Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Africa Trip continues - November 7th, 2009

AFRICA – NOVEMBER 7TH continued…

After driving for an hour, on what I thought were, the worse roads imaginable “Muli”, our driver, told us that we would soon be leaving the nice paved roads and driving on some very uncomfortable dirt roads the rest of the way to Sarova Mara Game Camp. We really didn’t think it could get any worse, but believe me it did. Thank God for Ibuprohen!

Our first stop was at “The Great Rift Valley” it is one of the wonders of the world, stretching from the Middle East, down through Africa, reaching as far as Mozambique, and is bordered by Uganda. The staggering view, as you approach from Nairobi, Kenya is quite unbelievable. The ground suddenly disappears from under you to show the huge expanse of the great rift, stretching for thousands of miles in either direction. We did not actually descend and explore the Lakes area of the Rift in Kenya but they say it is a "not to be missed" opportunity. Maybe someday!

The people of the Rift Valley are a mesh work of different tribal identities. The Maasai people serve as Kenya's international cultural symbol. The Maasai community have the most recognizable cultural identity in and outside Kenya. The Kalenjin and the Maasai are only a couple of the communities that call Rift Valley home. Other communities live here as well. People in the province are mostly rural, although they are growing more urban. Cities and towns have sprung up over the years to contain the rural-urban migration. If the right policies are instituted, Rift Valley province can emerge as the economic and cultural mecca in Kenya. That would be a much needed change!

We saw blue monkeys sitting throughout the trees and I could have stayed there for hours just taking photos, but we were told by our guide, Tony, that we needed to shop. These shops extend their bathroom facilities so it is expected of you to buy something – once again, “anything” and a lot of it! One of the shop keepers, zoomed in on me and esscorted me into the shop and grabbed a basket. He told me his name was Peter. He was in Maasai attire. He followed me around the store and kept picking up stuff saying do you like this? I did like it, so I would say yes. I didn’t realize every time I said yes he put it in my basket. When I figured out the sales pitch I changed yes to no. It was too late though because once I got to the end of the shop he was tallying up the total of my goods. Peter was quite the salesman and gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I was happy with my purchases but it took all the Kenyan money that I exchanged for $50.00 plus $20.00 of my american dollars.
The funny part was when I was leaving the shop Peter asked me if I had a pen. He knew I did because he saw it. I wrote down the name of the Great Rift Valley in my journal while I was outside looking at the amazing view. So Peter asked me if I would give him my pen. It was a fat pen and I really like it, but to be neighborly and wanting to show how nice Americans were I gave it to him. As I was getting back in the van I saw him talking to Mark, he was one of the guys that traveled in my van. He told me later than Peter asked him for his lighter, but since Mark was a smoker he wouldn’t part with that, so Peter kept asking him for stuff. Mark finally gave him is eyes drops that he uses for dry eyes “Tears.” It was a new bottle and not opened. I wish I was there to see him explain to Peter what the drops were for. We all had a good laugh, and I learned quickly how to shop. More to follow…

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