SAFARICOM MARATHON. The race is a unique experience in that the marathon takes place on a game park filled with lions, elephants, rhinoceros, and cape buffalo with no physical barriers between the runner and the wild. One of the top ten marathons in the world, Safaricom Marathon is not only a tremendous reward of endurance and strength, but it also raises funds for education, health, community development, and wildlife conservation throughout Kenya. Mark your calendars, 29th June 2013 at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya.
Entries in Kenya (12)
HOT AIR SAFARI. Home to the "Great Migration" Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve is a place to view unfenced wildlife, leopards, lions, hyenas, hippos, crocs and the vast landscape of rivers and earth. One of our favorite ways to show you the migration is by hot air balloon. To rise with the African sun and have a birds eye view is an experience that one will carry with them for a lifetime. To top it off, our wonderful family-run operator concludes the hot air safari with champagne brunch complete with a crepe station and the kindest servers imaginable upon landing in the middle of the Mara.
SCHOOLED. I visited Mountain View Elementary School in Colorado Springs to talk to their 3rd and 4th graders. Their curriculum for the year had put a specific emphasis on learning about different people and places. I was told that the school was ordering a big map and they were trying to educate the kids about each continent. I was asked to talk to the kids about "Africa" and set them up with pen pals.
Africa is a big place. I had to figure out how to limit my explanations of the complexities and make the past, present and future of "Africa" accessible and interesting to little people. To be honest I was nervous. What if they don't understand? What if they're bored? What if they don't ask questions?
I started out with five words - my favorite game to get peoples' opinions of Africa. I asked the kids to give me five words that come to mind when they think of Africa. What I found was that they were at the same level as most of the highly-educated adults who I've asked the same thing - but with one caveat. Their five words were positive and hopeful.
I continued by bringing up stereotypes or generalizations, and walked them through an average day in the life of their pen pals in Meru, Kenya. Wake up, eat, chores, get to school, school, sport, get back home, work, homework, eat, spend time with their families, sleep. While different from their lives in Colorado Springs, it is much more similar than they had previously imagined. Sometimes, I think normalizing the foreign makes people, places and things more accessible.
I ended with a slideshow of my life and travels throughout Africa. It showed people, landscapes, experiences and wildlife. This was their favorite part. I learned the obvious; if you want a kid's attention, show them pictures and tell a story. They saw things that seemed foreign, but everything became more familiar when I associated places or animals there to what we have here in the States.
The best part of the experience was the Q & A at the end. I definitely shouldn't have worried about them asking questions. Kids have an amazing capacity for curiosity as well as rarely hesitate to ask something they don't know. Hands shot up and questions ranged from wildlife to what I do for work to tales about a family member who had traveled to Ethiopia or what they had seen in The Big Cat Diary. More than anything, I was amazed at how smart these kids were. My favorite question of the day was from a cute boy with a buzz cut and specs. He asked, "Ms. Johnson, where do I find the books on Africa in the library?"
What more could I ask for? More than anything, I want people to educate themselves on Africa. Read more, find out more and of course travel and experience more. This is just the beginning for the 3rd and 4th graders at Mountain View Elementary. Here is one of their pen pal letters; their responses are en route. Enjoy.
YIELD TO THE ROCKETSHIP. On a vacation to a place that we (as Americans) are not technically allowed to visit, I saw a sign. Not a sign from above, but rather a street sign. This may seem insignificant; but in a country where things of the like are almost always dilapidated and so faded by the sun that they are unreadable, it stood out. I saw it again just now in Kenya. While I do know its meaning, I still like to think of it as the ‘yield to the rocketship’ sign. And one day, if my life proves to be something to write about, I just might have the title.
MASAAI FISHING. “Do Masaai ever fish?” A couple of negative head-shakes answers my question. I start thinking that I should maybe rig my own line. We keep walking along a game trail and scouting out coves to see if they are occupied by resident hippo pods or crocs. We settle on a spot and I cast a few times into the slow moving Mara River. I hook a huge catfish within minutes. My Masaai guides are psyched; they clamor over the rocks to reach the extra pole. Suddenly Masaai fish.