A few of my friends and family members have expressed curiosity about my group's schedule for the time we spent in Kenya. This post will help put the first part of our activities into perspective.
Friday, July 11 - Saturday, July 12
Fly from JFK to Dubai (approximately twelve hours) via Emirates. Most of us thought the long flight was painless, I think. It helped that the flight wasn't full. Julie and I had an empty middle seat between us.
During a three-hour layover, we visited the last Starbucks we'll encounter, and the Heineken bar. In spite of it being 8:30 am local time.
We also spent some time in Dubai Airport's very interesting Duty Free shops.
From Dubai, we had another flight - approximately four hours - to Nairobi. Upon arrival, we secured our visas, picked up bags and then were met by the wonderful Mercy (who works with Rotary) and her sister, the equally lovely Rose.
It didn't take us Kenya rookies long to realize that Mercy, in addition to being tremendously smart and helpful, also has the best laugh we've ever heard.
A bus took us to LaMada Hotel. After a short, much-needed nap (and an even more needed shower), we had dinner as a group and then crashed hard.
Sunday July 13
After breakfast, we got in our vans and drove to the Giraffe Center in a Nairobi suburb and then Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage. Both of these places will get their own posts once I catch up!
After these stops, we embarked upon what was an unofficial safari of sorts: the five-ish hour drive from Nairobi to Maasai Mara. We stopped at a scenic overlook upon entering Great Rift Valley.
From there, the roads became more of a vague concept than a paved, tangible thing. We Americans adjusted (and fortunately the co-leader of the trip was a chiropractor).
After getting used to seeing all sorts of wildlife, livestock, Maasai people and their small villages, we finally arrived at Siana Springs Tent Camp.
We settled in and received a primer on the importance of securing your tent at all times (you do not want a vervet monkey party inside, trust). At 6 pm, we regrouped in the lounge for what would become our daily volunteer meeting before dining at 7:30 pm. Soon afterward, I headed to the tent - by flashlight - to clean up, charge my phone while electricity was still available and get some rest before our first day at Nkenijii Primary School the next morning.
Stay tuned for Part 2...