Friday, February 25, 2011

Has it only been one day?

List-style recap will be more efficient right now, given my state of extreme exhaustion (slept about 5 hours last night, and about 2 during the nighttime hours my airplane travels encompassed) and my state of inebriation (not too high, but in combination with sleep deprivation it can have a significant impact).

Got up at 6.
-Went and walked around at 8. Is this real life? I have already decided that I have to return to Kenya/ Africa, and I've been here less than 12 hours. Amazing birds everywhere, birdsongs the likes of which I have never heard. Beautiful. Took some so-so pictures of birds that Alex will later ID for me, and some good pictures of a beautiful skink on a tree.
-Waited around while we found out whether the car we need to drive to the Masai Mara is fixed yet (initially supposed to be done by yesterday at 4 pm, then today at 10 am). As 12:30 pm passed (the absolute deadline for leaving, as it is a 7-ish hour drive and the gates to the camp close at 7), we are resigned to the fact that we are spending the day in Nairobi. Clearly, not a disaster.
-Events: Beading store (hand-made clay beads, beautiful), traditional African dances (touristy, but Skeist was quite interested in going, and it was indeed enjoyable), and then, the piece de resistance: Animal Orphanage! Essentially a glorified zoo (as the guidebook puts it), but still, some amazing creatures. But here's the best part:

We got to pet a cheetah. Actually, two. And they PURR!!!

So, we might have had to sketchily pay some people for this privelege, but... so it goes. They have rough tongues, and fur that is not as soft or silky as I thought it might be.

It was shortly after this amazing event that we found out the car we expected to drive up to the Mara tomorrow would not be ready for this trip for a WEEK. Commence emergency contingency planning. Essentially, the only option is this: a matatu. This common form of transportation in Kenya is a 14-seat van (the seats are QUITE small, I'm told) - you find one going where you want, pay, get in, and when it's full, off you go. No telling a) how long it will take to fill up or b) how many stops along the way there will be. I try to stay optimistic- one thing I am quite pleased about on this trip is its lack of touristy-ness: staying with a friend (not in a hotel), going with her on research observations (not a paid safari). So I consider it to be simply part of my (very much) non-touristy experience. However, as we drive to dinner to meet Helah, a friend I met on the Birthright trip who happens to be in Kenya as well, we pass many matatus, and I get increasingly less enthusiastic about being in one for at least 7 hours.

But THEN: miracle! Ian the mechanic calls! It's fixed! We can take it tomorrow! We commence to celebrate by plasting 'Like A G6' and dancing around as we bump along the extremely pot-holed roads in Posie.

Oh, you haven't met Posie? I've only known her for a short time, but already I am in love. Posie (the name derives from Piece of Shit) is a tiny "min-jeep" (only 2 doors, with a back seat. Don't worry Mom, she has seatbelts! At least, the front seats do...) that has been through more than any car should have to. I am told that she once survived being swept downstream in a flooded river, only to be retrieved later. And let me just state for the record: I don't know anyone else other than Tracy Montgomery who would be able to handle Posie. She stalls constantly, she bucks, she accelerates when she feels like it (the brakes are consistent, at least). And the (un)lucky person who ends up in the back seat gets some air every time we take a bump a little too hard. I will miss her when we switch to Alex (a Land Cruiser) tomorrow.

Well. I must say, I am impressed that I have staved off the jet-lag this long. But alas, I feel it's cold grasp envelop me. To bed! (You know, after I check my email, etc).

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