Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Kenyan Safari: Lions, Cheetahs, and Maasai Warriors

I woke up ready for another day hunting for majestic beasts on the African plain.

Sleeping under a mosquito net in a tent presented some... challenges.

Luckily I had some Out of Africa inspired treats to get me back in the safari spirit. They got real poetic with it on the back of the package:

"In every piece, you will get the unmistakable taste of the rich cacao from the world's best chocolatiers. Let the magic melt slowly in your tongue in the same way we took our time to prepare each piece. It's the care and passion with which we blend the smooth and distinctive flavours inside that makes this chocolate African to the last piece."

A safari is only as good as its provisions, after all.

Our private-chef-because-no-one-else-was-staying-here whipped us up a nice breakfast.

He made me a nice ginger tea for my cough.

The we ventured right back into the savanna with our great guide Peter. There aren’t that many birds out here and I have to assume it’s because there aren’t that many trees. The ones that do live here mostly keep to the ground.

We saw a sign for a "game camp" inside the park run by the same fancy company that owns the Stanley back in the capital. I realized then what Lydia had sacrificed by making us sleep in those holey mosquito net tents just to save a couple bucks. What good is money if Lydia forces you to contract malaria? Sad stuff folks.

I've come to the conclusion that I think it’s worth going to Kenya just to be able to slip hakuna matata into casual conversation. The animals are just icing on the cake.

Well we were still using our safari pal walkie-talkie network to spot animals which is a great way to cover more ground. It turns out that Safari vehicles hunt in packs too. The bad side is that when you actually do spot a cool animal you can be sure there will be 5 other cars there when you arrive. This was mildly annoying during the end of the world. I can only imagine how many people are usually out here.

Well it turns out these lions were content to just lay around so we didn't lose anything by patiently waiting our turn to pull right up next to them.

There were a couple of males right next to the road that we got a great look at. There may have been... 10 lions total, with some females and little guys roaming around as well. The whole crew seemed to always be on the lookout which was interesting because they are supposed to be on the top of the food chain, right? Well I guess the game is that other males will come and attack and if they win they will take over the pride and then kill the children. A classic family story.

It was a funny juxtaposition to so intently watching animals that were relaxing and didn't seem to care about our presence in the least.

There was a lot of yawning.

They were close enough that I wondered: if I just went out there and pet them would they be cool with it or would they spear my skull with their teeth? I guess we'll never know.

I got so hungry watching the lions that I reached for a bag of Tropical Heat Safari Puffs.

It was kind of weird. Like do they see us and just don't care? You'd think humans would either be prey or predator, but they never really made eye contact. We were effectively just furniture.

At one point there was a Maasai man walking around. Traditionally Maasai young men would hunt lions and spear them to death as a manhood rite of passage. The would then wear the lion's mane as a hat. My understanding is that that practice is now discouraged by the government, but I'm unsure if that means it doesn't happen anymore or that they have to just be quieter about it.

There was a turtle in the road with very lion-like attributes.

Seeing the animals interact with the road was amusing. This little guy is a black-backed jackal.

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, jackals are the earliest of the doggy-shaped animals.

Arf arf

So apparently there's a place where elephants just go about their business in the wild and that place is called Kenya. They aren't in circuses or anything. Get a job elephants!

At some points the elephants were close enough I could hear the sound of them ripping the grass out of the ground with their trunks and slapping their ears against their bodies. 

We drove right up to the border with Tanzania. I think they must have played a big soccer match and Kenya lost real bad,

Lydia thinks this counts as another country on her list but I'm not sure that she technically crossed the line.

The trees have a dramatic flair here. There's only ever the one.

Too much excitement

We caught up with the cheetahs just in time to see them peeing on a tree. It must have been a territorial marking thing because it was like a department store perfume spritz of pee rather than like a stream.

I'm starting to realize that the majority of big cats' lives is pretty much just staring long distances whilst looking all regal.

The scene just quickly turned into some gratuitous computer desktop wallpaper looking stuff. Um yes, cheetahs? Would you be so kind as to soulfully saunter down this rustic path that stretches out towards the African horizon? Yes the one by the only tree visible for 100 miles. Yes thanks. My parent corporation actually uses cheetahs as their mascot so this is essentially now a work trip.

You could see an evolutionary arms race playing out in real time with a pack of giraffes walking past a tree that didn't see to have a single leaf within even their reach.

Hakuna Matata ya'll!

I didn't expect the animals to be so mixed in together. It was a real snack mix out there.

One of my favorite parts of the entire trip was visiting a local Maasai village. We were greeted by the village chief's son who introduced himself as Eric and told us it would cost $50 for the two of us to get a tour of his village. Seemed a little steep but sure why not. They did some really cool chanting and jumping when we arrived.

The jumping dance that they did for us is called adamu and is part of the male coming of age ceremony.

Eric explained that the young men go out into the wilderness to hunt lions and train their jumping skills while they are gone. When they return to their village they do this jumping dance and the higher they can jump the cheaper the cow dowry will be for their wife.

I really revolutionized the jumping  game. I jumped so sweetly they asked if I wanted to take a couple cows home with me.

They insisted I help them with the jumping. Lydia was not allowed. White girls can't jump. Sad!

Ok there's something we need to address. There were flies like I've never seen. Babies faces would just be covered in flies. Some mothers would have a kid nearby with a cloth covering their head as that was the only way to keep the flies off. Now I don't usually consider myself a detective but I decided I would need to find the source of these flies as a gift to my new friends.

Poop. The reason for the flies was the poop. Turns out, they build their houses out of sticks and poop.

So I guess fly mystery solved then. I gotta see the inside of this chateau.

I don't understand how you could have a fire in here and still breath. Where would the smoke go exactly?

Some of Eric's kids were chilling out inside.

A girl was reviewing her homework so Lydia took a professional look at it. It was fun how the story problems related to village life.

Back outside we got a demonstration on how to make fire the classic "twirling the stick real fast" method. They were really good at it.

The Maasai featured prominently in Out of Africa that I was reading:

"A Masai warrior is a fine sight. Those young men have, to the utmost extent, that particular form of intelligence which we call chic;—daring, and wildly fantastical as they seem, they are still unswervingly true to their own nature, and to an immanent ideal. Their style is not an assumed manner, nor an imitation of a foreign perfection; it has grown from the inside, and is an expression of the race and its history, and their weapons and finery are as much part of their being as are a stag’s antlers."

I was not.

There was some heavy traffic on our way across town.

Eric kept talking about the money they'd raised being for the school so I told him Lydia was a teacher. I don't think the school was usually on the tour but it was now.

Eric walked us all the way back to our camp. What good guy.

No comments:

Post a Comment