Wendy and Nils

Kenya Story
     I am fortunate to have my wife as a travel companion, because if I had been in charge of organizing our trip to Africa, we would have spent our entire vacation sitting and inhaling diesel truck fumes at a random Nairobi restaurant while drinking Tuskers and trying to tell offensive jokes to the locals in Swahili.  Instead, Wendy planned a deluxe trip to Kenya that had us confirming reservations at some of the finest hotels on the African savannah and flying on multiple private charter flights to our destination points.
     When we flew in from Switzerland (see prior blog) on the airplane, I swear I saw a few delusory giraffes on the runway.  Then Wendy notice a fictitious monkey running across the airport parking lot.  I’m thinking..... “cool”, we were already beginning to scratch imaginary animals off our “must see” checklist.  The first thing we got a feel for in Nairobi was traffic.  Funny thing is, the moment the traffic begins to slow down, hawkers jump onto the road from out of nowhere and start selling everyday merchandise such as tupperware, sunglasses, blow up rafts, and world maps.  When the traffic returns to a normal speed, the sales people run back to where they came from.
     When we arrived to our hotel, the concierge provided us with an unforgettable reception by pouring us a drink out of a saxophone that was once played by Fela Kuti (see picture).  The following day we went to an Elephant Orphanage where visitors are allowed to pet baby elephants and tease them with laser pointers.  We also went to the Giraffe Center where you can french kiss the animals (see video) for a minimal fee.  Nairobi hosts one of the only parks in Kenya where you are allowed to go on a walking safari, so we stopped at this attraction.  We didn’t see many wild animals at the walking safari location (most of them were caged) but we did see one antelope and a few angry baboons that I think wanted to eat us.
     After returning to our hotel, we took a walk to Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi and realized just how safe the city really is.  The reason for this is because most people in Kenya travel by foot to their destinations, so the roads and sidewalks are always filled with people.  My criminal instincts have always reminded me that it isn’t very smart to assault an individual in a crowded place.  With this understanding, I never felt threatened on Nairobi’s crowded streets. 
     The next morning we took a charter flight from Nairobi to Nanyuki and transferred to a town called Naro Maru, which would act as a launch point for our hike up Mt. Kenya to Point Lenana (16,335ft).  The last time we hiked to this attitude, we did not hire a guide or porters.  We had got lost on a number of occasions, and both of us almost died from altitude sickness and overexertion.  Having some help this time around reassured us that maybe we might be able to survive our ascent.  At 3:00am, we left our base camp (14,100ft) for the summit.  We hiked under the amazement of the African equatorial stars with the feeling of being stoned on hippie-brownies even though we were not actually stoned and didn’t eat any brownies.
     About 700ft from the summit of Point Lenana, a blizzard of snow hit us and Wendy started puking.  The climbing ropes that people used to secure themselves thru this section of the hike were hidden under the snow. One slip could have easily led us to an untimely death.  Things were not looking good, so a few incantations secondary to the trinity were said by our climbing partners, and we continued on.  The difficulties that we encountered led us to a greater appreciation for the incredible sight that we were lucky enough to experience upon our arrival to the summit of the mountain.
     The next stop on our vacation took us to the mid-northen section of Kenya to an area called Samburu.  Wendy helped co-pilot the airplane that led us to our destination and upon our arrival she threw up all over the runway.  We contemplated the possible reasons as to why she would be so vomitumus on our African adventure (altitude sickness, airborne illness, food poisoning, morning sickness, motion sickness, etc.).
     Our visit to Samburu will undoubtably have a lasting impression on our lives.  We immediately saw monkeys, lizards, elephants, and giraffes.  We were not lucky enough to see any of them copulating/fornicating, but we did see an elephant take a memorable piss.  We drove over mountains of buffalo shit and watched monkeys with blue balls pick bugs out of each other’s assholes.  I can also say without a doubt that a dead elephant smells really bad.
     Immature humor aside, Samburu will always hold a special place in our hearts.  Our knowledgeable guide “Jelly” did an amazing job at explaining the animals, land, and the customs of the Samburu people to us.  The safari tents that we stayed in (The Intrepids - Samburu) were incredible.  We danced with Samburu warriors and visited the homes of their community members.  We allowed ourselves to truly understand the Samburu lifestyle.  This experience reminded me how quick we are to criticize the culture of others (ex. piercings, multiple wives, religious beliefs, etc.), but the truth is, if we sit down and actually ask others why they do certain things, their answers will probably make more sense than we would expect.
     Our next flight took us to the open savannahs of the Maasai Mara.  Everyday in the Mara we would see large groups of antelope, buffalo, and lions.  The only animal that we had yet to see in Africa was a leopard.  Our guide was determined to find us one of these large cats, so on our last evening out, he started driving very far off the beaten path.  There was lots of mud where we were driving because it was Kenya’s rainy season, and at about 6:30pm we hit a bump and stopped.  We were stuck in the mud miles away from our hotel.  Night drives are not allowed in the parks because they are too dangerous and night walks are even more unsafe.  We laughed with the others in our tour group about who would get eaten first by the hyenas that were beginning to surround our jeep.  As it got dark, a hippo approached us and farted..... a deadly threat from what we have been told.  A rescue jeep was sent out, and it got stuck about a quarter mile from us.  Then another jeep was sent out, and it also got stuck.  Finally, a third jeep was sent out and we were brought back to our tents by 9:00pm.  Driving thru the savannah at night and watching the eyes of the hungry animals glowing at us was a truly surreal experience.
     We never got to see a leopard in the Mara, and we headed out early the next day.  In Nairobi, Wendy and I took a temporary hiatus from our fishetarian/rasta diet and we ate at a place called “The Carnivore” which serves the meat of exotic animals such as ostrich, crocodile, and the testicles of an ox.  Wendy didn’t vomit there, but the ox gonad definitely marked the end of the meal for both of us.  The next day, we walked around the city and we tried to find gifts that were made from the skins and bones of endangered animals.  In the afternoon we walked to the National Museum and then took a taxi to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage where we witnessed lions eating raw meat.  Our trip home that night was uneventful, aside from the vomit inducing turbulence that our airplane hit on the way over the Swiss Alps.
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