January 5th, 2001
Just got back yesterday from what will probably have been my last trip in Kenya before I go back to the States.
Before I go any further let me give you the details for my return:
I leave Nairobi on Tuesday, October 10th at 22:25 on British Airways Flight BA2068
I arrive in London Gatwick on Wednesday, October 11th at 05:15.
I leave from London Heathrow on Wednesday, October 11th at 12:35 on British Airways flight BA203
I arrive in Detroit Metro on Wednesday, October 11th at 15:50.
About 15 hours of flying with seven hours to make my connection in London.† Canít express how happy staggering around London at 5 AM is going to make meÖ
Hoping to go to Cedar Point on Saturday the 14th while my jetlag is still in effect.† I get serious jet lag. For a couple of days after I arrive, whenever I take a step it feels like Iím walking on a trampoline, the ground seems to be just a little bit rubberized.† I canít wait to find out what it feels like combined with the Demon Drop or something!† Hereís hoping it will still be in full effect on Saturday!
So Iím not going to write very much today, even if it is my last entry for awhile.† There must have been something very Gerard in the air this weekend; almost everyone that I know wrote me this weekend, so Iíve got to answer all of my mailÖ
I have put some new pictures up from this trip and from a couple of birthday parties that weíve had in the last couple of weeks.† Also put an exciting new lay-up into effect for the Kenyan pictures so they donít take so long to load.
Aberdares national park is a safari park in the Central highlands of Kenya.† Itís a couple hours north of Nairobi and, during the right time of the year, lies within sight of beautiful Mt. Kenya.
This was not the right time of the year.† We were soon to find out that it wasnít the right time of the year for just about everything.†
We left from Kisumu in our friend Meghnaís car (which has a name for, which I forget.† Roger or somethingÖ) with Meghna, her mom (Mrs. Desai), Ritesh (her intern for the next half year).† The drive out to Aberdares was long and exhausting, but very pretty.† I took the last shift and ended up driving the last couple of hours in the dark.† While I have driven a bit now and have resigned myself to Kenyan roads and their inevitable potholes, driving at night was a new level of excitement.† To make matters worse, the headlights on the car were focused about five feet in front of the bumper.† By the time we arrived my neck was aching from the stress and my back was soaked.†
The place we were staying Friday night† was the Aberdare Country Club, just outside of the park.† Posh, very posh.† Fortunately we were paying a resident rate instead of the super expensive tourist rate.† The meals were fantastic, the atmosphere was lovely, and it was freezing cold.† Of course, freezing cold Kenyan style means around 54 degrees or so, but it was so bleak, windy, overcast and dry in the morning that it felt much colder.† If it wasnít for the giraffes and warthogs everywhere you would have thought that it was a warm day in early November in Michigan.
The giraffes and warthogs were really the best thing about the place.† Them and the fact that they were wandering around the scruffy golf course and eating the greens.† We took a nature walk with a guide in the late morning and walked for hours without seeing much. We were able to get very close to the giraffes, though, and that was probably the highlight of the entire trip for me.
In the afternoon Kim and I took a game drive, instead of driving directly into the park like Meghna & co. and the other hundred wazungu that appeared in the morning.† We and another couple were the only ones to sign up for the ride (digress here briefly to say that they were a Japanese woman and a French man, both of whom had lived in the States, while Kim and I had lived in France and Japan, respectively, but we ended up meeting in Kenya where three of us were currently living.† One of those weird coincidence thingsÖ).† Aberdares is one of the few safari parks that is heavily wooded and very hilly.† Consequently the animals have more places to hide.† We didnít see anything of consequence in the entire two and a half hour ride.† We saw some monkeys and some buffalo.† While monkeys are fun to watch anytime, buffalo donít really do much, except look at you.† What we were really looking for were leopards.† Leopards are the crowning jewel of a touristís visit.† They are shy animals that spend most of their time resting in trees.† In Kimís four years in Africa she has never seen one.† We hoped, since Aberdare is supposed to be chock full of them, that we would break Kimís unlucky streak.† Instead we saw a lot of buffalo.† Ok. So it did clear up and get considerably warmer, and we did see a lot of truly beautiful countryside, but no animals.† We had a choice towards the end of the ďgameĒ drive to ego about twenty minutes out of our way to see a couple of elephants, or wrap things up.† We decided to cut it short and head to the Ark, our true destination.† It was driving us nuts to know that here we were driving around seeing nothing at all while all those other people were seeing lions and leopards and all sorts of stuff, so we had to head to where the action was.† This turned out to be a bit of a mistake.
The Ark is a lodge in the middle of the park.† The idea is that they drive you out to this luxury lodge by a waterhole and leave you there locked in overnight, and watch the animals parade to the waterhole.† The building is kind of shape like the biblical Ark (the floors are called decks and the rooms are called cabins), but the hook is that the animals are on in the outside instead of the inside.† The whole thing is set up just to view them as they come up to drink and to lick the salt thatís placed there for them.† Every deck has a viewing platform, some in the open air and some with plush couches and glass windows.† The whole area is lit at night with huge floodlights so you can take pictures of the animals all night long.† In case you want to sleep most of the night they keep watch all night long and ring the cabins if any animals show up.† Two rings for Rhino or Elephants and Three rings for Leopards or Lions.† Everyone sleeps in their clothes on and their cameras by their beds so if something makes an appearance they are ready to capture the moment.
The only problem was that nothing showed up.
Nothing, but buffalo.
Meghna and I stayed up later than practically everyone else and were rewarded with a spotting of a neurotic bushbuck.† Not the greatest of prizes.
At seven we were served breakfast and at eight we were herded onto the busses and out of the park.† And that, as they say, was that.† Despite the lack of success with animals, Kim and I are thinking of coming back to the area when we climb Mount Kenya.
See you soon!