to Cape Town yesterday morning and managed to successfully navigate to Victoria Warf. Our timing was great and we caught the ferry out to the island. Robben Island is home to the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life. He and other leaders were kept in solitary confinement. Other political prisoners where housed in dorm style cells. 40 people per cell. The establishment tried to undermine their commitment to end apartheid by missing blacks, indians and colourds together. Indians and colourds were issued long pants and shoes plus they got better food including some meat and bread. Blacks were only given short pants, no shoes and a kind of bean mush for meals. In this way they thought they would create in fighting among the men. However, prisoners knew what they were trying to do. So they all decided to share all the food, clothes equally.

The men worked 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in the lyme Quarry. They broke large stones to small and then made a huge pile. Once that was done, the guards would have them move the pile to a different location in the quarry. A few days later they would have it moved to another location. A few days later....they would move it back to where they started. They worked them doing pointless things to show them what they were doing was useless. Little did the guards know that it was in this quarry, in a cave where the men were allowed to relieve themselves and eat, that they began to write what would become the new constitution of South Africa.

On Saturdays they were allowed to exercise in the tennis court. To stay in touch with their commerades in the dorm cells, they would stuff a note into a tennis ball and then accidentally hit a foul ball into their compound area. The prisoners would then remove the note and return the empty ball to the guards. The men were also allowed to study through correspondence course. Many of them got degrees while in prison. Some came into prison illiterate but as Mandela said "each one teach one" and so they did teaching each other to read and write as needed.

Mandela actually wrote 2 manuscripts while in prison. The first he was able to smuggle out with a lawyer who took it to England and had it published. The 2nd manuscript was discovered and destroyed. He was punished by being denied any study for 4 years. In total, Mandela spent 27 years in prison. One of the founding principle that he and his co-leaders in the fight against apartheid agreed must be followed was to forgive for the sake of peace. He knew when apartheid ended if there was bitterness and anger his country would never recover and become unified. Our guide was a former prisoner, he said they all understood that when the time came they had to lead the people with open hearts and forgiving spirits. While the slave castles in Kenya felt hopeless and shameful. This place does not have a feel of sorrow or bitterness about it. It was interesting, the difference....still prison, not a place you would want to be ever, but somehow hopeful.

The ferry back about did Dean and I in. Waves, rolling waves...but we made it. The temperature dropped to maybe high 40.s with some rain. We had a hot meal in a little tavern, did a little shopping and headed to the hotel for the night.

Posted by Anadean 08:56 Comments (0)

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