Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

So Christmas

Katherine is out to dinner with friends, Jack is put to bed, it's 14 degrees on to Malu.

From Malewa Ranch House to Malu is a bone-jarring 10KM on a dirt road, 10KM on highway, and another bone-jarring 10KM on another dirt road. We had taken a cab of sorts the day before, and thought about hiring the guy to drive us.

Paul (I think that was his name) was an up and coming politician, running for local city council in Mwai Kibaki's party. As such, his small, mid-90s toyota sedan was covered in posters and topped by two large speakers. The better to get the word out, I guess. (As an aside, I hope he's okay. He's a nice guy. I haven't heard about any big problems around Gilgil, though). Anyway, the shocks on his weighted-down car were likely not up to the task. As such, Malewa organized a car for us that could more properly handle the roads, such as they were.

In the morning, the Malewa manager's fiance showed up in his small SUV. A banker in Nairobi, he was as surprised as us that he was roped into driving. He decided to take a back route which, while shorter, was also entirely on bone-jarring dirt road. It was the high route, through some beautiful scrub land, and a large parcel owned by the Kenya Nut Company. Seedlings of macadamia trees abounded.

Kevin, Bonnie, Harper and Pippa had arrived the day before. When we arrived, we all moved into a larger family cabin with two bedrooms, a fireplace, and a great deck overlooking the scrub of the Malu Nature Conservancy and Lake Naivasha in the distance.

A bit disconcerting was the note in the room regarding the dogs. The dogs themselves were great, as shown in previous pics and video. It was the warning about the dogs that had me a bit off-balance. The management requested that if the dogs were hanging around the cabin as dusk approached, we were to send them back to the manager's house lest they be hunted down and killed by the numerous leopards that lived around. I made a mental note to not let Jack stray too far.

Even more disconcerting was the fact that baboons roamed around the area. I tend to have sort of waking nightmares, just as I'm falling asleep at night, about bad things happening to Jack. A few weeks before our departure, I had a vivid thought/dream of Jack being stolen and very seriously hurt by baboons.

My fear was not unfounded, it seems, as Bonnie shared with us that the brother of a good Kenyan friend had actually been stolen by baboons when he was a little boy (she shared this before I had told her about my 'dream'). The kid's family was on a picnic near Lake Nakuru when he was taken.

The family bribed the baboons with food until they gave the mostly unharmed kid back.

And baboons could do some damage to my little boy.

While my fear wasn't unfounded, we didn't, in the end, see any baboons at Malu, and Jack was content to run around the place unfettered by bloodthirsty leopards or baboons.

We spent much of our time hanging out on our deck and in the large yard.

For Christmas, Jack and Harp got bubble guns. A most excellent gift. Dip the end in the soapy water, pull the trigger, and the dragon spits out bubbles. Very fun.

There was a working farm on the property, and we made daily pilgrimages to see the cows, donkeys, goats and horses. The horses had been adopted some years ago by a zebra named Bob, so he hung out in the horse stalls too.

Along the way there were lots of stops for rocks.

There were also chickens, ducks and geese. We were free to feed them to our hearts' content.

And yes, I wore the grey long-sleeved t-shirt quite a bit.


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