24
Sep
11

My friends think you’re Spanish

Lions in the street

Lions in the street and roaming

Dogs in heat, rabid, foaming

A beast caged in the heart of the city

-JDM

It’s official. I have kissed a girl and drank a beer on six of the seven continents.  On a side note, Antartica is on the bucket list, but I am just having a little trouble talking my California girl into braving the cold with me.  Anything below 60 degrees Fahrenheit might as well be freezing.  I’ve read a lot about Ernest Shackleton so the trip, when it happens, is already planned out.  I am getting a little ahead of myself though. Let’s continue with Africa.

My first Tusker...of the morning

After three days in Amboseli, Julius, (our driver guide) drove us back into Nairobi for a night to prepare ourselves for the bulk of our safari.  The three days in Amboseli/Kilimanjaro was something extra we added on as a tribute to one of my writing heroes.

With three days in the bush under our belt, our confidence level had risen and my Kiswahili was getting better. For the most part, the Kenyans welcomed us, and the fact that I was putting a lot of effort into learning their culture made them excited to teach me more.  Julius had told us that Kenyans have an exceptional gift of knowing people’s character immediately after meeting them.  You two have warm faces, he said, smiling faces. Everyone can see your goodness through your eyes.  It was true: the people loved us.  Katherine will tell you, at some of our buffet-style meals, I would have one or two of the African girls following me from dish to dish, encouraging me to try this and try that.  We were also generous with our money.  Two dollars equal about two hundred Kenyan shillings, a good tip.  Most of the other tourists were Euros and Indians who don’t tip at all.  We, on the other hand, were tipping the shit out of people.  More than once, we had someone shake our hand with true gratitude in their eyes after we left them a few dollars tip.

When we travel, we are ambassadors for our country.  With this in mind, we really try to not only adapt to the culture, but to learn and engross ourselves in it.  We treat others as we want to be treated.

Heading back to Nairobi from Amboseli, we had stopped at another Curio shop to use the restroom.  At these stops and at the lodges, Julius would sit for small meals or coffee with the other driver guides, many of whom were his friends.  My friends think you’re Spanish, he told us this particular afternoon as we loaded back into the van. They say you are fit and not fat and loud like normal Americans.  This was sad for me to hear.  Although I was happy to be compared to the Spanish who are a real sexy culture, I was sad to know that our country was generalized as overweight and loud.  Unfortunately, I have been a witness to some of this obnoxious behavior while abroad and, as bad as it sounds, Katherine and I try to avoid other Americans when we are traveling.  We see a restaurant full of Americans — we keep moving.  When we are away, we want to be away. I think sometimes people travel to foreign countries and expect to have all the same luxuries we enjoy at home.  And, when disappointed, this same spoiled lot throws a supersized fit.  Do not fret, my fellow Americans, if the American pie is tart when we arrive to a place, we try to leave the people with a fresh piece to chew on.  Every culture has some bad points; we are not the only point of ridicule around the world. With all this in mind, we were told three Canadians would be joining us in the morning for the rest of our safari.  We can handle that, we thought.

We took a cab through the Nairobi night in a true summer thunderstorm to a popular restaurant called Carnivore.  I ate crocodile, ostrich and camel, which was nasty.  No, I did not eat the Ox balls.

They used to have lion, zebra and giraffe on the menu until the Kenya government banned it 3 years ago

The following morning we met the Johnson’s who were actually Americans from Utah, not Canadians.  They were nice people and Mormons, and I must admit I was a little sad that they didn’t bring any sister wives or hot girls like in Big Love.  We headed north towards Mount Kenya.  Our night was to be spent at a quiet mountain lodge deep in the rainforest.  The lodge was built above a large watering hole; since the animals came to us, there were no game drives or activities.  It was pretty slow.  On our balcony made of indigenous branches and woods, Katherine and I just read and wrote and enjoyed the sounds of the rainforest.

The watering hole

To be honest, the highlight of my day was when a bird flew directly into the window below where I was writing and a monkey came over and ate it.

Monkey lunch

With all the down time, I decided to Skype my little nephew.  After talking for a few minutes, I told him to be very quiet and I would take the laptop out on the balcony and show him the watering hole.  It couldn’t have been planned any better because as soon as we went out, a whole family of elephants strolled into the clearing.  These were the first we had seen all day and I was really stoked to be sharing this moment with my nephew. It’s nice to have a new little Crowley coming up, and although I think he is instructed not to listen to anything I say, I like to teach him things I wish I would have learned earlier.  He calls me Tio.

Again, we headed north, through the green and the brown, the grass and the groves, seeing Africa from the ground level, seeing the people as they really are, as they really live.  I have always felt that if some danger does not exist, it is not a true adventure, and although the lodges and their safety were wonderful, our time on the road was equally as inspiring.  In Kenya, everyone waves.  We waved to the women walking by, the men digging ditches. The best were the kids.  A group would see the van approaching and, with no reservation, would light up their faces with smiles and wave those little hands.  This made me feel connected to the country, to the people, to humanity.  Africa is the most beautiful place I have been. Also the most tragic.

The children

We crossed the Equator on foot.  By the end of our trip we had crisscrossed the Equator a total of four times, and it was pretty amazing to see the crude water demonstrations showing the different directions of the Earth’s rotation.  We were happy, our little group, and we continued together through the dream.

Walking to another hemisphere

The next few days were spent in the Samburu and Shaba areas.  The lodge was beautiful and right on the Ewaso Nyiro River. We got our first glimpse of crocodiles (Julius calls them dragons,) and which scare the shit out of me. I got a massage in a tent, side by side with Katherine. I just kept thinking, This is the first time I’ve ever been naked in a room with three girls at the same time.  I know, I know, hard to believe it was a first, but it was.

My three ladies, well my lady and two others that were just in the same room when I was naked

We had some epic game drives here, and I was really starting to get used to this.  I felt like old Papa himself, spending the mornings and dusk in the bush while reading and relaxing in the afternoons.  We got our first close view of duma, an animal that is just art. The afternoon sunsets seemed to sprinkle magic onto the landscapes.  Katherine and I held hands at night walking to dinner.  Our yearly savings, sacrifices, bought us this and I couldn’t help thinking what a fucking deal I got.

Some pictures from Samburu/ Shaba

Samburu woman

Vulturine Gunieafowls

Duma

Egret in flight

Magic

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