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Nyamera’s Stupidest Kenya Trip So Far


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Here I’ll copy a trip report that I’ve written very slowly and inefficiently on the famous Fruitcake Forum. I’ll not copy the best parts – the comments by some very nice Fodorites.

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Nyamera’s Stupidest Kenya Trip So Far – Trip Report 2008


First I’d like to explain the stupidity. Since 2003, I’ve been to Kenya 5 times including this one and I’ve always wanted to stay. This time I was so old and had spent so many years living only for my Kenya trips that there simply was no other option, but I still couldn’t find a hole in the Kenya wall to stick in a toe. Next year I’ll be really old and I don’t even know if I’ll be able to go to Kenya. I hope any first time visitors now understand why this report is oozing negativity. Had it been a “once in a lifetime as there are so many other places to visit” kind of a trip, I’d be planning my second Kenya trip by now.


My photos can be seen here: http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandingSi...;localeid=en_US

They are even worse than last year even though this year there was light and a completely different weather than previous years. My only explanation is that my eyes were very irritated due to sun and wind and I just aimed my camera blindly hoping there would be animals in the pictures. There are some amazing animals out of focus.


My itinerary ended up like this:

19 June Terminal Hotel, Nairobi – 2 nights

21 June Nyumbu Camp, Maasai Mara – 6 nights

27 June Terminal Hotel, Nairobi – 3 nights

30 June Fisherman’s Camp, Lake Naivasha – 7 nights

7 July Terminal Hotel, Nairobi – 5 nights


Now I’ll try to remember what happened.

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Day 1

As always I took the morning flights to Amsterdam and Nairobi so that I would arrive in the evening and start my Kenya trip with a good night’s sleep. I also slept almost all the time on the plane, but not so much the night before as I had to get up at 1am and leave home at 3am. My father drove me to the airport and I made notes of the wildlife seen along the way – 16 roedeer and nothing else – the worst gameviewing so far.


I was worried about what Nelson, cleaner at the Terminal Hotel, would say about my choice of safari company. He’s my friend and he has a safari company that I hadn’t booked with. I’d asked about where he gets vehicles and guides, without getting a proper reply, and that would be an explanation for my disloyalty, I thought, but I wasn’t sure. At Arlanda airport I tried to decide whether to buy him a t-shirt with a moose on it or The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. I finally settled for the book.


On the flight to Nairobi, the British Somali man sitting next to me waked me up for my vegetarian meal. The tomato soup was quite tasty, but with just a little bit of turbulence, all passengers would have arrived in Nairobi looking like after a mayor crash. The plane looked completely full.


In Nairobi I usually take a taxi to my hotel but this year I was picked up by Ernest Kamara, who was going to be my driver-guide from As You Like It. I asked him if I should call him Ernest or Kamara, but didn’t get a straight answer and as everybody else called him Kamara, I did the same. A man called Simon, if I remember correctly, accompanied him. I’d chosen As You Like It because its owner, Vivien, was the owner of the Mara camp I was interested in, Nyumbu Camp, and because Kamara was “the best” driver/guide. At $1645 for 6 nights it was my so far most expensive safari. It would have been even more expensive if it wasn’t because I got to use “the old Landcruiser”.


We saw some sleeping marabous on the way to the Terminal Hotel, Kamara and Simon liked my Daim http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daim_bar . I was dropped off at the Terminal and Kamara would pick me up at 7.30 Saturday morning (it was Thursday evening).


This year the Terminal was 1400 shillings for a single. They keep raising the prices, at least for the singles, and it’s no longer inexpensive. A triple is 2000 shillings. Nelson would be there in the morning and Jacob took my heavy (19 kilos at Arlanda) bag to the room. Before leaving he buttoned up the top button on my shirt and told me to “look smart”. Is that proper behaviour of a hotel employee? I remember that on my first trip to Kenya I thought people said I looked intelligent. Now Jacob didn’t think I looked smart enough.


There was a healthy population of cockroaches in the room. As long as I’m not responsible for the cleanliness, I don’t mind. I actually prefer them to other insects as they’re so intelligent that there’s no risk I’d accidentally crush them when sleeping, not that that’s something that often happens with other insects.


I had some Daim and tap water, showered and went to bed.

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Day 2


I was up early and had breakfast at the Dove Cage. The morning was cloudy and a bit chilly. Nelson had many things to tell and as I’m a bit slow I didn’t quite catch it all. He had lost his phone (recovered his number) and some small money during the troubles. The rest of the staff had slept at the hotel, but he went to and fro by matatu and sometimes 14 kilometres on foot. The worst problem had been food prices and availability. He had also sms:ed me about these things during the troubles. There had been insufficient rains and many food growers had been displaced from their land. Nelson predicted a serious famine in a couple of months. His safari company, now called Terminal Tours, had a new website and its own Mount Kenya guides. Some safaris were done in conjunction with Gametrackers. The boss didn’t know anything about the company and would have preferred Nelson to just do his job. He doesn’t pay enough for that though (some US$150 a month) and Nelson has many children, of which only 5 are his own. Nelson also has many projects to help people in his home village. The previous year I had mentioned that I was desperate to stay in Kenya and would consider marrying a Kenyan. Nelson had thought of that and had a nephew who really was like a brother whose wife had left him and who was working most of the time. I felt like he didn’t quite understand me. Was the nephew a gold level KPSGA guide? Nelson expected me to visit his village and some women that I had done business with. I said it would be too embarrassing to meet the nephew, but I really was worried about shower facilities and pressure to make donations I can’t afford. I’ll visit that village when I’ve found a way to stay in Kenya.


Out on the streets of Nairobi I met Chris who does all kinds of business and who the previous year had cycled to Kilaguni and Ngulia in Tsavo West (I’m not convinced) to find out some things for me. Seven people had nearly killed him during the troubles and he had had to shave his dreadlocks so that nobody else would want to kill him or mistake him for a killer. Chris said that things were very bad and that he would have to follow me until I gave him some business. The quickest thing I could think of was photography business at his favourite sight – the Dedan Kimathi monument, “the original Rasta”.


Some people wanted me to have a look at shops with curios made by IDPs (internally displaced people). I had a salad at Java House and returned to the Terminal where Nelson invited me to afternoon tea. After some not too clever shopping, I joined Nelson in the staff room for African tea. When the word “Kenyan” was mentioned”, the door opened and another staff member, Sammy, walked in saying, “no, I’m not Kenyan, I’m Ugandan”. I believed him, but Nelson said he just looked Ugandan because he was Luhya, from the west. They are darker and rounder. Sammy grabbed his jacket and told me that you could no longer go out at night without getting killed. It was getting dark, so I asked him if he would die. He wouldn’t because the city wasn’t dangerous, but in Kangemi where he lived you just eat and go to bed like a little baby or … (he made the international sign for having your throat cut). After he’d left, Nelson told me how hard he had to work since he was the only Kamba at the hotel and that most guest where there because of him. I could believe the latter, as the hotel doesn’t even have an email address. Then Nelson saw a friend from the Netherlands and invited him to tea, but the friend declined the invitation.


I went to Nakumatt Lifestyle to buy some baby bananas and drinking yoghurt for breakfast. The man, I can’t remember his name, standing next to the shopping baskets greeted me shaking my hand, telling me how welcome I was to Kenya and “his shop”. He did this every time a visited Nakumatt during this trip and I have a slight feeling he was making fun of me in some way. I decided just to have some tomato soup and pineapple juice for dinner at Books First, opposite the Terminal. Some very load music was playing and the restaurant was full. Then I saw someone waving. It was Nelson’s Dutch fiend who invited me to share his table. He wasn’t eating. I think he preferred drinking and that’s what he was doing. He was staying in Kenya for several months, most of the time in Nairobi enjoying the nightlife. He was amazed that I hadn’t been to the “Madhouse” that was just around the corner. I think he meant the flying saucer shaped place called Florida 2000 in the guidebooks. There you walk in circles all the time and can just say bye bye to people you want to get rid of – apparently there’re quite a few of those - and the music was very good, he told me. He had mixed feeling about Sweden as you sometimes can drive for hours without seeing any people. That’s about the only positive thing I can say about my country - that sometimes there is some space. When the bill arrived it was handed to the Dutchman (don’t remember his name) and my soup was mixed with his wine. He insisted on paying and I didn’t protest too much, but said I’d buy him some wine if he were around when I got back from the Mara. He thought I should invite Nelson instead. I started calculating and felt quite content that I had got back the money I’d given away half involuntarily during the day. Apart from Chris there was another case of which I don’t remember the details and if I write about everything I’ll never get to the wildlife that I suppose most readers are interested in. The tomato soup was good, but had lots of chopped coriander that stuck on my teeth.


I went to bed with mixed feelings: the marvellous unreality of going to the Mara the next day mixed with the stress of how much more impossible finding a way to stay seemed when on the ground in Kenya.


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Day 3


I was up at 5 and picked up by Kamara at 7.30. He gave me a blue As You Like It t-shirt with a crowned crane logo. It was cold and drizzling. The policeman at the permanent checkpoint after leaving Nairobi couldn’t find anything on As you Like It’s old Landcruiser that warranted a fine. I got off quickly at the Rift Valley viewpoint where I didn’t see any hyrax and didn’t want to buy any heavy soapstone. After Maai Mahi there were tommies, zebras and bustards. Everything was noticeably drier than the previous year and I couldn’t notice any improvement on the road except for a stretch before Narok. After a brief nose-powdering stop in Narok we continued towards the road to Sekenani Gate. I’d never approached the Mara from that direction before and was alarmed at the resemblance to Samburu. Kamara thought Samburu was much more desertlike, but I had been there during a normal June. There were herds of zebras and wildebeest, giraffes and the first topi, on his own in a zebra herd. There were also cows and shoats and very little grass. We sneaked westwards behind Mara Simba and Talek and soon we were at Nyumbu Camp. The sign said, “Nyumbu Authentic Safari Camp” and it had been almost exactly a 6-hour drive. It was very, very hot.


Behind the car park there was a quite big, solid or half solid building where I suppose the kitchen and some staff quarters were. We were welcomed with juice and hot towels and there was some kind of briefing that I don’t really remember, but it felt a bit too much like Intrepids. Fortunately, Nyumbu couldn’t quite live up to it. The undulating surroundings were beautiful with tall, bad, dry grass and thorn trees, mostly whistling thorns. I could see a small herd of topis up on a hill. We had lunch that was tomato soup and buffet. The soup didn’t taste very much of tomato, but everything else was really nice. At Nyumbu they hadn’t been informed/didn’t remember that I was a vegetarian, but there was more than enough food that I could eat. There were two American couples staying at the camp.


Then I was taken to my tent that was enormous. There was one double and one single bed, a laundry basket, a long low table, shelves with towels and space to put clothes and a rack where I could hang clothes. In the bathroom there was a bucket shower, a canvas washstand, and an “eco-toilet”. I had a big bucket full of water and a mug to pour it with. The used water was thrown out through the backzipper of the bathroom. The toilet had a bucket of earth and a mug. Instead of flushing you sprinkled 3-4 mugs of earth. It was not much more work and it was less noise polluting. All this could have fitted in a tent a third of the size of this one. Do people need to dance in their tents? My smiling tent steward, Peter, explained how everything worked. The tent was situated on a low stone and concrete platform and there were paths of the same material in the camp. I prefer not to have any solid structures, but maybe it’s useful when it rains.


Instead of having a rest, I went out to have a look before the 4pm game drive. Fortunately, Nyumbu is unfenced, but I didn’t see any animals in camp. Outside there were some zebras and I was attacked by tsetse flies. The tsetses actually made me feel clever, as I had suspected that they would be there. I inspected the solar panels and got ready for the game drive.


A mature Maasai man with long ears and the name Kiringai would be accompanying us on the game drives. I wondered why it on the map looked like Nyumbu was in Olare Orok Conservancy, but I’ve been told that it was in “the pristine Nyumbu Conservancy” and Kamara said that the Nyumbu Conservancy didn’t exist. There was just someone who was paying three rangers. All the Olare Orok signs that we came across were smashed to pieces.


In the area around Nyumbu there were always zebras, topis, tommies, impalas and the occasional kongoni-hartebeest and Grant’s. We saw them all on the first game drive and also a jackal, and two hyenas that were running around, probably with a purpose. There were a couple of big giraffe herds mixed with zebras. One giraffe calf looked very young. Giraffe calves are extra cute because of their short backs and very vertical necks.


I’d been told that Kamara was “the best” driver-guide and he probably was the best driver, but as a guide he was about average, which, for some reason, in Kenya isn’t that impressive. I had expected to learn a lot, but I didn’t. Some of this can be explained by my behaviour: I’m not the most communicative person and I was standing up in the wind and sun almost all the time, so there couldn’t be that much communication. The edge of the seat was almost straight under the padded edge of the roof where I was supposed to lean my arms; I had to bend my legs backwards a bit and my upper body forwards, so I often stood on the seat and thus I was even higher up. I don’t know if I’m too critical and demanding. On the first game drive there was a vulture on a thorn tree. I asked Kamara what kind of vulture it was and he got out the bird book. There aren’t that many vulture species in the Mara and it was quite obvious when we got nearer that it was a lappet-faced, which Kamara also found in the book. Kamara had some other qualities and I wouldn’t be complaining if it weren’t because of the pre-trip exaggerations.


When back in camp the American couples told me that, as I was on my own, they’d come up with the idea that we should have one big table. They also decided to ask their guide to share the table. Then Peter asked me when I’d like to have a shower. I replied that I always shower before I go to bed, so he could fill it up at dinnertime and then I’d have the shower when I was ready. Peter preferred me to tell him right before showering so that the water would be hot. It felt like I’d experienced this before.


Dinner was buffet style as well. It looked like Kamara was eating from a different buffet than I, as he was focused on meat and I on salads and desserts. The Americans were very, very nice, but I had a hard time keeping up with their conversation about grandchildren (I think). Not only did I have to think of something to say, but it also had to be socially acceptable and even nice. To them it came naturally and they must have thought I was very stupid and boring, which I probably am as I would have had the same problem even if they’d been talking about something interesting. At the same time I was trying to catch something of what Kamara and the Americans’ driver-guide, James from Nature Expeditions, were talking about in Swahili. I don’t understand much when people are talking, but I know some grammar, have a wordbook and can understand and make myself understood in writing. As I’m quite paranoid and prefer people to think I know less than I really do, I hardly said a complete sentence during this trip. Now I think that was a mistake. By the way, Nature Expeditions is the safari company of Nyumbu Camp and Nyumbu Camp is owned by As You Like It (I never quite got it). When I was thinking of moving to the campfire, there were strange noises and then some Maasai dancers appeared. They were Nyumbu staff and even the cook joined in. The different songs, dances and jumping went on for a long time and they seemed to enjoy it. They were actually good and didn’t sing Jambo Bwana, but this performance was repeated every time some guests were leaving the next day and it became a bit much.


Kamara and James joined me at the campfire, but the Americans disappeared. Never during my six-night stay did any other guests show any interest in the fire. The nighttime game viewing was very bad. There were no animals at all, but we heard zebras and hyenas – and domestic dogs. James was very worried for the future of the Mara and said he would like the Mara Conservancy to take over the whole thing. He had some theories that Brian Heath’s skin colour was the reason there was no corruption in the Conservancy and I wasn’t very convinced. The latest disaster on the Narok side was that the senior warden had given Somak Safaris permission to build a lodge in the Lookout Hill area where there are forests that are the breeding ground for the black rhinos of the Mara. They were in fact already building the lodge. Somak Safaris are incidentally the only place in Nairobi where you can buy park tickets for the Narok side. James didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t get any support from “his community” because of the problem with illiteracy. They’d just think a new lodge was a good thing that would bring jobs and that James was envious. I said I could try to inform tourists on the Internet, if I got some more information and Kamara said that Vivien (owner of As You Like It) would be on the phone with ministers before knowing what it was all about. She had been very energetic with some rangers that didn’t do enough to help an orphaned elephant calf and she had helped so many people. Peter kept appearing to ask me when I wanted to have my shower and I kept saying that he could just bring the water and go to bed and that I’d shower when I was ready. It would be my own fault if the water were cold. Finally he did take the water to my tent and after a while I went to bed after the torture of an almost cold shower in a cold tent.


It was windy and the tent made a lot of noise. I thought two elephants were leaning against it and that it was going to break. Then I thought that people were trying to get in, probably dead people, and for the first time ever I was completely terrified in a tent in Kenya. I got up with one of my torches and closed the bathroom zipper. After that there was less noise. I heard hyenas and zebras, but no lions.





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Day 4


As always (on safari) I was up at 5 am, thanks to my two alarm clocks. Every night at Nyumbu I had to say, “no thanks, I don’t need a wake-up call”. Unlike other camps they didn’t bring morning tea to the tents, at least not automatically, and I think that’s good. We were going on a full-day game drive and were taking lunch boxes, so we were having breakfast at the camp. I suppose you could take both breakfast and lunch with you, but I didn’t want to complicate things. Later breakfast times had been suggested to me by waiting staff, but I requested breakfast at 6.30, which really is the time you have to be out, and I was feeling like I was missing a lot of amazing animals. I hadn’t heard any lions during the night, but the previous year at Bushbuck, the night I heard no lions was the night they killed a giraffe 50 metres from camp. I did NOT want any eggs. The sole idea of a cooked breakfast makes me feel sick and I was in a hurry, but Kamara had a full plate of eggs and sausages.


We were on our way before 7 and the topis were around. To prevent my usual safari eye problems I was wearing sunglasses against the wind. When Kiringai spitted out of the front seat window, my glasses got sprinkled. I considered asking him to stop spitting, but I didn’t – he stopped anyway. The morning was a bit chilly, but there were almost no clouds, which I found strange for the Mara in June. After an hour or so we were out on a grassy plain without much wildlife, but we could see two Intrepids vehicles (if I remember correctly), the first other vehicles we had sighted. They were watching three lionesses that looked hungry. They would have to move somewhere else to get someone to eat, as the grass looked completely empty, but maybe there were some hidden warthogs. Suddenly we were at Olkiombo airstrip, inside the reserve. I’d thought we’d enter through some gate, but if you don’t have to do that, Nyumbu has an excellent location for reaching different parts of the Mara. We saw elands that we hadn’t seen in the Nyumbu area, but later there were elands there as well. As we got closer to the Mara River there were very many zebras and they were happily accompanied by topis. We alighted from the Landcruiser to have a look at hippos and then Kamara started baiting birds, which was good as it’s the only way I can get decent bird photos. There were mostly weavers and babblers. It felt very good to be back at the Mara River.


The sun was getting rather fierce and the zebras were moving closer and closer to the upper part of the double-crossing point upstream from the Serena – I think it’s called Paradise Crossing. Many topis did what they do best: they were standing on termite mounds, and admiring zebras surrounded one of them. There were three vehicles waiting for the zebras to cross the river and I decided that we too should wait even if we would have to spend the night there. I was so pleased with having my private vehicle, my private driver-guide and my private Kiringai, whatever his title was. There were some crocodiles that were waiting as well. A sole wildebeest was looking more determined than the zebras and eventually he crossed. The zebras didn’t follow the wildebeest. I was sitting on the roof in the scorching sun, but felt safe using protection factor 45. Only one other vehicle was still there. Its occupants had a white, or rather a toasted pink coloured, driver-guide, which is rarely seen and looked very expensive. The zebras approached the river warily and one by one to have a drink, bolting at any croc movement. After a while they started moving towards the other crossing point and the topis lined up behind them. I wanted to tell the topis that there was a bridge further south.


Finally the last vehicle left and we were on our own. The zebras slowly returned to the first crossing point and some more, but not many, wildebeests appeared. It was almost 2pm and we decided to have lunch in the Landcruiser. My eyes were in a bad state even though I’d kept my sunglasses on almost all the time. I tried to wipe off the running mascara with a tissue and water. I have a hair problem that I had to attend to as well: my mental health would be so much better if my hair was wavy, but it’s straight with shorter strands that are nasty, ugly wisps that drive me mad. On safari I wear a lose braid instead of a braid put up with pins and the way it is messed up by the friction against my back is worse than a swarm of tsetse flies. And, I was red like a tomato, from the heat, I thought. Kamara and Kiringai looked nice and fresh: they never opened the roof hatch above the front seat, the little hair they had always looked the same and they had good naturally upturned eyelashes. I wanted to kill them, but they would never had understood why they had to die and I wouldn’t have liked to start the Landcruiser on my own so close to the Mara River. I’ll not mention lipgloss, in case I would offend any safari purists reading this. When I’d started digging into my lunchbox, I looked up and two zebras were crossing the river! Nobody followed them, but a stallion got very upset that they had crossed, calling them and trotting up and down along the river. I had an Aspirin with caffeine, as I do most days when I can’t take a siesta.


Another hour passed and suddenly a big group of zebras were in the river with the intention of crossing as quickly as possible – I think it’s safe to say that was their intention. I got up on the roof again and felt like I was in exactly the place where I should always be. Though I was a bit irritated that not all people agree about what’s my place in the world. The water wasn’t high and those who crossed in the right place didn’t have to swim. Some slipped and fell on the crocodiles lying in the stream like battle ships waiting to attack (as Atravelynn so aptly put it), before getting on their feet again to continue. The crocs dragged away a wildebeest that was lucky and got loose. A zebra and another wildebeest were less lucky and got killed. If I had been there to tick off on a list with the pyramids, Taj Mahal, wildlife in Africa etc, I’d have preferred not to see any kills. Though I almost didn’t see them as the sun, the wind and the irritating obsession of having to photograph all the time had made my eyes quite useless. Once on the Mara Conservancy side the zebras and wildebeests hurried up the rocky slope and I lost sight of them when they got into the bushes on the top. I heard some excited words from Kamara and Kiringai, and Kamara asked me, “did you see?” I had missed a lion that jumped up from the bushes pouncing on a zebra that had just made it across the river. For over 20 minutes new groups of zebras kept jumping into the river. When the crossing stopped there were several very upset stallions that now had some of their mares on the other side. I don’t think that being the only vehicle at a river crossing had anything to do with the “troubles”. In 2007 I was stuck in a hole close to the Mara River for 4 hours at the same time of the day.


There were lion coloured things of different sizes in the bush on the other side of the river and they were probably eating a zebra. Further downstream a gang of crocs were doing the same thing, taking turns showing their pale chests while chewing with their snouts in the air. Now was the time to cross for any topis tired of the Narok side, but they weren’t interested. A mare and a foul took the opportunity though.


When we were about to head out onto the Paradise Plains, an Explorer vehicle appeared. In it were four girls in their 20s and Dennis, my driver from Intrepids 2007! Instead of telling him how happy I was to see him - after saying that we had just seen a river crossing - I asked him if he got the photos I sent him and why he hadn’t replied. He had received the photos, but could only send emails when in Nairobi, which I already knew. Dennis wanted to know when I’d be back and I told him that they would have to take down the fence first. The girls said that there was no fence where they were staying and they looked at me like I was really nasty. Then I said that I’ll be back if I got a really good offer for Explorer. If I were American I’d have started crying and I’d given Dennis nice gifts for his children. Not that he has any children. Though that could have changed in a year. I need to change my behaviour.


Once out on the plain we came across another Heritage vehicle looking at a cheetah that came walking. The cheetah sat down on a termite mound. Some 100 metres away there were three, I think, other Heritage vehicles looking at another spotted cat on top of another termite mound. We went to have a look at the leopard, but it was getting late and we had to go. After another quick look at the cheetah we were racing back to camp. I don’t know how fast Kamara was driving, but standing up in the wind it felt like he was speeding. Sometimes I thought I saw servals and I asked him to stop, but I don’t know if there were any. Drops of rain were falling; it got dark and when we were close to camp, the skies opened up and the rain poured down forcing us to close the roof hatch. It wasn’t that easy to find the way to Nyumbu in the dark, but once there, a member of the staff was waiting with an umbrella. It had been a nice 12-hour game drive.


I straightened out my hair and my eyes and noticed that my forehead and nose were very burnt. For a few seconds I wondered if making someone drive me around for 12 hours – even though most of the time had been spent parked next to the Mara River - could be considered abusive.


An American group of 12 people from the same family had arrived. James and another guy from Nature Expeditions were their guides. I asked Kamara if he was tired, but he was used to driving from Lake Nakuru and then going directly on a game drive and he never got tired and never ever slept during the day. Though he said that the next day we’d go on a morning and an afternoon game drive and I said that we could do full-day game drives on alternate days. I mentioned a packed breakfast, but the chef had already retired to his bed. We would have breakfast in camp at 6.30. None of the Americans came to the campfire and neither did any animals or James. Kamara said that there were animals when there was water in the ditch bordering the camp. Peter wanted to know if my water had been cold the previous night and I said that it had been almost hot. He insisted that it would be so much better if we walked to my tent together and I agreed to come with him and get a bucket shower photo. I had forgotten to apply my eucalyptus-based mosquito repellent and the mosquitoes had found me. The night was less windy than the previous night, and again I heard hyenas and zebras.

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Day 5


We were on our way before 7am, the morning was very cold, Kiringai was spitting again and close to camp we encountered an elephant family on the move. On our way to Talek Gate I was reminded that Talek really is quite a big town. On my first trip to Kenya I stayed at a camp in the area – other camps have popped up like mushrooms since then - and regretted not having checked out the town more thoroughly, but now I’d not like to stay in such a developed area. For the first time this trip we passed through a gate. As a contrast to 2007 there were almost no minivans in the Talek area. The reason for this could have been that the big lion pride wasn’t around either, or at least we didn’t see them. We did see the collared hyenas and the waterbucks that always hang around near the gate. I never know where I am on game drives, but for this trip I had brought a map and I kept asking Kamara about our location. His explanations were rather approximate though. The Posee and Meta Plains were empty, empty, empty, except for small groups of topis and zebras, warthogs and some shy elands. There was a bigger herd of giraffes and an elephant family with a very angry calf. He just couldn’t stand us and kept mock charging and trumpeting. It must have been so frustrating for him that his mother and aunts didn’t assist him in turning the Landcruiser into a flat piece of metal scrap. Next to a small river/ditch Kiringai discovered rhino tracks and I almost thought that at last I’d see a Mara rhino, but it was nowhere to be found. Instead I found a tortoise. We saw some nice topis next to the gate. Kamara said that he never called them nyamera and that it’s mainly done in Tanzania.


We were back in camp for lunch and I felt a bit irritated, as I would have preferred lunch next to the Mara River. Back in my tent I fortunately managed to set one of my alarm clocks before falling asleep and at 4pm we were out again.


We headed in another direction and came upon three vehicles next to some riverine trees and a thicket. For a while I thought there were lion cubs in the thicket, but the attraction was a leopard with a cub in one of the trees. They were only visible for brief moments when moving to new branches. After some time one vehicle left, another moved to the other side of the river and we followed it seeing a hippo out and about on the way to the crossing. On the other side the leopardess was more visible and I discovered that there were two cubs sitting in different trees. The mother got down to the ground and into the bushes and the cubs started growling. I might be mistaken, but it sounded like they wanted their mother to help them descend. They managed to reach they ground by themselves and then they followed the mother along the bushy edge of the riverbank. They got out of sight and as it was getting late, we and the other vehicle left. After crossing the river we approached the approximate site were the leopards had disappeared just in case we’d be lucky and there came the mother walking in the open with the cubs trailing behind her. They descended into the river again and crossed in a sandy place with almost no water. Then they had a quick drink a bit further down, the mother lay down on the little beach and one of the cubs approached her, they rubbed cheeks, the cub had few slurps of milk, got up and played with mum’s tail for a moment and then disappeared into the papyrus. The second cub repeated the same procedure and then mother and second cub followed the first cub into the papyrus and we returned to camp.


Kiringai said that the river where we saw the leopards was Olare Orok. Now I think it could have been Ntiakitiak, but I’m very disorientated. When we were there I had a feeling that we were outside the Reserve, but now I don’t think so. I don’t even think we did any game drives in Olare Orok Conservancy, except for the area around Nyumbu.


James from Nature Expeditions asked us to phone him if we saw leopard cubs, or anything of that ilk, again. The Americans hadn’t seen “anything at all”. After dinner, Kamara told me that he and James had to drive to Talek for some nighttime shopping since the kitchen had run out of important breakfast items. Some guides like to escape to town as soon as they get an opportunity, but they really didn’t appear to be of that kind, at least not Kamara. One of the waiters, Samuel, joined me by the fire for security reasons! Though I never understood what the danger was. I talked about finding a way to stay in Kenya and Samuel told me about an English woman who had bought a plot and built a house not far away from Nyumbu. I could work for a couple of years in my country and then do the same. I don’t think Samuel had a realistic view on how much money I can get hold of at home. His comment to the advice I’d got on a blog about marrying a member of parliament was that the managing director of Basecamp, where he had worked before, had married the daughter of an important woman minister. I wouldn’t say “great minds”, but Kenya-orientated minds think alike, it’s just that some do more than thinking. Somehow we got into religion and I wondered why all Kenyans were religious. Samuel had some new information for me: people don’t fear God; they fear being cast away by their families and if your parents have given you a “Christian name”, you’d better spit in the morning to bless God. I did know that spitting was a way of blessing for the Maasai, but I didn’t know that spitting out of the window of the Landcruiser in the morning was a way to bless God.

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Day 6


We drove almost straight to the place where we had seen the leopards the previous evening. They weren’t there, (because?) instead there was a lion lying in a bush. The lion didn’t look like he had any plans to get up and do anything. I heard a drumming and it was Kamara tapping his fingers on the side of the vehicle. If we would have been the only people the lion would see that day, a little bit of “interaction” wouldn’t a have been a problem, but this was the Maasai Mara and making noises to attract the attention of lions is definitely against the rules, for good reasons. I tried to think of what to say, but Kamara stopped by himself.


Out on an almost empty plain with tall yellow grass we found an elephant herd with a calf so tiny that you almost couldn’t see it. We followed the elephants and after an hour or so they reached a river with hippos (Olare Orok?) and descended to have a drink. Nature Expeditions’ two minivans with Americans from Nyumbu appeared out of nowhere. I would definitely not have liked to share a minivan, but I envied their sunroof, as it was getting very hot. The elephants walked into the water and crossed the river. They were supposed to get up on the other side in a single file following the matriarch, but one of them took a shortcut climbing onto a rock, which made the matriarch furious, and she pushed the insolent elephant back into the river.


The elephants disappeared, but we found something better: a big herd of topis. They were standing in the sun with their eyes closed and were accompanied by some zebras that for some reason didn’t have the same eye problem as we have. There were a couple of kongonis as well, but I don’t remember if their eyes were closed. Suddenly we found ourselves on the Governors’ airstrip reading a sign with some words that I don’t remember, but it was something about how very forbidden it was to drive on the airstrip. We had a look at the nice green hippo soup next to the airstrip and I tried – unsuccessfully - to photograph some African jacanas. The hippos were better at collaborating. Close to Governors’ Camp there were plenty of giraffes. Without Governors’ vehicles, the area with its green grass and riverine woodland would easily be confused with paradise and at midday, as this was, there are no vehicles. It’s a place where you could look around and say, “waterbuck at 12 o’clock, lion at 1 o’clock, impala at 2 o’clock, zebra at 3 o’clock” and so on round the clock. In the shade of a tree almost on the road a lion was lying flat. Kamara started tapping on the vehicle door and I said that lions need a lot of sleep. “They are lazy”, said Kamara, but it’s not the same, as I know being a very sleepy person. At the same time Kiringai opened the vehicle door and picked up a pebble from the ground. Kamara told him that it wasn’t good to disturb the animals, but the pebble was already in the air over the Landcruiser. The lion didn’t even lift his head.


We alighted for lunch at the hippo-viewing site upstream from Governors’. A huge biomass of hippos was sunbathing at the other side of the Mara River. To be able to finish this report some time soon, I’m avoiding writing about food, but I could mention in what order I ate the fruit in the lunchbox: I started with papaya, then watermelon, then orange, then banana, then mango, and I saved the pineapple for last as it’s my favourite.


After lunch we came across some very boring baboons. Baboons are usually entertaining, but these only concentrated on foraging, picking nice blades of grass, and didn’t even pose for a photo. The lilac-breasted rollers knew how to pose, but not how to be in focus. Further eastwards we spent a long time with a herd of some 300 buffaloes. We got some angry stares, but all in all they were extremely pleasant to be around and they had some tiny calves. The warthogs also liked to be around the buffaloes. Governors’ vehicles started appearing and 2 of them came to look at the buffaloes. They were nice and open-sided, but I’d preferred to be without them. We moved on and found three topis. One of them looked young, but was almost fully-grown. He galloped slowly across the road and into the grass, apparently just for fun. Then he came back at top topi speed (and that is fast) with a cheetah at his haunches. We got between them and the cheetah stopped and started to walk away. I thought it a good idea not to follow her too closely in case she was hunting. There were some tommies that looked like more suitable prey than a topi. Kamara didn’t think that she was hunting, but that the topi had just galloped into her whiskers. A Governors’ vehicle appeared and drove up to the cheetah that disappeared into a long strand of croton thicket. We continued back to camp and on the way we saw many nice topis in very tall grass.


The 12 Americans were leaving the following day, so there was a very long Maasai song and dance number and James held a speech about being ambassadors for Nyumbu. There was a problem: we would have to have breakfast in camp the following day, as the kitchen staff couldn’t find a thermos for the tea! I didn’t have to say anything. Kamara said the obvious, “just pack some juice”.


Kamara didn’t have any ideas about how I could stay in Kenya, but knew how my trips could be cheaper: I should plan my next trip well in advance, talk to people I know and make them want to come. Nyumbu gave a free stay to the 16th guest in a group. He knew an American teacher who brought friends on trips and got his own trips for free without his friends knowing about it. I don’t even know that many people, I can’t plan things that long in advance and if I was to bring groups I’d prefer to be a proper travel agent. Kamara said that many Kenyan members of parliament were quite young and could cheat on me.

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Day 7


We were out at 6.30am and we found the elephant herd with the tiny baby closer to Nyumbu than the previous day. On the road to Musiara Gate a cheetah was walking in the same direction as we were driving. Then she walked into the grass towards some tommies. Kamara phoned Nature Expeditions and they arrived with the Americans who still hadn’t left and we continued towards Musiara Gate. We saw a lioness that started to descend into a small bushy riverbed. For a second we also saw a very small cub, but they got into the bushes and we could only see one of the lioness’s ears. It was almost 9am and we should have had breakfast at that spot waiting for the lions to do something. Kamara started following a track through Musiara but the track ended and he had to go back and try another one, and another. We returned to the place where the lions had been, but now there wasn’t even an ear. After returning to the gate for some instructions we continued on a good track and soon there was a male lion on a hill next to a bush. I was getting hungry, so I opened a plastic box with Maria biscuits in it that always was in the vehicle. I stuffed myself with biscuits while staring at the lion and his friend who was lying flat in a bush, in the same way some people eat popcorn when watching a film. A thought we could have biscuit for breakfast and then have the breakfast as lunch and stay out all day, but I didn’t say anything.


Then we were back at the hippo viewing spot for breakfast. This time most hippos were in the water. I tried to photograph a woodpecker, but you really can’t tell what’s in the photo. Suddenly a few Maasai appeared out of nowhere with bundles that they started to unpack setting up a small curio market. One of them had some lion’s teeth to sell. I don’t know if they were authentic, but I told him that it was against the law to trade in lion’s teeth, which he found very funny. I bought a thin Maasai necklace from a seller with no lion’s teeth and as he didn’t have any change, I also bought a boring necklace of the kind of which I have hundreds. Kiringai thought the boring necklace was better than the Maasai one and I don’t think Kamara had any opinions about jewellery.


We left the sellers to look for something more interesting. It was very hot and there were no other vehicles anywhere. The topis were standing with their eyes closed and their heads low. We didn’t see anything unusual, but there were lots of ostriches close to camp.


The Americans were getting ready to leave. One woman almost screamed when she saw my face and I understood her. I’ve had some bad burning episodes when I was younger and should be very careful with the sun. I’m probably too wrinkly for my age and now I was even wrinklier, red - and greasier than normal, as I put on generous layers of cream. The woman asked me if I was a photographer or something and I said that you could see on my camera that I was not. I should have told her that they could have come to the campfire to find out how not interesting I was. After lunch I slept for half an hour or so and then I tried to do something about the way I looked.


Then we were out again heading in the Ol Kiombo direction. We met the Nature Expeditions vehicles that had dropped off the Americans and James asked if we had seen the lion cubs. We dashed off to a spot were there were a couple of vehicles looking at a thicket were 6 lion cubs were playing rather wildly. The grass was a bit too tall for good vision. Kamara said that we could go to the other side of the bush, but only for 15 minutes, as it was an area where you were not allowed to drive. I thought we could wait until the lions came closer. One female was in the bush and two others were lying in the tall grass near us. More vehicles, mostly Heritage, arrived and a classic Mara traffic jam of some 8 vehicles was forming. Most of the vehicles went over to the other side, but then the cubs decided to join the lionesses next to where we were parked. A male was slowly approaching the bush where the cubs had been playing and when he was a couple of metres away two of the lionesses got up, froze for a second, and then they descended upon the lion like a growling lightning. The lion lay down in the grass and the lionesses did the same next to the bush. The cubs, that had been watching, trotted down to the lionesses to get licked. I heard a Heritage guide say that the lion must have been from the same pride as the lionesses, or they would have taken off with the cubs as soon as they’d noticed him approaching. Some of the cubs came up to us again. Kiringai started spitting at one of them. Spitting is blessing and the cub was fascinated, but I don’t know if it was the most appropriate thing to do. It was getting late and the vehicles started disappearing. For some time Kamara had been saying that we had to return to camp, but we waited until the last vehicle had left.


Two young English brothers had arrived at Nyumbu with their two young driver-guides, or maybe one was a driver and one was a guide. After dinner the drivers came to the campfire. They told Kamara that their guests were very young, but had been to Zimbabwe and Uganda, so their family must have a lot of money. Kamara told them that I was a teacher and they didn’t look impressed. In Kenya I say I’m a teacher, though I’ve never put my foot in a teaching college and I’ve never wanted to be a teacher. It’s just that I’ve got the money for all my Kenya trips from teaching. The kitchen wanted to talk to Kamara and when he came back he said that they had asked him to drive to Talek for nighttime shopping again, but that the recently arrived drivers had volunteered instead. He had already had to go to Talek after lunch and he said that the camp staff weren’t very organized and the only camp vehicle was a tractor. When I was enquiring about going to Nyumbu I had asked about taking public transport to Talek and then do game drives in the camp vehicles, but in that case a Nature Expeditions minivan would have had to drive down from Nairobi. On the website there is a nice open-sided vehicle with a sunroof. Kamara had heard a lion early in the morning. I’m always up at 5, but didn’t hear anything. Now I had some hope of hearing lions, but there were only hyenas.

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Day 8


This day we were going on a full-day game drive to the Mara Triangle west of the Mara River that belongs to the Trans Mara County Council and is managed by the Mara Conservancy. We entered through Talek Gate and headed southwest.


Next to Ol Keju Gem River there was a big Fig Tree vehicle and a leopard was sniffing out the side of the riverbank. There were double riverbeds with a rock part in the middle and very little water. The leopard crossed over to the middle of the river and had a drink from a puddle and the Fig Tree vehicle left. Then she (I think it was a female) lay down and started cleaning herself before rolling up to have a rest. She didn’t rest for long until she got up, walked into the mid-river grass, had a look around and disappeared out of sight. And we continued towards Lookout Hill.


We drove up to the top of Lookout Hill. There was another vehicle surrounded by a group of tourists having breakfast. As there were no other vehicles in sight anywhere, they probably didn’t appreciate our presence, but we were there on a mission: to find the new Somak lodge. We couldn’t see any building work anywhere and Kamara said that the whole thing could have been a lie. I later emailed Somak without getting a reply and then I found information on the Mara Triangle website that they were developing an area along the Mara River. The most recent information I have is that “Somak have stopped developing the area at the moment, and there will be an external task force coming down at the end of August to review all current and planned building of camps and lodges in the Masai Mara”.


When we had descended the hill Kamara got under the Landcruiser to fix a small problem and I had a little walk looking at topis. Kiringai did some Kamara watching. Then we continued towards Mara Bridge. On the way we crossed a lovely little river and after crossing Kiringai saw something on the ground. He picked it up and it was a mussel shell that could be made into beads. It made me think of what the brown waters of the Mara rivers are hiding besides crocs and hippos. Next to Mara Bridge there were some hippos and many bones and skulls of the wildebeest that drowned in 2007. At the gate there were nice toilets with a mirror and some agama lizards.


When we entered the Mara Triangle it was already 11am and very hot. We had a look at an empty crossing point and the tall bad grass with scattered plains game. In some places the grass was burnt, which probably was a good idea, but it was just black with no animals. I thought I saw a lion in a bush, but it was a reedbuck, which is a rarer sight, but I didn’t see it that well. We stopped for lunch under a tree surrounded by billowing yellow grass. I’ve written about “empty” places, but there have always been some animals. Here there was nothing, at least no mammals, but there was a picnic table, which made it feel like Nairobi NP. I got a feeling that neither Kamara nor Kiringai were that familiar with the Mara Triangle. We returned to the Narok side before 2pm. During our stay in the Triangle we had seen approximately 6 other vehicles.


We kept to the southern part of the reserve driving towards Keekorok. There was tall yellow grass and few animals. Then we descended deep into the depths of safari depravity, game viewing at the Keekorok waste pit (known from A Primate’s Memoir by Robert M. Sapolsky). It was covered with a strong wire net on a steel structure, but the baboons had broken into it anyway. There were also some marabous, a monitor lizard and impalas with babies. On our way to Talek Gate we met a topi that stared at us and then ran away at top topi speed for a 100 metres or so. When we caught up with him, after having looked at warthogs, he was very recognizable among the other topis because again he stared and then speeded away to the first place where we had met him. I wonder if he was trying to say something or if he was just neurotic. Closer to Talek we met the elephant herd with the tiny baby again. A couple of minivans were looking at them.


After exiting Talek Gate we went in the direction of where we had seen the lion cubs the previous evening. They had moved, but we found them even though they were lying in tall grass, probably because there was a collection of Heritage vehicles. Now a male was lying close to the females and he was licking a cub. I don’t know if he was the same as the one that was told off the day before. It was a bit windy and my wispy hair was extremely irritating. Game viewing would be so much better with curls bouncing in the air. I kept my sunglasses on even when it was getting dark, in part because of the wind, but mostly because of what my runny eyes had done to my mascara. Kamara said we would soon have to return to camp. The Heritage vehicles left one by one and then we too said goodbye to the lions. I didn’t think too much about when I’d next be on a game drive. Now I had to find a way to stay in Kenya.


We were back at Nyumbu after another 12-hour game drive. I do recommend full-day game drives. The best way to do them would be to have lunch in a place with shade and good wildlife and not to be too much in a hurry to sleep an hour or so in the vehicle, or in the grass if someone stays awake keeping watch. All game drive vehicles have mirrors. On a self-drive I would have no problem completely reorganizing my hair and washing my eyes and re-applying mascara out in a national park or reserve. The whole problem has to do with looking ridiculous.


Peter came to my tent when I was getting ready for dinner and I asked him about tips. I am quite cheap, but as I want to be popular, I always make sure I tip more than what’s expected. First he said that tips weren’t expected, but after some pressure I got him to tell me what an approximate normal tip was. He mentioned a very low sum for the staff box and even lower sums for the waiter and for himself, and a little more for Kiringai. He couldn’t tell me about Kamara, but it would have to be more “important”. I had a problem with my waiter: I didn’t catch his name the first day and Kamara didn’t know when I asked him. Then it felt like too late to ask. That’s the problem with travelling with a driver-guide; you don’t spend enough time with the camp staff.


Fortunately both the English boys and I were leaving the next day. A song and dance number just for me would almost have been embarrassing. Kiringai thought it a good idea to wear a warrior wig and after the Maasai dance a member of staff did a solo performance. I thought he had gone mad, but the manager, Philip, who held the speech about being ambassadors for Nyumbu, said it was a Kamba dance. It was definitely more lewd and unhinged than a Maasai dance.


At night I heard hyenas and zebras, no lions.

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Day 9


Since we were leaving early in the morning, I wasn’t in a hurry and had requested to have breakfast at 7.30am to leave at 8.00am. I tipped and signed the guest book and Philip informed me that they had new tents with flush toilet and that I could tell people that they had a choice. Flush toilets seemed very unnecessary and water consuming to me.


Go to Nyumbu. It’s a nice camp.




Kamara could have dropped me off in Naivasha, but my plan was to stay at Fisherman’s Camp that’s more expensive at the weekend, and it was Friday. I had sms:d to find out if the lower rates were from Sunday or Monday, but I hadn’t got a reply. We were returning to Nairobi.


We left at 8.30am and saw the last topi close to camp. Instead of heading towards Talek and Sekenani we turned north towards Aitong. Everything was very dry and women were carrying big plastic water tanks. Kamara said that they had to walk very far to get water. I was going to say, “let them have water brought to them by Peter”, but I didn’t. Vivien had had a camp near Aitong, but sold it. The very big farm that has a sign next to the main road, Olerai Farm, had been the property of just one man, but now his 13 sons had inherited it. Kamara showed me an area before Narok that had been a forest not so long ago. Then he stopped to buy some charcoal for Vivien. It was much cheaper than in Nairobi. In a Narok we made a quick toilet stop. Vivien phoned and invited me to tea and I was very interested in meeting her. We saw some tommies and zebras and three giraffes before Maai Mahi. For the first time ever I got off at the Rift Valley viewpoint when there were only light clouds. There were no hyraxes though. A curio seller asked me, after finding out where I was from, to change a Swedish 10-kronor coin and I did even though I’d have preferred to keep my 100-shilling note that’s very useful. I think he was the same guy who last year told me he collected foreign coins and whom I gave 10 kronor. There was a dead donkey at the side of the road. We went through Kikuyu to avoid traffic jams. There was an interesting, but very dusty market.


We reached Karen and, unsurprisingly, a big gate in a high hedge. Inside there was a not very big one-storey house and some other buildings. Vivien was a smiling little white woman in desert coloured camouflage trousers. I really began to like her when she told Kamara that I was a medium. Apparently he had decided that I needed a large T-shirt. Vivien and the administrator of As You Like It, George, were very interested in my plans and started talking about arranging a trip with a vehicle for the same price as I was going to pay, and I had to stop them saying it was not possible as Fisherman’s was 1000 shillings per night and the bus would be almost nothing. They said you needed a vehicle for Hell’s Gate and George phoned Fisherman’s to ask their price for one. I didn’t think of asking him to ask Fisherman’s when their lower price for a banda started. I was As You Like It’s first guest for the year, but they had good bookings for the high season. When the troubles started and no tourists were coming, Vivien had gone to Iraq to train some special forces at a camp. It was very good money. I tried to ask how she got that job, but she just showed me some photos and told me about the shipping container that she had lived in (don’t remember what it was called), that she had had her own shower and lost weight eating good Iraqi food with the Iraqis. It had been very nice to have people to talk to, as she usually only has her staff and “him inside” (there was a husband-like guy of whom I only saw the back in front of a computer). The owner of Fisherman’s had been in Iraq as well. What aspect of the Kenyan tourist industry qualifies you to train special forces in Iraq? I never found out.


I’d definitely go somewhere dangerous to earn a lot of money. Though I find the business idea called the Iraq war so disgusting that it would not be an option. Perhaps I could train the Zapatistas, but I don’t think there’s any money in it and I don’t know if I would have my own shower. If anyone knows of something dangerous, but not too immoral that I could do for a lot of money without getting dirty and ugly, please email sannasusathotmaildotcom (I am serious).


Vivien had just had lunch and kindly invited me to some steak. I reminded her that I’m a vegetarian and had some salad. A young girl and an older man were working in the kitchen and came serving some extra avocado and then pancakes and tea. Vivien kept apologizing for the informality.


Vivien and George came up with a Nanyuki trip idea. They’d see if a couple of Americans were interested in 2 nights at a moderate hotel with visits to Sweetwaters and Mount Kenya the following week. Vivien was coming as well, which made it sound very fun. Then they came up with the price of $500. It was far too expensive, but I just said that I’d think about it. My plan was to see if I’d find something better in Naivasha and then negotiate the price if I was still interested. As the city centre is “awful” they also started looking for a place in Karen where I could stay. A nice rotweiler called Major and a loaf of fluff called Fluffy appeared. I think there was a dog under the fluff, but I’m not sure. Major and Fluffy almost went mad when Kamara appeared. He was very popular. In the garden there were squirrels, cordon-bleus and mannekins. Kamara told me that staying in town, as I had decided, was a lot better if I was going to take the bus to Naivasha and that Vivien just didn’t think that I should stay where the “Africans” were, as she was still in that kind of thinking. I also got to know that Vivien was 67. At the other side of the house there was a small stable where Vivien was going to show me her horse, but he wasn’t there. She found him with a young man next to the laundry line. He was a big, shiny thoroughbred stallion called Callimachus. Also, there was another dog. I don’t remember his name, but he didn’t get along very well with Fluffy and they had to be kept apart from each other.


The reason for the flush toilets was that some irritating authority had forced Nyumbu to install them, as it was considered a permanent camp.


Finally we were off to the Terminal Hotel. Kamara told me that I had to “start running a lot more” and maybe I understood what he meant. We caught the rush hour and got stuck in traffic jams. I don’t really know for how long we were stuck, but it could have been for hours. I just looked at Nairobi from another perspective. Kamara thought that I should negotiate the price if I was going to Nanyuki, as the price I’d been told was just something out of George’s head. Nelson was in the reception when we arrived at the Terminal and the first thing he said, to Kamara, was “now she looks like an African” and Kamara said, “she is an African”. But, I wasn’t black at all; I was not even brown, but red and peeling. I was disintegrating like in a B horror movie, and what’s African with that?


I freshened up, went out to send an email to Fisherman’s and talked with Nelson. His Dutch friend had said that I didn’t talk much and that irritated me. I don’t normally talk that much, but thought that I had talked with the Dutchman. I told Nelson that his friend drank too much and something more. We decided to have dinner next day. It got late and I walked down Koinange Street to eat something somewhere. A man in a bowtie took me to the place where he was working in a back alley. I had to have my bag searched to be let into the local – don’t remember the name of it - that was in a basement. It was very dark and looked like some kind of club, and it was almost empty. There were no non-meat dishes on the menu, so I left. The man with the bowtie showed me Friday on Loita Street where I had some tomato soup and passion juice. The tomato soup was OK, if I remember correctly.

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Day 10


I was out on the streets of the city in the sun, but soon I was inside Nakumatt Lifestyle where I got a VIP greeting and bought some baby bananas to have for breakfast while checking my email. Outside Nakumatt I met Chris who followed me and stayed with me at the Internet place, eating my bananas, and expanding his theory that he was the first person who saw me and therefore should get my business. I tried to say that he only saw me on my 4th trip and that there were people at the Terminal who had wanted to do business with me since my 2nd trip. Anyway, I couldn’t afford more safaris and was taking the bus to Naivasha the following Monday. I had a reply from Fisherman’s saying that their lower rates started on Sunday, but now I had already decided to go on Monday. Chris said he’d leave me, but he needed 40 shillings for the matatu to Safari Park Hotel where he had some business. When I’ve found a way to live in Kenya – and I’m not planning to be poor in Kenya – I’ll do some business with Chris.


I walked up to University Way and got on a matatu to Westlands. I was going to have a look at Undugu Craft Shop – a fair trade project that might be of interest to Nyamera Kenya Imports. It was supposed to be on Woodvale Grove, but I walked down the whole length of the street without seeing it and then I thought about what I was doing. NKI needed to be killed and buried; I had to find a way to stay in Kenya and I couldn’t sell Kenyan curios in Kenya if I was going to be a rich person in Kenya. Instead I went to Chowpaty 100% vegetarian restaurant where I got far too much food. I couldn’t eat it all, so I got a doggie bag, which I didn’t ask for, as I didn’t have a kitchen. I thought about giving the food to the first person telling me he didn’t have money for food, which unfortunately is common in Nairobi, but nobody appeared. At the entrance of Sarit Centre a man asked me if I was interested in DVDs that he had at the back of the flower shop and I said yes, as I was interested in seeing the back of the flower shop. I told the seller that I thought I’d bought a DVD with six Africa themed films from him last year in the street and that several of the films finished halfway, but he said that he never sold anything in the street. I bought a DVD with 20 wildlife films for 500 shillings and then I asked him if he liked Indian food. Since it was still warm he accepted it. On the DVD cover he put a sticker with his name and phone number. I’ve checked and it’s the same name and number as on the DVD I bought in 2007.


Then I had a look at Banana Shop where a found some interesting jewellery with West African glass beads and Ethiopian silver. I spent a long time thinking of buying something for myself, but decided that money was better to have than jewellery. I don’t remember what more I did.


Back at the Terminal, Nelson suggested a restaurant behind Nakumatt and he said that he always had chicken curry. The only thing they could come up with for me was some chips; they couldn’t even chop up a tomato, so we left and went to Books First. I ordered a vegetable pizza and as there was no chicken curry Nelson insisted on having the same as I, even though there were other chicken dishes. Nelson was very critical of Books First and their slow service – I thought he exaggerated – but he liked the pizza even though it was Mzungu food and the restaurant a Mzungu place. I was the only Mzungu there, but that was because they were all asleep. The waitress handed me the bill before I had asked for it, so I suppose skin colour goes before sex when paying.

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Day 11


I had bought drinking yoghurt for breakfast for the last time; it had curdled and I threw it away. The reason was probably the much warmer than normal weather. I had some baby bananas though.


It was time to visit the newly renovated National Museum. I hadn’t been there since 2004. In 2005 I was going to the museum the last afternoon, but instead I ended up at the police station with a high fever; in 2006 I couldn’t go to Kenya and in 2007 they were still renovating. I think they started the renovation in 2005. I walked up Harry Thuku Road, past the Norfolk that also was being renovated. At the curio stalls next to the Boulevard Hotel a woman forced me to have a look at the curios and I bought two pairs of earrings. I didn’t see John - a seller I met in 2003 and 2004. I thought I could take a shortcut through the Boulevard and asked the askari if I could have a look at the hotel. There was a big garden with a swimming pool, but I couldn’t find an exit to the other side, so I returned to where I had entered. I had to pass through the “dangerous” corner between Uhuru Highway and the Nairobi River. I don’t know why it’s dangerous, but everybody says it is. There was an army vehicle with ten or so armed soldiers. Could it really be that dangerous, or did they just happen to be there? From the bridge I saw an elderly man standing stark naked in the stream. The new gate and entrance of the museum looked much more colourful than the old one, but now, having the new version in my head, it’s difficult to remember the old one.


The entrance fee for non-residents had been raised considerably from 200 shillings to 800. The area with the ticket and information desk looked very modern and shiny and there were some very clean toilets. There was a hall with a collection of gourds, new black’n’white photos of Kenya by some foreign photographer and some other items. Then I had a look at a gallery about the history of the museum, before proceeding to the human origins gallery that had many changes. There was a dimly lit room behind a closed door where the original human fossils were. You could see some of it as there was a glass, but you needed to get a special ticket to enter. Now I wondered if I’d seen the original fossils during my previous visits. I’d felt so sad for the Turkana Boy (Homo erectus), but maybe I’d been cheated, crying at an empty grave. Though the chance that he was still alive seemed slim. The mammals were fortunately the same dusty old stuffed ones arranged in a more attractive way – it wouldn’t be nice to kill new animals to exhibit them at the museum. There were no stuffed topis. I think the birds used to be on the upper floor, but now they had moved down to the ground floor. Many still had their old typed species plaques. If it weren’t for the new price, it would be worth returning to the museum several times just to learn birds.


On the upper floor there was a big collection of traditional artefacts and Joy Adamson’s portraits, an exhibition of photos from Mexico and an African rock art exhibition. There was a lot of building going on, so there will probably be more exhibitions. The museum looked more modern, but it was still a real museum with dusty old exhibits instead of interactive beeping things.


While looking at a picture of a group of elders drinking beer through straws from a communal pot, a boy - probably in his 20s - commented that it looked unhygienic. I’ve seen a lot worse, but couldn’t think of any examples, and didn’t know what to say. We continued viewing artefacts and after a while he told me that I was very beautiful. That was interesting and I was going to find out what I’d managed to hide and how, when I remembered that he meant that I looked rich. I jumped the Mexico exhibition, lost sight of the boy and went straight to the rock art that was extremely interesting.


Somehow I drifted into the gift shop where they had the jewellery that I’d seen at Banana Box, but in a wider selection and at slightly lower prices. There was a new coffee lounge place called Savannah. As it was lunchtime, I had a sandwich, but regretted not having chosen a Greek salad instead. The boy who thought I looked rich appeared, sat down at a table and had an ice cream. Next to Savannah there was building work going on and it looked like there would be another restaurant. Earlier there had only been the university cafeteria. I returned to the gift shop, but decided definitely that I didn’t need any jewellery and then I left the museum. The boy was sitting next to the car park and I said goodbye to him. He got up and followed me saying that he’d thought I’d have a vehicle. How disappointing that must have been. Anyway he wanted us to have a coffee, but I said I had things to do. The boy thought we would meet again, but we didn’t. He irritated me because he reminded me of myself. Though he at least was young and cute and acted on his plans, unlike others. I hope he wasn’t the son of the owner of some small, unfenced safari camp. I never thought of visiting the snake park. The reptiles there looked quite sad when I was there on my first trip to Kenya and I don’t think it has been renovated.


Back at the Terminal I was recommended to take a matatu to Naivasha, but I wanted a big bus. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to press my big heavy bag into a matatu; it would even be a bit rude.

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Day 12


I was up early and insisted on taking a BIG bus even though there were matatus just around the corner. I got into a taxi that would take me to a bus leaving for Naivasha, like Jolly Coach that had been mentioned by Kamara. The driver found a Jolly Coach next to their ticket office in the River Road area. If it weren’t for my heavy bag, I could have walked there. The ticket was only 100 shillings. After having left my bag in the luggage compartment, I got on the bus that was big, but a bit old with cracked seats. Departure would be in 45 minutes and I looked at luggage being hauled up on the roof with ropes while listening to Dolly Parton. The choice of music made me think that Jolly Coach was a Kikuyu company. The bus filled up with people and a preacher shouted a sermon in Swahili for 15 minutes or so.


Then we were on our way – the wait had been closer to one and a half hour than 45 minutes. There were commercial Rift Valley viewpoints on the new highway as well, though higher and further away. On the radio there was a Swahili talk programme until when we were almost in Naivasha and it was switched to a Kikuyu talk programme. I’m almost sure it was Kikuyu and that they were talking about dandruff. We arrived in Naivasha Town and I took two steps in the light brown dust and could no longer see what colour my shoes were. Another passenger, Mohamed from Malindi, kindly offered to help me with my small bag. There were matatus some 10 metres away, but my bag was so heavy and my feet so dusty that I got into a taxi when the driver told me the price was 900 shillings and not the 1500 that I’ve been informed by Fisherman’s and soon we were driving down Moi South Road. As I’ve heard so much about a dying over fished lake surrounded by flower farms and people living in squalor, it actually didn’t look that bad – otherwise I might have been appalled. There were some zebras and there was a Red Cross IDP camp. The IDP camp looked empty though. We descended to Fisherman’s Camp, the bar was lifted and I was dropped off at the office.


There was nobody at the office, so I went to the rather nice raised open-sided restaurant where Priscilla gave me the key to banda number 11 and pointed out the direction. Priscilla and the rest of the restaurant staff were wearing T-shirts with “Hard Rock Café Baghdad closed for renovation” on the front, and “Fisherman’s Camp is open” on the back. The banda was at some distance from the restaurant and after having picked up my bag, the walk was very slow, but fortunately Tobis, who was working with water activities, came and took the bag. A white middle-aged woman appeared when we got to the banda. She asked me if I was OK and then Tobis took off without having got a tip and the white woman disappeared while I stopped him. Later I was told that she was the boss and she sometimes hanged around the restaurant, but I never talked with her. Some people who asked the waiters about her husband were told that he was in Iraq.


The banda was quite big with a very big bathroom, concrete floor, lots of insects, but no cockroaches- though maybe there are some now as one came as a stowaway in my necessaire - and papyrus walls. Outside there was a fireplace surrounded by some log seats. There was a sign with written rules on the wall, mostly regarding noise, but as I hadn’t planned making any noise, I don’t remember what it said. I had thought I’d be able to cook, but cooking appliances had to be rented for 500 shilling and then I’d have needed firewood, so instead I ended up spending a lot of money at the restaurant. Fisherman’s had green grass and the road going through the camp was only dusty in some parts. For some reason there were some heaps of dust placed on the lawn, but they could be avoided at daytime. There were tall yellow-barked acacias and a very papyrus fronted lakeview. I immediately saw some robin chats and then there were hoopoes, superb starlings, rollers, lovebirds, cattle egrets, ibises and many other birds. I went down to the jetty to have a look. There were pelicans, cormorants and egrets. The fish eagles’ screams were heard all the time at Fisherman’s and the eagles were often seen as well. Some 100 metres away along the papyrus a dozen or so hippo eyes and ears could be sighted above the water surface. I tried to photograph pied kingfishers hovering in the air, but I was never successful. At the huge campsite there were two overland trucks and a couple of smaller vehicles with tents.


At the restaurant I had a dish with a tasty sounding name that I don’t remember, but it was too much white rice and green peas. High in a fever tree above me there were relaxed looking colobus monkeys. Fisherman’s also had vervet monkeys and a pair of dikdiks. After lunch I went for a walk to a shopping centre some 500 metres away. On maps it’s called Sulmac Dukas, but everybody just said “the village”. I had had some apprehensions about Lake Naivasha as it already before the troubles had a reputation for violent crime. Though I didn’t see any dangerous looking people at all. There was a good tarmac road to the village and then between the shops I reencountered the dust that could be put in small expensive looking containers and sold as eye shadow. A boy, 10 years old or so, shouted, “Give me your watch!” to me. He had a small camouflage coloured backpack that I would have needed for excursions in the Naivasha area, so I said, “Give me your backpack!”. He just ran away screaming, “Not my backpack!” I don’t think any grown up people noticed. Nobody looked at me. There were just a few small shops, so I went for a walk in the other direction and then I returned to Fisherman’s where I met a young guy called Ofin who guided bicycle trips to Hell’s Gate. I would get completely fried cycling in the sun, even my hands would be burned, so I asked him if it was possible to take a matatu to the gate and then walk. The gate was 2 km from the matatu stop and then I’d have to walk 9km to the gorge. Ofin also did boat trips to Crescent Island and Crater Lake, but as the price was per boat, it’d be expensive for one person.


I returned to the banda and tried to reply to some sms. The delete button didn’t work and I kept pushing it until the phone got switched off, as the on/off button was the same as the delete button. Then it was impossible to switch it on. It was the worst thing that could have happened; I’d have preferred to drop my camera in the lake. I’d miss so many offers for extremely inexpensive safaris and I’d not be able to find a way to stay in Kenya. I went to the restaurant to see if there were any mobile phone wizards. There weren’t any; they thought I should bring the charger, which I did, but I still couldn’t switch the phone on. If I returned at 8 in the morning there would be someone who was good at phones. There was a knee high electric fence some 20 metres from the papyrus and it was switched on at 6.30pm when the hippos came up to graze. Osman, a night askari from Samburu, showed me two hippos that were grazing close to the papyrus in the dark. There was a spotlight in a tree, but they didn’t feel like grazing under it.


Then I had dinner – tomato soup and a mixed salad. It was the best tomato soup I had this trip. I don’t always have tomato soup when in Kenya, there might even be trips when I haven’t had any at all. I think I had tomato soup at least three times at Fisherman’s.


Ofin appeared and said there might be more hippos at Fish Eagle Inn that’s next to Fisherman’s. We went there to have a look. The electric fence at Fish Eagle was very close to the papyrus, so there wasn’t much of a “hippo lawn”. Then we heard an American woman calling, “Hey there. Don’t walk close to the fence. The hippos are very dangerous.” We walked towards her and she said, “Can you see us? Our guide told us that hippos kill people.” I’m writing approximately what she said. Ofin knows the exact words and is probably still impersonating her. When we got closer the American woman saw that Ofin was their guide from Hell’s Gate who had warned them about the hippos. There was a French woman as well and they had come from the Mara with two guides that had gone to town hours ago, and now they didn’t know how to start their campfire. They thought that they needed some small twigs to be glowing red before they could put on the heavier firewood. Ofin lighted the fire and I showed them my pictures from the Mara. The French-American campers were lining up beer bottles in the grass. They were having a party and invited us to some beer. I don’t drink beer and Ofin didn’t really drink anything alcoholic, but he had a beer anyway. It was getting very late and I had to get up early to fix my phone. Some guys appeared on a motorcycle, but they weren’t the guides. Ofin and I left and we heard the French woman scream, “She saw so much and we saw nothing!” and the American repeated the animals that I’d seen. Ofin told me that their guides were just some guys that they had found in the street in Nairobi.


I asked Ofin about the Australian woman who was killed by a hippo in 2005. He had been there. A group of people crossed the fence from Fish Eagle to Fisherman’s. The lights were out at Fisherman’s and they got in the way of an angry hippo. Nobody was hurt except the woman that was killed. They must have thought that the electric fence was at the same level at Fisherman’s as at Fish Eagle. I didn’t ask when the fence was put up. I think I’ve read about some incidents with injured people before the fence.


The banda was cooler than it would have been with canvas walls, but the shower was hot. I worried about my phone.

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Day 13


I was up early hoping to find a solution to my dramatic phone problem. For breakfast I had tea with toast and jam and that’s what I had all mornings. The price was 190 shillings, which is more expensive than in Nairobi. No mobile phone wizards appeared, but Ofin did, telling me that I should go to a real phone repair place in the village, and off we went. The repair shop was on the second floor of a small wooden building, and in a cramped office a young man with a tiny screwdriver opened up my phone. I nearly fainted, but tried to look calm. He said it was something with the rubber and then he tested about every single function before showing me that the on/off and delete button had returned to functioning perfectly. The price was 500 shillings. The repairman had changed the ring tone and switched the phone from Celtel to Safaricom, but that wasn’t a problem since I don’t understand the difference between phone companies and nobody is supposed to phone me while I’m in Kenya.


I had a message from George at As You Like It. They had 3 Americans that were interested in a 2-night trip to Nanyuki on Thursday (it was Tuesday) and the price would be an insane $595. I replied that I had a problem with high prices and group trips and then I got a message from Vivien saying that the Americans were nice NGO people and asking how much I was willing to pay. I have a problem with nice people as well, but I didn’t write that. I just said that I had things to do in Naivasha and didn’t want to leave, which was true. I wouldn’t have paid a penny more than $250. Then I sms:ed that I was interested in an afternoon game drive in Nairobi National Park. It would be $140 including lunch and I just agreed even though it was too expensive. I think I paid $50 in 2005, but that was a shared game drive without lunch and before the park fees were raised to $40. I’d been quoted hideous prices when walking into safari companies to ask about Nairobi NP.


I decided to do some business with Ofin forking out 5000 shillings for a sole use motorboat. He said that since it was so dry, the animals had disappeared from Crescent Island and Crater Lake would be better. We decided to meet at the Fish Eagle jetty at 11am. I took my leather sandals in a plastic bag and decided to wear flip-flops in case there would be mud getting in and out of the boat. I imagined that to get to the Crater Lake there would be a short walk in green shade with buffaloes.


Down at the Fish Eagle jetty there were five men plus Ofin and a guy called Simon that Ofin presented as his “trainee”. We put on life vests and took off along the papyrus. We had a closer look at the hippos and then Ofin got out a couple of small tilapias that he had bought from some fishermen at the jetty. He was going to throw them to the fish eagles so that I could get good pictures. I felt very uneasy about this, mostly for the tilapias themselves and because I wanted a cero-fatality trip, but also because the eagles could catch their own fish and the tilapias were human food fish. I was too slow to get any water surface pictures and we continued. Ofin pointed out flower farms and where the workers lived on the hill slopes. Though there was more un-developed land than I would have imagined. We landed on a muddy beach full of shoats and then we started a dusty walk in the midday sun through the Crater Lake Sanctuary. The fee for visiting this sanctuary was 800 shillings, so I would pay 5800 for the trip. There was dust, dust, dust, short very dry grass and tall yellow-barked acacias. Zebras and giraffes could be seen in good numbers and they weren’t particularly afraid of humans. The dikdiks and kongonis were more wary. I happened to say “kongoni anakimbia” when one of them ran away and Ofin told me he and Simon had got really “scared” as I didn’t have an accent. Almost nobody speaks Swahili without an accent, so they must have meant that I didn’t have an English accent. I told them that I knew how to say some things in Swahili, but that I didn’t understand anything. I wonder what they had been saying about me … Ofin found some leopard tracks. Leopards were almost never seen, but one was probably watching us. I never put on my leather sandals and I must say that flip-flops really are the perfect game walk shoes. First I wasn’t too happy with the dust and the frying sun, but the animals made it a really pleasant 2-hour or so walk without seeing any other people. Only the last ascending part was a little bit though for someone completely out of shape, but it would be nothing for any normal person. Up on the viewpoint the crater looked ridiculously scenic with its jungly walls and jade green lake with pink flamingos.


We descended to the Crater Lake Camp and walked down to have a look at the flamingos. The beach was so full of flamingo excrement that instead of wading, I took a garden hose to wash my dusty feet. I don’t know how much of my time at Lake Naivasha was spent scrubbing feet and shoes. Ofin found the feet washing unnecessary, as I would get dusty again on the walk back. We had lunch and I asked Ofin about the owner of Crater Lake Camp that was shot in 2005. Ofin had been there with some guests in the morning of the fatidic day. Some robbers shot the owner in the car park. They didn’t need to shoot him to rob, so there could have been some land dispute involved. Simon wanted to talk about football, but both Ofin and I thought it was a really silly game. Ofin never watched it on television and was only interested in Animal Planet. He cuddled the animal print cushions of the armchair and I got a photo of him. Simon didn’t want to smile on photos, as he wanted to look like a gangster. I never asked them how old they were. Ofin showed quite a bit of knowledge and had probably read more than a couple of wildlife books. Guiding in Kenya would be so much better if people like him were given driver’s licenses instead of giving wildlife books to drivers that will never open them anyway.


Then we went down to the water for a walk to the other side of the crater. There was some evidence of buffaloes, but we didn’t see the animals themselves. We did see some colobus monkeys in the trees. Climbing up to the crater rim was a bit much for my level of fitness, but I didn’t complain. When Ofin and Simon asked me if I was OK I just said, “maybe” and “I think so”. The get up on the viewpoint on this side of the crater I took off the flip-flops and climbed barefoot as it was a rocky and steep climb. Then we were down on the other side of the crater. There was a fence and a farm to one side. A young woman came walking with a baby on the front and a big bundle on the back. Ofin said she had been working on the farm and now was walking home to the other side of some hills in the distance. He didn’t add that she didn’t complain, but I really hadn’t complained either. There was a herd of some 20 buffaloes and we walked rather close to them. Ofin said that they felt very safe in a herd and weren’t dangerous at all. Simon said that he felt very safe with us, but wouldn’t be walking anywhere in the sanctuary on his own. Besides the usual zebras and giraffes, we also saw some waterbucks and tommies. Elands were supposed to be around, but we didn’t see them. Then Ofin discovered leopard tracks again. We met a herd of cows that were returning from having had a drink of the lake with their Maasai herder. I tried to photograph some paradise flycatchers, but they didn’t cooperate. At the beach there were two Maasai teenagers, one of them retarded, and some shoats. Two men were waiting in the motorboat and it had been an approximately 1½-hour walk.


We boarded the boat and set off. After just some 100 metres the motor stalled and the captain started taking it apart. The Maasai teenagers began dancing and the retarded one shouted, “kufa, kufa, kufa” (die, die, die). I don’t know why I didn’t ask what he really was shouting. Ofin and Simon were laughing at him and he could have been saying, “kuja”, which is a Kenyan way of saying, “come”, though the correct way would be to say “njoo” to one person and “njooni” to more than one person. The captain got the motor started, but after a while it stalled again. Ofin and Simon were talking and joking all the time. They imitated waiters at the coast and their clever – and very offensive to the guests – way of communicating orders to the kitchen and Ofin imitated the American lady that had warned us of the hippos. She was the funniest person he had ever met. They had a theory that Kenyans were the worst dressed people in the world. Ofin had seen a man dancing at a club in Kisumu wearing a life jacket and there were Maasai that during the hottest time of the year in January wore a shuka, then a warm coat, a blanket and a woollen hat. They were having fun and seemed to like each other very much. According to media, in January Simon’s community were trying to ethnically cleanse Naivasha of people like Ofin.


When we finally reached the Fish Eagle jetty it was time to switch on the hippo fence. I can recommend a boat trip to Crater Lake with Ofin, but it would be a lot less expensive with a matatu.


Agnes was working at the restaurant. I think the restaurant staff worked for 3 days and then had 2 days off, which isn’t bad for Kenya, but they had to wear silly t-shirts. A waiter called Jeremiah had asked her to tell me that he had waited to invite me to a soda in the village before he had to take the bus to Nairobi. Agnes’s face lit up every time she saw new guests approaching the restaurant. There was a Dutch guy that was interested in playing golf in Naivasha and Agnes phoned her friend who was the president of a golf club in Nairobi and arranged for the Dutchman to be the guest of someone so that he didn’t have to pay a fee. Agnes’s husband was a safari driver, but when looking at my photos her eyes became round and she asked me, “What is that animal?” I think she understood that I wanted to be a wildlife expert. Her husband was in the Mara, her 2-year daughter was with her brother in law in Nairobi and was being taken care of by a “girl” and her older daughter was somewhere else at school. I decided to study Agnes to learn social skills.


There were two young girls from New Zealand in the restaurant and they asked Agnes if there were any torches that they could borrow. It was almost impossible for them to find and open their tent in the dark. There weren’t any torches, but she offered them a candle. As I had four torches (an absolute minimum on my packing list) I said they could borrow my small blue torch that was in my bag. I had my big red metallic torch on the bar, as Agnes had observed that it was the same colour as my phone that I had lying neatly beside it. The girls asked if they could buy the torch, but I say they could buy my big black torch the next day as the small one had the name of a school where I had worked on it. I had no fond memories of the school, but wanted to keep the torch anyway. The girls asked me if it was a Kenyan school and I had to tell them that unfortunately it wasn’t. My plan was to charge them a Cadbury chocolate bar for the black torch.


Osman appeared saying that there were some hippos and I grabbed my torch to have a look. I walked carefully so that I wouldn’t touch the electric fence or step in the heaps of dust having to scrub my shoes again. Further down the fence a herd of hippos were grazing. We walked closer, but Osman told me and an English speaking non-American couple, that I couldn’t see well in the dark, to keep a distance from the fence. He said that sometimes people aren’t careful and there is trouble. I added something about how dangerous hippos were and how important it was to be careful. Then Osman pointed out a tiny, tiny calf and I stepped forward shining my torch at the really tiny calf. At the same second the big territorial bull charged and I jumped into a heap of dust when aiming to get behind a tree. The bull stopped before the fence and the English speaking man said that he now had something to tell his grandchildren. We watched the hippos at a safe distance for a while and then I returned to the restaurant where a woman had taken my chair with my bag hanging on it. She was in a group that had arrived in vehicles and were sitting in a ring next to the bar. They were white and I don’t know if they were tourists from another place or if they were living in Naivasha. I said, “Sorry, this is my bag” and took the bag with my camera and binoculars in it and she stared angrily at me. I don’t know if it’s against bar etiquette to occupy a space with your phone on the bar and bag on a chair when you’re away for a while to watch hippos. There were other chairs a couple of metres away. I paid and said goodnight to Agnes and the group, but only Agnes said goodnight to me. I think I had been too far away for them to notice that I had molested a baby hippo, but I’m not sure.

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Day 14


Early in the morning I thought a big animal, possibly a leopard, was tap dancing on my roof, but when I got out I saw that there was nothing but some vervets. Then, when I’d had breakfast, the Kiwi girls appeared in the restaurant and I remembered that I had to go and fetch the black torch.


On the way to my banda a bird guide called Bruno stopped me. I needed to learn more about birds and was interested in a one-hour bird walk, but Bruno’s price was 3,000 shillings. Not only had I already spent too much money, but 3,000 was exactly what I’d been told I’d have to charge people for my services to get a half-decent income after paying high taxes and social security as a self-employed person and I would never dare to ask anyone to pay me that much; a couple of years earlier I’d been told that 300 shillings per day was a better than average pay for camp staff and Nelson was earning $150 per month (10,000 shillings?). Of course, Bruno asked me to tell him how much I was willing to pay, but I just wanted to know the “normal” price and I wanted to pay the lowest price that would still feel like a good deal to him. There was no way he would give me this information, so I went to ask Agnes who asked me if a motorboat was included in the price. She didn’t know the “normal” price, but said that Bruno would give me a better price and that he would not be offended at all because I’d asked her, which I found hard to believe. The price came down to 1,500, which still was too expensive, but I was willing to pay to keep everyone happy. I suppose Bruno had heard of my trip to Crater Lake.


We went on a walk down to the jetty and around Fisherman’s. There were many birds, but not that many that I wouldn’t have been able to identify on my own; right now I can only think of the African citril. The bird walk was about finding birds and identifying them, and I think Bruno was good at it. He didn’t tell me anything about bird behaviour though. He said he would give me some extra bird time at the public beach, so we went for a (relatively) long walk in the ferocious sun along the road. There were very few birds at the roadside, but at the public beach there were hoopoes, LBRs, white fronted bee-eaters, drongos, the ever-present pied kingfishers and some others, that I don’t remember. The public beach wasn’t dusty as the ground was dry-mud lake bottom with short, green grass. There were women doing their laundry on the shore and laying the clothes to dry on the grass, men with donkeys carrying big water containers up to where the flower farm workers lived, and some grazing sheep. It ended up being a 2-hour bird walk.


When back at Fisherman’s I took my black torch and went to look for the girls from New Zealand. Agnes wasn’t completely sure, but she thought they had already left! I asked her and some other people if the Kiwis had handed them my blue torch, but it was nowhere to be found.


I had booked for 3 nights, but hadn’t seen enough of Naivasha and had no idea of where to go next. Agnes looked in the book and saw that my banda was booked for Friday! There were other bandas though. I would have to talk to the manager, Moses, the next morning to find out if I’d have to move and if I would be able to pay the normal price instead of the weekend price. I enjoyed having my own little house in such a lovely spot with hippos and colobus monkeys, but I had to go somewhere else to find a way to stay in Kenya. Time was slipping away.


I decided to have tea at Elsamere and got on a matatu for only 10 shillings. Ofin had said that there would be hundreds of cakes to choose from and that there was no limit on how much you could eat. The road after entering the gate was dusty and there were zebra tracks. The old Land Rover in which George Adamson was shot to death was placed at the entrance of the house. The tea was 600 shillings and I was the only guest, so I could choose when I wanted to watch the film. I decided to start with the ancient video that at times reminded me more of “The War of the Ants” than an interview with Joy Adamson. I had some problems staying awake. Then I had a look at the museum with bits and pieces like Joy’s typewriter and the dress that she wore when meeting queen Elizabeth II. I bought a mouse pad with a drawing of Elsa lying on a sun bed, or tent cot, or most likely a tent cot used as a sun bed. Then it was time for tea. There were just 6 kinds of cake, but I couldn’t have eaten more anyway. One of them was a squash pie that could have been a nasty surprise if I hadn’t noticed that it wasn’t sweet before taking the first bite. The waiter told me that the wildlife was much better than at Fisherman’s and that they sometimes had elands on the lawn. Now I have looked at their website and only the usual hippos, colobus and fish eagles are mentioned. Did he really say anything about elands and did I see zebra tracks? I do remember that I thought about staying at Elsamere, but changed my mind when I was told that it was $100 per night. I went out onto the back of the garden with the lake view. There was a sign about a nature trail and some wooden steps down to the jetty. There was also a warning sign about dangerous animals, but at the jetty there was just a small clearing with papyrus at both sides, so I don’t know if the steps were the nature trail. I did see a giant kingfisher. I would have liked to see the conservation centre, but it was getting late, so I left.


I decided to walk back to Fisherman’s. It was getting dark but there were lots of people walking or cycling and I lost count of how many of them asked me where I was from and how they could come to my country. Almost all of them were from western Kenya and working on flower farms. They were all on their way somewhere and nobody insisted on following me forever. There were splendid lake views and the sun was sleepy and mellow.


In the evening I asked if my blue torch had turned up at the restaurant, but it hadn’t. I talked with a Sri Lankan man and an American mother with a teenage son on an overland trip. They had no Kiwis in their group and they thought that the girls had been in another truck that left at midday. I didn’t keep track of other guests at Fisherman’s as they spent most of their time out on excursions or around their own tents and campfires. I hardly talked to any of them, but these people told me that they had been to Ngorongoro and Serengeti without seeing a male lion, their cook came down with malaria on the first day and their tour leader, who had never done the trip herself, got the flu. They weren’t told what was going to happen, but just what time they should be waiting, and they ended up wasting a lot of time waiting. They didn’t know that you could arrange a trip the way you wanted it with any of the hundreds of safari companies in Nairobi, but after seeing my photos, the Sri Lankan decided that it was what he would do the next time. In the morning they would be picked up by two smaller vehicles and driven to the Mara for a 2-night safari. I gave them some advice about what to do if there were “no animals” in the Mara and they thought I was very clever. That’s what’s nice about other tourists; all Kenyans think that I’m very stupid. They also thought that not knowing where I was going next was very ”brave” and I found that an interesting way of interpreting my lack of initiative. I thought we should do some hippo watching, but the mother and son had to return to their tent as they were getting up very early. I waited for the Sri Lankan man to finish his beer and he started telling me that his wife lived in England and when he called me darling Osman appeared. The beer was finished and I said, “let’s go and have a look at the hippos”, but the Sri Lankan disappeared in the dark.


I would have liked to tell the overland travellers that you have to be very careful with hippos. All nine members of the herd with the tiny baby were grazing at the other end of the camp. I watched them for a long time in a very respectful way and I didn’t upset a single hippo.


This night I missed my blue torch.

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Day 15


In the morning I went looking for Moses, but he wasn’t around. Just in case I would have to pay the weekend rates, I decided to check out the neighbouring accommodation options. First Fish Eagle Inn next door. Fish Eagle is a hotel with a campsite. There is a swimming pool, but I’m not interested in that kind of thing. There was also a peacock, which was more interesting and it explained some strange sounds. The place looked very quiet and a self-contained (en suite) single room was 2,220 shillings per night. I never had a look at the room. Then I had to check out Camp Carnelley’s that was bordering Fisherman’s on the other side. Unlike Fish Eagle the camp had no direct access from Fisherman’s, so I had to walk all the way up to the road and then almost halfway to “the village” before descending on a long and dusty driveway. Fisherman’s used to be even bigger than now, but the owner died leaving the camp to two sons with different ideas of how to run it. They decided to split it up and the son with a burnt face created Camp Carnelley’s. At least it’s what I was told. Carnelley’s looked much like Fisherman’s, but was smaller and the restaurant was more basic and down to earth. There were a couple of interesting vegetarian options, but it was too early to have lunch. I was shown a bigger more luxurious banda than the one I had at Fisherman’s. It would cost me 2,000 per night. There were also some nice smaller bandas that only cost 800 shillings, but they had shared bathrooms, and for that reason weren’t anything I would consider.


After Carnelley’s I crossed the road to have a look at Top Camp and it was a long, dusty, uphill walk in almost desert like conditions with dry bushes and euphorbias. When I was finally getting closer to the camp I heard what to me sounded like a very unhappy buffalo until I saw cows at the other side of the fence behind Top Camp. I found some construction workers at the camp and after a while a woman who would show me the bandas appeared. There was a big banda with a complete kitchen and a nice bathroom for the price of 4,000 shillings and the cheapest banda without shower cost 1,400 per night. There were splendid lake views, but I wouldn’t recommend Top Camp to anyone without a vehicle and I wouldn’t recommend the area to any cows looking for grass. The descent was downhill (I expect people of all intellectual levels to read this report) but it was even hotter and drier. I met, or rather caught up with, an old Maasai man who touched his stomach as if he was hungry. It would have felt more authentic if he had told me, even in Maa, that he was broke and needed to buy some food. He probably needed some cash for something so I gave him a very small sum. Then came a pickup truck on its way down from Top Camp and the Maasai man jumped into the passenger seat. I was a bit disappointed at not having been offered a lift in the back of the truck, but I hadn’t even asked. Back at Fisherman’s I met Moses who told me I could stay over the weekend for 1,000 per night. I would have to move to number 12 or, if the person who had booked number 11 agreed, I could stay. I’d have to come to Moses in the morning to find out if I’d have to move or not.


I sat down in the green grass next to the papyrus looking at an outstretched vervet that was being groomed by another vervet. Top Camp is often recommended as a quieter alternative to Fisherman’s, but I would still recommend the latter, even in high season with people on overland trips throwing up in every bush. The camps could be called Camp of Death and Camp of Life.


I decided that sitting in the grass waiting for something interesting to appear was more in tune with my physical and mental condition than walking in the midday sun was, so I just stayed in the grass. Five sheep accompanied by a herder were grazing and I was falling asleep when a pickup truck arrived and parked on the driveway to the jetty. Ten men got off the truck and came running towards me in single file with pangas (machetes) in their hands. I asked them what was happening and one of them replied in a hushed voice, “we’re taking action against poachers”, “fish thieves”, added another of them. I didn’t ask them if they were going to cut the poachers into pieces, but I got up to see what they would do. I didn’t want to go into the papyrus, as there could be mud and hippos, and after a while I went to the restaurant to have lunch. Ofin and Simon came and got into the papyrus and then the poacher hunters left.


In the afternoon I met Ofin who said that the men with pangas had been from Fisheries and had caught two poachers. As I didn’t even notice, it must have been very un-dramatic. There was a two months’ fishing moratorium. Ofin recommended a trip to Oloiden Lake for 1,500 shillings and off we went. We got on a matatu that had its last stop at Oserian flower farm and then we started walking towards Kongoni hoping that an infrequent Kongonibound matatu would appear. We were lucky with the matatu and soon we were in Kongoni village that was even dustier than the dustiest places I had seen so far. On the way there we saw some zebras and impalas. Just behind the village there was a stretch of woodland, and after a short walk among the trees we saw the lake that wasn’t as insanely scenic as Crater Lake, but bigger and scenic enough - and there was no fee for visiting it. Oloiden used to be a bay of Lake Naivasha, but that was a long time ago and now it’s a soda lake with flamingo numbers that reminded more of Lake Nakuru than of Crater Lake. There were hippos and a tree full of cormorants, a hamerkop eating a fish, some shoats with a herder and a small herd of zebras. Ofin said that there usually were more varied plains game. I finally got an open mouth hippo picture and I started collecting bird feathers. It was getting late and Ofin said we’d better leave before it got dark.


On the way back to Kongoni we passed a clearing between the trees with the most idyllic looking camp consisting of two large octagonal tents and a kitchen tent with a big heap of chopped cucumber or squash. There was just one person who looked like a young ranger, but was a soldier of the Kenyan army, and what looked like a mobile luxury camp was an army camp. The soldier was from western Kenya. Ofin knew him and stopped to talk for a while. Back in Kongoni there was a prayer meeting with a shouting preacher. A matatu was departing and we hopped on. Two sheep were loaded through the back door and were made to lie under the seat. It looked uncomfortable and stressful, but I suppose that it was better than a long walk on a leash. I could easily have visited Oloiden on my own for almost nothing and Crater Lake is also reachable on foot from Kongoni, but the walk is a bit longer and there’s an 800-shilling fee. Being guided by Ofin made me feel like a big, fat, pink baby tourist, which I suppose in many ways is an apt description of what I am.


This night there were no hippos. Osman said that they had gone somewhere else to graze. I packed my bags to be ready to move to banda 12 the next morning.

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Day 16


My bags were ready for a move and I went to look for Moses, but couldn’t find him. Priscilla checked the book and said that I wasn’t moving until the next day. There had been a name written on the Friday lines, but it was crossed out and re-written on Saturday. Then I met Ofin who told me that the animals now were back on Crescent Island.


I’d been thinking of checking my email, but there was a sign at the office saying it was 100 shillings for ten minutes – ten times as expensive as in Nairobi. Now I decided to do it anyway. A man whose name I don’t remember said I could have a special 200-shilling surfing card for long stay guests, and showed me the way to a computer at the back of the restaurant. I had some connection problems, wrote a reply to an email and when I was going to send it I was disconnected. Then I was told Moses had opened the office and that I could try the computer there. At the office Moses asked how much I’d paid and I discovered that he had never heard anything about surfing cards. He went to talk to the other guy and came back saying it was OK. I kept getting disconnected and never managed to send the email and then Moses said there was no time left on my card and that I had to pay another 200. I said I might just as well throw my money into the lake and then I went down to the jetty to do almost exactly that. It’s very possible that Fisherman’s had an expensive Internet connection that they needed to make guests pay for, but I felt irritated anyway.


Bye, bye, big fat pink baby tourist. I was going to rent a small rowing boat and paddle it on my own to where the hippos were - I’m not that good at rowing. Unfortunately, the rowing boat was too big for me to paddle on my own, so I had to take Tobis with me. I got a very heavy wooden oar and remembered that my previous paddling experience was restricted to a rubber dinghy with plastic oars and downriver. I almost couldn’t lift the oar, but tried to look fit, which took a lot of charm from the hippo viewing. I asked Tobis how close we could paddle to the hippos without disturbing them and risking ending up in the water, but he was only interested in how close I wanted to go. I don’t know how often boats are attacked as it isn’t international nor Kenyan news as long as nobody gets killed, but a couple of years ago I read about a Swedish mother and daughter that ended up in the waters of Lake Naivasha when rowing too close to a hippo. I really didn’t want my camera, and definitely not my phone, to get wet. The hippos looked at us but I don’t think they got upset at all. I can recommend a hippo viewing paddling trip. I think it was just 500 shillings for an hour. Though a better way of doing it would have been to buy a plastic inflatable boat at a toy store in Nairobi and then donating it to some child after the hippo viewing.


After lunch I saw some information that the fees for Crescent Island were $14. I had read that if trying the get there by land there could be problems with a landowner whose land you’d have to cross, but Agnes, who was back from Nairobi where she had eaten hamburgers at Nandos with her husband and youngest daughter, said I would have no problems taking a matatu and then walking to Crescent Island.


Soon I was up on the road to wait for a matatu. The skies were getting dark and I saw it as a sign that the python rain goddess, Omieri, from the west, would make an apparition. I got on a matatu and was assured that I’d be let off at the right place. In “the village” there was a woman wearing a t-shirt with “Fisherpeople Have Human Rights Too” printed on it. I got off at Sanctuary Farm. There was a guard at the gate and he told me how to get to Crescent Island and not to take any notice of the un-welcoming signs. There were fences everywhere, lots of dust, very little grass and the sun was out to fry me again. Besides some horses there were zebras, so there must have been some kind of passage between the fences. After a long walk I reached a sandy racecourse with a lone wildebeest grazing on the middle of it. Someone had turned the trunk of a yellow barked acacia into a giant green foot with pink toenails. I continued my walk and came across some very European looking cattle with a herder who confirmed that I was on the right way. Then there was a gate and a sign saying “Bushy Island”.


The green bushiness was a complete contrast to what I’d seen so far and a giraffe was standing in the middle of the road. I went inside and 9 more giraffes appeared. The giraffes were definitely worth the long dusty walk and I thought they were just the beginning. I wanted to stay with them, but continued my walk passing a hill with some round huts and a nice looking house. A slim brown dog approached me growling. I could pat him, but then he started growling again. I didn’t feel comfortable with him at all. Then his pit bull-style friend appeared and came running towards me barking like a more normal dog and when he reached me he became very friendly. I continued and came across a herd of impalas and then I saw the Crescent Island sign and a sign saying, “the animals are wild … your own risk …etc.” No one was there to charge me the entrance fee, so I entered and looked around still without seeing anyone. There was a tall, very dry slope and I continued walking on the road at the base of the slope, maybe hoping to save the $14. I didn’t see any mammals at all. Some crowned plovers were very angry with me and suddenly someone looking like a ranger appeared at the top of the slope. I prepared myself to look like a stupid tourist, which wouldn’t be much of an effort. The ranger was carrying a price list on which I could see that the fee for non-residents was $25. Crescent Island was closing at 5pm and it was already almost 4.30, so I didn’t want to pay and said that I would be back the following day. The ranger consulted a female voice with a “white” Swahili accent on the walkie-talkie and she asked him to say they were very sorry and that I was welcome back the next day. I saw the impalas again, but I only heard the dogs and the giraffes had disappeared. There were a couple of more wildebeest on the racecourse and the sun was still fierce. I started fantasizing about warm soapy water for my very dirty feet and sandals. My plan was to have a look at the horse riding activity at Sanctuary Farm. I felt too paranoid to wear a loose braid on a matatu, but it could be interesting to see what it looked like. Then a blue Land Rover appeared and the white couple in it asked me where I was going. They were going to town, but could give me a lift up to the road and I hopped into the vehicle. Up on the road I was asked to slam the door hard to shut it and I managed to do it. This might seem a bit irrelevant to write about, but when I am given practical instructions like pressing the key to the left to close a door, I never manage to do it and it makes me come across as very stupid.


I was back at Fisherman’s before dark and did some colobus watching. There were good-sized, but not huge spiders in my banda. When I showed photos of them to Agnes she told me I should kill them. Agnes was very talented at dealing with people, but clueless about animals. Jeremiah was there as well and he said he had to talk to me about something important before I was leaving.


My torch hadn’t appeared and there were no hippos this night either. I didn’t bother to pack my bags.

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Day 17


At breakfast I was informed that I could stay in banda number 11 - my banda - for the two remaining nights, and then I put a water bottle in my small bag. I don’t normally carry bottles of water around, but I was going to have a picnic lunch on Crescent Island. It was getting too late to go to “the village” to buy food. Instead I bought a small packet of long-life milk, two bread buns and two bananas, and then I got on a matatu to Sanctuary Farm. Even though I, like the previous day, was wearing my leather sandals and not my flip flops (I was afraid of developing a pain between my toes) I bounced down to Crescent Island in 45 minutes. The pit bull type dog and a big brown dog gave me a barking welcome, and the growling dog was nowhere to be seen.


At the gate to Crescent Island there was a ranger who told me that to pay the entrance fee I’d have to walk up the tall dusty slope to a red-roofed house, which reminded me of bad service, but didn’t bother me, as I wanted to see the house. The garden was a green oasis full of birds and a young white, or even blond, woman appeared. She had long eyelashes, a nice dog and a wooden box where she put my 1,400 shillings. There was a good exchange rate for paying in shillings. I wouldn’t have to pay anything extra for a guide, but if he was “really, really good” I could tip him 200 shillings. On a table was the shedded skin of a big python. I was told to walk along the road at the top of the slope where a guide would meet me- and so I did. Outside a wooden hut two guides were sitting. I’d been thinking of whether I needed a guide or not and decided that I did if I was going to find a python, but the guides thought I could walk on my own, and said it was too dry to find a python anyway. I was told to keep away from bushy areas where buffaloes could be lurking and to leave my ticket with them and then collect it on my return. The guides said it would be a good idea to join a big group down the slope, but the group was too far away for me to catch up with even if I’d have wanted to. The animals were down on the outside of the crescent where I couldn’t see them. The crescent shape was clearly visible from the top of the island, which made me feel quite sure of not getting lost. It was very hot and this time it wasn’t some other person that was making me walk in the midday sun.


I decided to start with the inside of the crescent, and since the buffaloes and I had similar preferences, I had to walk quite close to the bushes next to the shore. I could always jump into the lake – with the hippos – if I were attacked. The possible presence of buffaloes made me feel slim and tanned, and I’m sure my eyes would have been open if anyone would have photographed me (they usually aren’t). It was a very pleasant feeling compared to the sadness I’d felt most of the time at Lake Naivasha. There were some guinea fowls and dikdiks that kept running away, a waterbuck having a drink of lake water and in the water there were hippos. For a while the animals were so scarce that I started photographing dead crayfish.


I reached the tip of the crescent and turned to the outer side where there was a lake bottom plain of dry mud with short green grass. After a while I saw some wildebeests and then some good-sized waterbuck herds. There were zebras and tommies and up among the yellow barked acacias there were some giraffes. I didn’t see any people at all. The sky had turned overcast and I could see dustdevils in the direction of Naivasha town. My plan had been to find a tree with good shade to have lunch under, but as the sun had been hidden, I just sat down on the plain among the animals. I arranged a still life out of my lunch and photographed it. Later it occurred to me that it would have been so much better with a wildebeest skull thrown in, but then I had already eaten most of the it, except a bun that was really tasteless and should be used for bird baiting. There was a tommie fawn on his own looking for his mother and I didn’t know what to do. As there were no predators, he’d probably starve to death. After a while I saw him joining a tommie herd in the distance, too far away to be sure that he found his mother. I wasn’t completely happy and the animals kept their distance from me (20 metres or so), but I thought that sitting there on the ground was one of less than two handfuls of highlights of my life and a little bit better than watching the zebra crossing in the Mara. Big numbers of wild animals is the only thing that makes life on earth bearable. I don’t know how to explain it, but it has something to do with noses, ears, whiskers, stares and being like me but completely different. People are irritatingly and stressfully identical to me. Though in Kenya they are a bit more entertaining.


There was thunder and lightning in the distance, and pelicans came circling on the wind above my head. I failed at getting a good picture of them and then I got up to continue my game walk. I found two dead wildebeests that were only nibbled at and higher up in a drier more wooded area there was a dead impala. I discovered that I had blisters on my heels and started regretting trying to walk in anything else than flip-flops. I had to put the back straps of my sandals under my feet and developed a shuffling walk. I encountered a couple of giraffes and Grant’s gazelles and then it started raining and I decided to return to where the guides were. Several pairs of crowned plovers got upset with me and one even made almost frightening aerial attacks.


There were four guides/rangers at the wooden hut and they all thought I should be glad that I didn’t see any buffaloes. I asked them if the animals at been away earlier in the week and the guides said that they were always around as they had nowhere to go.


The rain stopped before I reached Bushy Island and I got an sms from George (As you Like It) asking me when I’d be back in Nairobi (Monday). I thought about returning to Crescent Island, but I had already spent over four hours there. I didn’t see the dogs. Instead a young man from Samburu appeared. He was in the tourist industry and living on Bushy Island. He showed me a giraffe that was almost hidden in the bushes and some wildebeests on the racecourse. Then he asked me if I could find him a job in Sweden. This time the walk was much longer than 45 minutes. When almost up on the road I was found by another young man, who had seen me in the morning and decided that he had to ask me to help him find a job in the tourist industry. I told him that I was just a tourist, but he wasn’t convinced that I couldn’t get people jobs. He also suggested “sponsorship” and he wanted to come to Fisherman’s to sell me some asparagus. Buying asparagus is something I could and should have done, but I was so tired and lazy that I just explained that I wasn’t self-catering and wasn’t interested.


Back at Fisherman’s everything was wet as there had been good rains. I started scrubbing myself and then I lay down on my bed. A vehicle playing repetitive music with incestuous swearwords in the lyrics arrived and I decided to get up before falling asleep. When I got up I saw that a group of young Kenyans were touristing at Fisherman’s. It was interesting, as you don’t see that many Kenyan tourists in Kenya. I got an sms from Kamara asking me if I could do the Nairobi NP game drive on Monday. I said Tuesday would be better as I didn’t know what time I’d be in Nairobi. It was OK and As you Like It would find someone to take me there as Kamara would be home in Nakuru (where he had moved in January).


Then Jeremiah appeared asking me if he could spend the night in my banda. The reason for wanting this was that he had “loved” me since the first time he saw me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not out and about that much, but I found this improper behaviour from someone who had told me about his wife and two children. I told Jeremiah there were three beds and that he could spend the night if he brought his wife, and he wasn’t imaginative enough to find this even more “interesting”. He suggested just giving me a massage and then leaving, but I preferred a massage in the restaurant, which he wouldn’t give me as his boss could see it.


This night the nine hippos were back - because of the rain, said Osman. And a camper said that he had spent 26 years in Kenya – all his life, I suppose - without seeing a hippo out of the water.

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Day 18


In the morning I went for a walk to “the village” where I didn’t do anything. I should have walked up to Top Camp to see if there had been a transformation after the rains, but I didn’t. Instead I tried to photograph some hoopoes that kept flying away. I was tired and sat down in the grass waiting for the birds to come. I had my small bird book and decided to read it cover to cover, but was too sleepy. I was going to lie down to sleep when two vaguely familiar men came strolling along the papyrus edge, sodas in hands, and sat down on a bench not far from me. They definitely looked like they knew me, so I got up to talk to them. One of them, James, said that we had talked when I was walking back to Fisherman’s from Elsamere and I pretended that I remembered him. He wanted to know when I was leaving and what I would give him as a farewell gift. I got irritated and asked him if I looked like Father Christmas, but James just smiled patiently saying that he needed a mobile phone with Internet. I said he could get some Swedish words if he gave me some Kisii words and we started exchanging. Though I didn’t even bother to go and get my pen and notebook from where I’d been sitting in the grass, and now I don’t remember anything. James’s friend added some words, but I think he was basically there as a hanger-on or moral support or something. Then James started asking me how to visit Sweden and I told him the approximate airfare. I’m not sure the visa application would be completely straightforward, but I didn’t say anything about that. James had a good job in the flower industry, but he would never be able to pay the airfare. He said he could pay a little bit and then I could sponsor him. I told him I needed someone to sponsor my Kenya trips, but that was a stupid thing to say, as I had obviously been able to visit Kenya several times without sponsorship. After a while James said he should be heading home for lunch. He would have invited me if he were living on his own, but now his wife was there – and then he left saying he’d be back to say goodbye the next morning when I was leaving.


I returned to the grass and then I went to the restaurant were James and his friend were sitting at a table having some chips. I said hello and went straight to the bar for my last lunch at Fisherman’s. After lunch I bought a small Cadbury fruit and nuts bar of the kind I’d planned for the torch-stealing Kiwis to buy me. At home there’s no Cadbury chocolate, for some reason, but for the same price I’d got three similarly sized good low-quality chocolate bars.


Back at my banda I ate the chocolate and then I fell asleep.


When I woke up I went down to the jetty. There were pied kingfishers everywhere, but I was again too slow to photograph them hovering over the water. Then I went after the hoopoes that were equally un-cooperative. It got dark and the nine hippos came up to graze. A young girl who had recently arrived in Kenya kept asking if they were real.


I was going to finish my last dinner with the Amarula cheesecake that I’d thought about every time that I’d read the menu which I was beginning to know by heart, but it wasn’t available this night and I had chocolate cake instead. It was like a slightly moist chocolate sponge cake and it was served with curdled un-whipped cream. I don’t know why.


I said goodbye to the hippos and returned to my banda where I started packing and photographing my spiders. Then I wondered if I could have spent the day in some better way.

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Day 19


I had my last breakfast at Fisherman’s and paid for the 4 nights that were still unpaid. Priscilla was at the bar. For the last time I asked if a little blue torch had turned up and then I decided to consider it just a torch.


I finished packing and left a tip for Lorna who was doing the housekeeping. It was for cleaning after me as she hadn’t cleaned the banda a single time during my stay. Maybe I was supposed to hand her the key that I carried around all the time, as I wasn’t passing through a reception. I never asked. I had got a new towel when I asked for one. I could have used the same one for a week if it hadn’t been because I’d kept washing my feet several times a day. Lorna had done some laundry for me, but then I had tipped each time that I’d paid for the laundry.


I still had the bun from my picnic at Crescent Island and as I hadn’t been able to photograph any of the robin chats that were always around the banda, I decided to try some baiting, but not a single bird appeared!


I really didn’t want other people to stay in my banda, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I just took my bags and left. Some of the Fisherman’s staff were spreading out the dust heaps over the grass and saying that I’d have tell them when I was leaving so that they could come and say goodbye. When I got to the office, Tobis appeared and offered to help me with my big bag. I didn’t know if I should take a taxi or matatu to Naivasha. My bag was too big for a matatu, but Ofin and Simon, who had appeared as well, told me a matatu would be the best option. Some people I hadn’t even talked with would miss me terribly. Maybe I too should start saying things like that?


I got on a matatu and my big bag was put up on the roof without any ropes. I didn’t like it, but it would be tied up in the “village” that was just some 500 metres away. The bag got to share the roof with a sofa and I thought I must have been the first tourist spending 7 nights at Lake Naivasha without visiting Hell’s Gate. I would definitely return to Lake Naivasha, but I felt I had lost a lot of time, as it wasn’t a place where I could find a way to stay in Kenya. Nairobi was probably the only place in the world where anything could happen.


In Naivasha Town I asked to be let off at a bus stop, but instead I was dropped next to a Nairobi-bound matatu. The turnboy of the first matatu told me not to pay more than 250 shillings for the trip to Nairobi while the Fisherman’s – Naivasha Town fare was 100 for me and another 100 for my bag. Jolly Coach was 100 for both of us, but the matatu would drop me off near the Terminal and was leaving in a second, so I hopped on. I sat in the first row with my bag on my lap trying to keep it off other people’s laps as much as possible. At the next stop I was told I’d be more comfortable further back, so I moved seats waiting for my bag to be handed over and put on the floor, but the turnboy kept it in the front on a narrow “shelf” behind the driver, but mostly leaning on the lap of a woman who had just got on. The turnboy thought the bag was better in the front and as I felt how I was getting less popular for each second that passed, I told the woman we would switch seats at the next stop, and so we did. I sat with my knees lifted and to the side. Though it wasn’t that much of a problem as the drive was just an hour and a half or so. I took up too much space, but at least the woman sitting next to me most of the time didn’t have my bag on her lap. Instead she had a little girl who couldn’t have been more than a year old and had very long eyelashes. At a stop the mother bought a grilled sausage that the girl had almost finished when we arrived in Nairobi!


I alighted next to Jevanjee Gardens, very close to the Terminal, and fortunately a professional bag carrier found me and took my big bag. In Nairobi it had rained heavily for a couple of days, but now it was warm and sunny. Nelson was working. He said that he had read the book that was better than he’d expected and he’d learnt a lot about Iraq. Then he started talking about some women who wanted to do business with me. Nyamera Kenya Imports was the last thing I wanted to think about, but I said I was interested and could see the women later in the week, as I was going to Nairobi National Park the following day. Nelson didn’t complain that I was going with As You Like It, probably because he had approved of Kamara.


While freshening up, I got an sms from James asking if I’d had a safe journey. I replied and then he asked about the “mobile with Internet” that I had “promised” him. I sent a message to George at As You Like It to ask about what time we would meet for the game drive and the reply was “9am” which sounded like a very favourable time for starting an afternoon game drive, or at least that’s what I thought at the moment. Then I went to check my email at the place next to Nakumatt.


Out on the streets I enjoyed the warm sun and general loveliness until a man told me he’d like us to have a cup of coffee. It wasn’t that fun as he was even older than I. His reason for wanting to have a coffee was that he needed a girlfriend like me. I know the word “need” is used in a special way in Kenyan English, but it irritates me anyway. I considered asking him if he’d thought about why I would need a boyfriend like him, but it could have become too nasty. Though he’d probably not have understood the question. How difficult is it to say, “I happen to be the owner of a small unfenced camp in the Mara”? Why is it that Nairobi street hustlers don’t know how to lie? Some do lie, telling you they’re refugees from Sudan, “intellectuals like you” (a teacher!) and on the way to Uppsala University, but they all tell the same lie and haven’t considered that tourists lie as well – like saying they’re teachers when they’ve never been to teaching collage. I’m thinking of starting an NGO that would teach Nairobi street hustlers how to lie. I’ll apply for funding from the European Union and it’ll be enough to pay me the salary I deserve, a house next to Nairobi NP and one in the Mara for my well-deserved time off. I’ll appear in interviews with a breathtakingly beautiful background looking smug and talking about “teaching how to fish”.


As I’d decided to quit my restaurant habit, I bought some chocolate, baby bananas and long-life milk at Uchumi and the man who needed a girlfriend was still there when I left the supermarket, so I returned to the Terminal where I had some chocolate and then I fell asleep.


It was dark when I woke up. I had dedicated part of my last afternoon at Lake Naivasha to the 20th century pursuit of writing postcards and now I had to find a post box. I walked down Loita Street where I found another branch of Savannah – the coffee shop place at the National Museum. The area around the post office at the other side of Kenyatta Avenue looked very empty and dark, but I didn’t allow myself to slow down my steps, any hesitation would mean that I’d never be able to live in Kenya. I didn’t have to get down to the post office, as there was a post box up on the pavement, but now I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to walk into the darkness anyway.


For some reason, I “needed” a pizza and ended up at Trattoria. I was shown to a table “outside”. There’s a screen so that nobody on the road sees you, which might be just as well, but you can’t see anyone inside the restaurant either. All Kenyans chose to sit inside and I regretted not having said that I wanted to sit there too. The food is a bit expensive by Kenyan standards, but not compared to Sweden, I thought until I understood that, unlike at other restaurants, VAT and a service fee aren’t included in the price on the menu. I had a Hortelana that was good, but not as perfect as I remembered. Then I had an Amaretto ice cream, which I can recommend. Once out on the street again, I was approached by a woman who couldn’t afford to feed her children. I gave her a small note and then four or five other women appeared. I said that I didn’t have any more small notes, which was true, but they said they could share a big note. One of them kept repeating, “remember that life is sad, remember that life is sad”. What was I supposed to reply? “Yes, it is when you only have six nights of your trip in a prime wildlife area”? If I’d been in their situation, my children would have starved to death, as I would never had dared to ask people in the street for money. I suggested they ask someone else, but they said there was nobody else they could ask. Thoughts that these women never would give me a anything if the situation were reversed came into my mind and then I turned 180º and started running.

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Day 20


I only had to wait in the street for twenty minutes– quite good considering Nairobi traffic - before George showed up almost unrecognisable wearing a three-piece suit as he was going to the bank. The old landcruiser was waiting in Koinange Street because of the traffic and Gabriel would be my driver. George wanted to charge me $150 before I reminded him that we had agreed on $140. I paid 9,000 shilling, which is a lot of money. Gabriel was different to my previous guides as he was older and was wearing jeans and sunglasses and had been to America. He spoke very good English and immediately started informing me about the different buildings that we were passing. Once inside the national park we made the usual stop at the 1989 ivory burning site. As a contrast to 2005 when I didn’t see a single zebra, but had seen hundreds of them outside the park, there were lots of zebras everywhere, many of them pregnant. Then there were impalas, hartebeests, giraffes, ostriches, some buffaloes, elands and a crocodile lying in exactly the same place where I had seen it in 2005, so I decided it was the same croc. Gabriel called the zebras “zeebras”. He was quite good at identifying birds (I think) and had ideas about what would be a good photo.


The sun was again out on a rampage and I was standing up in the roof hatch. We met another vehicle and the driver told us they’d seen lions. We never found the lions and then it was lunchtime and we went to the Hippo Pool. When I returned from having explored the bathroom of the picnic site Gabriel told me that there was a sleeping ranger under the round sun roofed picnic area. As a fellow narcoleptic, I thought we should leave him alone and then we went to have a look at the hippos. We heard hippo sounds, but the dense vegetation hanging over the water’s edge made it impossible to see them. There were some nice terrapins and fresh buffalo evidence. Some Indian style young people arrived - two boys and a girl. The oldest boy, who was talking the most, had an American accent. They weren’t that quiet, but the young ranger didn’t wake up. These youngsters and Gabriel thought it was quite a problem that the ranger was sleeping when on duty and they tried to wake him up, without success. The girl was tickling him with a strand of grass and everyone agreed that the ranger was drunk as a skunk. They also took some photos. When I returned after having photographed some vervet monkeys, I was told that the ranger had talked. Gabriel had told him that the head warden had been there and the ranger replied, “I don’t care”. Then Gabriel said that there were poachers around and the ranger said, “let them go” and fell asleep again. I too decided to get some sleeping ranger photos. Gabriel thought that the ranger gave a very bad image of Kenya, but I’ve seen so much worse. Before leaving, the three young people told us that they’d seen 7 rhinos.


Gabriel got out a very advanced-looking multi compartment picnic carrier. All the sandwiches had ham in them except one with peanut butter and jam, so I ate that one. Gabriel thought that Kamara should have made sure that the kitchen knew I was a vegetarian and I told him that Vivien – whom Gabriel referred to as his “partner” (I didn’t ask in what way) - had been informed a couple of times as well. There was watermelon, biscuits and, best of all, a Kit Kat, so I couldn’t really complain about the lunch. The vervets were very interested in our lunch and we had to keep chasing them away. It wasn’t much fun as I’d liked to share some biscuits with them, if it weren’t because they can become aggressive. It was very hot and I wasn’t in a hurry since we’d spend the afternoon in the park.


It was so hot that I had to sit down in the landcruiser to try to get some shade. The buffaloes were lying under trees, but the giraffes where out and about everywhere. Gabriel had an idea about how the line of a tree branch would make a good photo. For any other of the guides I’ve had, to say a thing like that would have been as expected as a request to borrow my lip-gloss. We stopped at a couple of viewpoints. At one of them a hyrax came running with another hyrax after it. The chased hyrax disappeared and the chaser stopped to roll in the dust and pose for a photo. I was feeling pretty certain that we’d see rhinos when we suddenly were at Maasai gate and Gabriel just drove out of the park. I didn’t know what to say. I had wanted an afternoon game drive and it was not yet 3pm, but maybe I should have understood that when the starting time was changed to 9am the finishing time would be changed as well. If Kamara had been my guide I’d probably had started communicating better with him in the absence of Kiringai and I’d asked him to return to the park, but I’m not so sure of that either. I got a glimpse of Maasai Lodge and of a palatial house with a view into the park that according to Gabriel had been for sale for I don’t remember how much.


Back in town Gabriel stopped on Koinange because of the parking problems on Moktar Daddah. First he, most unusually, for a second tried to say “no thanks” to a tip. He gave me a couple of solid ice water bottles. The ice and the peanut butter give a hint of what nationality As You Like It mostly caters to. Back at the Terminal I fell asleep.


After a while there was a knock on my door. Nelson wanted to show me some jewellery samples. The only interesting item was a spiral bangle with small glass beads in different colours. Some of Nelson’s friends were at the Tuesday Maasai Market – which I always miss - near the Terminal. He asked me not to leave, as they would soon be at the hotel. I was in no mood for Nyamera Kenya Imports when all I wanted to do was to export myself to Kenya, but I had made some kind of promise. After a long wait the women arrived. They weren’t the same as the previous year and I don’t even think they were Kamba as Nelson spoke to them in Swahili. They spread out the jewellery all over my hot little room. There were no spiral bangles, but they would make some for me that would be ready on Thursday. I bought some jewellery at the asking price that was quite low, and then the women left.


I don’t know what I did in the evening, but I didn’t visit ZanzeBar. The only serious pre-trip advice I’d been given about how to be able to stay in Kenya had come from a blogger who told me to visit this bar frequented by members of parliament. I’d “just” have to seduce and marry one of them. I wouldn’t have known how to recognise an MP and I’d definitely not have known how to seduce him, and besides that, I don’t want to be married – especially not to a Kenyan politician. Anyway, to have something to write about, I could have checked out the place and had a glass of pineapple juice, but I wasn’t in the right mood.


Now some real stupidity: when I was planning this trip, I asked the director of a safari company with safari prices not within my budget (but probably not more expensive than As you Like It) what they would charge for an afternoon game drive in Nairobi NP and he told me he could take me there in his own car. I’d just have to pay for the park fees and petrol, as money wasn’t everything! Quite sensational! I thought about visiting the company’s office, but too many months had passed.

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Day 21


I don’t know what I did in the morning. I probably just walked the streets and fought with a computer at some Internet café. For some reason, I decided to have lunch at Savannah in Loita Street. There was something very wrong with the Greek salad. After a while I knew what it was – there were no tomatoes in it! I didn’t catch the attention of the waiter until after I’d finished the very deficient salad. Then I ordered a cappuccino, which is a stupid thing to do when you don’t like coffee. I got two biscuits as a compensation for the missing tomatoes.


Back at the Terminal I started searching for my ticket. It was Wednesday the 9th of July and I would be leaving on the 12th – Saturday. It couldn’t be true. I needed to find proof that I had a week or more to find a way to stay. I found a paper where I’d listed the days and left space for animal sightings and other important notes. Of course, I hadn’t written a word and that’s why I’m writing this report from memory, but on that paper the 12th was on Sunday! Unfortunately I discovered that I’d counted with 31 days in June and then I found the e-ticket. I decided to start doing something serious about Nyamera Kenya Imports at the same time as I was looking for a way to stay.


I hopped on a matatu to Westlands and then I walked the whole length (not that long) of Woodvale Grove to find Undugu, but the shop apparently wasn’t there. After asking a man in the street I was shown the very visible sign and entered to have a look. The jewellery wasn’t particularly interesting, but there were some nice bigger house ware items like bowls and baskets. Though I didn’t want to pay for having them shipped to where I didn’t want to return. I bought some organic fair-trade sun dried pineapple. Maybe it would be better to sell something edible, but I haven’t ordered anything.


Then I went straight to Banana Box at the Sarit Centre to have a look at the jewellery that I’d been interested in for myself, but decided that I didn’t need. As it was sold at Banana Box, I supposed it was fair-trade. The trademark was Africa Speeks and there was a website written on a label. I checked the website at the expensive Internet place on the top floor, but there wasn’t any contact information. I had to fill in my own contact information and the website didn’t look updated. Then I think I had a look at some shops and Uchumi supermarket where I didn’t buy any cheese this year.


When the shops had closed, I decided to have dinner at the food court at Sarit Centre. The vegetarian thali at Funtime had lots of delicious dishes, sauces and breads that I wouldn’t know the name of. A Wahindi couple sat down at the table next to me and I decided to observe them and learn the correct way of eating this kind of food. The woman used a fork and the man used bread or his fingers, even for sticky dishes, so I don’t think there was a method. I got a dessert that was like a little spherical doughnut in hot syrup.


In the ladies’ room a girl in her 20s was having a serious fight with her hair. She asked me if I was American. I don’t think that had ever happened before. People usually suppose I’m Russian or Ukrainian, or sometimes German or British, or even Brazilian. I’ll have to start a diet. She also wanted me to confirm that there was a lot of money in Sweden. I was going to say that there was but that it was only available to some people, but as I was in Nairobi, I must have got hold of some of the money, so I just agreed. The girl told me that in Kenya everything was a struggle.


On my way back to the city centre I sat so deep inside the matatu that I didn’t bother getting off at University Way or next to Jevanjee Gardens. I alighted at the same stop as most of the other passengers and discovered that I was east of Moi Avenue after dark. There were a lot of people everywhere and no one of them looked dangerous.

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Day 22


In the morning Nelson brought me the bangles that I’d ordered. He also wanted to tell me that he was very disappointed. He had expected us to do things together this year, but now he suspected that I was an individualist, as I was always walking around on my own. I would have to come with him to the Village Market shopping mall next day when there was a Maasai market. It sounded interesting enough and I hadn’t been to Village Market, so I agreed.


I don’t think I had any specific plans for where I was going when Nelson stopped me to tell me that there was a problem and he had to go home to his children for a couple of days. He wouldn’t tell me to exact problem, so we bid farewell and I decided to go to Village Market immediately on my own. I didn’t feel like spending what could be my last full day in Kenya in a shopping mall. This year I actually was a bit cleverer than last year and asked a well-dressed woman – instead of some young man asking me what I was looking for - where I could find the matatu, and then I actually found it almost immediately outside the Odeon ex-cinema. The fare was 30 shilling and the heat was so suffocating that I had to get out my fan. I changed to another matatu along the road, but didn’t have to pay again. Then I arrived in Gigiri that’s UN country with UNEP red plated gaz guzzlers – a Kenyan blogger has photos of red plated Hummers on his blog - and employees trying to spend their inflated salaries at Village Market. (I am aware that the old Land Cruiser wasn’t a biogas vehicle.) The mall looked like a luxury hotel, with little bridges over water, and the Mzungu percentage was far above any not strictly tourist related place I’ve ever visited in Kenya. The Nairobi street hustlers really should hang around at Village Market, or maybe not.


I tried to have a look around and felt slightly confused walking in circles. There were the usual touristy shops like the Kikoy.com, Kazuri and Kitengela Glasss. Though I don’t know if tourists shop at Kitengela Glass, as the items are both heavy and fragile. I tried to find a beige shirt at a Kenyan clothes shop the name of which I can’t remember, but that I think of as “Emin Pasha”. The name is probably in Maa and there’s one word starting with E and one starting with P. Anyway, I couldn’t find a shirt and I didn’t even look at the silly expensive shops. Instead I found a leaflet saying that a manicure was 500 shillings, and remembering an April Fools joke about manicure on safari made me pluck up courage descending into the very pink interior of Dream Nails. In spite of a low nail quality with peeling nails I’d never used the services of a professional manicurist, probably because I prefer to spend my money in East Africa. Eunice had seen worse though and she started polishing, polishing, polishing, laying in soapy water and massaging with oil. The treatment must have gone on for at least 45 minutes. I asked her what language she was talking with another girl, and that was a stupid thing to do as I heard it was Kikuyu. To appear as a clever person I should have said, “you’re talking Kikuyu”, but that would only be clever for a tourist and not for a person living in Kenya, so I don’t really know how to be clever. My nails became smooth, but it can’t be a sustainable practise to polish peeling nails, as they’ll end up so thin that they’ll disappear. I tipped Eunice and paid a middle aged Mhindi woman and after that Eunice painted my nails pink, as it’s clever not to dig for money with newly painted nails. I didn’t want a pedicure. I suspected my feet were dusty. The Kikuyu word for nail is “ruara”, by the way.


I bought two filled chocolates at an expensive chocolate shop – one dark with amaretto filling and one milk chocolate with passion fruit filling - and thought it should have been the other way around. I had a déjà vu that I’d bought the same flavours and thought the same thought. Though maybe I did at Sarit Centre in 2007.


Then I walked around the food court for a long time before deciding on the Turkish place where I had vegetarian meze. It was identical to Lebanese food and very good.


I don’t remember what more I did at Village Market. Once out on the street again there was a matatu waiting, so I hopped on without having a look around. Passing City Park I saw people sitting in the warm sunny grass and Sykes monkeys running around. On Nature Kenya’s website it says that “Sykes' monkeys are friendly and gentle and seldom bite” – unlike the vervets and baboons that can also be seen in the park. I have to visit City Park. I also saw a big mitumba - second hand clothes – market that I have to visit as well. Nairobi really is a lovely green city in the sun – sometimes.


I can’t remember what I did in the evening. I probably checked the Internet at the place on the top floor of Sherlock’s Den that’s a very lively restaurant in the Nakumatt Lifestyle mall. I was walking along Koinange Street late in the evening when I met the waiter from Savannah. He thought it quite funny that I didn’t get any tomatoes and wanted us to have a drink. I thought it was too late. I don’t know why I’m so boring.

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Day 23


I remember visiting Zanzibar Shop in the morning and then I think I was looking for books without buying any because they were too heavy, and because I would never have the time to read them anyway. I’d been sneezing since I arrived in Naivasha and now my throat had begun feeling sore. I decided to have lunch at Savannah. It’s a boring place, but I wanted to tell the waiter that I wasn’t boring. Though he was serving other tables and was quite busy.


I got another sms from James – “When are you sending the money?” I forgot to write that when at Village Market I got an sms from him saying something like, “I had bicycle collision with zebra. Big repair bill. Need assistance.” I didn’t know what to reply. I suspected that he had made up the story, and I wouldn’t know how to send money to Naivasha anyway. It would have been rude to say, “I don’t believe you”. If he’d told me his problem face to face, I’d thought, “there may be some truth in this” and contributed to part of the repair bill and James would have been annoyed at my lack of generosity while I’d have been annoyed at being lied to. I tried to sms my brother to ask him what to reply – not because he’s an expert at this kind of situation, but because he’s attentive to his mobile phone. The message didn’t get through until I was back at the Terminal and then he asked me, “Do you know this person? Is he trustworthy?” The only thing I really knew about James was that he was after my money and I suspected that he thought he’d made an investment in a morning at Fisherman’s and now wanted something out of it. I didn’t reply.


As always, I bought some passion fruit at Nakumatt, but I still thought that it was possible to find a way to stay in Kenya. Even if I’d get on the plane, someone knowing what to do could be seated next to me. The enthusiastic Nakumatt greeter wasn’t there.


In the afternoon I found myself at the Hilton Arcade where the least expensive curio shops are. I think they buy leftovers from other curio shops. As expected, I found my bangles for a lower price that I’d paid.


Then the rain started to pour down and for the first time I got soaked in the streets of Nairobi. The shops were closing, but I sought shelter inside one selling semi precious stones in ugly gold jewellery. Then I ran all the way up to Java House to have lemon and ginger tea with honey that I thought would be good for my throat. The rain continued and promised making Nairobi into a sparkling emerald of a city in the morning, but I would have to leave in the dark to catch my flight at 8.15 am. Why did KLM/Kenya Airways change the 11 something flight?


After the tea – that didn’t even contain tea, but was very lemony – and a fruit salad, I returned to the Terminal where I met Alex whom I hadn’t seen this year, which proves that my stay in Kenya was far too short. Alex picks up guests at the airport and he would drive me there in the morning. I’d been told by KLM to check in 3 hours before departure at 8.15 am, but I decided there was no way I was getting up before 3 am, so I asked Alex to be at the Terminal at 5.15.


Then I did some packing, showered and went to bed remembering that I hadn’t seen Chris after returning from Naivasha.

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