Sunday, February 4

Look, animals!

"When handling aborted fetuses, always use gloves." The phrase greeted me from the radio as I boarded a crowded matatu the other day. As the announcement went on, I realized they were actually talking about animal fetuses, which isn't gross at all. It was part of a public education campaign about the Rift Valley Fever epidemic which is currently dominating the headlines here, and passes to humans mostly through meat. All this to say that it seemed as good a time as any to head to the Rift Valley for the weekend.

There are uncomfortable matatu rides and there are uncomfortable matatu rides. My ride up was the latter. After waiting for a couple hours for my turn to board a bus to Nakuru in the crowded and fairly unpleasant bus area off River Road, I spent the next three or so hours with my shins digging into the platform behind the front seats, my legs tucked under the seat, my bag on my lap and on the seat to my right, a spare engine, which I found out the hard way, was as greasy as it looked. This mode of travel is not recommended for chronic RLS sufferers. The first half of the ride is great, but the second half is more pothole than road. But people do these rides much farther than three hours, so I won't complain. My ride home was hot and bumpy but fine.

Nakuru is Kenya's fourth-largest city. It's much shabbier, and in some ways livelier, than Nairobi, though it concentrates its bustle on the main drag, Kenyatta Ave; the market street; and the square with the bus station. Particularly noticeable is that the streets don't clear out as throughly as they do in Nairobi when night falls. I suppose it's less dangerous, though the looks I got from the prostitutes and other assorted characters in my brief night jaunt outside didn't give me great vibes. I felt an afternoon strolling downtown plus a night in a rooftop room off a fairly noisy street, gave me a fine feel for the place.


Sunday I headed off at 6:30 for a tour of Lake Nakuru National Park, which is I believe the third-most popular wildlife park in Kenya, which is impressive considering it's a couple minutes' drive from the city center. The first couple hours I somehow ended up with the open-roofed van, the guide and the driver all to myself, though I was later joined by some assorted Europeans and Israelis when their vehicle wasn't allowed in.

Not too much to say about the park. It's beautiful, even if you have to stay in a van for most of it. And you see animals, as demonstrated in the pictures below, starting with a view over the park and lake...

Tons of zebras, we even passed some on the side of the highway on the way up...


Monkeys are also a dime a dozen, but this one jumped in our van, which was cute...

A hyena. Apparently they eat a lot of bone marrow, which makes their shit white. I had that Cramps song Haulass Hyena stuck in my head for a good couple of hours after seeing this guy...



Pink flamingos are this park's specialty. Feel free to use this one, Robin...



On an unrelated note, I think the new Deerhoof album is superb.

1 comment:

Delaney said...

Animals get abortions? Please clarify.