A Month In Kenya: Day 15 (Wednesday, July 5)

We woke to surprising news from Mark: there had been SNOW in Nyahururu overnight! That's a town about 3-1/2 hours north and slightly west of Nairobi, which is approximately 1700 feet higher in elevation. Even so, it's not normal for snow to fall there. (Many meteorologists later said that it was actually hail. Potato, potahto.) 

Meanwhile, in our precipitation-challenged neighborhood, we downed some eggs while playing cards, then took an Uber to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)'s Safari Walk. On the way, we saw more sights including charming street signs, corner kiosks, the new Nairobi Hospital, a couple of different vantage points of Nairobi's downtown buildings (including one with a view of Kibera, the largest slums in Africa, which houses about 10% of people who live in Nairobi's slums), the cemetery where my sister-in-law Irene is buried, and a sign to Harry's hometown (Kikuyu). I've also linked a video so you can listen in on a little of the conversation between Harry and our Uber driver (although Harry does minimal talking in this one). I love listening to them talk in Swahili, and thought you might enjoy it too. 

The Safari Walk is located on the northwest corner of Nairobi National Park, straight south of our apartment, about halfway between our apartment and the elephant orphanage that we visited last Wednesday. Once again, the fee for Harry and the boys was minimal ($1.50/ea for the boys, $2.50 for Harry), while mine was a whopping $22.00. Harry and I later agreed that my enjoyment of the experience was probably proportional to the extra amount I had to pay, so it all worked out. :-)

It was another perfect day to be outside, with temps again in the low to mid-70s (°F) with a shy sun peeking in and out of the clouds. The Safari Walk is similar to an American zoo in that it's a collection of various encaged animals that visitors can observe while meandering down a path that weaves through the park. But the Safari Walk feels (and is) significantly different from a zoo. The animals at the Walk are all native to the area, so the habitats themselves are comprised of the natural landscape and are not some artificial construction. Few (maybe none?) of the animals were bred for or in captivity; most of the animals were found orphaned and have been revived and reared by the KWS. Also, though technically the animals are not free, the habitats are sizable and open, and barriers between the path and the animal habitats are unobtrusive, which gives visitors much more a sense of just happening upon an animal than an American zoo does.

While at the Walk, we met two veterinary students from Purdue University who are in Kenya on a three-week stint. We spent several minutes in the little Children's Museum, where the boys (especially Nehemiah) most enjoyed petting a preserved lion and standing inside some hollowed-out elephant legs. After balancing on some stumps outside, they bolted off to the next animal area and I chased them down, while Harry hung back to talk with a Maasai man and one of the (armed) security guards we'd passed near the museum. (Some Maasai people hang around the Safari Walk and offer to have pictures taken with tourists for a fee.) Harry had explained to the men that contrary to Kenyans' assumptions, not all white people are wealthy. The Maasai man admitted that when we had passed by him without taking advantage of his offer, he had wondered why we would not pay him some money, so he was glad that Harry had explained to him because it helped him understand. 

We ambled through the woodland area and heard a quick "snap". After holding still and quiet for awhile (a miracle in itself!), we spied a small deer-like animal the size of a fawn. From reading the nearby signs, we decided it must be a dik-dik (a small antelope). I was delighted to see this particular animal because years ago my friend, colleague, and fellow word-lover Paul gave me a book called Where a Dobdob Meets a DikDik. Who would have thought I'd ever have a chance to see one?!

At the lion area, we spotted several lions relaxing in the back of their area and only one close enough to the front that we could see her. (Speaking of gender, I used to think that determining a grown lion's gender was as simple as mane/male, no-mane/female, but I learned at the Children's Museum that the infamous Tsavo lions, who ate 130+ people working on the Nairobi-to-Mombasa railroad in the late 1890s, are a maneless breed. I had no idea!) There was a pleasant covered viewing area where we sat to have a quick snack and practice card tricks.  

When we saw the rhinoceros, I said, "Man, that's big! I'd hate to have that thing run at me!" And Nehemiah replied confidently, "I wouldn't mind. He would like me. He would be my pet."

Mark brought us another container of water and some of the bread I like (yippee!). He warmed up his lunch at our place and stayed to eat with us before heading back to work. He offered me some of his matoke (pictured below on the left side of my plate), which is a dish made with green (not-quite-ripe) bananas. It was delicious! And Ezra continues to enjoy samosas. It's a Kenya miracle!

Harry watched a Pokemon episode with the boys (ha!), then the boys messed around in their room for awhile playing some kind of hide-and-seek with giraffe. I watched the increasingly-grey sky with great hope, but no rain ever fell. We had leftovers for dinner and watched the ridiculous-but-touching Here Comes The Boom (Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler). After the boys went to bed, Harry spent a couple of hours on the phone trying to figure out something at church, while I worked on my blog and watched The Crown.