Final Days, Safari and home safe!

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Linda’s Journal- 2014 Ellen and Linda’s Kenya trip November 11 to December 16

Journal 10
Thursday December 11, 2014 5:00PM

This will be my last journal.
Our final day is coming to an end.
We took a beautiful walk this morning for about an hour to lake Victoria. We visited Electors home and saw the small grocery her father runs. It is well stocked and organized. We continued down to the lake and purchased a tilapia fish for tonight’s dinner and saw some of the women group members one more time. On the way back we bought freshly made mandazi from on of the members. They are delicious!!

We bought enough for the 10 people who live at the compound with Paul.

About 10 AM we drove into Kisumu town with Paul and Elly, as we needed to go to the bank one last time. Paul needed to go to the mortuary again to clear the bill so Michael’s body can be picked up tomorrow and brought to his home for burial. He thought it would take about 30 minutes but it took about 2 hours because they lost Michael’s file but finally found it. Everything is so unorganized here.

While we were waiting at the hospital I was able to visit the physical therapy department where I volunteed in 2003. One of the therapists, Judy, was still there and we had a nice short visit. It was sad to learn that Wangala, the male therapist I worked with had died since my last visit, of HIV.

Finally about 1:45 PM the paperwork was complete and Paul had the permit necessary to collect the body tomorrow. That will be another all day event for Paul and all Michael’s relatives.

Saturday December 20, 2014 8:30 AM- I am back home and staying at Michele Sprada’s home with her two exchange students. Michele is in BGH hospital recovering from her total knee replacement that was done yesterday. I will be staying with the girls until Michele get’s home from rehab. Poor Woody, my cat, keeps having his life disrupted. I have him with me here.

Now to finish my journal! I left off on Thursday December 11, 2014 – our last day in Kisumu-

We arrived back at the house on Thursday about 2:30 PM and took our final showers at the house. We then had several student visitors. Two are hoping for sponsorship in the next one or two years. Both very bright well-spoken young girls. I hope we can find sponsors for them. Lillian Dajoh, who I’ve mentioned several times before came with one of the students. She has agreed to be responsible to make sure she sends in her reports and letters if she finds a sponsor. I took the students photos and basic information. We also are hoping to find sponsorship for Agnes, the only one of the 5 finalists from this year’s Rom Wandera scholarship award without a sponsor.

After everyone left we had a good meal with Paul and Elly, of the fish we carried home this morning, about 8PM. They left and Ellen and I did some final organizing of student materials and finished packing.

Friday morning we both got up early and “said goodbye” to the house and of course the two dogs. Paul and Elly drove us to the airport about 7:15AM. We had another flat tire on the way but luckily made it to the gas station. At the airport I made one last trip to the ATM as we found out there was not one available on our safari. I gave Paul some money for any final repairs- especially for the car.

Our safari driver, Anthony, was right on time. He was a great driver. If anyone needs to book a safari, Ellen and I highly recommend Hallmark travel planners. The contact person is Levis and he was always very quick to respond.

It was about a 5-hour drive to the Masai Mara and to our lodge, the Mara Sopa. When we got close to our destination another safari van was broken down so we drove 4 of the passengers to their campsite at the Rhino Camp. That put us about an hour behind but they saved lunch for us when we arrived about 3:30PM

The lodge is luxurious- quite a change from our accommodations in Usoma!. Food was usually buffet style with many choices. After lunch we went to visit a Masai village and I met the same guide, Jack, I was with in 2003. I even found his photo on my computer as I wanted to be sure. After the village we went to our wonderful room and freshened up for dinner that was from 7:30 to 9:30 every evening. After dinner there was a 30-minute entertainment by Masai villagers. Since we had just seen similar things at the village I did not find it too interesting.

It was great to take a nice “hot” shower and sleep in a bed with a nice thick mattress.
Saturday, we left at 8 AM for an all day safari drive. It was just the two of us in our van except for 7-year-old Darius. He is the son of one of the gamekeepers and Anthony asked if he could join us. He was cute and so quiet sometimes I forgot he was with us.

On our game drives we saw wonderful animals, zebra, wildebeest, impala, Thompson gazelle, Elam, hartebeest, dik dik, guinea fowl, secretary bird, lion, elephant, and hippos.

Anthony told us when we stopped for lunch there would be a portable toilet. However around that time he was notified that it was full and had been removed. We had to use the “bush toilet” – just go outside. I was a little nervous wondering what other animals might decide to visit us. But no worry and Ellen and I left our mark on the Masa Mara. ☺

We got back to the lodge about 4 PM and went for a swim. The pool is beautiful but VERY cold. It was a quick swim- Ellen stayed in a little longer that me – maybe about 20 minutes. We went back to our rooms and relaxed and then went for a drink before dinner.

Sunday we left at 6:15AM for an early morning game drive and returned about 8:30 AM for breakfast. Then we walked around the camp and met two Masai women that came to see their beadwork etc. We both bought a couple of items and explored the grounds until lunch at 12:30PM.

After lunch we left for another game drive about 3:30PM. We were searching for an elusive cheetah that others had spotted. It was the one animal that I was hoping to see that we had not seen yet. Finally about 6:15PM we found the cheetah and had some good viewing. As an added bonus in the very same area was a large herd of elephants. What a wonderful way to end our safari!

We got cleaned up for supper and enjoyed another drink just before.
On Monday we checked out of the Mar Sopa lodge and drove to Lake Navaisha about 4 hours away but sort of on the way to Nairobi, our final destination to fly home. The Lake is a home for over 400 species of birds and many hippos. We ate our boxed lunch at the Lake grounds and then went on a boat ride with Peter, the guide. We say many birds and many many hippos. I was a little nervous as they were very close to our little motorboat. It was amazing to see them so close. They really are enormous!.

After the ride we drove to Nairobi stopping at a look out over the rift valley on the way. The view was not clear but it was still very impressive.

Traffic was very heavy getting to the airport. Anthony dropped us off at the departure area and we said our goodbyes and went to check in- ONLY TO FIND OUT OUR 10:40 PM FLIGHT FROM NAIROBI TO AMSTERDAM WAS CANCELLED!! OH NO – NOW WHAT?

We noticed that the reschedule was not until 8:00AM the next day. We went to the KLM gait and were happy to discover that we already been rebooked on a 11:50 PM flight from Nairobi to London on Kenya airways but they did not know what the plan was after that. So off we went to Kenya airways at a different terminal.

Eventually we found out we had a flight scheduled through delta from London to Detroit with about a 3 hours layover in London. Our flight to London got us in about an hour late. We stopped at a café and had a latte and pastry ☺
We were worried about the timing of our flight to Detroit as was scheduled to arrive about 2 PM in Detroit and our flight from Detroit to Buffalo left at 3:30PM. We had to clear customs and get our bags switched for Buffalo. We asked the flight attendants if we could get off the plane first – (we were in row 45 of 46 rows) and if someone could direct us so we didn’t wander around the airport wasting time. However they said since we did not need wheelchairs they could not help us and that “you will be fine” Turned out they were right.

The only real problem was that one of my bags was missing in Detroit. When I arrived in Buffalo I filled out a claim and they told me the bag had been tracked as far a London. I was relieved, as at least it wasn’t robbed in Nairobi- a common happening. Chris, a friend from church, was also on the flight and offered to drive Ellen home from the airport. She left while I was completing my claim. My sister Karen came and picked me up and after a cup of coffee I packed up my cat Woody and headed home. It was good to sleep in my own bed. The next day, Wednesday, I went through mail, put up some few Christmas decorations and unpacked.
I went to choir rehearsal that night as I wanted to be able to sing for Christmas and that was the only rehearsal. The next day I got a call early in the AM that they had my bag and would deliver it to my house shortly. Bob arrived about 9:20 AM on Thursday with my bag. Yeah. So ends my trip to Kenya!!

End of journal 10- last journal of 2014 Kenya trip

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