Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Kissed a Giraffe- and I liked it!

Slyvia, the medical officer, is a wonderful person. She knew Ana and I were depressed about being stranded in Nairobi for Christmas. She wonderfully invited us to her house for the holiday to spend it with her and her family. Her husband is Dutch and so we will be having a traditional Dutch Christmas, whatever that means. She also felt bad that Ana and I have no money to do anything but sit around in our hotel room eating mayonnaise and Pringle sandwiches. Wonderful Sylvia arranged for a cab to come pick us up in the morning today and drive us around to wildlife sanctuaries all morning. And she paid for it. It was a great day. On the way there, as we drove out of the city, there were troops of Baboons with their blue butts in the air and their babies clinging to their backs. As we pulled into the elephant orphanage, the baboons stopped to look at us and then ducked the fence to escape. We were early for the baby elephants, so we hung around in the parking lot chatting with our taxi driver. As more and more ridiculous looking tourists showed up, Ana and I became very uncomfortable. Way too many shorts, white skin, and English for us. We hung in the back and spoke Engwili (or Kiswinglish) to each other. Then all the park guides started yelling at us to hide behind benches and bushes. We all stood up excitedly and then started scrambling to get behind something. A young rhinocerous named Shida (“Problem”) was wandering around the parking lot, poking things with his horn. As he shuffled back and forth, less than a foot from us, we scuttled behind insignificant shelters both trying to escape the rhino, and also to get a really good picture. It was poa sana (very cool) and a little scary. After the guides herded Shida back to bed, we went in the sanctuary. First we passed a family of wild boars (just like Pumba!). The baby Pumbas were dusty and adorable. We walked up to this clearing where there was a herd of about 10 baby orphaned elephants being bottle fed and playing in a mud puddle only 5 or so feet away. It was the most adorable thing I have ever seen. They made cute honking noises when they wanted more milk, they pushed each other in the water and rolled on their backs. They have bad balance and little control of their trunks. I want to live at this place. Each baby elephant gets his own room (because, like all babies, some always want to play and don’t like naps) and a park employee sleeps in a bed next to them. This is so the babies aren’t lonely at night. The human companion will also feed the baby if he gets hungry and put a blanket on him if he is cold. The orphans are all rescued from around Kenya, some from poachers, some from wells where they had fallen, and some from hyenas. They live at the sanctuary, being taken care of by humans and interacting with other wild elephants so they learn how to take care of themselves. When they are a few years old, they get attached to a wild herd and are set free in a park somewhere else in the country.

After the elephant orphanage, Ana and I went to the Giraffe Center. There is a Rothschilds Giraffe breeding program. We just stayed long enough to pet and feed the giraffes. I even kissed one, he used tongue. In case you were wondering: Giraffes have very long, rough, warm tongues. And they slobber. I never realized how huge they are! Their heads were easily half the size of my whole body. And they have beautiful eyelashes.

I was going to go on to tell you about the guy we saw get hit by a car – no one stopped, they just swerved around. And that would lead me into a rant about Kenyan drivers. Insanity! But I will have to leave it until next time. I could go on and on and I have already taken up enough of your time for today. Thanks for reading!


pathos said...

Fantastic! this is exactly what you went to Africa for! Elephants, rhinos and giraffes, oh my.
So glad to hear this.

Nouri and Bahar said...

All your adventures sound amazing, and I'm glad I get to hear them since I probably woulda packed up and gone home a long time ago :P You are super tough, and I hope you enjoy your traditional Dutch Christmas! Everyone is missing you over here <3

Caroline said...

loved seeing the pictures on facebook and reading your blog! glad you got to finally see the animals!!! keep us updated on your dutch (or not...) christmas.
PS.SKYPE soon! we are all here, and my internet works, so let us know a time, and well set it up. :) love you!

Julie said...

YAY! See I new there was a reason you got stung on the foot by something! I'm so glad you got to enjoy Christmas, even if it was quite different from the traditional American Christmas! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Going to have to hear the car story later!