We spent a few days here and there in Nairobi, or passing through, on our way to the different childrens' homes. I came to love the drive, watching the busy street markets, colorful fruit sellers, and gorgeous landscape fly by my window. While in Nairobi, we had the chance to visit both the Giraffe Center and the Elephant Orphanage - fun chances to check out some wildlife in the middle of the city.
Back "home" in Naivasha, we spent an afternoon biking and hiking through Hell's Gate Park - so incredible! I had a moment where I realized that I had just biked through a herd of zebras - so very surreal. A lot of the terrain reminded me of a slightly more humid Moab area - lots of great red rocks and dramatic formations.
Oh, yes way!
We biked a few miles to a trailhead, where we stashed our bikes and hired a Maasai guide to help us hike through the winding canyons by the river. For most of the hike we didn't follow a trail, we just trusted our sweet guide Zacharias. It definitely could have been easy to get turned around in the canyons.
I call this one "The Watchers". Hehe. Maasai herders checking us out.
I bought a bracelet from this awesome lady, and in return, she let me take her picture, and then asked if I voted for Obama.
Although we were hot and sweaty and didn't bring quite enough food, we had so much fun hiking that we were a little late getting back up to the trailhead. The park closes at sunset, and the sun was verrry low when we started to bike back - we were still I think six miles or so from the entrance. We made it about a mile, when Peris, the other director of Friends Vision, motioned for us to stop.
"There's a big herd of buffalo crossing the road up there," she explained. "As long as we keep very close together with the small ones in the middle, they should think we're a herd, too, and then they won't stampede." Oh, good. We breathed a collective sigh of relief when we made it through the herd, but a few hundred yards later, Peris stopped us again. A ways ahead of us, just off the road, there was a lone buffalo staring at us. We all kind of thought, hey, this is just one guy and we just biked past a whole herd! but she explained that a single male buffalo is much more dangerous and likely to charge than a herd, and when you're talking about giant buffalos with someone who grew up on Mt. Kenya, you listen.
"He looks angry," she said. "I think maybe you guys should be more careful."
It wasn't wise to go any farther down the road, so we sat there, waiting and hoping the buffalo would stand down, as the sun fell lower in the sky. Peris tried to make some calls to get someone to come pick us up, but her cell didn't have reception. We ended up biking back to the trailhead because we knew there was a ranger station there. Jannah hitched a ride back to her car, which was parked outside the park entrance, and thankfully the rangers let her back in to pick us up, because by then it was after dark and the park was technically closed. And thus ends the saga of the standoff with the buffalo.
Trying to wait the big guy out... or wear him down with stares.
When we got back to the volunteer house, we looked up some stats. The Cape Buffalo has an "unpredictable nature which makes it highly dangerous to humans". They can reach 11 feet long and weigh up to 2,000 pounds, and their horns are fused to their skulls, which frequently can't be pierced by a rifle shot. It's called "The Black Death" and "The Widowmaker" because it gores over 200 people each year. Neat! Thanks, Wikipedia.
I dunno, he looks friendly to me.
That same week, we headed over to the AIDS clinic, which is in a pretty poor part of Naivasha. While we were there, we were able to drop off another donated laptop (seriously, all you donaters are rad!) for the office to use, and we took some photos of the clinic and the staff for their website. We also met like a thousand very enthusiastic children who lived in the neighborhoods nearby - once word got out that there were a bunch of strange white people hanging out at the clinic, everyone had to come see for themselves :) One of the many awesome thing about this clinic is that they offer free AIDS testing, free condoms, and free tuberculosis testing. One step forward.
Dancing in the doorway.
Little did we know, we happened to end up at the AIDS clinic on World AIDS day. Chills.