Saturday, November 17, 2007

Former missionaries, the Seiters came to the DRC to do the measles Initiative in Lubumbashi . They planned on a Safari in Kenya on their way home. They invited us to go with them and since we had been told we could take one to two weeks off during the holidays we decided to take the opportunity and go with them. The Thomases came also which gave us a a fun group to be with. The Public Relations missionaries in Nairobi set up the Safari for us and arranged for us to stay with missionaries while we were in Nairobi.
We flew out of Kinshasa on the 31st to Nairobi.

At the Kinshasa airport the Thomases were stopped by officials because they didn’t have the proper visa. Apparently you have to have an exit visa and a reentry visa. Farrell ended up asking the agent for a solution and he said it could be arranged. The Thomases paid $100 to the agent and he “prepared the terraine” and got them on the plane with a promise to meet them when they returned to “prepare the terraine” when they wanted to reenter. We had such a visa since we had been traveling to Brazzaville on a regular basis.

We were met by the Sudweeks at the airport with a returned missionary from Kinshasa, Tierry, who was our transport and guide for part of our journey.

The Subweeks took us directly to a MALL (apparently there are malls in some parts of Africa) where all the missionary couples were gathered for dinner. We ate milk shakes and fast food and it was a real treat. We were introduced to our host couple and taken to their apartment and invited to use their apartment as home while in Kenya.

We arose early in the morning to be fed a real American breakfast of eggs and bacon and real milk and then Tierry picked us up to take us to the airport for transport to Masai Mara our Safari site.

As we flew into Masai Mara we saw giraffs lumbering off of the runway as we landed. We were met by a safari Van and a beautiful Masai woman who handed us a cool damp cloth to refresh ourselves from our journey. We were driven to the camp site and greeted with tea time including hot chocolate and cookies.

Masai Mara is a Safari Resort on a game preserve. We were taken to our tent to settle in and unpack. Our tent was a permanent fixture with a wood floor and a tiled bathroom and shower. The bed was surrounded by a mosquito net. It was rather romantic set away from the dining area on a little path that put us right out in the preserve area but we were enclosed by an electrical fence that kept the animals out. We were warned to always keep our tent zipped closed to prevent finding monkeys on our bed when we returned. The tent had windows all around open to the outside which gave a faint breeze through the tent and it was very pleasant.

We went to lunch which was a buffet of breads, cheeses, fruits, meats and salads. And of course we ate way to much. We then went to meet our guide, Rafael, who came recommended to us by the Sudweeks.

Our vehicle was an open SUV with padded rollbars. It allowed us to sit and look out or stand and look out through the open roof. Rafael asked us what was on our agenda for our first trek. I said Giraffes were my favorite and someone else said hippo and leopard. We headed out over the beautiful savanna hunting big game.

With my poor eye site I was always the last to spot any animals but right off we saw a herd of zebras and many gazelles. Then off in the distance someone spotted a giraffe. I couldn’t see it and then all of a sudden I could see this head of a giraffe sitting up high over the horizon. Rafael headed in the direction and there standing on a slight rise was a huge giraffe standing like a sentinel looking out over the terrain. As we got closer we headed down into a gorge and there drinking at the bottom of the gorge were 6 giraffes the large male on top was indeed a sentinel watching for any danger while his family drank and fed on the trees there by the stream. It was a wonderful sight one that filled my soul as we watched these beautiful creatures who in turn lifted their heads and watched us. What a great beginning to our Safari.

This first trek gave us many wonderful sites as we bounced along the open savannah. We were at the end of the migration of the wildibeast and zebras. As the dry season starts these animals, thousands of them, start to migrate down to the Serengeti looking for green grasses. We may have been at the end of the migration but we still saw hundreds of these beautiful animals. They say the migration is a site to behold as these huge herds of animals move south.

We returned to our homebase tent with a plan to meet Rafael at 6:00 am for an early trek. When we got back to our tent our bed had been prepared and a bottle of wine was waiting for us. No we didn’t drink it.

At 5:00 am we were awakened by a Masai tribe member reminding us we were trekking in one hour and he gave us hot chocolate and cookies to warm us up. The savannah becomes quite cool at night and the morning was cold and the hot chocolate was a wonderful amenity (I think the hot chocolate is a missionary thing as everyone else got tea or coffee.)

Our first trek for the day included a bush breakfast. Rafael had picked up boxed breakfasts for each of us and we planned on staying out on trek until lunchtime. Again our guide took great care in finding many beautiful animals for us to see. We stopped within 6 yards of a cheetah mother and two cubs who were feeding on their kill from the night hunt. Once the cheetah were filled then the jackles came and feed and when they were through the buzzards finished off what was left. The site was very bloody but the animals were very interesting and you realized you were witnessing the circle of life right there before your eyes.

We ended up eating breakfast at a table set up by a trading post. We searched the wares of the trading post but soon were drawn across the trail to some Masai women selling jewelry in the dirt. One of the women spoke some English and we had a great time dickering for some treasures. I bought a 5 strand Masai bead neckless. I didn’t realize when I bought it that it was a real treasure and I am sure I didn’t pay enough for it. It is my favorite treasure from Africa.

We were taken to a Masai village that allows tourists to come in to their compound for a price. The village is surrounded by a stick fence with each wife having a hut made from sticks woven to gether and then cow dung plastered on the sticks to make thick walls. There is no light in the huts except from the small windows. There is a room in the hut to keep the cow in during the night. The Masai are herders of cows and goats. They graze during the day and are brought back into the compound at night. The gates are closed to keep the predetors out. You can tell how many male members there are in the village as each has his own gate to the compound. The Masai are polygamists who have as many wives as they can afford. A wife costs 10 cows. Our guide told Farrell he was a poor man if he had 6 sons and only 2 daughters. He would only get 20 cows for those daughters and he would have to pay out many cows to get those sons married off.

The Masai women sang a song of greeting to us and the Masai men did a jumping dance. Farrell, Elder Seiter and Elder Thomas were invited to try the jumping and some did better than others. One of the Masai could jump very high. They jumped flat footed and it was amazing how high they could jump. You must read about the Masai as they are a very interesting people.

We returned to the village for lunch and a rest and then took another trek in the afternoon from 3 pm to 6 pm. We came across some lions who were sunning and they did not seem bothered by our presence in their world. They looked rather lazy and could careless that we were within 6 feet of them.

We found many hippos bathing in a stream and on the bank were several crocodiles. The hippos were making quite a noise sounding like the horn players of the old Taylorsville Elementary School band warming up.

We also came across a leopard up in a tree. A rare site and we were able to watch this beautiful cat come down out of the tree and walk right across out path.

We were blessed to see every animal available including the rare black rhino. When we returned to our homebase in Nairobi (missionary apartments) they were all jealous as none of them had seen a leopard or a black rhino and they had been on Safari a number of times.

We spent Sunday with the missionaries going to church and taking in a bit of Nairobi. In the evening we had a fireside where the DRC missionaries presented a fireside on what was happening in the DRCongo.

Monday morning we headed out with Tierry in a Safari van to Lake Nukura. This is another state park preserve that is famous for its pink lake given it’s color by the thousands of pink flamingos that call the lake home. We stayed in a cottage on the lake and spend 2 days circling the lake and seeing the wonderful wildlife in the area. The flamingos were amazing and truly did give the lake a ring of pink around it’s shore. This park had many type of monkeys and the famous white hippo.

We loved Kenya. It is very different from the Congo but still has some of the same problems as the Congo. Going on Safari is a realization of the wonders of God’s creation. I don’t think we will ever care about seeing a zoo again. Seeing these wonderful creatures in their wild state was breathtaking and made us realize what a wonderful gift we have been given in this world we call our home. This was a life altering experience and one we wish our whole family could experience.



Scarehaircare said...

Thanks for sharing with us! What a great experience. Yes, we do wish we could do it, too (at least Dean, Nathan, Jennie, and me.) I read it out loud to our famikly visitors today.
Miss you both greatly, and we are grateful that you are where you are right now.


Gaye Brown said...

I loved reading about your Safari experience. I, too, loved the Masaai Mara and the Masaai people. It is fascinating to see that they still live very much the same lifestyle as they have for many, many generations. Kenya is beautiful and wonderful, especially western Kenya out by Kisumu and Lake Victoria. I'm glad you had a chance to see Nairobi too, a city I absolutely love! Love you tons. Gaye

jneuman said...

Farrell and Marylin - I bet it was a nice change of pace to get some real meals for yourself on the safari. I want to let you know - BYU beat my Wyoming Cowboys yesterday. No big surprise here. Glad to see you two have some fun together. Thinking out you!

Fay said...

What a wonderful experience. Glad you were able to experience yet another amazing adventure in Africa. Thanks for sharing