Kenya 07

Ok so the blog is once again experiencing difficulties, though the server company insist that it will be fixed soon, and when it is it will be much better and more reliable, blah blah blah. Anyway, until its fixed, I’m back here again, and I’ve added a wee function to redirect everyone here if the server is down. So as soon as the server is back up, you’ll be redirected back to the normal place. Simple.

Anyway, when I tried to log on in Kenya to upload some stories, I couldn’t and didn’t want to sort it all out there so I’ve had to remember all that happened to upload it all at once. Enjoy.

We left Addis on Thursday the 20th Dec, to fly to Mombasa via Nairobi. There were 8 of us in the group, Steph M, Steph P, Zoe, Amanda, Christina, Jen, Tracey and myself. We arrived in Mombasa to find that our Cottage owner had failed to arrange a taxi to our accommodation as had been asked, and we had to find one ourselves. Fortunately this didn’t take long. My first impressions of Kenya were that it was vastly different from Ethiopia. It is still African in many ways, but it is definitely much more developed. Their pace of life, their culture, their music, their greetings are all totally different to Ethiopia. Kenya has a very Caribbean feel to it, everyone greets you with a friendly “Jambo!” which means hello. A lot of the language amused us, and had us all quoting the Lion King; “Sante Sana” (Squashed Banana) as in the song the monkey sings means Thank you (not the squashed banana part) and a lot of the shop keepers say “Hakuna Matata” to you. We arrived at our accommodation, which consisted of a couple of basic cottages, and chilled out.

On Friday, we took some time to explore our surroundings, and check out the beach which was beautiful. A proper tropical beach, complete with palm trees, white sandy shores and blue waters. It would have been totally excellent had it not been for the hoards of locals who are extremely irritating with their constant attempt to sell you things. They sit beside you on the beach, trying to make mindless small talk before telling you about some stupid boat they have that they can take you on for very cheap, Christmas deal. The best defence is ignorance, though one particular individual stayed beside me for 10 minutes after I’d started ignoring him, desperately trying to strike up conversation. If they weren’t so annoying, I’d have felt very rude. Amanda got sucked into buying a nativity set which was on the beach, and I was also suckered into a small plaque. It looks nice, but I didn’t want it nor need it. Anyway, Amanda was a bit miffed with her nativity set when she got it back to have a closer look, the figures had been poorly carved and some of them were downright ugly. Everytime we came across other nativity sets in our visits to various shops from then on, she got quite depressed. It was quite amusing though.


Chillin with a freshly opened coconut.

On Saturday, 6 of us left to go on a safari that we had booked, the other 2 stayed behind as they didn’t fancy it. We left quite early in the morning to go to Tsavo park in Kenya. On our morning game drive, we saw quite a lot of gazelle, zebras, ostriches, a couple of hippos and an elephant. For lunch, we checked into our accommodation, which was a camp site, and had a buffet meal. The meal were very nice, and the tents we were staying in were very well equipped, the came with a toilet, shower and wash hand basin. We relaxed for the afternoon, the ground of the campsite is not fenced off, and it is in the middle of the park so sometimes animals can wander through. The camp site staff have spears to protect you at night. In the afternoon, a baboon wandered casually through between two of out tents, Steph M wasn’t too keen to see him and quickly retreated into her tent.


This guy lost one of his tusks in a fight.

In the late afternoon, we went for another game drive, but didn’t see so much. Mostly elephants and some buffalo. Tsavo is the biggest game park in Kenya, its roughly the size of Wales. As a result, all the game is spread out throughout it which means less chance of seeing the big 5. Oh well. I got some great scenery shots though. In the evening we returned for dinner and a camp fire, with campfire stories.

On Sunday morning we went for another game drive, and saw some more elephants, gazelles and some giraffes which was nice. We raced to see lions a couple of times but didn’t manage to catch them. We returned to our cottages, stopping off to visit a traditional Masai Village. The Villagers still retain many of the traditions they lived by, but have obviously done well with the introduction of tourists, and make quite a healthy income showing tourists round their village. Its a bit sad to see, they have been quite westernised and speak very good english.

On monday, we went to see about having a Christmas dinner, we managed to find out that most of the restaurants would be closed on Christmas day and so we stuck with one of the restaurants close to where we were who had a special Christmas menu on. That evening, we had a camp fire, and the family living on the cottage compound joined us to sit and sing various songs. They kindly invited us to dinner, and suggested that they get a goat to cook. Some of the others weren’t too fussed on this idea for Christmas dinner, so we decided to stick to our original plan.

We had a very lazy day on Christmas day, which didn’t really feel like Christmas day at all. We lay on the beach all day, in the evening before dinner, I managed to find an internet cafe that was open and was able to call home via the internet. It was great to talk to everyone in my family, I managed to get about half an hour or so with them, for about a pound, some of the others just called home normally and were charged nearly a pound a minute. We had Christmas dinner in the restaurant, suckling pig with gravy, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts; not too far off a normal Christmas dinner! WE went back to our cottages and the girls wanted to watch a Christmas DVD, they suggested “Holiday” which I’d never seen. They insisted it wasn’t a girly film, so we watched it. Liars.

On Boxing day, we went a little further up the beach, and hung out outside a beachside bar called Forty Thieves. It was great, we lay on the beach, played pool, and had dinner in the restaurant. We reflected the holiday, and laughed at the various stories. I commented that it hadn’t really seemed like being the only guy on a holiday with girls, whether this was because I’d acted more like a girl or they’d acted more like guys. We went back to our cottage, this time I picked a movie, we watched the number 23 with Jim Carrey, which was good.

n the 27th we arranged for a driver to pick us up and take us about Mombasa. Some of the girls wanted to go shopping, but unfortunately, the Kenyan elections were taking place so all the shops were shut. We toured around the town instead, visiting Fort Jesus (so called because it is built in the shape of Jesus on the cross) and the old town of Mombasa. We stopped off at a craft shop where all of the souvenirs are made, and you can also buy the souvenirs for a much cheaper rate than most of the shops, and with no bartering needed. I rather ambitiously bought a stool with an elephant base, which had to be boxed up. However, flying with an African airline has one advantage; they don’t charge for extra hold baggage. Which is good because when we got to the airport, I realised that they weren’t going to let me take my bag on as carry on as I’d hoped. I’d taken a guitar with me, a small one which I’d stuck out the top of my carry on bag. On the way there, no-one had batted an eyelid, but obviously here they are a bit more fussy. So as well as my suitcase and elephant, I had to check in another piece of luggage. They never mentioned anything about extra charges.

We got to Nairobi at about 6pm, and out flight back to Addis wasn’t until about 7am the next morning. Tracey had booked us into a cheap hostel in Nairobi, which she said had gotten bad reviews on the website, so not to expect much. We arrived to the most run down hostel I’ve ever seen, it was a total mess. There were bunk-beds in the rooms, but they were in such bad state, they weren’t safe to have someone on the top bed. Steph sat on her bed only to have it nearly collapse on top of her so one of the attendants came and removed the top bunk from her bed. The walls hadn’t been painted in years and had graffiti all over them. The roof looked like it would collapse, the washroom sink was filthy. It was a real experience, I’ve never stayed anywhere quite like it. We managed to find a takeaway open to get some hot food, and watched another movie on the laptop.

In the morning, we left Nairobi and arrived back in Addis safely. The temperature in Addis is quite cold these days, especially at night. So it is quite a shock to the system after the warm temperatures of Kenya.

Anyway, that’s the lowdown on my trip, it really was an excellent experience. On Monday I leave for Sodore again, there is an SIM conference there. So I’m going back to endure the monkeys again. But it should be a good time, I’ll need to relax as much as I can these days, I have a fairly busy timetable when I start back again.

Hope all your Christmases were enjoyable, Happy New Year,
Niall.

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