Monday, July 9, 2007

Kenya - Zebras and Giraffes and Flamingos, oh my!

Been a few days and a world of new experiences so thought i would check in with you guys. amazing how quickly i seem to be establishing a new normal. only 11 days here in kenya and already have a routine. things that seemed so foregin or shocking are now just part of the way things are here. we have also began to experience the kenya corruption tax, where we just have to be so carefull to not be taken advantage of since we are mizungus and it is assumed we are all wealthy.

school is going well, tiring. just finished a long day - i taught them some new songs today and did a lesson on animals. most are eager to learn and they are so easily excited it can be hard to introduce new things to them.

now on to the good stuff - this past weekend was a hilarious adventure. four of us girls, 3 americans and jessica the aussie set off on safari. three of us are all turning/just turned 30 and it's jodi's 33rd bday today, so we decided we must be on our one-third life crisis since we all came to africa not knowing a soul here. we spent our first day at hell's gate national park. we hiked this amazing gorge that has these steaming hot springs, and even did a rock climb - which i had to be talked into as it seemed way too vertical to do without proper equipment. but i made it with only a couple bruised knees and the view was great!

Hell's Gate is the only national park in Kenya that allows you to ride a bike through, so at my brilliant suggestion we rented bikes about 3 kilometers outside the gate. The bikes we rented were not quite up to par with what Lance Armostrong rides. Actually, they aren't event up to par with what your neighborhood teenage paperboy rides! The roads aren't paved, and instead are a couple inches thick of loose red dirt. Completely exhausted by the time we finally made it to Hell's Gate's entrance, we promptly turned around and rode our bikes back to where we rented them, negotiated a partial refund, and hopped back in our van!

There were some animals at Hell's Gate, but nothing compared to what we saw the next day at Lake Nakuru national park which was just beautiful. it is home to over one million flamingos which make the lake a sea of pink. it was an amazing site! we also got to have a rare encounter with a family of 5 white rhinos and watch the babies play in the mud. we saw two kinds of giraffes - one which is rare - and got so close to them it was unreal. zebras and monkeys were just everywhere, along with about 10 other types of animals. the baby warthogs may be my favorite - they have mullets and do this little waddle. adorable.

the roads to get there were just unreal - so scary here and like being on a really old, rickety rollercoaster. it's just really better not to look forward most of the time. the roads are so, so bumpy on some very long stretches that you actually catch air. we found if we act like a character from The Awakenings and sit totally limp the ride is a bit less painful. that, and we sang every song written in the 80s, and the funniest part about that is the aussie is the one who knew the most words - even willie nelson! our lazy driver forgot to put the pins in the back of the van to keep the trunk closed, so it opened and our bags flew out into the road. by the grace of god - it was on a non-highway part in a town so some nice people went and got them from the road so they didn't get run over, or we'd have been in real trouble! about an hour later we over-heated and we coasted into a little place on the side of the road and they had to pour water all over the engine. yes, that's what they call here africa time - nothing happens as or when you think it will.

just so you don't feel sorry for me over here, when we got back to town last night we went to the movies and saw John McLane single-handedly save the world again - complete with popcorn, rollos and diet coke, then went for a late dinner at java house and i had a plate of refried beans, mexican rice and guac! it was so yummy!!

love you guys!


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