Our time here is flying by! We have already spent more than half of our time in Kenya! Wow!
After not being online for three days, I feel totally disconnected from my life back home! No blogging, no checking email... and I am pleased to announce that two of my friends had babies while I was away at the Mara!
Amanda, one of the coordinators of my MOPS group, had a baby boy, Samuel Wyatt (who is in the NICU and could use your prayers!) and my friend, Sarah (from the wifia) had a baby girl, Morgan Elizabeth. I cannot Wait to get home and see these two new bundles!! =)
Going to the Masai Mara was definitely an Amazing experience!!
Our guide picked us up fairly early Friday morning and we set out on the four and a half hour drive. We started out on a steep, rocky road down into the Rift Valley that encouraged a lot of prayer on my part. =)
The valley is Gorgeous! It's like a different world down there, with the flat plains of Masai country. They are such a beautiful people. You can spot their bright red clothing (usually a patterned blanket) from far away as they herd their cattle, sheep or goats.
I was struck by how difficult life must be for them. Their villages are often out in the middle of nowhere, and I would often see one or two people walking, heading off into "nothingness" it seemed. I know that they must travel miles and miles a day, herding their livestock out to graze and back home in the evening, collecting water, tending to and harvesting their crops, walking to school, or to buy things they need.
The ones tending to the animals were often young children, in charge of 20 to 100 animals! We often caught them crossing the road, and our driver would wade through the middle of the herd, so close that we could have reached out the window and touched them!
We stopped for gas in a town and there were two little boys (one not much older than MOriah) playing in the dirt while their mother, dressed in full Masai garb, tried to sell jewellry and fruit to Wazungu (white people) that came through.
We passed a huge heard of cattle out in the middle of nowhere, being tended to by several people,sitting on the grass in the hot sun, one of them a mother with a little baby. I imagine they would be out there most of the day. A life I cannot imagine... oh how blessed we are..
The drive was soo bumpy and we had the windows open for a breeze and got soo dusty from the roads! Both kids were somehow able to nap, but we had to constantly shoo flies off of them.
Before we even entered the Mara, we saw giraffe, zebra, baboons, elephants and gazelle!
We stayed in the Fig Tree Camp. It is possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been. It was AMAZING! An oasis in the middle of nowhere! We entered the camp by crossing a river on a wooden bridge, with lanterns hanging from the thatched roof.
The food was outstanding (buffets for most meals), the service was great, and our "tents" were incredible! The only thing "tenty" about them was that the bedroom part had canvas walls,screen windows and a zippered closure. The whole things was covered by a pavillion on a concrete pad,with a porch out front and a brick walled (huge) bathroom on the back (entrance straight through from the bedroom). The pictures will show you just how nice it was. =)
We had a Mamba snake come into the dining room during lunch one day - that was an exciting experience! Fortunately there were several Masai standing around and one of them expertly killed it with one strike of his stick. The Masai also came in and did a some singing and dancing (and jumping) during dinner one night, very cool!!
We were at the camp for three days and two nights and went on four game drives during that time. We saw lions, (males, females and cubs), a cheetah, elephants, giraffes, zebra, cape buffalo, wildebeest, hippos, crocodiles, wart hogs, gazelle (thompson and grant),topis, impala, hartebeest, jackals, hyenas, ostrich, (lots of other smaller birds), dik diks, monkeys, babboons.
Unfortunately we didn't get to see a leopard, although we did come across an impala that had recently been killed by a leopard. We waited around to see if he'd come out of hiding, but no luck. =0/
Yesterday afternoon, I woke up from a nap, and the trees outside our tent were full of monkeys chattering and jumping and playing. we saw several babies riding around on their mom's backs (or stomachs), very cute! What Wasn't cute was that they were so bold, and one came up on the porch and grabbed a goldfish cracker right out of Moriah's hand!
After our early morning safari yesterday, a Masai took us on a walk into the bush were we had a "bush breakfast"! It was so cool! We came to a clearing where they had two tables set up (one for Erik and his parents and one for our group), with white linens and china and comfy chairs. There was a HOT breakfast bar with lots of delicious food to choose from, including an omelet bar! In the trees around us, there were several dozen babboons running around and watching us (being shooed away by the waiters so they didn't get too close).
The feeling of being out in the middle of miles of gorgeous Kenyan countryside, surrounded by some of God's most amazing creatures isn't something that I can easily explain. It was truly a gift to be able to experience that... breathtaking and priceless. I hope that our pictures give you at least a tiny taste of the wonder of it all.
We were all happy to be back home today after another long drive. Within two hours, Dan, Andrew and Rudy were back on the road. They headed for Daguna for several days, to set up a new radio tower and take an old one down. It's sort of strange having the house to ourselves with them gone.
Pictures from the safari coming (hopefully) in the next couple of days! Here are a couple pictures from the day before we left: