Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mom's Post part 2

After our week in Sarah’s village in Western Kenya, we traveled with a hired driver southeast to Narok, providing an opportunity to see more variety in the Kenyan countryside. Within 4-5 hours, we drove through beautiful, lush green areas with vast tea plantations, then into a very dry & dusty semi-arid area.

In Narok, we enjoyed visiting Sarah’s friend Ellen from Louisville. She and her husband Elijah are with the organization, Africa Hope, working with street children and a variety of other projects. It was nice to visit in their home and to explore Narok and surrounding area a bit with their help. We made an interesting trip to a hot springs on Sunday afternoon, which must have been wash day for the Masai women living in the region. The area was crowded with women & children, washing clothes, bathing or just playing in the water. It was a most interesting sight. The water was so hot we could only stand in it for a minute or two. The people walk a long way to reach the springs and one woman – with her newly washed clothes in a tub on top of her head – was bold enough to ask us for a ride when we prepared to leave. She appreciated being dropped off much closer to her home! Driving though the Masai region, we saw numerous herds of cattle, goats or sheep. I was surprised to see that some were tended by children, who couldn’t have been older than 5 or 6. Children certainly do grow up quickly in Africa, with many responsibilities at an early age.

From Narok, we were picked up by our safari driver for our adventure in the Masai Mara National Reserve, a few hours away. Our 2 night safari included 4 game drives & we were fortunate to see a wide variety of animals, including thousands of wildebeests & zebras in the midst of migration. Even though we’ve been to the zoo, it sure was exciting to see giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs, hippos & a variety of other animals & birds roaming freely in their natural habitat!
We had opted for a camping safari, which we expected to be very rustic. Instead it turned out to feel more like a Holiday Inn. We had our own little cabin with bunk beds AND a light! Plus there were hot showers! From our perspective at the time, those were unexpected luxuries! We also had a terrific cook, who prepared a wide variety of tasty dishes – all cooked on a charcoal fire. He even “baked” a delicious spice cake, which he iced and decorated!

The company through whom we booked our safari is headquartered in Nairobi, so we continued our adventure with a 6 hour, bumpy ride back to the big city, where we were scheduled to depart the following evening. What a contrast between experiencing sunrise on the Savannah with wildebeests, giraffes, lions, etc. and sunset in Nairobi, in the midst of a 2 hour traffic jam just getting through town! On the way, though, we did get to drive through the vast Rift Valley of central Kenya.

We stayed with another of Sarah’s friends for our last 2 nights in Nairobi and enjoyed our final opportunity to spend time with Sarah. We had experienced so much together in two weeks. We felt so fortunate to have seen her in action in her rural village and watching her interact with native Kenyans all across the country. Her love for the people and desire to be of service was inspiring to us. Return trips to Kenya are definitely in her future – and perhaps in ours as well.

Sarah did a wonderful job of planning our activities and orchestrating our travel from one location to another. She has learned so much about the country and the culture and of course her fluent Swahili is a tremendous bonus. She delights in surprising people with her ability to speak the native language and not just be another tourist passing through! She will miss that when she & Dave are in Malawi and she can no longer speak the local language.

Bob and I arrived safely home last Saturday, have adjusted to the 8 hour time difference and are happily reliving our experiences as we share stories and look at our photos. Traveling to Africa truly was a most unique opportunity and has given us much food for thought as we consider how best to share our resources.

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