Big Brother’s African Brother #23: Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya

Day 22: 19 August 2002 10:00 pm

The group splurge on a night out to Carnivore, but Tom and Penny refuse to go.

We have now entered the dark side of our trip and I somehow don’t think that
even Luke Skywalker and his legendary lightsaber can help us. We have
reached our lowest point so far. We are just not enjoying ourselves.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been some magical moments, but after
scrimping and saving for three years, we should be having a ball. Instead,
truck life has become a drudge of endless chores and we want our own
freedom.

Today, we actually considered taking our BA flight tickets out of the safe
box and trying to get a flight home. However, if we took such drastic
action I would feel that we have failed in some way. I should be able to
survive this – it is just a truck with a group of people, so what’s my
problem?

Quite a few people in the group are alcohol-orientated and don’t feel that
they can enjoy themselves without a drink in one hand. The shopping trips
to buy half litres of spirits are becoming more frequent – maybe that’s the
answer – hit the bottle and time flies when on the truck.

A note on changing money again. I would advise anyone planning a trip to
East Africa or on an overland truck to bring mainly US dollars hard currency
and not traveller’s cheques. Traveller’s cheques always attract a worse
rate and/or commission over here and it is not that convenient to change
them in some places. Also, many of our excursions have had to be paid in US
dollars, visas are always US dollars only, and we were informed today that
all accommodation on Zanzibar must be paid for in US dollars (it is the law
there).

Horror of horrors – the Aussie vet truck has returned and we were informed
that we would be running in parallel with them down to Victoria Falls. As
you can tell, this was not the best news to receive today, but I will grin
and bear it.

We took an excursion to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Karen Blixen’s house and the Giraffe Centre (Ksh 1400). My advice is to give Karen Blixen’s house a miss unless you have seen “Out of Africa” or read the book.

David Sheldrick was a naturalist and founder warden of the Tsavo East
National Park. The wildlife trust was established in his memory and
provides assistance for wounded, orphaned and sick animals including
elephants, rhinos and buffalo. It has also alerted the world to the plight
of the black rhino and provides funds for anti-poaching patrols. There is a
famous ‘orphans project’ for elephants and over 40 elephant calves have been
rehabilitated back into the wild.

The viewing area, only cordoned off by a single rope, allowed close contact
with five baby elephants and a chance to see a black rhino baby. I was not
as enthralled by the baby elephants as everyone else in our group, due to
our experiences in Thailand, where we fed a baby elephant. There was a
wealth of free educational material in the souvenir area, but our group went
mad purchasing t-shirts and animal prints at US $25 each. I was amazed that
Roberta and Beth both bought animal prints and they appear to be on a
tighter budget than us! This trip is so different from independent
travelling, when most travellers we came across were on a shoestring budget.
Everyone else on the trip seems to exist on an endless flow of money that
we do not have.

The Giraffe Centre was formed by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW), and feeding the world’s tallest species is the highlight of the
centre, as well as the chance to stroke and touch giraffe.

In the evening, everyone tottered off in their high heels (why does anyone
pack high heels in a backpack for a trip to Africa?) to gorge on game meat.
Meanwhile, we watched the mind numbing, dire “Tomb Raider” – it was strangely
soothing and therapeutic. This is a sure sign that this trip is slowly but
inevitably sending me round the bend. I also caught someone with a Nicky
Clarke electric hair straightener and bulging cosmetic bag in the toilets, a
hefty piece of kit if ever I saw one and obviously essential for safaris -
where do these people stash all this stuff?

Positives: Tom feeding the docile giraffe and stroking baby elephants.

Negatives: Tempted to leave on the next flight home – if only they were not
fully booked until September.

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