It can't be over

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

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Flag of Kenya  ,
Thursday, November 10, 2011

Well we are all packed and ready to get on the road. I don't know that I can really say ready. This has been the most amazing trip I have ever been on. I think I can honestly say at this moment it is the best trip I have ever taken. Everything has been perfect. We had a knowledgeable and friendly guide, a fun and respectful group, fantastic weather, luxurious accommodation and we were in one of the most beautiful countries on earth. We saw unusual animals in their own environment and had excitement and thrills. What more could I have asked for but now is the time that it all has to come to an end.

Our last breakfast in Kenya spent with our new friends. We got a few last photos of the artwork around the camp. There are some beautiful murals and a big carving of a medicine man . These are the types of things that inspire me in my own artwork. Travel has made such an impact on my creativity.

Before we get on the van we take another group photo. Seems so sad to say goodbye to Leo, Sue, Nick, Nicholas, Josh and Julie. Hopefully this is only the beginning to some beautiful friendships. Each of these people has made such an impact on my life and I will never forget them. 

It is going to be an incredibly long day today. The drive is going to be long and it doesn't end with a nice relaxing night at a resort instead it is only the beginning of a very long flight home. As we head out on the road the scenery is so beautiful. I just want to absorb all of this, remember it forever. We pass the candelabra trees and even see a few more animals like a couple of wart hogs and gazelle.

As we head into the rift valley we stop at one of the overlooks. I am guessing it is sponsored by Coke. There are buildings and signs everywhere painted red and peppered with the coca cola emblem. They all say burudika na Coke baridi, Enjoy Coke cold, in Swahili. There is a program in Kenya that people have differing opinions on. Coke sponsors wells and in return gets this kind of advertising along the roads in Kenya. The romantic in me is saddened by the changes to the tribal culture of Kenya but the realist realizes that change happens everywhere in the world. With change comes new ways of doing things. In 50 years all of the aged and worn Coke signs will be romantic on their own. Along with the commercial paintings there are also paintings of the Kenyan flag, animals and other local images painted onto the rocks. Is it the way that the local artist are trying to keep the flavor of Kenya into an area inundated with corporate symbols?

There is an area at Animal Kingdom called Drinkwalla that incorporates these familiar symbols in a developing countries environment. They have pictures of locals drinking Coke in many different locations. I guess it is the juxtaposition of very unfamiliar rural and simple scenes with a one of the most familiar and modern corporate symbols that make these interesting images. Walking into this scene in Kenya makes me feel as if I am walking right into one of those images. I want to take photos but I realize that in Kenyan culture it is considered rude to take pictures of people without their permission. Of course once you ask you can forget getting anything candid or photo-journalistic. I used Nick as my beard. I had him stand in front of the scene I wanted and then pretended to take a photo of him. This is something that I have to remember in the future to get those interesting candid shots without offending anyone.

The view is beautiful. The Rift Valley is one of the most fertile areas in Kenya. The way the hills roll through the green landscape creates a certain visual music that can't be ignored. I am so thankful to have been able to see this.

We are back to the van and on the road again. Cory tries to get as many photos of the scenes we pass so that we can remember these road trips with photos. It is going to be over too soon.

Our last hurray is at Carnivore touted as the best restaurant in Nairobi. It is clear to me as we enter that it is the Rainforest Cafe of Africa... The commercialism is evident by the number of foreign tourist and the zebra print on the chairs. All it is lacking is animatronic animals. Still I am thrilled to be here. The theme of the restaurant is MEAT! All you can eat meat and when you think you have had enough more meat. We had invited Nicholas to eat with us, Simba Ones treat and he obliged.

The meal comes with instructions. Everything has a dip. One for poultry, one for lamb, one for pork and one for beef. There is a flag on top of the lazy Susan that has the dips. Once everyone at the table feels that they have had enough to eat the flag is taken out of its holder and dropped. The first order of business is drinks. It is explained that DAWA is medicine in Swahili. There is a man, who I called the medicine man, serving the restaurants signature drink. The drink called Dawa is vodka, sugar, lime and a dawa stick dipped in honey. The Dawa Stick is like a pistil used to crush the limes in your glass. Good medicine.

In times past the menu was made of bush meat but current laws forbidding bush meat in restaurants has brought an end to that. Honestly eating the beautiful animals that I have enjoyed seeing in the wild over the last week isn't really that appealing to me.  I am by no means a vegetarian. I love the flavor of meat. My personal belief is that if man was supposed to be vegan we would have 4 stomachs to digest it like most animals that are herbivores. The menu includes staples like Pork and Beef but there is also things like ox balls, ostrich and crocodile. They do have a vegan menu but I couldn't see coming here if you weren't into meat. They served a salad and some potato's but it is the meat that is the show. They cook them on huge skewers and serve it right off the skewer with a large knife right onto your plate.

I haven't been in one restaurant this entire trip that is enclosed and Carnivore is no different. The monkeys of the area are naturally attracted to these Meccas of opportunity. I watched as one found a home in the tree behind Josh and Julie. Curiosity had me wondering if we might get more of a show than we bargained for but it wasn't long until someone chased him away.

My skinny little husband was the one that finally dropped the flag. The rest of us had stopped eating several plates before Cory. There was still desert after all. After my cheese cake I was dreading the airport. There were a few people from the group that got a little anxious about our flights and got a little snappy with the waiters. I am always embarrassed by that kind of behavior and hate that it reflects on all of us. Luckily it wasn't anyone from our van.

Nicholas did everything to get us to the airport on time. That wasn't easy, we got caught up in a herd of cattle and all types of traffic but he got us there. We made our goodbyes to the best guide ever and gave him our very appreciative envelope. We handed our survey to Tom the Liberty Tours rep and headed to the line into the airport. Most airports have you check in and then you go through security with only your carry on luggage. Not the case in Kenya. We have been through this in Turkey so it wasn't that unusual for us. The only problem with this is that all the things that you put in checked luggage that aren't allowable in carry on now create questions. We ended up having to pull out my curling iron, our electrical strip and Cory's multi tool.  That delayed us a little and then it took forever to get through the check in line. I think they must have been having trouble with their computers. They ended up having to write in our boarding passes.

We went straight to the gate. I think we were the first ones there. Everyone else seemed to do a little shopping first. They had several flights leaving out of the same gate and it got pretty confusing. They were all boarding at nearly the same time. They even called our flight, we got up and started to enter the gate and they stopped us and sat us back down. Another person on our flight got there after we had been returned to our seats and started to go through. Some helpful people tried to stop the guy from boarding the wrong plane. I don't' know what the heck was wrong with this dude, maybe embarrassment but he threw a rather childish tantrum. Taking a newspaper that was in a seat and throwing it down rather dramatically. This seemed to irritate an Asian gentleman who went over and picked up the newspapers angrily. All in all a lesson in how NOT to act in an airport.

It seemed like no time at all to get to Addis Ababa. We were seated with a nice man from Kenya. He told us that this was his first trip out of Kenya but I think we must have misunderstood because when he sat down he was flipping through his passport that had many pages stamped. A little bit of mystery that we will never solve. We talked to him the entire flight.

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