Today's journey began with a farewell to Tenwek and a Jambo to Masai Mara! Team H2O took a break from visiting latrines and made the four hour trek, with their trusty guide Christopher at the helm (wheel), into the wild African Safari land of the Masai Mara.
Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I knew I wasn't in Kansas (or Minnesota) anymore! Beauty lies everywhere! Not just in the animals, but in the Masai people! Dressed in their glorious colors of red, blues, and yellow, they contrast with the brown and green of the landscape, and are all across the vast horizon walking alone, in groups, with their cattle, with their sheep, and carrying water.
Shortly down the road came the scene of the day! Rising out of the grasses of the Masai Mara were the long, spotted necks of 16 giraffe grazing in the sun. Each of us enthusiastically crawled out of our seats, carried our cameras, stretched our legs, and took in the view. As we stared and ogled at them through our binoculars and cameras, curiously, they turned and stared right back. But as soon as we made any steps to get closer, their long legs guided them away.
Those giraffes were just the beginning of a wonderful day to come. Upon checking into our rooms (which are actually army style heavy duty tent with ceramic tiled bathrooms attached) we took time to nosh at the lunch time buffet (loaded with rice, hungarian beef, and my most favorite dessert, banana's and chocolate) and take in some side at our outdoor pool. We all agreed that their pool side loungers are the most cushiony we've ever sat our tooshes on!
Rested and refreshed we began our safari. We were quite lucky, for we found numerous animals ranging from hippo's lounging in the river spouting water, with a crocodile close by watching, to zebra's (who, Steve found out, are not as bright and clean looking as the pictures he's seen), Masai ostrich's, leaping impala's, mongoose, a jackal, and numerous wild buffalo and varieties of antelope.
The team favorite was seeing a pride of lions feasting on a wildabeast. Christopher positioned our vehicle in front row seats of a blockbuster show! We watched (about six feet away) on as two females shared and even fought over the sinewy and tough looking meat. In the meantime, two young male lions came strolling up playfully headbutting each other and then crashing to the ground to wait their turn; and three others rolled around scratching their backs, licking their paws, and relishing the feeling of a stuffed tummy after a great meal.
Numerous books, movies, and Mutual of Omaha have done their best to convince me, and millions of other people, that Africa is beautiful. You see animals in zoos and one cannot fully comprehend how powerful and gorgeous these animals are until you seen them in their natural habitat. The zoo will never be the same. Kenya is the most beautiful place I've seen, and I do plan on returning.
The beauty of Africa rubs off. Despite twelve hour days, four plus hours of driving, and endless conversations, the team is still laughing together (and at each other), squeezing in heated games of trivia (Chris the biggest winner and me the biggest loser) and scrabble, savoring cold beverages (with ice, which is a rare commodity), sitting by a fire pit (which is not a pit of wood, but a pit of charcoal burning), and feasting together in great harmony, just like the circle of life in this great land of the Masai Mara.