Sunday, December 20, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are for Real

At breakfast this morning, the hostess asked how I slept. I said that the walls were very thin and I could hear the French couple in the next room for most of the night. What we heard was their child singing at 9:30pm and then I heard the father snoring all night long. They could have been in our room for the lack of muffling the wall made. Although I did not go into details with Betty, the hostess, she made her own assumptions and started to giggle. I assured her we did nothing to disturb the sleep of the French people. When I returned from the buffet, she looked at me and giggled hysterically, saying "I cannot get what you said out of my mind." If I gave her a laugh, why should I correct her.

We left promptly at 6:30 for our 5 1/2 hour drive to reach our home for the next 3 nights. We are staying at the Mara Sopa Lodge inside the Masai Mara Reserve. All around us, the Masai people still have their homes and live in their traditional ways. The lodge is once again more palatial than we expected. Our room is abundantly roomy and sits in a little building with one other room next to us. Covering the walls in the bathroom are tiles that resemble elephant hide, mixed with beige vertical tiles. I cannot begin to fathom how they managed to get the supplies to this area initially to build a complex such as this when there are no roads per se. It must have been some feat. I also wonder if the land is bought or leased. The latter is my guess, but have not asked anyone.

At check-in, we were informed that we could get hot water for showers from 6am-10am and then again from 6:30pm-10pm. There is no getting around having someone take your luggage for you to the room. Every place we have stayed at so far, they insist they take your bags for you. We were asked to please take our lunch as soon as we settled in the room, though they would still be serving for another hour and a half. The restaurant is humongous with a grand earthenware fireplace in the center. The bar has one similar. All meals are again buffet. I was thinking back to our last safari where our driver and guide did all of the cooking from a drop-down leaf off of the side of the truck. All of us chipped in to clean up afterwards. I kind of miss that.

ZebraImage via Wikipedia
At 4pm, it was time to meet Joseph for our late afternoon safari tour. He almost found us a leopard, the only animal of the Big 5, we have yet to see on any trip. The others are the elephant, water buffalo, rhino, and lion. Back to the almost, he did find a tree where it was obvious that a leopard had been. Hanging high up in the tree was the carcass of a wildebeast. It looked to be a calf. I cannot fathom the strength it must have taked to carry the poor animal up into the tree using his teeth and jaws. It is not like the leopard could have it delivered, hoist it up, or use an elevator, but he left and did not clean up his mess after eating. Must have been a male leopard.

We found dozens upon dozens of zebras, but I never tire of seeing them. A couple of elephants were eating in a ditch, but later we found a whole group of them with assorted sized babies. Joseph went off of the beaten path and seemed to know where things were going to be. It was a great spotting safari, but the cream on the cake was when he took off in a strange direction with no paths at all, really traveling through the bushes. There were 5 giraffes, the first we have seen this trip. Two were obviously babies; one tried nursing while we watched, but mom was not having it at all. They are such graceful and stately animals. I love watching them walk.

Back on one of the paths, Joseph kept popping his head out the window, and then he jumped out of the van. We had a flat tire. I think he may have suspected it may happen earlier. He looked at the tire a few times during the day. It was unnerving knowing he was out there fixing the tire, which of course meant jacking it up. I half expected he would ask us to get out to save on the extra weight, but he didn't. Just having the sliding door on the van was a little worrisome. One of the other tour guides stopped his van to offer assistance. I kept an eye in that direction, while Ron looked in the other. There were some water buffaloes close by and one of the bulls found us every curious. He started to walk our way, then turned abruptly and left. Other animals gathered around to see what was happening. One said what a wildebeesty thing to have happen here. Another stated that there was an auto club to call for assistance, but we knew he was a lion. A hyena just laughed at our predictiment.

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