We left for the Maasai Mara on Saturday morning-- time to see some animals! Kenji was particularly excited about seeing the big cats since they were all hiding at Lake Nakuru. We swung by and picked up Greg and Humphrey, the two anesthesia residents from Vanderbilt who were also going to the Mara this weekend. The Tenwek discount has been re-instated at the Fairmont Mara Safari Club so just about every foreigner that comes through Kijabe and Tenwek Hospitals now goes on safari for 1/4 the price. It's a sweet deal.
We arrived four hours later with sore tailbones, ready for lunch and safari. Turns out there were two people here from Tenwek this weekend as well which means that all six of us would be in the same safari car. They like to put all us missionaries together (wink wink.) Our first game drive started out slowly: I gotta say, I was excited about gazelles the first time I saw them, maybe a little the second, but by now they have the effect of rabbits or squirrels. Show me something big!! We did eventually see great things like two herds of elephants and lots of giraffe, some honeymooning lions with repeated mating sessions, and even a leopard with a fresh kill complete with skull-crushing sound effects! Kenji got lots of this on video-- he's gonna put together a "birds and the bees montage" when we get home. Overall, a wonderful first drive and a beautiful animal filled sunset.
The two others from Tenwek are Janet and Keith but they aren't together-- just friends. Janet is about 50-something and I'm not sure what exactly she does at Tenwek; she is the typical dowdy middle-aged lady who asks crazy questions and sings "Home on the Range" everytime she sees either a buffalo or two-horned animal (hint: this is practically the whole time.) Her most entertaining comment yesterday included asking the driver, "Wildebeest? I thought they were Wild-A-Beast?" I gotta give her credit though for being very inquisitive and never being afraid to ask. Keith is an ENT and has a habit of smashing my toes into the hard floor of the Range Rover everytime he jumps up to take pictures of wild-life with his massive National Geographic cameras. This is despite the fact that I have learned to keep my delicate feet nicely tucked away at the opposite edge of the seat, as far away from him as possible. It's a true talent. He is friendly, full of information and is getting GREAT shots of everything we see. For every animal fact that Keith shares with the group, Janet tells us exactly where in the Bible the animal is described. It's a lot of information to take in besides the amazing and vast beauty of the Mara.
Last night after our extensive game drive, we arrived back at the hotel and scampered off back to our tent before dinner. Our tent is right by the bend in the river which is a great hippo-congregating spot. Score! We headed to dinner just as it started at 8pm to find Janet sitting up at the front waving to us from a table set for 6. My stomach turned. Kenji, having learned from the day before, expertly piped up: "Actually, we are on our honeymoon so we'd like to sit alone if that's OK." I mouthed, "You are awesome!" as the staff member led us to the table we choose across the entire restaurant and down on the veranda.
After a peaceful dinner alone, some singing started. "They must have Maasai dancers or something," I said. Wrong. I looked up to see all the singers in hotel uniforms with the lead lady carrying a cake. Oh, a birthday. Wrong again. The snake of singers led across the restaurant, down the stairs, and was clearly headed for our table. Chorus one was followed by a second. Then they asked for a speech: Kenji's face literally looked like one of those Wild-A-Beast in headlights. Now it was my turn to step up. "Um, thank you??" It sufficed. We then simultaneously blew out two candles to more singing and clapping. This was turning into a full-on African wedding reception because next we had to cut the cake, also to the beat of singing and clapping. After they had retreated and we were officially and appropriately celebrated as a newly married couple, Kenji looked at me and said, "Wait, does this mean I don't get my tropical fruit plate for dessert?" Blue and white icing almost came out of my nose.
Ask me if I feel even slightly bad that we are involving the entire Fairmont staff in our lie to have some privacy?? Not. One. Bit.