Yes, you are about to be inundated with images of big mammals and gorgeous landscapes from the Masai Mara in Kenya. But I am still going to post them, as a safari is an animal behaviorist’s (my training) dream, and because some are just gorgeous photos, surreal, strange, sad, and/or wonderful. But I will put them as collections, so you can choose which ones to see. And we saw so much of everything – almost all of the big mammals except the rhino, and so many other birds and animals as well. Except mongooses. I kept looking for were mongooses. Cute, adorable, social mongooses. But no sightings. Bummer.
But to see elephants in the wild – there is nothing as majestic as that.
So this safari was tacked onto a trip to Kenya for work. By the way, the safari wasn’t the risky part of my journey that I referred to in my previous blog. I was in Kenya to assist with a competition for young entrepreneurs at the Global Entrepreneurs Summit at which President Obama spoke. We were warned rather strongly about the potential for a terrorist attack and to not wander in Nairobi due to potential kidnappings. My organization actually took out hostage and ransom insurance on me. Which, as a friend of mine said, is rather bad-ass. Of course, once we were there, security had already been beefed up at the conference site and we were well protected and felt very safe. Before and after the conference the streets of Nairobi were fine – everyone was very friendly. But the warnings are a reminder that, with our wars and thefts and attacks, we humans still have in us some of the wild/territoriality/kill-or-be-killed of nature. Considering that many of the animals we saw during the safari also collaborate like humans do when beneficial, and have emotions like fear, worry, and the appreciation of a comfortable napping spot, we are not that far apart.
So here is the picture odyssey. Often I could not believe I was there and seeing what I was seeing; I had to close my eyes to ground myself before opening them again. It was a great (and relatively inexpensive) experience.
Day Zero – random images from Nairobi
Safari Day One – Lake Nakuru – a pleasant, wildlife-rich rhino sanctuary, minus rhinos….
Day Two – Lake Naivasha.
Day Two – the drive to Masai Mara, and our lodging.
Days Two to Four – Masai Mara
Day Three – the Masai
This one was much more disturbing, although colorful. The extreme poverty that exists right next to the rich tourist camps. The trash in the village of a people that are supposed to be close to the land. The selling of goods made in China as if they were made by the families. The apparent oppression of women. The fact that in the house we toured there was mosquito netting around the mother’s bed, but not the childrens’. The fact that we were touring these people’s lives on display.
Although a proud people with a love of cattle and landscape, I was sad and frustrated about the lives they led. The diseases and the plastic pollution, the mud huts and breathing in smoke from the fire inside. Versus the benefit of not using the same stream for cattle, washing, bathing, and drinking, and about how wonderful school can be. The children do go to school, at least some do, but I am not sure to what grade. I can’t help but want the 45 or so children we saw to have the best opportunities, and then the ability to make a choice about their future – either stay and live close to the land and raise cattle, or become an author, or an artist, or a scientist. The people sell tours of their village in order to raise money for school fees (at least that is what we told.) And the choice of a people to live as they have traditionally is important, but it needs to be balanced with fighting any attempts (their own or others) to keep these people ignorant of the world, its problems that will affect them (such as climate change), and its wonderful potential. Food for thought.
Now I am back in the U.S., however, where so many people live in their own rich “bubbles”, watch a lot of soap opera TV, and also don’t realize what else is out there in the world. Are we that different?
Okay – enough philosophy. The people, animals, and landscapes of Africa are gorgeous. I felt at home there. The safari was grand, and I want to thank my colleagues for doing the work in organizing it. I got to see another part of the world – a big, important part, where giants still roam.