The best part of the trip to the Mara so far has been the hot air balloon ride that Kenji and I did yesterday morning. We got a wake-up call at 4:45am and were in the truck by 5:15am. We rode out to the balloon site by the time the sun was beginning to rise. The balloon was floating above the trees before sunrise was finished and the view of the Mara from the sky was breathtaking. I mean, literally. The low bushes and trees below with running animals all along the ground while just floating in the air.... It was fabulous. The balloon ride was about an hour and followed by breakfast "in the bush" which basically just meant outside in the Mara where they normally don't let tourists out of the car. There weren't very animals nearby (they stay away from people) but just being outside of the safari vehicle was a real treat. Everyone kept congratulating us on our recent marriage (the display in the restaurant was hard to miss.) "Yes, thank you, isn't a balloon ride a perfect thing to do on a honeymoon? We think so." Fit RIIIIIIGHT in. We are geniuses.
Dinner in the Boma (an outside fenced area used in Maasai housing complexes) was actually quite good last night and was a nice surprise and change from the regular restaurant routine. They had a big bonfire to keep the bugs at bay and all the food was African themed. There were lots of fresh salads (including beets-- I love beets!) and barbeque. I was hoping they would have osterich (they are a bunch of them here!) but I had to settle for crocodile instead. Tasted like very chewy chicken with a fishy aftertaste, which is what I would guess it tastes like. They have been overall incredibly good about my food allergies which is quite a relief seeing as I don't even know where the nearest hospital is. Although, when I had an allergy attack IN the hospital back in Kijabe, I did go home to treat it myself anyway since I've seen how quickly things get done in a true emergency. Still, it was nice to know they had back-up drugs just up the hill if I needed them.
The past few days have been full of rain, especially during safari time. Our safaris yesterday were actually quite enjoyable despite the rain because our companions are quite entertaining-- in a good way! Both couples are from England and are traveling together. Maggie and Chris are older and have been to the Safari Club many times-- this is their favorite place in the Mara. They bring with them Bob and Grace who are younger and have been here I believe once before. Bob is big, burly, fully of tattoos with a shaved head and large gold hoop earring in his left ear. But he is a sweetheart and says things like, "Look at that jackal, it's so lovely, idn't it? I think we should get one as a pet." Grace goes crazy over elephants and when we saw a herd of 16 of them yesterday in the open plains with several babies, she got the biggest smile on her face I've ever seen. The best part of the ride was when Maggie told the story of when they went ballooning on their first trip and during landing they knocked over three consecutive termite hills and then finally landed sideways on a huge pile of cow dung: "It would have been OK except for all the poo because then the termites got stuck all over our jumpers." Um, yeah. That's gross. Kenji and I are still laughing.
Today is our last day in Kenya-- we are flying out tonight. It's basically an entire extra day of traveling because we are being driven back to Nairobi, which takes about 5 hours due to road conditions, not distance. And that's assuming we don't hit traffic. We'll be in the airport for at least another 4 hours before getting to our gate at the airport and boarding the plane. But, at least this time I have a travel companion so it won't really matter as much as my way here. I think the total trip is about 36 hours with a 5+ hour layover in Amsterdam. I hope they have some good movie selections on the plane!