This week marks the one-year anniversary since D joined the Foreign Service, effectively flipping our comfortable Chicago existence upside down. The last year has brought with it many enriching, unanticipated, and life-altering changes. We got married, packed our lives up not once but twice, and moved halfway across the world to start new careers, to name a few. Now that we’re finally feeling settled again after nine and a half months in Kenya, we are discovering that change is likely to be the one constant facet of our new lifestyle.
We finished off our travels with Cam by spending the long Presidents Day weekend on the coast. Cam had wanted to go scuba diving, lugging his newly acquired equipment halfway around the world with him. We were happy to oblige as it gave us an opportunity to indulge ourselves. We rented a gorgeous beach house, complete with cook and staff, with five of our friends and spent the weekend in complete relaxation. There was talk off going to a nearby animal reserve, but the farthest we ventured from the house and its pool was to the small infinity pool that overlooked the ocean. Tourism at Kenya’s northern beach resorts may have taken a hit as a result of last year’s high-profile kidnappings, but the south coast, including Tiwi Beach where we stayed, remains a tranquil and beautiful slice of heaven unaffected by the instability along the Somalia border.
Few places we’ve been to on vacation have provoked as many conflicting emotions as the Maasai manyatta we visited as part of our stay in Amboseli. Our guides left us on a sandy road a short distance from the little village, where a group of Maasai warriors awaited. Their leader walked alongside us, explaining the ways of the Maasai.
With the visit of S’s parents coming right on the heels of our trip with Cam, our blog has sadly fallen into disuse. As we start packing for our next adventure, we wanted to share a few of our favorite photos from our last safari. Amboseli National Park, which lies close to Kenya’s border with Tanzania, vies with Nakuru for the honors of being the second-most visited park in Kenya. It was overcast the day that we went so we did not get the “classic” view of elephants in front of Mt. Kilimanjaro about which the guide books rave. But we did see bigger herds of elephants than we had ever seen elsewhere in Kenya, a pride of lions, and plenty of other game. Best of all, our trip coincided with the beginning of the birthing season, so many of the animals we came upon had adorable, tottering offspring who were awkwardly following in their footsteps. While the Maasai Mara is obviously in a league of its own and is deservedly Kenya’s number one safari destination, Amboseli is also worth visiting. For our money, it is definitely Kenya’s best national park outside of the Mara.
Following our great experience with Gamewatchers in the Maasai Mara, we booked another stay at one of their porini camps for our safari to Amboseli. The company practices eco-friendly, community-based safari tourism, engaging various tribal groups throughout Kenya in protecting the wildlife that drives the country’s booming tourism industry. It is a great business model, which brings employment opportunities and financial resources into communities that have traditionally been excluded while also ensuring a sustainable balance between tourism growth and the need to protect animal populations.
Cam’s visit gave us an excuse to do some sightseeing around Nairobi. We visited the homestead of Karen Blixen, which pays as much homage to the film version of Out of Africa as to the woman whose memoir gave birth to the movie. We checked out the National Museum, which we had hitherto only seen from the windows of our car while stuck in traffic on Museum Hill. And we spent half a day driving around Nairobi National Park, which offers some surprisingly good game viewing opportunities despite its proximity to downtown.
Since S started her new job this year, we have had few opportunities to get out of Nairobi until our friend, Cam, came to visit for two weeks. Exploring Nairobi together, going on safari, and spending a weekend at the beach, we accumulated enough stories to fill half a dozen blog posts. Unfortunately, when we finally sat down to type some of them up last weekend, the internet was too painfully slow to use. It was like being transported back to the early 90’s as web pages took several minutes to load, videos were impossible to watch, and uploading photos to accompany our stories was clearly out of the question. When we read the news on Monday, we found little solace in the knowledge that the rest of East Africa was also feeling our pain.