Forgive my ignorance, but I assumed that Hakuna Matata was a phrase made up by Elton John like “Oh, no, no. I’m the rocket man” apparently not. It really does mean no worries, in Swahili, the language used predominantly in Kenya so that all 42 tribes can communicate. I guess you live and learn and I’m definitely hoping to do as much learning as possible over then next 7 months.
Another thing I’m looking to do is to go on adventures, and we have certainly had some adventures over the last 72 hours. Nairobi is crazy, we only headed out briefly but we went out at rush hour and it was BUSY! We failed to change any currency when we landed at the airport so we thought we’d pop out and quickly change some USD, turns out Kenyan banks close at 4pm so we were about 45 minutes too late. After a bit of walking around like headless chickens, we found the Hilton Hotel and knew we would be able to change money there. However the concierge advised that the Hilton didn’t do a good price and said he would get the manager of the next door bureau de change to open up to change some money for us, what actually happened was that a bloke pulled up in a car, asked us how much money we wanted to change and gave us a wod of notes in exchange for our $100. No idea if we were ripped off or not (probably, but hopefully not as much as we would have been at the Hilton reception) cut to us power walking back across Nairobi with 10,000 Kenyan Shilling in Zan’s money belt. We made it back to the hotel without hassle in time for a bit of grub.
Incidentally the hotel we stayed in wasn’t up to the luxury we had got used to in Ethiopia, but then if we are going to stick within our budget it was probably what we need to get used to. And Actually very comfortable once we were within our huge mosquito net, being in down town Nairobi it was pretty noisy in the streets below, but we were grateful it was a Monday night so none of the clubs stayed open too late.
We are in Nairobi for a safari across Kenya and Tanzania organised by Big Time Safari, and so far they have been quite excellent. They picked us up from the airport and have shipped us all around so far. We were caught out a bit on Tuesday morning however when the driver turned up 30 minutes early to take us from Nairobi, throughout our time in Ethiopia we were constantly warned of “African Time” meaning the locals are very laid back and aren’t too worried about hitting deadlines (my kind of people, a little infuriating for Suzanne) so we were shocked at the need to suddenly rush, a quick couple of jam buttys for the bus instead of a leisurely breakfast and we were on the road. Our destination, the Massi Maura Nature Reserve, was about 4 hours drive from Nairobi. We did make a stop off at a Rift Valley View Point, but unfortunately the weather was misty so we could see much. It did begin to clear as we got further from Nairobi and with about 100km left of our journey the sun had broken out at we had blue skies (factor 50 at the ready!) Here starts the next adventure, with 2 and a half hours of our journey gone, the drive turned to us, smiled and said: “welcome to the real Africa” the minibus we were in dropped what felt like a meter downwards with a huge clang. The tarmac had ended, we had 100km of dirt tracks to cover before we got to our accommodation and given this old mini bus didn’t look like it was built for off road and it had relatively small tyres it was less than smooth, in fact if it had been in a theme park it would have definitely been called “white knuckle” but it was actually a lot of fun and remarkably the van held up fine and we arrived at our accommodation in good time.
The Eco Camp we arrived at was lower again in luxury than the night before, but if I want adventure I have definitely found it. The rooms are a cross between tents and mud huts. There is only electricity between 5.30 and 7 am and 6.45 and 10 pm. And there is certainly no wifi. But we were living in the bush, so it’s hardly surprising. The camp is on the doorstep of the nature reserve and the perfect spot for game drives; we were up with the electricity at 5.30am the first morning for breakfast and out searching for wildlife before 6.30. Surreal is the only way to describe the rest of the day, we saw almost all of the big 5 (I’d say 4.5 out of 5) Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard and Rhino. Although the Rhino was pretty shy and we only caught a leg of two. On top of that we saw Zebra, Giraffe, Wilderbeast, Antalope, Ostrich. I could go on. And to think they were only minutes from where we were staying made it seam like a theme park again, but these were genuine wild animals. It was basically a live version of The Lion King, although I don’t think the mandrills and lions are really pals.
We finished our day off by visiting the Maasai Village, the Massi are the biggest tribe in Kenya and there was a local, self sufficient village opposite our camp. We were treated to a traditional welcome dance and invited to take part in their (what I would describe as) standing high jumps. I think I did pretty well, especially given I was in hiking boots. Apparently the higher you jump the less cows you pay for you wife, I don’t own any cows so Suzanne says I will have to work on my jumping. After the welcoming ceremony we were invited into their village to learn about their culture. They are polymogmonous and so the men have multiple wives. Each wife has to build a house for her husband and then the husband can pick and choose when to stay, I wonder if he just rocks up or there is some sort of timetable?? The tribe have to move the village every 9 years because termites destroy the buildings, just as well there’s no housing crisis here! Just when I was worried that there lives were a bit desolate, they all told me they were Manchester United fans and they go to watch every game down at the local bar, what more could you want?!
That was yesterday, today we have spent the day traveling back to Nairobi. More winding, bumpy roads to negotiate in the van, I came to have more faith in the buses strength as the week has gone on. It has a strangely hypnotic effect bouncing around on the dirt tracks (Suzanne falls asleep nearly every time she gets in!) We were soon back on the tarmac and heading towards Nairobi and its rain. Tomorrow we head for the Tanzanian town of Arusha, another adventure. More Africa. More safari.