Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Another Post About Giraffes

I've had a lot of fabulous experiences with giraffes lately.

Two weekends ago my friends and I went to Naivasha to go camping and visit Hell's Gate and Mt. Longonot. It was gorgeous. Living in Nairobi, it can be easy to forget how incredibly beautiful Kenya is. On the first day we went biking through Hell's Gate. Rumor has it that this is where the producers of the Lion King got their inspiration.

Some of the giraffes we hung out with
 Along the trail we saw tons of zebras, warthogs, weird birds and, of course, giraffes. It was really awesome to sit on the side of the bike trail and just stare at the giraffes as they stared back at us. They were there because that's where live and have always lived, not because someone put them there for me to look at! Cool, huh?
One of the many sights along the trail that made it easy for me to believe that this is where the Lion King takes place
 Part of the Hell's Gate National Park includes a section where companies are drilling for geo-thermal energy. Aly and I biked past a ton of these stations and went places we probably weren't supposed to go but later found out that this energy accounts for VERY little of Kenya's energy. Too bad. We got some beautiful views of the gorge though.

The next morning we got up and traveled to Mt. Longonot expecting a nice walk to the top of a crater. Turns out, the Mt. Longonot trail is straight up the mountain and with my still slightly pained ankle, it was rough (especially on the way down).  It was incredibly exhausting but so worth it. The crater was fantastic and just sitting up there was the coolest thing ever.

Beautiful. This is one of the sights that Safaricom (the leading internet and cell phone provider in Kenya) used in their famous, breath-taking commercial. I love it: http://www.safaricom.co.ke/index.php?id=1144

The next week we got back and went to work. We at AU Abroad Kenya are furiously working on grant proposals for our internships and finishing up USIU classes. It's pretty crazy how close we are to being done. I feel like I haven't learned everything I am supposed to yet and am more frustrated and confused about my role in this country than ever. I simultaneously need to get home and away from the aspects of Kenya that aren't as amazing as Mt. Longonot, such as unforgettable poverty, corruption, and awkward situations that come with being white and western in Kenya (it's awkward feeling like I have to represent every American!- one professor on Monday had me and the other AU students describe the differences between Western and African time from our experiences. Plus, I usually feel like if I ever do something silly or make a mistake, people will think all Americans are like me- maybe a poor assessment, but a lot of generalizations are made about us), but I also feel the need to stay to figure everything out. 

Well, more giraffes: I went to the Giraffe Centre on Sunday and got to do this:
photo cred: Quinn S

photo cred: Quinn S

It was great! I also learned some pretty cool facts about giraffes, here are a few I'll leave you with:

1. Giraffes only sleep for 15 minutes in 24 hours.
2. Giraffes have such powerful legs that they can kill a lion instantly with one kick. Thus, it often takes 15 lions to take down one giraffe.
3. If a baby giraffe enters the wild after being born in captivity, a mother giraffe in a herd will take it in as her own.
4. Giraffes have antiseptic saliva so they can clean the cuts they get from eating the thorny acacia trees and so I can kiss them!

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