Kenya, Africa

Dust flew and the earth moved as the six thousand pound elephant trumpeted her rage. Separated from her baby, the mother was on a rampage. Pale faced and shaking, our driver laid on his horn as he scrambled to restart our vehicle. Terrified, we watched helplessly and then suddenly the baby elephant appeared from the back of the rover and rushed towards his mother. The drama ended as suddenly as it had begun.

Lesson learned: Never persuade a driver to break the rules. That April morning, on the open plains of Kenya, he did exactly that. Leaving the main road he drove too near a herd of elephants, which could have ended in disaster.

Full moon, soft breeze, and a smiling guide greeted us as began our adventure in East Africa. Nairobi, a bustling city of 33,829,590 inhabitants was in full bloom as our group of four made our way to the Nairobi Serena Hotel. Rated with five-stars, the hotel offered all the amenities necessary for luxurious comfort and all that is needed for adventure. Colorful flowers and giant trees encased the hotel and the ambience was a welcome change from the noise and smothering shade of the city. Still smiling, our guide recommended that we stay within the confines of the hotel grounds. However, if we wanted to venture out it was necessary to hire a bodyguard.

Refreshed and camera ready, our group headed for the Mara Simba Lodge, a safari resort on the Talek River. The elephant incident produced yet another lesson in service, but this time I learned how to relax without cameras around. Located on the Talek River, the Mal Zam Valleyis known for its beauty and pools of fresh water. Below the hotel, a huge river meets the forest of Mount Kenya and it is impossible to take a bad step. Our guide listened withouttein to our requests and took us to see a monitor lizard, a small herd of elephants and wildebeests. The only sign of human interaction was an occasional tractor that unloaded grain at a distance and went quiet every time we were near. Peaceful and soothing, the sight and sound of these creatures made our imaginations soar. As we walked out of the hotel, our guide asked us to return to the hotel so the room could be cleaned. I could not refuse his kind offer.

That night, our group had its dinner in the hotel dining room. While Wash and focus attention on the food; Carla, David and I occupied ourselves with our respective wines. calm and elegant, the woman was sitting at the table, wearing a white long sleeved lavender cover with a matching head-piece. As soon as Carla mentioned Kenya, my mind jumped to picturing a hippo relaxing at the beach and then onto a giraffe standing over some water. However, my excitement took flight when I saw a young giraffe, maybe 8 – 9, slowly approach our hotel. I got even closer when the giraffe turned and stared at me. When I got overexposed, I thought the giraffe’ skin was actually made of enamel and that its teeth were painted.

I was at disbelief that such a small animal could take on such a ferocious demeanor. We sat awestruck and our mouths opened wide in silence. The next morning we headed for the Masai Mara itself, a safari destination we had our eyes set on. At the entrance of the park were many people walking, some with lunch box and cameras, the ones we wanted to meet were the ones who were writing the most dramatic stories!

People were hurrying us with their offerings and we felt the excitement. Aioned and tired after our night’s camping, we were looking forward to a good night’s rest for the first day of our trip.

We ended our trip at the Mara Simba Lodge, the pride of the Masai Mara Group, right in the heart of the Serengeti National Park. For a fraction of the price of the lodge, you get a fraction of the amenities and beauty of the park. Nevertheless, that night we were asleep before our heads hit the pillow.

The next morning, the front desk clerk served us tea and breakfast like old times. Still, our spirits were high and the old tricks we have heard throughout the years return as we met the high plains people and discussed everything important, our search for poachers, the worries of lions living in the plains and the naming of our dreams. All in a talkative mood, we headed to the vehicle, made tea and set off towards the south, towards Tanzania.