Chilled giraffes, exploded Santa & broken leop

Trip Start Oct 25, 2012
Trip End Nov 17, 2012

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Flag of Kenya  , Nairobi,
Friday, November 9, 2012

It's true, giraffes have blue tongues.

The New Life Trust had the tv crews in today as it is international adoption month and they were filming to promote adoption. So we kept out of the way and headed over to the Karen district (named after Karen Blixen who wrote 'Out of Africa') to the Giraffe Centre and the Kazuri Beads workshop. The Giraffe Centre is one of the most peaceful and calm places. There are 9 Rothschild giraffes in a breeding program, and they are so calm and beautiful. They have long, blue tongues, very soft mouths and beautiful eyes. They are an endangered breed of giraffe, with only 350 left in the wild and so this centre breeds them and releases them back to the wild as part of the conservation program. We all got to hand feed them and stroke them, they are the most gentle creatures. They had an education centre and the kids got to hold a giraffe jaw, thigh and neck bones, the thigh bone was particularly heavy. They also had some warthogs, or 'pumba', who eat on their knees (who knew?) and there were some super cute baby warthogs and a completely out of context tortoise enclosure. Tortoises are a bit rubbish really, when compared to giraffes. On the site, which is out of Nairobi national park, there is a hotel called Giraffe Manor and in the morning it is apparently not uncommon to have breakfast with a nosey giraffe poking its head through the window!

After this we went to Kazuri Beads. This is a workshop which was set up in the seventies by a UK lady (as in lord and lady) for single women who had no other way to support themselves other than prostitution etc. It now employs 350 women, who get decent pay and free medical care and they hand craft beautiful beads and pottery. It's a really positive place and they showed us how the clay is made, we watched women making the bead shapes; each woman specialises in a different shape. Then we saw the ovens and the women painting the beads and making them into jewellery. Ella loved the whole thing, especially when she got to go through a whole pile of beautiful beads and choose some to make her own unique bracelet. I could have spent a fortune in the shop, as the jewellery was so beautiful and retail price in John Lewis is forty quid where if you pick it up at the factory it's only eight. But I limited myself to just the five items and we went back. Isaac was not so enthused by the whole thing so made a video about warthogs with Paul.

When we got home we were all so chilled out that we just flopped for a while and watched a bit of Madagascar 2 - it seemed appropriate somehow, although the giraffe, Melman, is completely neurotic - so unlike the beautiful ones we had seen earlier.

As I was getting lunch ready, Isaac sat down on the sofa, looked me in the eye and asked, 'Does Santa really exist?" Trying to fight down a rising seance of alarm I simply did what all good teachers do and said, "Why don't you tell me what you think," to which he very clearly reasoned that, since Santa must be magic and there is no such thing as magic, then he can't exist after all. I couldn't fault the logic and since we've always said that we would never say that he does exist, I couldn't very well disagree. He seemed to take it in his stride though. There were no tears or accusations, just a simple re-alignment of his thought processes and the world moved on...

This afternoon we went back over to New Life where Pip did some more work writing up a report on the Ark while Ella, Zaac and I had some fun with the toddlers and helped feed them at tea time. Isaac and Ella have a real talent for feeding little ones. Then it was out for dinner with Guy, Susanna, Levi and Gerro. We were going to go to a different place that Susanna had recommended but the traffic was so bad that we ended up back at the YaYa centre and going to Java, the coffe shop/diner.

On the way home Guy and Susanna invited us in for a coffee and some cake before bedtime. This seemed like an excellent idea as we haven't had cake in a while now! Bothe coffee and cake were most welcome, however, things soon took a turn for the melancholy. To keep the kids entertained, Guy had put on a National Geographic documentary about leopards. Levi and Gerro had been watching it previously and suggested it would be good to watch. It was great and both Ella and Isaac were really interested in what was going on. There was a mother leopard who had one cub (we had apparently just missed a bit where a second cub had been killed. Phew, we thought. Glad we missed that. Bet it's all cuddly and cute from now on...). The mother was really amazing. Her signature kill was not to do the super fast chase thing but to climb a tree and literally drop down onto her prey from about 9 metres up. It was an impressive sight to behold.

Unfortunately, about 15 minutes in there was another disaster for the mother. She had gone hunting, unsuccessfully as it turned out but when she returned to the cub she found that it had been trying to practice climbing a tree and had fallen, caught its leg in a low fork in the trunk where it was still stuck and broken its pelvis. We all watched as the mother tried gently to lift the cub but its leg was still trapped.

Suddenly Ella rushed from the room saying she needed the toilet and Isaac, who had been sitting on Guy's lap, quietly got up and went to Pip for a cuddle with tears quietly streaming down his little face. I had followed Ella and found her in the bathroom crying her little heart out. They were both so very upset about the leopard cub. Nothing we or Guy and Susanna could say could calm them and so the evening came to a rather soggy end.

Poor kids. As I had said to Susanna as we left, I'm sorry that they're upset but I'm also glad because it shows that they are both really caring, sensitive children. We talked to them about this at bedtime and told them it was great that they care so much about the world around them. What was really interesting was that, although they were really very upset by the programme on TV, they were both able to express that it is worse for many of the children we see each day at New Life. It's encouraging to know that they can already put things into this kind of perspective.

Oh, and by the way, from what I can gather, the cub was rescued by some wardens on the reserve and brought in to have its pelvis fixed. Good news all round then.
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