Melissa: Kenya started off pretty slow for Nicole and I. Since Nyambura was still very busy moving in and adjusting to her new house, it left us with little to do. On Saturday, Nyambura informed us that we would be going to “upcountry” which are the villages not in the city, to celebrate Ian’s 18th birthday with family. After a 2 hour or so ride we arrived at the little houses on a side of a hill. We walked in and were introduced to some of their family and told to sit in the house. Let me just tell you a little bit about the weather here, it is so cold! Saturday especially was very cold, my whole foot was frozen and although I wore tights under my pants and two sweaters I was still very cold. We basically sat in the house for a couple hours doing nothing and listening to people talk in Swahili. Nicole and I were so bored and dreaded having to do this all day. We ate a bit of some traditional Kenyan food and everyone was so shocked when we told them that we didn’t eat meat. They tried to give it to us but both of us refused. They slaughter a goat when they have special guests. It’s an honor and goat meat is a delicacy so most people would jump at the occasion to eat it.
Finally after a couple more hours of doing nothing and being bored, Ian and Joyce told us that they would take us to see the coffee and tea plantation. The coffee and tea plants reached what seemed like forever. We basically saw them and then walked back so it wasn’t very informative. There were two young kids at the house we were at and they started to warm up to Nicole. We played with the kids and spun them around outside, which they loved.
Next thing we knew it was almost time to leave. Everyone sang Ian happy birthday and once again passed out goat meat to eat. Our ride home was an interesting one. Nyambura drove very fast and it was so dark outside so it was kind of scary. There was traffic on the freeway because an accident had occurred. The accident was crazy. Two cars and a bus were completely smashed and on top of the center divider. Later one of the Kenyans told us that they really know how to get into good car accidents here, which is very true. I think it is because of the insane way they drive.
We picked up one of Nyambura’s friends, Patrick, on the way back to the house. He was very nice and friendly and told us he wanted to take us all out for drinks. We went to this little restaurant with huts and ordered some drinks. We met up with one of his friends, including Tony which happened to be John’s brother. John eventually showed up as well. John and Tony live in America and Patrick had been there before, so it was really nice to talk to people that were Americanized. We talked about some of the things we should do while in Kenya and they were all very helpful. They gave us their numbers and told us to call them whenever we needed. We also made official plans for the next day and John let us use his taxi driver to take us around. We were so happy by the end of the night because we were finally going to be able to see what Kenya was all about.
On Sunday, we woke up and got ready, eager for the day to start. We had a long list of things to do which consisted of: the Animal Orphanage, Langata Giraffe Center, Karen Blixen Museum, Bomas of Kenya and the shopping market Prestige. We had John’s taxi driver, Karis, come pick us up. He was so happy to see us and very excited to be driving us around. He was like our little tour guide and pointed out everything along our drive. I can’t even explain how excited he was to have us in his car; it was like we were celebrities or something. We headed to our first destination, the Animal Orphanage. Karis decided to join us on all of our outings and didn’t just drop us off which was nice. A guide took us around the park and started showing us all the animals. We started with the lions. A lot of the animals were very friendly and would come right up to the gates. We got to pet the lion through the gate which was pretty amazing. Our guide would take our cameras and go into the cages and take pictures for us, which allowed for us to get even better pictures. Then the guide asked us if we wanted to pet the leopard. Of course I responded very quickly “YES!” So we went to pet them. Nicole and I were kind of frightened but we knew that it would be an amazing experience. We walked into the large cage with about 5 other animal guides. Two leopards were just lying on the ground, acting very peacefully. The guides told us to bend down near the leopard and pet him, so we did. It was such an amazing experience! The leopard was so calm; it was crazy to think I was actually petting it. The guides snapped some pretty nice pictures of us and then we were on our way to see more animals. We then went to the monkeys. There were a ton of them in this one cage along with some very cute baby ones. One of the monkeys got out of the cage and made its way over to Nicole, Karis and I. It had smelled Karis’ gum and wanted some. Our guide put the gum along with some leaves on our heads and the monkey started to climb all over us. It made its way onto my head and then over onto Nicole’s. Eventually it got the piece of gum and attempted to try and chew it. His teeth were not strong enough though and all he was able to do was make some scratches on the gum. But it was still pretty cute.
After seeing a ton more animals and the Animal Orphanage, we headed over to the Langata Giraffe Center. We arrived at saw a huge giraffe in front of us. They were so tall and huge, it was quite amazing. We were given some giraffe food and were able to feed and pet them. They would lick the food right out of our hands. Karis started to toss the food into their mouths. They would wait for him to throw it, with their mouths open, and try to catch it. It was very funny. We took many pictures with them and then headed off to the Karen Blixen Museum. Karen Blixen is the author of the book Out Of Africa. The museum was in her old house when she lived in Kenya. All her old furniture had been brought back and we were taken on a tour of her house, learning her history. I am still not really sure what she did to get so famous but I am planning on reading her book when I get home and figure that out.