Sunday, December 16, 2007

December 16, 2007 - Cheetahs and Matatus

Yesterday's "buying a car" adventure did not go exactly as planned. The reliable British guy with whom we were meeting dropped off the face of the earth yesterday. We were supposed to meet him at a specific shopping center in the afternoon to look at the car. We went there for lunch, shopped around, kept calling him, and sent him a text message. His phone was turned off the entire day. So...we think: his phone got stolen (which is highly likely here), he was in a terrible accident of some kind (we hope this is not true), or he sold the car to someone else/was no longer interested in selling to us and didn't want to tell us (the most likely reason). It is just a little weird because we talked to him on the phone 3 times and he said that we were the most reliable customers he had interested in the car. GRRRR! It is just so annoying because it was exactly the car we wanted at a reasonable price. Now it is back to the bulletin boards to find another car.

The highlight of our day, after not buying a car, was visiting the Animal Orphanage at the Kenya National Park. Here, animals in the park that are abandoned or injured are brought in for care and TLC. We think that if it was a true orphanage the animals would be sent back out into the park when they were healed and ready, but this place is secretly just a zoo because when the animals are well they are put in large cages for visitors and tourists like us to observe. They are never put back into the wild because they couldn't take care of themselves anymore. Before going into the orphanage we met a young American couple; they were both Peace Corps volunteers in Jordon doing a little travelling. They were very nice and we walked around the orphanage with them.

We saw beautiful lions, heinously ugly warthogs (like Pumba from the Lion King), crazy monkeys, and a stealthy leopard to name a few animals. Our coolest interaction was with the cheetahs though! We were actually let into their cage to pet them. They enormous cats were extremely calm - apparently they are selective eaters and don't attack humans. We were a little nervous though! We were the only white people at the orphanage and no other visitors were being let into the cage...so maybe the joke would be on us and everyone else would be entertained as we were clawed to death?!? No no no. The cheetahs were laying perfectly still and just let us pet them. Their fur is very rough and their tongues are similar to the giraffes, like sandpaper. We think the workers let us in because they knew we would tip them well, which we did. We also learned that the most dangerous animal in the wild is a buffalo. It can flip a car over and charge a lion so you really don't want to run into one in a dark alley, if you know what I mean. This orphanage doesn't rescue elephants because they eat too much!

After all of our driving around yesterday, Kristoffer is almost an expert driver now. Because it seems to us that there are no rules on the road, a driver has to be aggressive to get through the crazy roundabouts they have here or to merge into traffic on the highway. One factor that complicates driving success is the presence of all of these matatus (little buses). They are 14 passenger vans that are a form of public transportation for people to get in/out and around Nairobi. You can see them driving on the sidewalk or the dirt to the side of the road, sometimes they will just stop in the middle of a roundabout to let people on or off, and they drive at crazy speeds. Most of the road accidents in Kenya are attributed to matatus, actually, and they drive me SO crazy that I now use the word as a curse! I will yell "MATATUS!" if I am frustrated!

Today we may venture to a new and dangerous place...the center of the city! The weather continues to be perfect; the sun is always shining and a light breeze gently blows. Kenya also grows the most beautiful flowers (one of their biggest exports); Kristoffer will be buying me lots of them in the next two years I hope. It is hard for us to realize that Christmas is 9 days away because it feels like June! I wonder, will we like Nairobi when the long rains come?

LMW

2 comments:

Duffy said...

I glad your driving is getting better, I knew it would. When we were in Ireland with the boys, we found the Irish kind of drive the same way. Mr. D and Matt were stand on the sidewalk in the center of Cork at noon on a Friday when a car came from the far side of a 4 lane street across traffic, onto the sidewalk everyone just jumped back and the car just completed the u-turn and kept on going. Sorry about the car, something will turn. You know everything happens for the best. Hope to talk to you tomorrow. I've responded to most of your blogs but I don't see them in comments. I hope your getting them. Maybe I'm doing something wrong which would not be unusual for Crazycarol. love to you

mdm in chi-town said...

Well, Lisa, you know what they say:

Hakuna Matatu!!