Thursday, January 21, 2010

1/8/10 Happy Birthday to Me!

I think I had the coolest birthday ever today! We woke up very early and boarded a bus to Nairobi National Park, a reserve just outside of the city. Here, they have all of the African animals except the elephant in a protected but free environment! The first thing we saw was a giraffe. He was standing right in the middle of the road so we couldn’t pass. At points, we were so close that if I would have put my hand out, I’m sure I could have touched him! Chris and Adam crawled out of the windows up to the top of the bus so they could see better but were promptly reprimanded and made to get back inside. Sometimes, boys just never grow up! J We saw a few Eland and then in the distance, our driver noticed a group of lions! So we sped over to where they were and watched them for a short while. Right after we left the lions, our bus got stuck in the mud. I was a little bit freaked out because we were so close to the lions in their natural habitat where they hunt for their food. It’s not like a zoo where they make sure they are fed daily. We had to pile out of the bus to push it out of the mud and I felt like a walking target. Yikes! Luckily it didn’t take long to free the bus from it’s bonds of mud, but I assure you, I was definitely on constant watch! We had what the World Hope group said was the best safari any group had experienced thus far. We saw rhinos, water buffalo, Eland, Impalas, various birds, ostriches, zebras and it seemed like hundreds of giraffes. Everywhere you’d look, you’d see a tall head sticking out of the horizon. While we were watching a pack of zebras, suddenly we realized that we were not the only ones. There was a pack of 5 lionesses that were watching them, too. And they were obviously on a hunting trip. You should have seen the slow, stealthy rhythm of their walk with their heads lowered and tails curved. They were really quite graceful. So we watched them furtively sneak up and prepare for attack. Then, before we knew what was happening, there was a stampede of zebras, a lion leapt up, swatted at the zebras and pounced! At first, I thought these lions were surely successful, but they only wounded the baby zebra. They all got away. I was really amazed at how easily the lions gave up. I guess they wanted an easy kill. So they started scouting out their next target: a giraffe…we didn’t stay to watch the attack. Our driver said that it would be a long time. But, we did sit about 6 feet away from hungry lions as they rested between attacks. We were instructed not to lean out of the van even to take pictures because they were so hungry, we were a viable lunch! Wow. It was definitely cool to be so close. You should see some of our pictures. A short while later, we saw some baboons. Our driver said we could get out for a closer look, but he said we had to close our windows or else they would come in the bus and steal our food/money/whatever they could get their hands on. So we all dutifully closed our windows and got out to take a closer look. The last person out of the bus, however, forgot to close the door, so when we got down to the baboon, he ran up to the bus, got inside and sat down in the front seat. We were lucky we were able to get him out quickly and safely. I thought we might have quite the predicament. I must say, I was a bit frightened when he charged out of the bus. He seemed wild, dangerous and frightened. Yikes! But I did double over in laughter when I saw him get on the bus. It was so funny. It was an experience that definitely added to the adventure. All in all, it was one amazing safari. What a cool birthday gift! After our safari, we went to the market where we haggled for various items…I think we got our Christmas shopping done! We found some really cool things and had fun discussing prices. We came home to rest and the rest of our group prepared to leave Kenya. We wish them well and enjoyed our time with them so much. Our remaining time in Kenya will be much different without them. Tomorrow morning, we board our Matatu at 5AM for Mukeu. We hear the roads are extremely muddy and impassable at points. We tried to find gum boots here in Nairobi, but were unsuccessful. We could have a couple of filthy, muddy weeks ahead of us. Please pray for us.

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