This week was a psuedo-long weekend since Thursday was a national holiday for Kenyans to celebrate Mashujaa Day. President Kibaki describes Mashujaa Day “as a day to reflect on our history and dedicate ourselves to deliver to future generations the aspirations of our nation’s founding fathers. It is an opportunity to take stock of where we are coming from, where we are and where we are going.” I didn’t know what this holiday was all about at the time, but I thought “this is going to be great opportunity to take Friday off” and have a 4 day weekend to escape the big city (more on my weekend adventure in my next post). My new roomie, Nadia from Calgary, suggested we go out to Karen on Thursday since neither of us had been to see the elephants or giraffes there yet. Karen is quite a trek from Parklands so we had to rent a cab for the day to drive us around. We have a couple cabbies we like to phone and that day we had Harrison; a soft spoken, reliable and safe driver.
We made it to the orphanage just in time for the elephant’s playtime, which is from 11 until noon. The healthy elephants get to come out and put on a show for all the tourists and citizens who stop by. Sometimes they will play soccer with each other or (if it has rained) have a little mud fight. Unfortunately, neither of these things happened for us, but it was still fun to see them. This was my first “tourist experience” in Kenya and it made me thankful that I get to live here for 4 months instead of a whirlwind tour. Everyone there was super happy to see the elephants and it was very heartwarming to see them interact with their trainers. The whole time I was thinking about this amazing episode of “The Nature of Things” with David Suzuki on CBC. It was so informative about what The David Sheldrick Elephant and Rhino Trust does to contribute to wildlife conservation. The knowledge I gained from watching this documentary previously really contributed to my experience at the orphanage.
Next, we went to the Karen Blixen Centre for lunch in their café. Karen is notorious for being the ‘white suburb’ and it looks like a ‘tiny Europe’ since it was settled by european colonizers. I had an amazing butternut squash, pumpkin, coconut and coriander soup. It was nice but again very touristy with tourist/rich Karen inhabitant prices. However, the grounds are beautiful and it would be a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
After lunch we went to the Giraffe Centre which is run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife. Through their program they have boosted the population of the Rothschild’s Giraffe that originated from from a small wild herd. Their other aim is to educate children about conservation. It was nifty and I got some sweet pictures. So, it ended up that I dedicated my Mashujaa Day to Kenya’s wildlife conservationists who have worked very hard throughout Kenyan history to boost the population of their animal friends. A great lead-in to my Safari in the Mara and a great way to spend a day with a new friend.