Before leaving for the Mara, we attempted to push the apron of annoyance further down the well so as to better reach the pipe. Despite some hesitation from Isabel (always the skeptic), we decided the best course of action was to use the rods that were previously attached to the hand pump to move it. Despite some more concern from Isabel, we used a pipe vice that had been broken by Benson as well as a slightly faulty locking hook for our hoist. We were able to get all 19 rods down the well, but retrieving them was another story. As predicted, the hinge on the hook bent, allowing the rods to slip and caused Isabel and Rob to grab for the rods. Though the rods were saved from the same fate as the pipe, pump, and skirt, Isabel injured herself when her hand hit the broken pipe vice. The well gained another item: one jaw of the vice. Peter rigged a temporary way for the vice to hold the rods, using a pipe and some crowbar, and we were able to get all rods out safely.
A few days later, we drove to the Nairobi to pick up Linda, Ethan, and Ryan. In typical Kenya fashion, we arrived at the airport fifteen minutes after their arrival, but two hours before we collected them. For dinner that night, we visited the Carnivore! The restaurant had a very Disney Jungle River Cruise feel, with all servers wearing zebra-print aprons. Sauces, salads, and fried potatoes were placed to the table, while all meat was served individually, mostly off of large skewers. The choices of meat were: beef, pork, chicken liver, boar heart, chicken, turkey, crocodile, and ostrich! I dared only the final four. Upon receiving crocodile, I found (as a piece hit the floor) that house cats roamed below us in search of lost bits!
The following morning, we drove to the Mara West resort. We saw various animals on our way, but I found the most impressive to be the zebra that were wandering around what would be our rooms. The view from the grounds was phenomenal! Most buildings were designed traditionally, being circular with thatched roofs. However, the rooms were actually tents underneath, well-furnished and complete with electricity. The bathrooms were even more beautiful, with two six-star toilets (sit-down, flushing, and clean with toilet paper), two tiled showers with hot water, and four sinks. Peter and Linda were taken to a very swanky cabin, which had a personal bathroom and a deck over-looking the valley below!
The next day we drove to a primary boarding school near the park. The faculty and students welcomed us warmly. The girls were especially eager to show Isabel, Linda, and me their home. The girls that greeted me first, Francesca and Mary, loved my long hair - since most children we’ve met have shaved heads to allow for easy lice removal.
The dorms were very cramped, with five bunk-beds per (Mudd double-sized) room and two children per bed. The school has won many regional awards, their most-prized for their English program. Since the school’s opening in the 1980’s, the number of girls in grade 8 climbed from one to eight, significant in that girls are often kept at home or take nanny jobs. The school is also noticing younger and younger children entering their program. This is impressive considering that grade is not related to age, and some people are still in primary school upon turning 20. We also met the youngest fourth grade student at the school, who was eight and adorable! (You can see a little of the school here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtwTmTEGvfQ )
That afternoon, we went out to the park. I found the most memorable sighting of that day to be of a group of three female elephants and one baby. He was so cute! We also saw gazelle, topi, water buck, giraffes, zebras, water buffalo, baboons, monkeys and impala.
The third day at the Mara, we got up early and went out directly after breakfast. We saw so many amazing things! We saw two giraffes fighting, which consists mostly neck-slapping and looks as if it’s in slow-motion. We were nearly charged by a mother elephant after we attempted to cutoff a rather large herd - we were within 10 feet of her, and got fantastic pictures! We almost ran over a mating-pair of lions, resting in the grass on the side of the road. We followed these two until the male was just too tired to keep walking. Fun Fact: Lion mating-pairs mate 45-65 times a day for two weeks, without hunting. We followed other safari groups to a small group of cheetahs and, after the ranger left, went off the road to be right next to them. We then witnessed wildebeest (in the largest herd of anything I’d ever seen) crossing a crocodile-infested river. Since the wildebeest have terrible eyesight, they follow the easy-to-see zebra. The wildebeest crossed the river only when the zebra did and stopped when the zebra realized there were three crocodiles waiting for dinner. Lucky for me, we didn’t see any wildebeest get eaten, but we heard excited screams from other vans of tourists around us. The crossing was very impressive! The mother wildebeest would reach the other side and realize that their children were not with them, so a quarter of the herd was going back to the river. It was crazy! On the drive back, there was rain and lightning, so Rob, Ethan, and I stood up with our hands and heads out of the roof the whole way back. Our guide, Mark, drove extra fast just for us! :)
(It is impossible to find one single photo to summarize the entire safari from the thousands of great pictures that were taken. So instead here's a picture of the camera that took many of them, which should be a decent substitute.)
The next day, we left for Kisii...