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Monday, August 17, 2009

Whatever you do, DON’T get out of your car in the presence of lions….

Ok, so I think its time for a fun story for ya’ll! A few weekends ago I had a family friend (Caleb) and his friend (Jake) come through Nairobi. They asked me to show them around Nairobi and were hoping for a Safari. Well, anyone who knows me, knows that I won’t pass up a chance for an adventure… so the safari was indeed on the list of things to do!

The Nairobi Game Park is about ten miles away from my house but is MASSIVE. I’ve heard it is easy to get lost in but figured that God gave me a good sense of direction so that would never happen to me. I’ve been able to bring many visitors to the park this summer and have enjoyed every minute of the safari whether we are driving through tall grass, chasing a warthog, sneaking up on zebra, searching for lions, or just looking at God’s amazing creation. I’ve been told that there are lions in the park but I’ve never seen them and so I guess I kind of just thought that they don’t exist in this particular park but that they tell you that they do so that you keep coming back.

So, with the thought that lions don’t exist in this park, I figured that it was safe to step out side the car to get a good picture if I needed to. (Yes, the sacrifices I make for a good photo! :P ) So the first time I got out of the car was a little scary. I kept thinking… “What if THIS very moment is the moment that the lion decides to show himself to me….eeks!” My friends were apprehensive as well. But as the day went on and no lions were spotted we felt more free to get out of the car.

About a month after my first few drives in the game park, my sister, Meghann, and friend Kate came for a visit. They too wanted to check out the game park. We left early in the morning to spend a few hours in the park. For some reason, on this day, zebras were EVERYWHERE. I mean the whole park looked black and white from all the zebra stripes. It was humorous at times when we couldn’t even move our car because of all the zebra. At one point we were trying to drive but got stuck in the middle of a herd. I decided to have a little fun and put the car into park, got out and started running like a crazy woman on the road ahead of us… and it worked… a path was cleared for our car. I didn’t even think twice that there could be lions around! It was quite the experience to be running in the middle of Africa with zebras all around me. I would recommend you try it sometime in your life ;)

Ok… so back to the present story. Like I was saying, my friends Caleb and Jake and I decided to head out for a Safari one morning. On the way to the park we picked up a new Kenyan friend, Regean who is from the Kibera slum. This would be his first time in the game park so I wanted to make sure that it was a good one for him as well as Jake and Caleb. The whole drive to the park I talked up the park and all the animals we could see. I even shared with them how you can get out of your car and how I’ve run with a herd of zebra before. They were stoked to do something adventurous, as was I!

It was a hazy morning, which made it difficult to spot animals. We strained our eyes to find something. We saw a warthog at one point as it scurried past our car. The guys were smart enough to know not to get out of the car that point. A few minutes later we spotted a carcass of a zebra in the distance off the road. The guys unlocked their doors and dashed out to get close up pictures. I could hear their manly grunts as they enjoyed being so close to this carcass that had just been eaten by…. A lion. They came back and showed me some disgusting pictures. I politely smiles but acted like I had to really concentrate on my driving so that I didn’t have to look much longer.

About an hour later we spotted a buffalo. Jake tried to get out but a car passed us and reprimanded him for getting out in the sight of such a dangerous animal. (ha… I didn’t know they were dangerous till then!). So then we decided to off road a little bit. We spotted a cool tree in the distant that the guys wanted me to take a cool shot of them at. Below is the picture that I took of them with the tree.

After this picture, we got in the car, and went on our merry way. We spotted some zebra to our left and we were all intently watching them and talking about how cool that would be if we saw lions right then. That’s when it happened. I didn’t even hear it approaching which is strange since my driver’s window was all the way down. But all of a sudden I heard all this yelling in Swahili and I turned to see this huge army truck pulled up uncomfortably close to my drivers door with about six men inside with guns pointing at me. My first instinct was to put my hands up but then I realized how silly I would look to them. I didn’t even have time to ask them what was wrong before they were at my door, guns still pointed at me. I turned to see if the guys knew what was going on. They too were just as shocked and panicked as I was. The men would not speak English except for two words that they kept repeating “Open trunk, open trunk!!!!!!” I popped my trunk and tried to see in my rearview mirror what they were searching for since I had nothing in there. Regan finally got out of the car to see if he can talk to them in Swahili. Oh yes, the guns were still pointed at me as well as the frowns of half a dozen army guys. As I was looking in my rearview mirror I saw one of the guards grab Regan and start pulling him towards the army truck. The guard took Regan’s citizenship card and started saying things on his radio. Regan started whispering to us that we were not supposed to get out of the car and that these guys thought he was our guide in the safari and so he is to blame. Poor guy, in his excitement of his first game drive, he had dressed in “safari clothes” so he did indeed look like a tour guide. I tried to speak to the man who’s gun was pointed at me. He didn’t really want to talk. I explained to him that it was my car and that we were sorry. He yelled something to the man who was on the radio. Finally they started speaking in English… angry English. They told us that they were going to escort us out of the park… permanently. Ouch! After a few more moments they decided to give us a warning and told us that they would be watching us. Their final words being "Whatever you do, DON’T get out of your car in the presence of lions…" I wanted to respond with some sass; "WHERE are the Lions then??? Show us cause we sure can't find them!" But I bit my tongue... figured that was best with angry army men with guns. It took me a few moments to recoup from all of that… once I did, I put the child safety locks on all the doors so the guys didn’t forget. I was not about to have another truck full of angry army men with guns come up to my car!

And that’s not all. Because of being frazzled, and off roading, I lost track of where we were in the park. Yeah, that whole “God gave me a good sense of direction” deal… well, I forgot that He has a greater sense of humor! Yes, I got lost. At this point, we had been in the park for about three hours and with all the excitement of the guns and army men, and not finding any lions, we decided that it might be best to start heading back to the main gate. Ha. Lets just say that four hours later after driving to a random village in the middle of nowhere we finally found our way out of the park.

I learned quite a few things that day…

1)There are Lions in the game park but worse, there is a truck full of armed guards there who like to sneak up on you when you aren’t looking.

2)Buffalos are dangerous… Don’t play chicken with them on a bridge.

3)Although only ten miles away from your house, you can get lost for seven hours.

4)Seven hours of driving in the game park can cause a lot of dust to add up on your dashboard.

5)Little four door Suzuki cars can drive up a boulder infested mountain if you are listening to the theme song from “Rocky.”

6)You should really use a map at the Nairobi game park.

7)Don’t dress like a tour guide.

8)Life is an adventure! :)... well, that I already knew!


Bhavya.B said...

Nice and funny...

samantha said...

Great story!! I especially love Lesson #5 :)

Kate. said...

Haha, WOW! I don't even know what I would have done had those men showed up when we were running around like crazy people. Whoops..... ;)

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