Last Call in the Mara
November 28, 2007 — Masai Mara
Went on one final game drive before we left Masai Mara. This time Simon took us all the way to the Mara river. Saw more of everything, including straggling wildebeest from last month's migration. They were lined up to cross the crocodile-infested river, when something spooked them and they ran in the other direction (see video below). We also saw a bat-eared fox which was quite a treat as they are typically nocturnal.
In the last shot, the lioness was very close to the buffalo, who were unaware of her presence. With such numbers, the lions aren't a threat to the buffalo. Once the buffalos got wind of the lion, all the mothers charged over and chased the lioness into the brush with her tail between her legs.
After the drive, we caught our small bush plane back to Nairobi. A miserable way to travel, despite the views.
Back in Nairobi (Reading Paul Theroux)
November 29, 2007 —Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi is starting to feel like a home away from home. This is our third time leaving and coming back. Jess had a site visit today, so I went to the internet cafe, hung out by the pool and did some last minute shopping. Or tried to. The second you leave the hotel, you get hassled left and right, people begging, trying to sell you black-market DVDs, trying to get you into their cab, pretending they are blind, etc. The market place was particularly unpleasant. You can't just walk around and look at things without people demanding you look in their shop and going through this whole charade when you ask the price of something. They'd type the number on their cellphone like it was top-secret, and then say that was the "Japanese price," then knock some off, but of course it was still three times what it should be. When I opened my wallet to show that all I had was 2000 shillings, they would insist I go to the bank, or want to barter for something in my backpack or for my shoes, etc.
Speaking of the hassles of Africa, I've been reading Paul Theroux's Dark Star Safari, all I can stand of it anyway. It chronicles a journey he took from Cairo to Capetown in 2001. More than anything, it's about the hassles of traveling through Africa. There's some interesting anecdotes in it, but he just comes off as a prick. Not sure what the point of it is, or what he is trying to prove as he forcefully travels from city to city, being as cheap as possible even though he is Paul Theroux and can surely afford more. He spends most of his time criticizing people, usually other tourists (though of course he would never consider himself a tourist), and doesn't talk much about the landscape and what's within it. He particularly bashes people who go on safaris. I myself am more interested in seeing other animals and the landscape of Africa, then I am hanging out with other travelers. And I know my place, I am a mzungu tourist here, and when someone calls me mzungu or farenji (what they called us in Ethiopia) I don't get all bent out of shape about it like Theroux does. I read the parts where he goes through Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, only because these places were fresh in my mind and I was curious to see his take. But after that I just left the book behind.
Out of Africa
November 30, 2007 —Amsterdam
Flew over night from Nairobi to Amsterdam. Managed to sleep most of the time. Now we're in Amsterdam Airport. Originally we had a 12-hour layover and thought we might throw our stuff in a locker and check out the town as I've passed through here quite a few times and have never left the airport. But we are pretty burnt out on seeing shit, and don't have jackets for this kind of gloomy weather, not to mention the pain of going in and out of immigration.
We were able to change our flight to an earlier one, though we still have a 7 hour layover. I posted the last installment from Masai Mara and this one and am trying to catch up on email and whatnot so we are not inundated when we get back to New York.
I guess I should be glad that I am at least on European soil, but I'll tell you what. I'll take the b.o. of Africa over the cigarette smoke here in Amsterdam. We are taking refuge in a non-smoking section far away from anything, but still are drowning in the smoke and annoying Gypsy Kings music. It fucking stinks here every time we pass through. For all I care they can all go give themselves lung cancer, but I want not part in it. Being in this airport for 7 hours probably ticked more off my life then a month in Africa (though the diesel fumes in Nairobi were pretty bad).
I can't believe the month is over. It all happened so fast, and I'm sure I'll continue to reflect on it and it will become a part of my being. I'm looking now back through the pictures and videos of Ethiopia and miss it already. It seems so long ago.
I suppose I am looking forward to getting home.
(c) 2007 Derek White & Jessica Fanzo