Wheelbarrow Efforts

It's something to do

Skiing in Kenya

It was the picture that did it. K. and I had decided that we must get away, to break the dreadful circle and mood that threatened to engulf us after a truly annus horriblis. In the crook of a tree, there lay a cat. With closed eyes and that satisfied look that comes from a full stomach, warmth, and not a care in the world. I decided that I wanted to stroke that cat, and pounced on the website shown in the advert.

Previously, we had discussed where we could go in January. Spain was in budget, but there is no guarantee of sunshine. Thailand has the sun - but out of budget, and out of Europe (for the travel insurance) and the flying time was too long. So where? Well, that damned cat, sorry lioness, decided it for us. Oblivious to the little voice screaming that Kenya is out of Europe, a ten hour flight, and definitely out of budget, we negotiated with ourselves and the bank balance. We robbed Peter and Paul. The agent on the phone was so helpful, well he would be wouldn't he. At 5.30 one Saturday afternoon we had booked; and by 6.30 the next Saturday afternoon the plane took off with us on it.

Seven days of frantic activity: phone calls to get travel insurance; jabs or exemption certificates plus the malaria tablets; and clothes for the tropics. Nowhere in Ashford and around could we buy cotton - in January. No surprise there then. Same problem with foot ware, “We’ll have a lovely range of sandals in April”. In the end, we got jabs, malaria tablets, mosquito sprays and funny hats from the Travel Clinic in the Secret Garden (on the A25 at Mersham). And we were loaned clothes by old Africa hands.

It was just what we wanted:- hot and sunny; everything done for us; swimming in the deep blue of the pool; and resting in the shade of the acacia tree; no phones - and no one telling us what to do and what we can’t do. Just monkeys that came for tea an hour before dusk every night.

We went on safari too. We flew to a lodge which is close to Mount Kilimanjaro and stayed a night. The landing strip was primitive. Just two logs: arrivals and departures. They hire the local Massai warriors as guards who had to clear the strip of cattle as we  landed, and a family of baboons as we left. We were close to a sanctuary owned by the tour operators, who kept out the main predators. So the only lions that we saw were three orphans. Their mother had been killed after she took a Massai cow. The photograph is of the male eating his evening meal - goat prepared by the keepers. We had three game drives in the sanctuary, and got a real flavor of the bush. I would have liked a safari on a game reserve, but had been advised that against it. Back on the coast, we had a trip on the Indian Ocean watching Dolphins.

The men and women from Kenya could not have been more welcoming and helpful. They even organized one of the poolside attendants to help steady me as I got into and out of the pool.

Would we go again - yes! - we are already planning where...

The monkey who came to tea—and stole the sugar

Reprint from Stroke Watch No: 8,2007