Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back in Nairobi..but not for long.

Safely ensconced on the 1st floor of the Kenya Comfort Hotel after a long drive from the Mara Leisure Camp in the Masai Mara territory. The last week has been spectacular and really, photos would serve my words better but here goes. We drove to Lake Nakuru in the central part of Kenya to look primarily at pelicans, storks and flamingos but were also surprised with heards of zebras, loping giraffes, gazelles a leaping, rhinos sleeping, baboons a scratching and just about every kind of wild bird you could think of. We stayed in the Flamingo Hill Hotel and it was great, huge tents, nice pool, great staff and delicious meals. I've been struck a little by the traveling in between the towns and most of what I see, in fact, all of it is so polluted and poverty stricken that I feel a little guilty to be living it up 3km away or even less. I tell myself that I didn't cause it and I shouldn't feel guilty but I want to help and there's just so much of it: pollution being the main thing, I've never seen so much garbage just out, everywhere. You name it, I've seen it clogging streams, lining walking paths, flying in the breeze, swaying in the trees. It's all consuming and even in the National Parks there are plastic bottles on the roadside, bags in the lake etc. But, the people I've met have been so generous and eager to show me their world that I overlook the downsides when I can. My arm was in a perpetual waving motion the whole drive from Naro Moru to Lake Nakuru, just waving at all the kids I passed on the roadside. Bright and beaming faces just make me smile too.
After Lake Nakuru we went to Masai Mara and spent 3 nights at the Mara Leisure Camp. The reserve is huge and we had a local guide, Kenyua who has been great at driving the rocky, muddy and uneven roads here. We spotted every animal under the sun here. Cheetahs, leopards, and lions to be the main ones. We came upon a resting lion and his lioness after a heavy mating session and they looked very, what's the word, content, if you know what I mean ;)
I've been lucky to be with a great group of people, I'm the youngest by about 15-20 years but my mom has been great and I got to play my ukulele for our chefs and hostel employees in Naro Moru. James, the man who works for the re-forestation project at Mt. Kenya asked me to play Silver Dagger 6 times in a row for him because he liked it so much. Who would've thought an old folk/Joan Baez song I heard and loved would resonate all the way here. He was also nice enough to be my kazoo holder while I played it and sang Ring of Fire. That was a crowd favorite!
Well, tonight in Nairobi and tomorrow we fly to Mombasa and drive up the coast to Malindi for 2 nights. Supposed to be beautiful beaches there and also the navigational site of Vasco deGama from 1498. Oh, and it's also a huge sex tourism destination and my guide book says to be weary of looking at anyone for too long, oh, and women who wear blue jeans!
Updates in a few days if I can pry myself away from the great experience I'm having.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fun in Kenya

I'm in Nanyuki near the base of Mt. Kenya and I am having the best time. Will post lots of pictures when I get home but so far we've re-forested near an area that had wildfires and we've painted classrooms at a primary school. Making lots of friends and singing songs with the kids. Going to Masai Mara reservation tomorrow.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Going to Kenya!

Hello World!

It's been a long time since I've written in this blog and public outcry has demanded that I update it for my latest trip which I am taking this Saturday June 11th to Kenya. The trip was sprung on me a few weeks ago by my Mom and a Tom Moe, no not the Olympic Downhill Skier, but my old roommate on our last bike trip together to Croatia in 2008. Tom has been to Kenya about 5 times and is taking me, my mom and a group of his old college buddies from Purdue. He's about 53 and lives in Denver as a structural engineer at an architecture firm. One of his main ones there was the Denver Musuem of Modern Art. Check out it if you're ever in Denver. Anywhats, Tom asked my Mom, my Mom said yes, my Mom asked my Dad, my Dad said no, my Mom asked me and I said "heck yes!" A few weeks ago I had to get 5 shots for various illnesses you could catch in a sub-saharan country like Kenya: Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, B, Polio, Typhoid, Meningitis, and Malaria, those I have pills to take 2 days before I leave, the whole length of the trip and then a month after I get back. Fun! I also had to get a new passport because mine expired last year and truthfully, I hadn't expected to do much international travel this year so I put it on my back-burner but then this trip happened and voila! Good thing I did because there's also talk of going to South America and Berlin later this year for me.
Okay, so, here is my itinerary for the trip. There's also an extra 3 days tacked on to the end where we'll be doing more safari. I'd like to say I want to climb Mt. Kenya or Kilimanjaro and I do but just not on this trip. I didn't take the time to acclimatize to altitudes and apply for permits and pack in gear and etc...This trip is part volunteer, part safari, part ukulele jam session with the locals. Oh yeah, they will know who Johnny Cash is when I leave Naro Moru, Kenya!

Here is the itinerary:

June 13th :Nairobi drive to Mt Kenya
June 14th, 15th and 16th:Naro Moru village and volunteer project
June 17th and 18th:Lake Nakuru National Park
June 19th, 20th and 21st:Masai Mara Natioinal Park
June 22nd: Nairobi
June 23rd:Fly to Malindi (the coast)
June 24th and 25th: Malindi
June 26th-29: Kikuyu Safari
June 29-30: Travel safely back to Los Angeles

I will try hard to update when I can and post pics during the trip. Putting up pics might be the toughest because I'll probably be at internet cafes and those aren't always the best places to download and send pics from. Rest assured, when I get back though, tons of pictures will be at your viewing pleasure. Oh, if you can think of anything you want me to do while I'm there, let me know. The sillier and harder the better. Think of it more like things you dare me to do while I'm there.
I've added a picture of all the things I am packing in my backpack. You can see for yourself but a few notables are: ukulele, frisbee, Hawaiian flip-flops, kazoo, Point to-it book, flask, US mags, ASU t-shirt, chico bag, ipod shuffle, GU chomps, Power Bars and Kleenex wet-wipes in case I can't get to a shower for a few days.
Wish me luck and stay tuned for updates!
Joshua Meindertsma June 9, 2011