Sunday, September 8, 2013

Kenya: Another Big Sky Country

Some say that Montana is "Big Sky Country." They need to come to Kenya.

There is an openness of sky in Kenya that plays on many emotions, an openness characterized by, among others things, awe-inspiring mile-high and mile-wide blue skies that never fail to evoke wonder and, well, simple joy. They're beautiful to see.

So much of what we experience in Kenya is almost over-powering. So many emotions keep running back and forth in one's mind, and there is - especially for a visitor coming from a very different culture or society - a constant "pull" inviting the person to look at this ("I bet you've never seen this before") or to spend some time observing that ("This has to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience").

That emotional roller-coaster (I think that's the common description) is particularly troublesome when one finds that, because there is so much to see in Kenya, much of the obvious gets slighted. Add to the mix time spent with friends from previous visits and time set aside for personal socializing in this country of friendly and welcoming people, and it becomes very easy not to notice all the natural beauty that surrounds you as you move about the country.

For within that "obvious" is some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Even without the wildlife (which, for many people, is why they come to Kenya), the beauties of nature are almost too hard to take in, so splendid in what we have before us. It's enough to make even the non-believer begin to think about the grand scale of the universe and the world we live in.

For me, going back to my first excursions out of Nairobi when I was working and living Kenya a few years ago, my opportunities for learning to love the land came early. Charles Masese, my driver, had considerable experience as a tour guide and driver, and when we realized that we would be working together (and, not incidentally, become the best of friends), he took up the challenge of introducing Bwana Guy to the Kenya countryside.

As it turned out, my work enabled me to have long week-ends free of professional duties, and while Charles and I didn't go off on safari every week-end, we easily arranged journeys around the country every two or three weeks.

A great experience, and while I was exposed to the beauties of the countryside, I also discovered that Charles is one of the best game-spotters in the country. It's amazing to me what he can see on a distant hillside, among the trees and undergrowth of the forest, and I was often delighted when he began a sentence with "I think, over on that hill about 11 o'clock...."

Charles didn't need to complete his sentence. He knew I would look where he was pointing me to.

[A slight digression, by the way: You notice I used the word "forest" for what we Westerners would usually call "jungle." The Kenyans don't say "jungle" when they describe in English the thick foliage growing in the wild and - truth to tell - this type of growth isn't what we think of as "jungle," as in the rainforest type of growth. Despite all the Tarzan movies and such from when we were growing up, there's little of that sort of growth left in Kenya, only in the Kakamega Forest in the western part of the country which, for anyone who's interested, I wrote about here.]

As part of Charles' tutelage, I not only got to see the wildlife. He is an expert in finding beautiful scenery as well, as he knows where to take his car so that he can share the best views (he knows a lot of them). For this post, I've decided to focus on the skies of Kenya, as it was the skies that fascinated me first when I began to go about the country. As you can see from the photographs, there is a connection to what we in America think of as "big sky country." When one travels about in Kenya, the clouds contribute to a view that would thrill even the John Constables of the world (what must the sky of Kenya have looked like in his day? imagine what he would have done with some of the views of the sky we get to witness!).

Go to Big Sky - Kenya to see more.

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