Hello Beautiful People,
All right, time for a Kenya Story. This is a wee bit longer then most stories (sorry) but, lots of fun and explains things one should not do while on safari!
It was Dec 25th 2006 and as tradition has it we always go to the coast for Christmas and New Years Eve Holidays.
My Dear sweet Princess Savanah (my youngest, then 14) decided she wanted to fly down with her friend and her friends family and meet us there, while Tiva then 17, Rian 15, David (who would be 21 in a few days), Dawn (the goddess) and myself decided to drive down in our glorious old Land Cruiser with our driver David, who was a new hire.
We all wanted to camp that night and drive into Watamu the next day. Dawn had booked us a tent at a very special, African owned and run camp in Tsavo. It was cheep and had an ok reputation, plus the kids could camp just next door to us at a KWS campsite. Yes, this was one of those years Dawn and I tore up our house scrounging for every last dime we had to ensure that we all had fun and an amazing holiday.
We were driving through Tsavo and the only mammal we saw was an elephant in the far off distance, as it had been a bad drought year.
After around 10 hours on the road we reached the camp.
Walking in to the camp Dawn and I were pleasantly surprised at the cleanliness of the place and the kindness of the staff. One gentleman showed us the path that would lead us to the campsite, where the kids and David would be staying. Yes, alone! Are kids have been camping their whole lives and know all about the bush. Plus there was a ranger near by, just in case.
We helped set them up (which, in Dawns and my Motherly way means, we dropped off their tent and all their belongings, kissed them and said we would see them for drinks and dinner in the camp mess at 7pm) and then Dawn and I walked back to our tent, which we were sharing.
We were walking with the manager who was showing us to our room. We arrived at our tent and set our things down. The manager was standing outside our tent and asked us if we needed anything else before he left. Dawn and I said we were fine. He nodded, and then said, “I just need to tell you a few things. One; we ask all our guest to join us around a fire before dinner so we can get to know one another and go over all the safety rules while you are staying with us, the fire will be just outside the mess tent.” Dawn and I both looked at each other and smiled (meaning, ugh) and, “Two; dinner is at 8pm.” With that he smiled at us and walked off.
Dawn and I walked back in to our tent and retrieved our wine and two glasses and walked out to the plastic floored veranda to relax on the safari chairs. Beautiful birds were in the trees and the smell of the bush was the perfect perfume to relax us.
Not far off was another tent and a very nice African couple that were so excited to be camping. The gentleman walked over to our tent and politely introduced himself and then said, “If you would like to see some Impala they are eating right behind your tent”. Dawn and I got up to see, as we hadn’t seen any wildlife driving in, except that lone Elephant in the distance.
We slowly and quietly got up and walked around the tent and there they were, 5 goats! We just busted up laughing; thank god the nice man had walked away before seeing our explosion of laughter.
We went back to our tent and sat drinking our wine enjoying the stillness of being on the ground and out of our Old land Cruiser, which was extremely bouncy to say the least.
It was time to get ready to go join everyone by the campfire, we had already let the kids know what time to join us for drinks before dinner. We were starving and we knew the kids must be too.
The mozzies were out in force and I had left my mozzie spray with the kids. Dawn had not packed any, knowing I would have packed some.
She looked at me and said, “we have to do something, hold on I have an idea”. Now remember this is, ‘The Goddess’ my all-knowing dear and kind friend who confirmed that humans can be kind and good. She taught me how to be more diplomatic. To say the least I TRUSTED her.
She had walked in to the tent and came back out with a can of DOOM in her hand. She said, “Here let me spray your legs!” “ Are you crazy, that stuff is pure poison!” I bellowed. Dawn reassuringly told me, “Don’t worry, it will be fine, I will just spray a little bit, it will work!” Now I am thinking TANA DON’T DO IT! Well, unfortunately I TRUSTED Dawn. She gets this look on her face that makes you think twice of your own good judgment. So she sprayed away, her feet then mine.
As I was waiting for the burning pain to follow, I was relieved to feel nothing. I thought to myself, darn she was right again! LOL and left it at that.
We headed off to the campfire and found around 10 other people plus the kids waiting for us. The manager stood up and started his introduction spiel. “We would like to welcome all of you and wish you all a Happy Christmas. I have a few points to go over with everyone before you head off to dinner.” At this point Dawn, the kids and I were just waiting to get to dinner and eat.
We were all sitting there listening, when we couldn’t believe what we just heard.
The manager of the camp says, “ If you see a lion while you are back at your tent, DO NOT call me, I wont be here, no one will be at the office, stay where you are or in your tent and call out MAASAI, he should get to you as soon as he can.” Dawn and I fell off our logs that we were sitting on. We tried so hard not to laugh out loud, but we didn’t succeed. If the man said anything after that, I truly don’t remember it. The kids and us couldn’t stop laughing at the looks on the other guest faces. They looked like a deer in headlights. We were trying to figure out if they were scared that a lion could walk into camp, or that a Maasai would “try” to get to them on time.
We all had a wonderful Christmas dinner; we walked the kids back to their tent and made sure they were all settled in. We walked back to our tent, trying to get each other to call out ‘MAASAI’ just to see how long it would take for a Maasai to get to us, but we were behaved and didn’t. We got to our tent and got in are own beds. Dawn had let me pick which bed I wanted, very kind of her!
I got comfortable and had the lantern on to read my book, when all of a sudden my feet and legs started to itch, then burn. I asked Dawn if her feet were itching, to which she replied, “no”. I informed her that I thought that I had bed bugs. I threw back the covers and turned on my torch. I didn’t see anything! Except a huge rash running up the front and back of both of my legs, from were Dawn had sprayed the Doom on me!
Dawn was cracking up, most likely because she didn’t have an allergic reaction, and seeing me in a scratching frenzy made her whole night.
From my stupidity from the doom incident, I didn’t get much sleep. Dawn on the other hand slept like a baby! I jumped in the shower first just letting the cold water hit my feet and legs trying to get some relief, it worked for a short while. Dawn kindly reminded me we could stop at a chemist shop in Malindi, which was another 20 minutes on from where we would be staying in Watamu and we still had about 5 hours drive in front of us.
We met up with the kids for breakfast who were full of exciting stories from their own camping experience. The stories involved Baboons in camp and David who forgot to check himself for ticks before going to bed and woke up itching like me. There were at least 6 ticks on his body, of which the girls kindly removed with huge mocking for each tick they plucked off, at least the ones that were not in private areas.
We sent one of the camp staff to find David, who had been in the staff quarters, making new friends. We packed up and got back on the road.
We had been driving about 2 hours when we hit a small town, where everyone stopped at while driving this road trip; as it was one of the last stops to fill up with petrol or diesel. We pulled over in to one of the petrol stations. David turned off the vehicle and the kids all got out to find the nearest toilet or bush. The vehicle had been filled up and paid for, everyone but me was in the car, as I had gotten out to pay and was waiting for the receipt.
I heard the one noise that makes you cringe when out in the middle of nowhere, the key being turned, and the car NOT starting. David tried about 5 times and I told him to stop, as I was afraid he would flood it. It sounded like the battery was dead, and there was no way we could afford to buy one here.
I looked where the vehicle was parked and saw it was on a very slight slop. I yelled to David to put the car in neutral, which he did. Not thinking, I am sure due to the immense inching restraint I was concentrating on. I walked to the back of the car and started to push this 1200lb car forward. Now I am sure most smart people would have called out to all the teens in the car and asked them to get out and help! But no, I was a bit loopy at the time, and of course thought I was wonder woman.
Sweat started to form on my brow when I heard laughter coming from inside the car. I looked up and of course it was all the teens and Dawn laughing at me. I looked around and about 4 African men were staring at me in complete disbelief. I had to laugh at myself at this point in time.
The African men were walking over as I started to push again, sure enough I got the vehicle moving forward. Trust me everyone was shocked at my strength at this time. The African men got to the car just as it was rolling and started pushing with all their strength. The car started to move, and David through the car in to 2nd gear and took his foot off the clutch, and presto the Land Cruiser started.
All the African men patted me on the back and were grabbing my arms muscles, extremely excited about seeing this crazy white woman pushing a Land Cruiser by herself and how strong I was! I thanked all of them and jumped in to the land cruiser. The whole car exploded with applause and jokes began about good old Mum. I thanked each and every one of them for getting off their butts and helping me! They all agreed that I was doing such a great job on my own they didn’t want to take the fun away from me! Adorable children and friend!
We finally got to Watamu and Dawn and I walked to the reception area. The first thing I asked for was a large bag of ice for my massive rashes. They kindly looked down at my legs and all squinted up their eyes and said, “oh Tana, what happened to you?” I informed them that, “my darling and most dearest friend sprayed me with doom.” Yet Again, huge amounts of laughter exploded. Yes, I am the dummy. Huge bags of ice were brought to me. While Dawn signed us all in and our bags were taken to our rooms, it was time to get to the chemist.
Savanah wondered over all fresh and lightly tanned with an ice cold drink in her hand! “Hey Mum, how are you? How was your trip?” I pointed to my legs. “Ewww, that looks like it hurts. Well hope you get something for it, love ya, see you later.” She walked off, and at that point I am thinking to myself, “I know I have loving children, has anyone seen them?”
We drove up to Malindi and found the nearest chemist. I am sure I bolted in there like a crazy person looking for any kind of relief. The woman at the counter asked if she could help me, Dawn was standing by me and said, “We are looking for anything that will stop her itching.” At this point I threw my leg up on the counter and pointed (All lady like behavior out the door). She put her hand over her mouth and then slowly pulled it away to say, “Oh, that looks like it hurts!” I just thought, ‘do you think so?’ She went behind the counter and handed me some cream and a couple pills to take; I didn’t even ask what they were for at that point in time, I just popped one. I started putting on the cream right there and then. We paid the heavenly chemist and I, for the first time since the night before had total relief.
On our way back to the hotel, Dawn and I stopped at the local dukas. Dawn was craving a ham sandwich. Now remember when I said Dawn and I had to find every last dime we had to take this holiday? Well, this is how poor we were! Dawn walks in finds the ham pack and puts in the trolley, she gets a roll of bread and puts that in the trolley, then ever so stealth like walks by a head of lettuce and tears off a piece and puts it in her purse. I looked at her with wide eyes, and said, “What are doing?” “ I just want one sandwich, what am I going to do with a whole head of it.” Coming from the woman who I let spray Doom on me, how could I argue with her. “Besides, they won’t mind, I have been shopping here for over 20 years.” She added.
We all had a wonderful time that holiday and many stories to laugh about. For those friends of mine who asked for a Kenyan story and how things are done here, I hope I answered some of the questions. Although I think I answered more of what not to do. Do not spray Doom on your body parts, Have a second battery with you in an old vehicle if going on a long journey, remember to pack insect repellent for everyone’s bags if staying in different camps, Ask for help when pushing a heavy vehicle and always trust your own instincts. LOL…