On the last two days of our Compassion trip to Kenya, we got to go on a safari in the Maasai Mara of southern Kenya. It was wonderful. It was amazing. It was breathtaking. It was far and away one of my favorite things I've ever done. I only wish my husband had been there, and it's one of my life goals to go back to the Maasai Mara or to Tanzania with Michael some day.
First we flew from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in this little plane. I remember looking out over green bumpy lands that looked completely different from anything I'd seen from a plane before.
We checked into Kitchwa Tembo, where we were staying, and it was brilliant. We slept in tents, but it's still the nicest place I've ever stayed. Here's a little view of one of the tents from below...yeah, you can't even see the tent. But trust me, it was amazing. Hot water bottle placed at the foot of your bed right before bed, a beautiful stone shower, and elephants nibbling at your toes in the morning.
Here is our jeep we took out to see all the animals. See me there in the front seat? Don't I look like a natural? Don't you think I should move here? I could be just like Meryl Streep, "I had a farm in Africa."
We saw pretty much everything but a rhino. My favorite were the cheetahs. They would sit in grass tufts with their babies and look at us with lazy yet alert eyes. I wanted to hug them.
Newsflash! I forgot something very important: While we were still in Nairobi, I pet a cheetah. We went to a wildlife park with sponsored children who were meeting their sponsors. Not having a child I sponsored, I was wandering around the park alone, when a sinister man from inside an enclosure started calling me and gesturing me into the pen. I was skeptical and kept walking. But later I saw two other intrepid travelers ducking into the cheetah exhibit, so I followed. And here is what ensued:
They were like big kitty cats. They purred when you pet them and rubbed against your legs. I want a cheetah.
Back to our regular programming: We also saw gazelles. My other favorite, since my grace has often been compared to that of a gazelle. Also, my big dewy eyes are rather gazelle-like, or so my husband tells me.
We got to drive behind herds of elephants. There is something so magical and grand about an elephant on the plains. It was like we'd driven right into a nature documentary, and it was hard to believe we were really there.
We saw cute little jackals. I wanted to hug them too.
I never realized how beautiful zebras were until I saw a herd of their black and white zig-zags on the plains. There seems to be no reason for them to look like this other than God's caprice.
We even saw lions. Lions, Gandalf! They were lying around in the shade, sleeping, like any good cat would be.
And I was surprised at how cute baby hyenas are and almost started to like them. But not quite.
The giraffes were majestic and as hard to believe in as the zebras.
And then there were the hippos.
Hippos terrify me, and rightly so. We stopped for lunch at a spot above the river, looking out over the plains and down on a large herd of hippos in the river. I remember the bagged lunch dazzled me with how extravagant it was. (Brown bag lunches and tents. I'm easily impressed.) Anyway, we were sent off to relieve ourselves after lunch. I found a nice bush, but no sooner had I prepared myself for the relief of nature that I heard ominous grunting. Loud ominous grunting. It sounded like ten hippos were just yards behind me and about to bite my butt. It's irrational, but I was terrified. Can't-move-my-body terrified. My terror stifled my other natural impulses, and I was rather uncomfortable the remainder of the trip.
On our way back in late afternoon (I remember feeling like a kid who didn't want to get out of the pool), it started raining hard. So hard that the road washed out in one spot. We watched the drivers get out, survey the roads and scratch their wet heads for many minutes. I thought it was an adventure and maybe we'd have to sleep outside and be eaten by lions and hippos...But we made it across.
That night after dinner, there was a show. The local Maasai tribesmen dance at the lodge to entertain tourists and make some extra cash. They jumped up and down, and I got to dance with the chief.
Looking at these pictures reminds me of how much I loved that safari. If anyone would like to send my husband and I and little Alexandra on an all expense paid trip, please do be in touch.