Thursday, 12 July 2012

Adventures in Meru

So here it is, Thursday morning, and I am finally getting around to writing about our awesome trip this past weekend. Suffice it to say we have been very busy working this week, but we'll get to that stuff later. This past weekend we all had the pleasure of traveling into the higher altitudes of Kenya, to a town called Meru - the lush hometown of our project manager Anthony. We all piled into a rental van on Friday afternoon and made the 5 hour trip down. Upon arrival at Anthony's home, we were greeted by chickens, goats, his 7 year old son, his beautiful wife.... and the most amazing home cooked Kenyan meal. Words don't describe how delicious it was, and so sweet of Margaret to spend all day cooking for us. We dubbed it "Kenyan Thanksgiving". 

We spent the weekend at the Hotel Incredible (right across the street from the Glorious Cafe.... clearly the most amazing block ever) in Meru town. Saturday morning the real adventure began. We woke up while it was still dark, around 5 am, to travel in to Meru National Park. I don't think any of us were prepared for what lay ahead of us. A day in the park turned out to be pretty much a full on safari... except better than a safari because it was in a natural environment. No animals flown in to make it more exciting, and the rangers don't coax out the animals with food and stuff like the do at other places. We thought about getting a guide to drive through with us (they recommend that because it's sort of difficult to find your way around) but we decided against it - and just got lucky on our own. Here's the rundown of everything we saw.... the day started off with a bunch of giraffes (so many of them throughout the park) along with a rhino and a baby rhino!!! This was really awesome, since we learned that to see rhinos - especially with their horns - is extremely rare. 


The rest of the adventure continued with even more animals... let's see, we saw: many more giraffes (so cool the way they move), lots of zebras and water buffalo and gazelles, some ostriches, lots of beautiful birds, an elephant butt (he refused to turn around for us) and some hippos sleeping under the branches of a tree in a stream. 

Perhaps the most incredible part of the day happened when after deciding we'd had enough excitement (after about 7 hours). We were beginning the long drive out of the park when Margaret (who has eyes like a hawk) spotted a female LION! We only caught a brief glimpse before she hid from us (we think she was hunting) but long enough to see her whole body, tail and her beautiful/fierce face. Icing on the cake for an incredible day. The best part was Anthony's son's immediate reaction to a lion was to throw open the van door and climb out. It was hysterical. But, I admittedly, that was 100% a learned behavior from us crazy mizungas - we must have jumped out of the car at least 10 times during the day and (technically) you're  not supposed to at all. OOPS.

Here's the whole crew in the park. From left: Nate, Margaret, Elton, Me, Renee, Ben, Rina (one of the ladies we work with here) and Ellen. Such an incredible group of people to work with... not to mention explore, learn, and share days like this with!

On Sunday, we made the long drive home back South to Nairobi. But what a beautiful drive it was! We went around Mount Kenya - unfortunately during the winter (our summer) months it is typically too foggy/cloudy to see, as was the case all weekend, but the drive is luckily though some of the most lush and beautiful parts of Kenya. We drove over the equator, stopping to take photos of course, and also had the pleasure of stopping by Anthony's mother's home. She has a gorgeous piece of property in a small village, with all sorts of trees - papaya, coffee, banana, avocado - and all sorts of animals - goats, cows, chickens, kittens. And we were lucky enough to have a cousin climb up in an avocado tree and give us about 20 avocados to bring home. Definitely the freshest and most delicious I will ever have the pleasure of eating.

So I think that's about all i have regarding this weekend! Feeling so lucky to have experienced all of it. This week has been full of lot's of work - starting on a project in a new community in Kibera, called Kambi Muuru. It's been really refreshing, I must say, as everyone is totally engaged and excited to work with us. Many reasons for that, including it's a step-up income wise from where we have been working, but more details on that to come later. We'll be spending lots of time there in the next few weeks. We are also in the midst of doing a hygiene training at a school in Kibera. It has been a lot of fun, and I have fun photos and videos to share soon. I'll post soon! 

Thanks for reading!


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