Wow! Life can really sneak up on you. After the Kenya trip I returned to my Ithaca apartment only to find it had been invaded by squirrels and mud wasps (not joking, bad combination), had my parents come into town, my computer died, I re-started my field work for my senior thesis on ladybugs, and I am trying to move into a new apartment...all within far too short of a time span. Excuses aside, and without further ado...imagine that I am still in Kenya:
It's been a few days since I've had a chance to write. [My journal says this occurs at day four, right above a crossed out day three...so it's hard to say exactly when in the trip I actually wrote this.] We get up very early, around 6:00-6:30 AM for breakfast by 6:45...and if we are lucky the group is on a game drive by 7:15. I've written some bullet points each night for the past few days so that I can backtrack and give more details. Today is the first day we've had some down time; two hours before lunch to do laundry or write or shower or generally get something done.
Both planes carrying Cornell students arrived in Nairobi at 6:30 AM local time. We had to walk to the concourse because our planes were too large to pull up to the airport. Buying visas and getting through immigration took about an hour, but gave the majority of the group time to get acquainted. We met Irby and Dustin just outside of baggage claim, bought Kenyan Schillings, and headed straight into the flat endless plains where we saw a pack of lions fighting over a wildebeest, just like on TV. Actually, we were delayed a few hours because Ben's bags hadn't followed his re-routed flight schedule. So we sat in the parking lot chatting and I bought a Coke, which interestingly enough was made with real sugar and no corn syrup. It's better that way.
The drive out of Nairobi was intense. As is, "Wow, all of a sudden I'm in-a-really-tense mood". People were everywhere. On either side of the road, behind us, running in front of the car, jumping on the backs of vehicles in front of us kind of everywhere. One area of the city we drove through appeared to be built completely out of corrugated tin. There are no road signals (or signs for that matter). Irby is expertly maneuvering his manual safari van on the left side of the road while I sit in the back white-knuckling the seat cushion. I wasn't actually able to take any pictures at this point [I only sort of regret this now]. Once we cleared Nairobi the atmosphere calmed dramatically. We drive for several hours before stopping for lunch. At the restaurant we spot our first wildlife, black and white monkeys who entertain themselves (and us) by stealing customers food and then escaping into the trees. Apparently the "Do Not Feed The Monkeys" sign didn't have the desired effect. After lunch we begin the final leg of the trip. The road becomes only a dirt path rather quickly, but we have another hour of driving before reaching camp. On the way in we spot plains zebra, vervet monkeys, reticulated giraffe (see below), elephants (look down), and olive baboons (look further down). The wild life is powerful enough to wake everyone in our van from the 40 hour mostly sleepless journey. We arrive at camp, take a quick tour, eat dinner, and then B-line for our tents (picture below) to sleep. Total time from Newark, Delaware to Mpala, Kenya...39 hours.
[The last note in my journal at this point is "Elephants in Camp" but that story will have to wait]
On the drive in we only saw the top side of elephants over the trees, so that is all I will show here (for now).
Olive Baboons slept in the trees near camp on an almost nightly basis. This picture was taken around sunset.
Even at this point the best word I can come up with for how a giraffe runs is 'doofy'.
Considering our location, our tents could really only be described as nothing less than luxurious.