August 2012

Ndovu Trans-location Narok and Mara, Kenya 2012

I have arrived in Kenya, and will be here until the end of the year. I will be doing an internship or two. The main one I am doing is with Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS): the trans-location of elephants from Narok to Masai Mara.

I left Watamu on Friday morning via Mash Bus to Nairobi in order to report to KWS HQ in the Langata suburb of Nairobi. My plan was to arrive, sign, and get shipped out to Narok. God had different plans for me...the bus ride was long - over 11.5 hours can take a toll on your matako (buttocks).

The night before I left Watamu I found out that my MacBook screen went out (or at least it would not light up no matter what I tried) so I spent the day trying to contact Apple customer support (they do not keep Kenyan hours though, so that was a no go). As the day passed and the kilometers with it, I noticed that I was still too far out, and would not make it to the KWS office before they closed at 5 p.m. I called Kimutai (the gentleman who I will be directing my work as research assistant) to let him know. I should have listened to his initial advice and relaxed in Watamu until Sunday and reported Monday, but I was eager to get started.

I contacted a friend who owns a tour guide company and let him know I would need to make arrangements for transportation and lodging. I eventually made my way into Nairobi only to be halted by the usual traffic jams. I inched my way to my destination and was greeted by a good friend: Richie. He also happens to be the driver who drove us all over Kenya in February as part of the Kenya Study Abroad program; I can hardly believe that I made it back so soon. I was taken to Martin, the owner of Africa Veterans Safari (another good friend), fed, and found lodging at Acacia Camp, Langata, Nairobi.

I finally got a hold of Apple but was unable to trouble shoot the screen problem. The next morning, Richie had all day and took me around to get the screen fixed on my MacBook. Thankfully, there is an authorized Apple repair shop in the area so we didn’t have to hassle with trying to find a place. When we arrived I was quickly assisted, I told the gentleman the problem and he took the laptop. He turned it on and wouldn’t you know it, the thing purred to life, screen and all! I guess she just needed some Kenyan love - lol! Richie teased me and said that if I just wanted to see them and spend some time together all I had to do was ask.

I spent the day with Richie and drove around Nairobi, I tried goat for dinner (the flavor was a little to rich for my taste) and eventually we found our way back to camp. After Richie left, I did a little work and went to the social area. At 10 p.m., I headed to bed but got very little rest. Around 4 a.m. I was wide awake and heard music from the club next door calling me. I dressed and headed over for a Coke, relaxed for an hour and went back to my room to work on my Swahili. By 7 a.m. all the tourists were up and getting ready for their safaris, so I decided to venture out and have some breakfast. I have been talking with the workers and practicing my Swahili - trying to retain as much as I am able but often feel overwhelmed.

I have also had frustrations with the poor internet service and the sketchy portable modem I purchased. I am trying to keep in touch with everyone as much as possible through these blogs, my Facebook, emails, phone calls, etc. but I have to admit that I am extremely happy to be here regardless of how much I miss family and friends. I’ll keep posting, if you keep following...kwaheri (good bye).

Environmental Sciences senior, Mayeli Hensley, is spending the fall quarter doing research in Kenya as part of a UW Tacoma independent study abroad program.

Pretty piggies bathed in sand; mine are on the right. Taken at Turtle Bay, Watamu, Kenya

I have been in Kenya for one full day but it feels like a week. I have been going non-stop - meeting contacts, making arrangements - and the hard work has paid off! I have official notice that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has accepted my request to participate in both their rhino and elephant programs! I leave for Nairobi tomorrow to sign on with KWS. Then I'm heading into Narok for elephant trans-location! I am stoked and exhausted. So much for taking the first few days as vacation; time to report in.

Environmental Sciences senior, Mayeli Hensley, is spending the fall quarter doing research in Kenya as part of a UW Tacoma independent study abroad program.