Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Nairobi, Kenya

The hotel staff keep smiling, but their eyes are starting to show suspicion. Every few hours I march through the Serena’s four-star lobby bearing another load of diesel cans, water tanks, expedition food and safari gear in all shapes and sizes.

Oh. A safari, sir? Of course, sir.

I drive through Nairobi like a skittish fawn. A four wheel drive, two ton Mitsubishi fawn, but still. I cannot put the city in my rear view mirror fast enough. Road signage is not Kenya’s strong suit, but I somehow eyeball the way, and soon find myself gaping into the Great Rift Valley.

The land drops a thousand meters revealing lush green plains below. Framing this wonder of nature are dozens of dubious photo platforms, curio shops and ersatz tribesmen, all awaiting tourist buses that seem to be running late.

It takes hours to reach the park entrance, traveling through Masai country and over stupendously bad roads. I find a campground as darkness falls, and have the place to myself, except for my very own Masai warrior. For 300 shillings he’s watching my every move, and will spend the night on guard, spear in hand, to keep me safe.

I’m too exhausted and jet lagged to even feel guilty about paying someone four bucks to protection against lions. rabid dogs and the local banditry.

I just feel so...colonial.

No comments: