Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Looking ahead

Back to school blues-am reflecting on a great road trip and thinking about what I want to do and achieve in the next few months.

I am looking forward to things- I am already thinking about my birthday- it is on the 5th November. What I want to be doing, more than who I want to spend it with (as money, time and distance doesn't make that one easy). Looking forward to Ethiopia for Christmas (I have just purchased my flight-yippee!) and thinking about what I will be doing for Hogmanay (even though I am not the biggest fan of NYE)

But before all that...this weekend I have my first visitors from Uganda; Tim and Stacy are over for the Nairobi marathon...the whole thing (they are amazing-I bet Tim will film his runs, he is good at that!

It will be great to see them again-and to cheer them on (with my stitched-up leg this is all I can manage!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

A different pace

Then...a slower pace; morning runs on the beach, dips to cool you down, Italian gelato, fresh fish and card games in the evening. I also read – an old habit I forgot and remembered again.

Everything tastes different with salt in the air. Your routine changes, quickly becoming a local and finding shade for the heat of the day (between the hours of 8am and 5pm!) and sleeping before the creatures of the night come out.

Matt and the Frenchman found life too quiet and made excitement of their own; falling off motorbikes and getting pulled over by the fashion police.  I thought I should check out the state of the local clinic, so got bitten (by a dog-it was not from our visit to the snake park!) and got stitches in my leg.

Life would be dull if you were on holiday all the time, right?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Surfing through Tsavo

The Surf had a lot to live up to... but now that she (yes-look at her decorative stripes-definitely a she!) turns right as well as left and got us to and from the coast, I can say that she is a pretty damn good car. Great for leading RAT (Robyn's African Tours-thanks Tania!)...even if she doesn't have a sunroof.

In Tsavo we searched for the man eaters that it is famous for-but didn't come across any; as Tsavo is roughly the same size as Wales there are quite a few hiding spots! Unlike some other parks in Kenya, we saw more game than we did safari cars so were able to turn off the engine, take long breathes and enjoy the near silent footsteps of the elephants march.

The recent rains meant the red dust of the roads had settled and the dramatic skies changed for our enjoyment hourly.

We camped where a pride of lions regularly roam (we knew they were close when the baboons starting barking and climbed  the tree on site)We parked our cars very close to the tent and kept the doors unlocked....just in case...! We feel asleep to the sounds of the African bush, like a lullaby rocking you gently....that is until you hear the humph-humphing of a nearby hippo.

After a bit of a fright by a baboon on the way to the bush toilet in the morning (I tried to be brave and held a bracelet up in a very threatening manner...!!!) we packed up camp and continued our journey.

The red soil turned into sand, more palm trees lined the route and the taste of the sea was already on our lips. Next stop, Watamu.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The road-trip returns

The road changed from smoky highways as we left Nairobi, to red dust and blue skies of Tsavo, to the sandy tracks and palm trees by the coast and back again. Over potholes, passing eles and impala and slow moving lorries. 'Never a dull moment', is putting it mildly.

We began our journey home yesterday and continued as the sun set and the banket of stars covered us, we drove over 900km and are now back in Nairobi planning next adventures and future escapes.

As the headlights caught the dusty striped bottoms of more zebra and our tired-drunk conversation in the cars turned to hysteria, we were waved on through our tenth police stop and drove through the city limits- that was last night/this morning. Now my mind is restless but my eyes are tired. I can't face doing much today and am glad that a wee injury gives me an excuse to rest for the day. I look forward to sorting my photos and telling my tales.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Notes from Nairobi-finding the perfect safari car

Most of the newbies at the 'w' place have now got wheels. It takes a while to sift through the cars on the boards at the Sarit centre. But fingers crossed, we have got cars that will last. Cars are really expensive here, more so than Uganda,but they are full of 'character'.

For example, (I haven't told this to my parents yet)-my Surf can only turn left. I didn't realise this when I took it for a test drive, (I also didn't realise it had no handbrake...!I think I was too excited about my built in cool box!) - so when we discussed going on a road trip to Watamu, everyone laughed in the staff room, apparently the drive there will not be a problem, but I would find it hard to come back!

My friend just bought his first car, a 1984 Range Rover that was a gap-student's project. It ha no windscreen wipers (it has rained ALOT in Nairobi recently...) so you may spot him leaning outside with his boxer shorts in hand ...he is designing a new contraption which involves a spring and some string! The dashboard is a Discovery's so doesn't fit the car; you have to open the door to wind down the windows etc. It also has no locks-at all, not even a place for them to be fitted. My friend loves it (as he is a born-again *KC..)...but the group decided that his 'Simba' wouldn't be so good for our road trip tomorrow.
(PS- my steering is getting fixed so that I can make my return journey!)

*Kenyan Cowboy

Friday, October 14, 2011

Getting safari ready

I have survived my first half term and I still have a smile on my face. The inspectors agree-that the children are amazing.  The staff ate cake and a weight was lifted as we drank that first cold Tusker.

One of the things I love the most about the ‘w’ place that I am at, is, that the children are allowed to get muddy. They can really run around and be children, then climb, they fall and they do get up again. They don’t let out little screams when the power goes out – they live in Africa and they just enjoy it to the full.

Not all of the adults I have met here do the same. Mention the fact that you are going to the coast for the break and ‘Pirates’ and ‘floods’ are on the tip of a lot of tongues. Not all, there are those of course, that encourage the trip and shake off bad reputations that people like to spread...sometimes too eagerly. You learn to take it with a pinch of salt, although sometimes it is wise to listen and not just nod your head...like leaving your car door unlocked in the campsite...just incase...!

Tomorrow morning I am off to get Kenya-safari ready. I need to buy a spade (it is most probable we will get stuck on route-as it has rained for a week) and a tow rope. 

The holidays are here- happy days!

PS- As I have moved, my tour company can no longer be called RUT (Robyn's Ugandan Tours) - so...any suggestions for my Kenyan company name?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Notes from Nairobi

This might be hard to believe-but this week I feel my life has been too boring to blog about.

The 'w' thing is the 'w' thing no matter where you are. OK, there are differences here and there- but you get used to them so quickly that it becomes your norm: I made clay cartouches in the dark the other day-we had just cut and rolled the clay and the thought of packing it up was too much to bare, just because of a power-cut...so the class didn't blink and eye and I am very impressed with their in-the-dark-clay skills!!

The drive to and from work is now part of my routine- it is a bit of a drive, I have to admit, but I enjoy listening to the radio whilst dodging (!) those that are walking or cycling to and from their 'w' thing on the valleys.

I've hardly gone out this week-I had too many mojitos celebrating a friend's birthday (I forgot it was his birthday and not mine!) at the start of the week-that I have laid low for a couple of days.

And well that's it really- I'm sure my duties strolling around the field in the warm sun will also becoming boring after a while...but not yet! Do you hate me?

Well don't-due to our little inspection, I will probably be doing the 'w' thing all weekend.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Surfing in Nairobi

I've lost track how long I have been here - it's not long but it is October.

I'm lost under weekly plans and observation guidelines; our inspection is nearing and everyone at the 'w' place feels a bit sick. I could work all hours of every day at the moment. My bags and boxes aren't unpacked, but it will happen at some point.

This morning I made time for me and a muddy trail run in the forest near my cottage; spotting a dikdik and vervet monkeys on the way. I've also been testing out my new wheels...yep..I am now 'surfing' in Nairobi!