Thursday, July 16, 2015


Our time in Ethiopia was valuable, but it wasn't easy.  The tourism industry there is still minimal and while I used to seek such places out, with kids it made most things stressful and hard.  I am so glad we went.  We will go again.  But when we touched down in Nairobi and had visas processed, customs cleared, luggage in hand and were on the way to our hotel within 30 minutes of landing I think both Jeremy and I breathed a sigh of relief.  Over dinner we announced to the kids that "the vacation part of our vacation" had begun.  

We had one day in Nairobi of which we spent morning vegging out at the hotel and the afternoon at a giraffe sanctuary.  I love giraffes- they became my favorite animal on my first safari in Kenya more than ten years ago when I sat in front of my tent and watched a group of them lope their way across the Serengeti planes at dusk.  They are graceful and endearing, with their big eyes and ears, and they have purple tonges.  Done and done.  We spent some time hand feeding the giraffes, and one of them head butted a very irritating European man who kept jumping in line to feed the animals and refused to put out his cigarette.  A successful outing all around.

The next morning our driver and guide met us at the hotel and whisked us away to the Masi Mara.  The three days there were amazing.  We saw cheetahs disembowling a fresh kill, and later a pair of lions who were doing the same.  We saw so many zebras and wildabeast and gazelle that it became something not worth remarking on.  We spent an hour watching three lion cubs play on a rock while there mother lounged nearby in the sun.  Crocodiles, hippos, buffalo, elephants and giraffe were abundant.  We lunched under an acacia tree which was the only shade as far as we could see.

I had been hoping we would be in the Masi during the wildabeast migration and could see some crocodile picking wildabeast off as they cross the river action.  We were too early - there was still grass munch on the Tanzanian side so the animals had not yet worked up the need or the nerve to cross.  I was disappointed as our guide told us this on the drive down from Nairobi but now, with our safari behind us, I wouldn't change a thing.

On our last day we went to a Masi Village.  A man who lived there showed us his house, how he cooked, where the animals slept at night, and how they made fire without matches.  It was, on the one hand, a total tourist racket where you pay for the tour and then once you are there they try and sell you more stuff, including a "rare lion's tooth necklace" in which the lion's tooth is clearly made out of soap stone.  On the other hand, when we arrived they adorned the kids with traditional robes, jewelry and huge hats made out of a lion's mane. The kids danced with them and had a jumping contest, and giggled and asked questions and played with the other kids who lived in the village as well as All of the baby animals puppies, a calf, chicks, baby goats.  The look on Jeremy's face said "there is not enough Purell in the world to deal with this" and the looks on Hayden and Zeni's faces said it was something they would remember always.

And just like that, it's over.  We drove this morning to Lake Nakuru and as I type the kids are working out their eight hours of sitting in a hot car energy in the pool.  We do one final game drive tomorrow morning to see flamingos and rhinos, and then it's back to Nairobi, one night in a hotel and we start the long trek home.

I have so many thoughts and so many blog posts started, about traveling with a high needs kid, about Zeni and her birth family, about seeing Ethiopia with my 37 year old eyes, which are more skeptical and wary than they were even seven years ago when we we was there to bring Zeni home.  Sadly, the pool is waning in entertainment value and so I will save them for another day.  Thank you all so much for reading about the trip and for your comments and meals and messages, they meant more than I can say!