Sunday, June 10, 2007

Roads, rain and rhinos

It's late Saturday night, and the rain is falling outside, a strong, constant rain, the type that makes the crops grow and that fills the dams. We use hydro-electricity, I've been told, so drought means power rationing. It makes me like the rain even more.

It's been a full day. I was up by 5:30 after having had little sleep thanks to our hotel being in Nakuru's club zone, it seems. Our hotel? Nakuru? I had taken the three interns on safari.
We left for Nakuru yesterday afternoon so we could stay at a hotel and enter the park as the gates open at 6:30, which we did in fact do. I drove the girls around with both the safari hatches on my car down, so they stood the entire time, appreciating the wildlife. We stopped for chai and a time of debriefing, reflection and prayer around 11:00. (Went to Sarova Lion Hill, which overlooks the lake. What a treat to sit there and talk about "Now what? As a result of having experienced what you had experienced, what do you believe God wants you to do differently when you return home?" This truly is one of my favorite parts of my job: walking this journey with visitors.) After the break, we drove along the lake shore for another hour or so and then headed out, the girls to go shopping, and me to have the car washed... (The lake is very salty, so it's smart to get the underbody pressure washed after driving along Lake Nakuru.) We were on the road to Eldoret by 3 and arrived home by 6, praising God for a safe journey.

Perhaps you'll understand better if I tell you that the journey between Eldoret and Nakuru is all of 160 kilometers. That's about 100 miles. It takes 3 hours because of the potholes and speed bumps. There are sections where you simply cannot go any faster than 20 kmh at the most, constantly zigzagging across the road. It's times like those that I yet again thank God for a good vehicle.

But back to our safari. (I'll upload photos in the morning. Too tired to do so now.) Some highlights:
  • MOST AMAZING: It was incredible to see the sun rise and shed the most amazing light on the lake and its tens of thousands of pink flamingos!
  • MOST IN NUMBER: The flamingos. They're breathtakingly beautiful. And because there are so many, you hear a constant chatter when you approach them! We also saw lots and lots and lots of other birds, including spoonbills, saddlebilled storks, pelicans, and an African fish eagle.
  • CUTEST BY FAR: The baby vervet monkeys and baby olive baboons we saw. The smallest one may have been all of one week old, and it was exploring the world with great courage.
  • UGLIEST: The spotted hyenas. I don't like them. They're mean.
  • NASTIEST: We saw two olive baboons fight. One sounded like it was truly crying. The other one was bullying him...
  • BIGGEST: Not sure if the herds of eland (world's biggest antelopes) were the biggest mammals we saw, or if it were the Cape Buffaloes. The heaviest, though, was certainly the rhino. Which leads me to ...
  • SCARIEST: There was a lone, male white rhino that mock charged us! As we approached, I stopped, realizing that this male was so close to the road and I didn't want to annoy it. It is, after all, strong enough to tip my Land Rover! We waited, and he showed us who's the boss by first of all stomping his hind legs (kicking up grass), and then spraying to mark his territory. We waited and waited till he turned his back to the road, at which time I decided to go for it. As we got right close to him, he turned around and through his head in the air as if to say, "There! Gotcha!" My heart was pounding. I know rhinos can't see well at all, so that gives us and advantage, but he had the greatest advantage in terms of weight!
  • SADDEST: Nothing, really. It's just a pity that the girls didn't get to see any of the cats in the park. The lions were as elusive as ever. Same with the leopards.
It's good to be back in my bed, though. I hope I don't dream of driving...

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to seeing the photos! You truly have an amazing life-no two days alike!