off the plane, the bus, the taxi and into the maasai country of kenya. we headed out with my friend to see his family, who i had met last year. the conditions of the area they live are hot, dry, dusty, and thorny. the landscape can be pretty dismal at first glance, but you learn to appreciate the bush conditions and to enjoy the views of open sky and dry earth. and plus- with my maasai family, cows, goats, chickens, dogs and wild birds to keep me company as i walked out to see mount kilimanjaro during the sunrise- what’s to really complain about?

i met joseph last year when he was living in lamu, kenya- part of the beautiful coast near somalia. he is working to build his own tourism company- leading and organizing trips all over east africa. we became friends and i visited his family near amboseli national park to get to know him and his family. his mother and family named  me “lemayian” (blessed) and this time alli and her family received their own names and were welcomed into the family. when it came time to leave it was very hard to say goodbye- especially after such a short stay.

then back to the craziness of nairobi – the traffic, noise, and crowds of people all mixed tighter together than you could think possible. if you think it is loud in new york, come here. if you think “pedestrians” in baltimore are bad, come here. if you think the driving is crazy- anywhere- come here to experience  a taxi or bus driver somehow squeeze between cars, people, and animals wandering through the thick of town.

it was good to only be there for hours before we headed to the outskirts of the city to the national park for the elephant sanctuary. this was something i passed going to last time because of the cost- but if you ever find yourself in nairobi- do yourself the favor and go. and please choose to adopt an animal like our lovely friend alli did!

it was so amazing to feed and play with the animals that i have dreamed of getting close to my entire life. elephants are incredibly intelligent and playful – to have them sniff you out, tease any loose items of clothing from you and then continue chewing on the bark of the branches. and they were only feet away! one untied jesse’s shoe and others played tug-o-war with a branch.

there were also two rhinos there- the giant dinosaur-like cows that are gentle if you get to know them (a little harder to do in the bush). we fed one and then enjoyed rubbing the tough leather/armor cloth of the larger rhino when it came by the door of her sleeping pen. as soon as we started to rub on her back and neck, her eyes glazed and shut just like a house cat or dog getting a belly rub. incredible… just absolutely mind blowing. lots of video that will have to wait until i get states-side again.

anyway- now i’m out of kenya- just crossed into uganda today. tomorrow brings rafting on the nile near jinja, and then to kampala and kigali, rwanda! i can’t believe i have only been here for a couple days– and that my trip still has over 26 days left! definitely looking forward to getting to rwanda and settling in there to really start the meat of my trip.

hope all is well and cheers to the five-year-old in all of us,