Wednesday, October 26:
No work is scheduled today so we have the whole day to ourselves….it is a day to play…..
We left at 9:30 and we tasted our first sip of real coffee since leaving home at Java coffee shop….reminiscent of Starbuck….yeah! The place is filled with western ex-pats, tourists and a sprinkling of urban savvy Kenyans
I discovered the supermarket as I looked for water to purchase for the day and noticed lots of great discoveries for us to buy and bring home to the US.
We get on the road to visit the Karen district to see the Sheldrick Baby Elephant Sanctuary. We are impressed with the efficiency and intention of the program.The animals are rescued after encounters with poachers, traps, wells, and other assorted difficulties. Many have seen their mothers killed by any of these.. The animals are brought to the sanctuary and stay until they are ready to move to another Phase 2 sanctuary which removes them from the need for human intervention. Phase 3 has them returned to the wild.
We agree to “adopt” Kirhana for Grace Memorial….a good component of our Global Grace Outreach Project for church school and GI family constituents.
We will receive information about Kirhana’s progress via email in return for a minimum donation of $50/year. We can do better if church school takes this on. As we add Kenya to our Global Grace outreach, the baby elephant sanctuary provides a connection for our church school children among others.
We brought back information about the program which can also we studied at www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org
We next visit the Giraffe sanctuary and view rescued giraffes up close. This is a little more commercial, but still well run. Julies purchases a lovely piece of art work created by a local child. The art is among others being contributed to the sanctuary for sale in order to add to maintenance resources, etc. We feed “Daisy” who allows us to touch her and she gives us a “giraffe kiss”….yucky but amazing. We have kissed a giraffe. Such tourists.
We go on to the crocodile sanctuary and to be so close to these amazing creatures is a wonderful experience. We watch the tension between two mothers as they seek to protect their eggs in the sand. The crocs have no tongues…. and open their mouths so wide that it becomes easy for us to see how one can be quickly dispatched!
We are invited to hold a three-year old croc….small….and we are taught how to hold it. It has soft skin and seems patient enough with us for a few seconds. As the writhing begins, I quickly hand her back to the keeper.
We continue our journey to the Karen Blixen (Isaac Dennison) home at the foot of the Ngong Hills. This is “Out of Africa” country. We tour the home seeing much of the original furniture and layout, as well as some of the contribution made by Universal Pictures in response to their use of the space for the making of the movies. We are typical tourists…buying our gifts and filled with a sense of living history….the romance, the kind of life it might have been, the mystery of the beginning and the tragedy of the end. I recall hearing fragments of the history in my home as a child in the UK…as the world ended for the English settled here as WW1 caught up with them all.
We rush home through the usual impossible Nairobi traffic to meet our hosts Rose and Justus. We are treating them to dinner at a nearby Ethiopian restaurant. There is a particular social grace that pervades client and service relationships. Clerks, waiters, drivers…..all extremely anxious to ensure the satisfaction of the client. At home, our hosts were adamant about our not lifting a finger to help with meals, dishes, housework, etc. Theirs was to make us comfortable. Ours was to accept this gift graciously.
After returning home, we receive a call from Paul He has visited with both bishops again in Bongoma. The issue of same-sex marriage arises and Paul wishes me to explain. I realize we have come to a point of conversation that will need further clarification. Will the issue of homosexuality once again rear its head to interfere with the possibilities for long term planning and development with the Diocese of Kenya? My answers are ambiguous and we decide to discuss this further when back in Portland. This needs further conversation….Stephen? Bishop Michael? What do we do with this when we are working to create relationships around the world? Is this a side conversation or understanding, or does it create a standoff?
We retire earlier than usual. We will leave at 6:30 am for the Kenya National Park. It is close by, but we must be there early in other to see the animals who come out early in the morning.
Thursday, October 27:
We have experienced thunder and lightening. The torrential rains come with little notice. One moment sun and the next monsoon. As planned we leave at 6:30. It is still raining heavily…monsoon like and the traffic is overbearingly heavy…even at this hour.
It is still raining a little but thankfully soon stops as we arrive at the park. The KNP is huge. Hundreds and hundreds of acres of wild, indigenous, untouched landscape roamed by elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes, impalas, ostriches, birds of all varieties and sizes, water buffalo, hippos and monkeys, leopards and cheetahs.
My first view of the park was from above on the return flight from Kitale. I could see the vast landscape abut the edge of the city itself. A remarkable sight and one that is not replicated anywhere else in the world.
We drive and drive the endless network of roads that streak across the park. We are in the Serengeti at last. Glimpses of striped or spotted fur keep our eyes riveted on the grasses of the bush. Sometimes, like the Maasai livestock tht roams the city, we see a herd of zebra or giraffe or impala. They watch us carefully as we creep by. The impala’s turn and run as we come near…their leaps and bounds gracefully executed as those of fine ballerinas.
We watch for “Mr. Lion” but he will not appear. It is too wet and cold and he is not hungry. We can tell this is so because the impala and zebras are playful and feeling free. There is no scent of Mr. Lion afoot today. Perhaps his appetite has already been satisfied.
It is time to leave the park and we stop by the “Animal Orphanage” on the way out. We expected to see a program similar to the Baby Elephant Sanctuary, but are disappointed. It is just a zoo of the worst kind. The animals are fed but are bored, held in pens and runs that offer little variety. All this right next to a magnificent refuge that feels like home in the wild? It is puzzling. We resolve to email our thoughts and impressions to the park about this. We also discuss the situation with our hosts who have connections to Nairobi leadership. They are interested to hear what we have to say and agree with us that such an exhibit cheapens the magnificence of the park and does not contribute to Nairobi the city.
We arrive home in early afternoon with every intention to write, read and gain some rest. But it was not to be. Rose’s older sister, Elizabeth, has come to visit as has Metrinne (Paul’s niece home from Chwele. There is much visiting and conversation about the best plans for our last day.
The plan will have us leave at 8:30 in the morning for coffee and supermarket and then to the City Center shopping for fabric. I have an appointment at 10:00 with Mercy Corps. So Justus offers to take us to the supermarket this evening This excursion is much like our trips to the market here, except that security is heightened around the entrances to the parking lot. There have been two explosions in the city. Police and security check our tires with metal detectors, open the hood and trunk before allowing us to pass.
We need to find some Kenyan money and search for a bank which, when we find it, cannot help us. We find ATM machines (Barclay’s Bank) which honor our cards and we begin shopping for special gifts to bring home. A selection of Cadbury bars which are not available in America were a wonderful find for me, a Kenyan thermos which keeps liquids hotter and colder than any I have found in the States, Kenyan coffee, banana chips and Cadbury Ginger Cocoa. Happy with our finds we head home to face more planning conversation for our last day tomorrow which is to include an early coffee stop, Mercy Corps and places to buy fabric so that Metrinne can make us each a dress. We want to visit All Saints Cathedral, the old Anglican cathedral in downtown Nairobi.
Elizabeth and Metrinne leave before dark. The rain and dark mean slow traffic and danger. It is not safe to go out at night
I have previously made an appointment with the Program Director for Africa, Matt Lovick. Matt operates out of the Narobi office and is part of a MC network of presence in 13 African countries.