Wed 15/07/09 01:21

So I feel so fortunate to have gone on the Masai Mara safari. I didn’t think that I’d get a chance to see any of the big parks while I was in Kenya, if only for the fact that I was pretty much on my own and all the parks charge admission by the vehicle… which means that it is cost prohibitive for an individual to go.

  

The ride to the park was almost as fun as getting there, stopping at several small towns or villages along the way.

  

  

  

  

We had two treks into the reserve and each time we saw lots of animals. In fact there was so much to see that I think I’ll let the pics do the talking. One thing that we saw was cheetahs hunting down a baby gazelle, and the migration of the wildebeests…

Mon 06/07/09 05:59

We arrived in Nairobi about 7 in the morning and although we’d just been deported we were in good spirits. While in the airport we were kind of held, I say kind of because our passports weren’t given back to us and we were told to wait, but we were in the middle of the airport so we could wander around. I guess we were under something like house arrest.

We finally got our passports back about 2 hours later and then we started to try to figure out what we were going to do. We had a few options available to us, the first was to just go back to Dubai, the second was we could wait for the group in Cameroon to do something there, and the last option, which we chose, was to do a little bit of all. Nothing really was working out though, we called the US Embassy but they didn’t call us back, we got a hold of Sareh and Jim, but there wasn’t much they could do, so we finally decided to get a hotel. Even though our bags weren’t expected to be back in Nairobi until the next day, I wanted to find some place just to relax, eat, and gather myself.

The hotel was in the center of Nairobi, and it was kind of a nice hotel, but the location was, for lack of a better word, dangerous. When I think about it, it was the major problem that I had with Nairobi, it seemed dangerous, and the key word is “seemed” because I’m not really sure if it was or wasn’t, but you just get the feeling that you are prey when you’re walking along the street. The huge walls, double-locked doors, and the warnings to not go out at night all reinforce the feeling. So after getting snacks and some toiletries we went back to play some backgammon and to watch a movie.

We headed back to the airport to pick up our bags in the morning after breakfast and after talking to the guys in Cameroon, we knew that we were going to have to just hang out another day at least before we found out if our visas would come through. So we got a room at a hostel called Karen Camp. Neither of the girls had ever stayed at a hostel, but they trusted me. I liked the place it had a “western” feeling to it, and more importantly, it felt safe. It turns out that this hostel is a stopping point for the overland tours through Kenya… which means that I may have stayed here if I hadn’t gone to Cameroon and did the Africa trip that I had originally planned.

  

We went to a croc farm on our way to the hostel. It was fun. It also turns out that Mona, a girl in the group still in Cameroon got robbed, and both her and Peter had to scare off pickpockets.

The next morning we had decided that we were going to do something instead of just waiting for visas that were probably were never going to arrive, so we booked a safari through the game preserve, Masai Mara.

I really can’t explain how cool Masai Mara is. The best explanation is it’s the Discovery Channel in real life… except everything is smaller. I think watching all the shows on migrating wildebeests and zebras had convinced me that they were large animals, but in reality they’re fairly small. I digress though, the mere fact that we were there and could see them migrating was so cool.

Fri 03/07/09 03:38
one that I never expected.

I got up at 4 to be to the airport in time for my flight to Cameroon. Did everything that I needed to do and went out in the “parking area” to wait for my taxi. I waited for about ten minutes and then asked the night clerk to call him, then waited another twenty minutes until he showed. The taxi was John, the guy that drove me around while I was here so no hard feelings, I just seem to stress when I know I have to be at the airport at a certain time. It’s all good though, he’s shown up and I’m on my way to check in for my flight that is in two hours… so no worries, I’ve got lots of time.

I go to check in and the girl behind the counter tells me that my flight has been cancelled,  and not only was it cancelled, but it was cancelled about a month ago and I was put on the flight later in the night. They’re cool about it, and the rest of the group is going to be showing up from Dubai at about 7, so I decide that it is a good thing. I will miss this flight, but will travel with the rest of the Cameroon trip to Douala in the evening.

I knew that the group would have a 12 hour layover so they could see some of the sights in Nairobi, and I thought it would be fun to travel around with them for the day.

I finally met up with everyone about 810 in the morning, the plane was late and then they had to get their visas, but they did show up and it was great to see them.

Jim had preplanned a few things to see for the day, some of which I had seen and some that I hadn’t. The one thing that they had scheduled that I didn’t get to see was the safari part of the Nairobi National Park, where the orphanage was located. I’ve got to say it was a great day.  For the most part I like traveling by myself, but Kenya really seems like a dangerous place, maybe because of the stories, or maybe for other reasons I felt uncomfortable walking around on my own so now that I was with the group I was having more fun.

We went to the giraffe center, and then to get some lunch and then on to the safari. The safari was fun, but it really lacked any sense of realism. We didn’t see anything dangerous, just some monkeys, and game animals. I’m not complaining, but it wasn’t like you’d expect if you were going on safari in Africa.

  

Fri 03/07/09 02:23

I went to the National Wildlife Safari today and wandered around a bit. I started at a an animal orphanage which I think was the best idea. When I went through the gate, there a guy comes up to me and tells me that he’s my guide. I think, okay, so everyone gets a guide here. I think he was just being sly, but with his help, I was allowed into the cage with the cheetahs to get some shots of me petting them. It was funny too the way he approached me about it, he’s like, “pssst… you wanna pet a cheetah?” I’m kind of thinking okay, so what’s the catch?  The guide acted like it wasn’t really permissible but if I wanted to he’d let me. The same thing happened with some baby cheetahs that had just been brought to the orphanage a couple of days earlier. The let me hold them and get some pics. So cool… I mean really it was something that I don’t think I would have gotten the chance in my normal travels.

  

As I walked around the area there was one pen/cage with about 5 monkeys just hanging out doing “monkey stuff” and a baby monkey saw me and my guide an came out of the pen through a bent portion of the wire. I’ve got to say that that was another really cool moment. The monkey just seemed so curious about everything, about me, my backpack, my clothing, and almost everything else.

  

Fri 03/07/09 02:20

It’s my second day in Nairobi and I’m sitting in my room right now. It appears that I won’t be able to add to my blog until I get somewhere else that has internet access. When I first got here the power was out so no internet, then today when I connected my computer to the net it wouldn’t work. It’s a usb modem, so that’s probably the reason that I couldn’t just connect. Anyway, I’m sitting in my room in hopes that I’ll be able to put the entries online sometime soon.

So yesterday I had a pretty full day seeing many of the sights in Nairobi. I first went to a sanctuary for elephants and rhinoceros, which was pretty cool. One of the more interesting aspects of going to the sanctuary was getting there, it was fun just cruising around the city. At one part there was a baboon that was trying to cross the street. My driver just pointed at it and said “monkey” about four times.

  

After seeing the elephants I went to a giraffe center. Very similar to the other place but instead it was giraffes that I got to feed.  Then I went to Karen Bliss’s house… she wrote Out of Africa. It was interesting, but to be honest I could have skipped it and not wondered if I had even missed anything. And then finally I went to the National Museum. Lots of dead birds and paintings, and overall interesting.

  

My thoughts about Nairobi so far are mixed. The people are friendly and seem to be genuine in all regards, which was a nice surprise. I think I believed all the hype about robbery and stuff that I had heard. I want to make sure that anyone reading this knows that I know, that one day in a city doesn’t mean anything. So if I get robbed today I don’t want to hear anyone say “I told you so.”  There is the fact too that there are security fences everywhere, and the front door to the hostel is armored in a way that a bank safe is armored… no lie, it is solid with pins going through the door to the jamb about every 8 inches. My driver yesterday told me that at night there are gangs of people walking around looking for people to rob… It kind of takes the fun out of just walking around like I enjoy doing.

On a side note, I’ve been having really strong cravings for a cigarette since yesterday. I almost broke down last night and bought a pack, I didn’t, but today I’ve been wanting one too. These cravings are worse than any I’ve had since I quit a month ago. Hopefully I’ll be able to ride them out until I don’t have them anymore.

I don’t know what I’m going to do today, but I leave for the airport tomorrow morning at 430 for the airport so whatever I do I’m going to have to be in bed early. I think I’m the only guest in the hostel right now so if I do go anywhere it will be by myself. I want to go to the park today, but I’m not sure how to catch a taxi. The hostel is like in a neighborhood.

Fri 03/07/09 02:18

So I’m in Nairobi right now sitting at a table under an awning. It’s actually very pleasant here and really not what I was expecting. That’s not exactly true, there have been many things here in Kenya that have lived up to what I was told to expect. First was the immigration line. I don’t know how, but out of a plane of maybe 400 or 500 people that all went through customs, I could end up being the last person… literally the last. I couldn’t believe it then, and now that I write it, I still can’t believe it… only now I have a smile on my face. The room was packed, and then an hour an a half later it was just me and 6 immigration officials. ☺

I’ve talked to the owner of the hostel about setting up a few things to do today, and it looks like if everything goes as planned I’ll be good to go in a little bit. I don’t know about the prices so that will be the determining factor on my itinerary. Right now I’m planning on the Nairobi National Park, National Museum, a giraffe park and a rino park… and there is one other that I can’t remember the name. We’ll see if everything turns out. The guy just showed up with the prices and they are high, but not super high so I told him that I’d do it. I’m only going to be in Nairobi for two days so I don’t want any regrets if I hear that I missed out on one of the things on the list.