Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rainy Christmas in Kenya (VI)

Our Christmas Day excursion continued - with the rain kindly stopping once we were a few kilometers away from the restaurant - and we drove into the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy. There, with the majestic mountain in the background, we were able to observe several species of wildlife, including my first zebra on this trip. Very special for us today, we were also able to see one of the surviving captive-born mountain bongos (he's the big guy on the left in the photo). The bongo is an endangered and beautifully marked
antelope and, as you can see, they are bulkier than the lowland West African antelope.

Sadly turning our way back to the Nairobi - now some 147 km (about 87 miles) away - we made it to one of the largest communities along the highway and one that, as it happens, has one of the largest roadside markets. We stopped and thanks to Dorothy's bargaining skills (I'm still a little too Westernized to take up any serious bargaining beyond the purchase of the simplest tourist souvenir), we were able to load up the car with local produce (at unbelievably cheap prices!). We'll all be eating healthy meals for the rest of the holiday season.

And no sooner had we left the market....

Oh, dear. Now we had our second assumption shot down.

Big time.

The rains came, this time with a vengeance. I won't go into all the details, and there is no need to write about how long the journey took, how hard the drive was, or even about the multiplicity of police checks, as we found cars (ours included) being stopped left and right all the way into Nairobi. We figured there must have been some sort of tip off (even for my driver and my friends who live in Kenya, this level of police activity is unusual) and in all this heavy rain, it was a strangely demanding trip home.

The best thing I can say about our long return home is to pay high tribute to my driver, Charles Mesese. He was terrific, and in all that heavy rain and with all the situations we found ourselves in, he was our rock. I'm not going out again without Charles!

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