Hieroglyphics

As autumn begins to settle in, here in rural France the Kenyan sunshine seems a long way away, and a long time ago.

We’ve been back just over a fortnight, since when our feet have barely touched the ground. Heaps of paperwork, laundry, photographs and notes to sort, and don’t even mention the garden, a confection of rampant weeds and falling leaves. Oh, and falling walnuts that the dogs are digging out of the ivy and crunching up, which isn’t very good for their digestive systems, causing consequential unpleasantness.

I’ve an exercise book full of scribbled, cryptic notes, often written while bouncing on corrugated roads or lurching through rock-strewn rivers.

²@B

At the time they were written they must have meant something, but I am puzzling over hieroglyphics that say “Limea Brownie”. Or possible “Himea Brownie”. Answers on a postcard, please.

Here is the mighty elephant’s little cousin, the rock hyrax. Cute or what?

ð@B

Crossing the Mara – the great migration across the East African plains

September 2015. One of the many crossings we witnessed during our safari. Great herds of wildebeeste, zebra and topi gathered on the banks, before plunging into the Mara river and charging to the other side.

It’s not very good quality, I’m afraid. It was a spur of the moment film taken with my camera which is not too well adapted for video, but I hope it gives an idea of the excitement of this event.

Crossing the Mara – the great migration from Susie Kelly on Vimeo.

Let’s begin at the end

Our safari is over. My head is spinning with sights, sounds, smells, faces, facts, images and ideas, and my computer’s  hard drive is filled with almost 300 GB of photos.

IF

There is far too much to tell in a blog, so I thought I’d share our last day with you, the culmination of almost three weeks of pure thrills, adventure, excitement and joy. It was, like every other day of our safari, action packed.

We ended our journey together lunching on the hallowed lawns of historic and elegant Muthaiga Country Club, a bastion of colonial privilege established in 1913, where the early Kenyan settlers, farmers and visiting celebrities came to let their hair down secure in the knowledge that what went on within the club’s walls stayed there. Until 1964 the only black faces within the club belonged to the silent staff who ensured the comfort of the members.

Our tour leader and proprietor of AsYouLikeItSafaris, Vivien Prince, invited all the safari clients, our four drivers Kamara, David, Dedan and Steve, Herman the CEO of AsYouLikeItSafaris – who ensures the smooth running of the safaris from the office while Vivien is on the road – together with his wife and children, Philemon who is also responsible for support from the office, Peter, the brilliant young university student whose education Vivien has sponsored, and Paul, the taxi driver with the gentle smile who is permanently on hand to cope with the logistics of moving people and luggage around the booming city of Nairobi.

One thing above all others that made this safari such a success was the bond formed between all the people involved, both staff and clients. We have all shared spectacular sights, moments of high drama, tears of laughter, personal stories, powerful emotions, sweets, biscuits, music and affection. Our lunch was bitter-sweet, knowing that we had reached the parting of the ways, but also knowing that we have so many new friends.

Earlier in the morning I had almost been squashed by an elephant. Fortuitously, our great driver Dedan who had ensured our safety throughout the safari was at hand and swooped me out of the way. 🙂 Please note that I did not drop my camera and managed to continue filming. 🙂

Nearly squashed by an elephant (at the 16 second mark )from Susie Kelly on Vimeo.

Then we went on to Nairobi’s Ngando slum to visit the Hope Streams Academy, where many of the pupils don’t even own a pair of shoes, and many are lucky to have one meal a day. But while they lack in comfort they have talent in abundance, both artistically and academically, being high achievers. Here’s a short video of them dancing and singing for us.

So our safari took us from the heights of luxury at 5-star hotels and camps to the depths of human poverty. I am sure that each of us who sat down to that beautiful lunch still carried images in our minds of the Hope Streams children. I kept seeing the little girl on the extreme left of the video, dancing in her outsize black men’s shoes, no socks.

Just a box of chalk or a packet of pencils makes a difference to these children and the teachers working with them. Their address is on their website.

There may be photos of Kenyan people, scenery and wildlife appearing on the blog over the next few weeks. 🙂