Monday, February 4, 2013

The Serval and the Giraffe

Over the weekend the four of us took a tour of the Nairobi National Park, our own little Safari.  We weren't in the best car for the wet rutted roads and once we got stuck but we  used our snow driving tricks of rocking the car while another pushed and we managed to get out, meanwhile keeping one eye peeled for a lion.  We also lost a bumper and a tail light.  It was a rental and cars in general aren't in the best of condition to begin with, so it was not a big issue in the end.

But, to the wildlife.  Entering the gate we immediately faced a pack of Yellow Baboons. They are known to be aggressive and we kept our windows tightly closed.  There was an abundance of bird life but the most exciting sighting for me was the Serval, (picture above).  The Serval is about twice the size of a house cat with a cute little face.  I posted the photo of the back due to the interesting identifiable white bars on the back of the ears.  First we saw her and she disappeared into the grass.  We drove on until we came to a very wet passage and decided to turn around and go back the way we came and were rewarded by seeing her come running toward us after a rabbit.   When she saw us, she startled a bit and thus lost the rabbit (sorry!) but there were about three chicken type birds also on the road between us and her and they were completely oblivious to her.  It seemed as if she considered coming after them but decided to avoid us and go away from us without the sitting 'ducks' for breakfast.

We drove around for a couple hours sighting things such as the Red Hartebeast, and eventually the Oribi ( a small deer like animal).  Out one window we were watching this small herd when I looked out my window to see the neck of a giraffe high in the trees.  It was shocking!  It felt like I was in Disney world, as if it was a big stuffed animated animal.  We sat and watched it getting a good view of his head and eventually saw a number of them, legs and all.  The pattern on the body was unique, the Camelopsis or Masai Giraffe. The pattern, instead of the typical rounded rectangles I remember were more like maple leafs, jagged and palmate.  Spotted face with a horn on the forehead between the ears.

On our way out we saw more big and small birds and a single Impala.  This was all between 7am and 10:30am.

Yesterday we went to a music event called Blankets and Wine, near Nairobi.  It was great people watching with folks breaking out their most flamboyant clothes, especially the West African clothing/fabric, the most dramatic patterns and color combos.  I'm going have to bring some of that back.

Nairobi is interesting.  Huge contrasts of wealth and prosperity thus there are security gates and guards everywhere.  Ella and Kenfield live in a really nice spacious apartment, with a patio on the fourth floor.  We go through two guarded gates to get to their home and in the apartment there are locks on all doors and bars on windows.  You don't go out at night, out of the compound that is.  The streets have little or no stop signs or signal lights.  I'm glad I'm not driving.  But people who have left and come back say how much better it is now than it used to be.  They are referring to the infrastructure (roads etc.) and banking, etc.

Drawing and painting a bit each day.  Nothing to write about though.

We're still trying to figure out what additional safaris to do or trips to take.  Ethiopia is still looking interesting.

Jean or Yata - JoY

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