Fashionably EARLY

Trip Start Nov 03, 2011
Trip End Nov 11, 2011

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Thursday, November 3, 2011

We disembark the plane and find that we have paperwork to fill out. Always prepared for travel I get the pen that I placed in easy access and start to fill out the paperwork. The pen makes two strokes and is totally out of ink. There are no pens provided and Cory and I sit there wondering what to do. One of our fellow travelers is kind enough to give us their pen when they are done. In the mean time as we have been trying to fill out our paperwork the health inspector comes by and asks for our Yellow Fever Certificates… Yea! So glad that we broke down and got the vaccine. There were others on our trip that made it through without having to show their certificate but another couple on our trip didn’t have theirs and they were pulled back to an office and given the vaccine at the Kenyan Airport. They said they would have gladly paid the 150 apiece to not have been stressed out that way. It ended up being a very uncomfortable situation for them and they weren’t sure that the tour group would wait for them. It took quite a long time and though they think the needles were clean who knows.

While they were getting their yellow fever vaccines Cory and I were getting our visa. I tried out some of my Swahili on the immigration officer to much success. He and his coworker were so pleased at my attempt and said that they were thrilled to see me try. Of course that was through the giggles that they were suppressing at my horrible accent.

I was surprised at how quick the whole immigration thing was. We headed outside and saw the Liberty Tours sign; groups of our people were waiting off to the side. We decided to pull some Kenya Shillings from the ATM. The line had several people waiting and a gentleman told us that there was another machine around by the Taxi pickup. Not a soul was in line there and we had our foreign currency in no time what so ever.

Our group was led outside where Tom told us that we would be dividing into 3 groups with 6 to 7 people in each group. It was a little like a reality TV show, trying to look at these complete strangers and guess who you thought you would be most compatible with. Immediately Julie and Josh and Cory and I looked at one another and Josh asked if we would like to team up. I guess it was the age similarity. As I passed Nick I asked if he would like to join us. Nick was one of those people that upon meeting I felt like I had known him a lifetime. Sue and Leo joined us and the 7 us picked out Nicholas as our driver. 

We loaded into a modified van. For the long road trips the roof was locked in place but it could be lifted for game drives. Nicholas handed out packets for the trip along with tan colored safari hats with the Liberty Tours logo on them. Nicholas got into the driver’s seat on the right side of the van and we proceeded to hit the Nairobi traffic.
It has already been an amazing trip and we are barely into it. It wasn’t 5 minutes into our drive that we saw our first Giraffe in the distance. We all squealed with delight. The excitement continued as we got gridlocked in the Nairobi traffic. Nairobi traffic is bad but after India it really didn't phase me. The road was a two lane dirt road but the cars were stacked 4 and 5 across. The cars were going off the side of the road to pass one another and the trucks were using their sheer size to bully their way in. We found ourselves stuck in the traffic for almost 3 hours. While others got frustrated I found myself fascinated. This was all part of the adventure.

Cory and I found ourselves taking photos of the other vehicles. Working for Disney’s Animal Kingdom we are responsible for theming the Kilimanjaro Safari vehicles. Part of that is the mud patterns that are supposed to make the trucks look like they have been out on safari. Looking at the mud patterns and colors on the trucks I couldn't’t help but pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.

As with all cities there is pollution and strangely the more places we go the more everywhere seems familiar. In some ways I'm sad that I have lost that amazement, fear, excitement of the unfamiliar. Another part of me finds it strange that a girl from such a small town finds the entire world familiar. Because of my upbringing I am so proud of all the travel I have done. I have to work at not bragging. I remind myself to listen to others and only speak of our travel if it truly fits into the conversation. I don't want to be the person guilty of trying to dominate the conversation.

I am also trying to have compassion for those whose pride gets the best of them, those who try to name every place they have ever been in one conversation for I am sure they too feel the pride that I do. I find that I am sensitive to our guide. As with India the "rich Americans" in our 7 seat-er are talking to the guide about their trips to China, Egypt, ect. knowing that this is a developing nation I cringe and wonder how arrogant he must think we all are.

Others in our vehicle are saying, loud enough for our guide to hear, how "sorry they are for the children here" Truthfully it occurs to me that I feel much sorrier for the children in America - the overweight, over indulged, bored children surrounded by their electronics whining that they are bored. Children not allowed to play in the front yard because they are raised by neurotic parents afraid someone is going to take them. These smiling, laughing children in Nairobi, playing outside with a stick that one minute is a gun, the next minute is a doll, do not seem to know boredom. The children of Kenya are so friendly, waving and greeting us as we drive by.

Nairobi's infrastructure is under construction. I didn't expect to hit the rough dirt roads until we were in the reserves but the roads we were using to get out of the city were rougher than Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari Ride.

The farther away from the city the more beautiful it became. I think Cory could have enjoyed it more had he taken a Dramamine. Unfortunately when we did finally stop he got sick.

A short break and he was much better. In fact as we were waiting for the van, he struck up a conversation with a local and before I knew it, he was gone. They found a common interest in plants and the gentleman was showing him his coffee trees.

Here is the video of our drive to the Serena Mountain Lodge and the Lodge itself

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