After the summer break, we went happily back to our routines. The girls seem to be hitting their stride in school. Their teachers seem to be happy with them and their French is good. Kiran is starting to have homework so we enter a new phase in parenting. I’m okay for now but as they progress I have a feeling I’ll need to brush up on a few things to keep up.
|BBQ - sort of like dutch oven pizza|
I’ve been traveling more than I was earlier in the year (though considerably less than I was in Burundi). In addition to trips to Somalia, we had regional meetings in Naivasha. Having been there recently with the family, I more or less knew what to expect. I also knew that I’d have very little time to get out and enjoy the place due to incessant meetings – morning, noon and night. That’s just how it goes.
|impressive cappuccino art - Urban Coffee, Nairobi|
A few of us took advantage of our early arrival for a Sunday afternoon boat trip, knowing that we’d have few opportunities thereafter. Unfortunately we didn’t get far before a thunderstorm caused us to turn back. I was bummed but on arrival at the little dock the group agreed to schedule a 7am trip the next day. I was surprised that most who agreed to it actually showed up ready to go. We ended up being slightly late to the first meeting (something I don’t like) but it was well worth it.
We followed the lakeside most of the way. The sky was mostly cloudy and the lighting wasn’t very good for photos. But it was good to be out.
|just before the weather turned us around|
The boat driver/guide seemed a bit shaky from the start. Fishermen were out early checking their lines and looking to bring in enough for the day to sell to feed their families. As we cruised by in our small boat with its tiny outboard motor, they stared. Part of the staring had to do with the simple fact that we were foreigners. Part of it had to do with the fact that the likely don’t get too much entertainment during their days catching fish. Part of it was likely due to a concern about how our passing among their nets might screw up their livelihood.
|he and his friends were keeping an eye on us|
Turns out the last concern was justified. One of the things the fishermen do is tie their nets to broken chunks of Styrofoam. As we put-putted along I could see that the boat was often cruising very close to them, sometimes even hitting them. I was thinking that we’re likely to get our propeller caught in their nets. As I often have done in these situations, I think oh well, he must have done this hundreds of times so he must know what he’s doing. Right?
|early Monday morning boat ride|
Sure enough, within minutes of leaving our little dock, the little motor began to sputter and then stop. Our driver/guide tips the motor up to raise the prop above the surface of the water only to find several meters of fishing net tangled in the blades.
|no offense to the buffalo but it wasn't a great wildlife viewing day|
I suppose it only happened twice in the space of an hour so I shouldn’t complain about losing valuable animal viewing time to stressful prop untangling time. But I have to say, if this is something you do for a living, almost every day, how is it that you can be so pathetic? To be honest I was more concerned about these helpless fisherman watching this guy rip up their livelihoods before their eyes. Made me wonder if he does this sort of thing on a regular basis. We didn’t hear them say anything but I would think that they were none too happy. I would think their jobs are hard enough as it is with the crappy fish prices and the need to avoid getting munched by hippos.
The rest of the time was more or less spent either in meetings or working in my hotel room, catching up on emails while I was away. Internet was terrible which is possibly fine for hotels catering to tourists who shouldn’t be wasting tons of time online. But for a hotel that sells itself as a go-to conference destination, I think they need to get their you-know-what together. Yes, I sound like a whiner.
On the morning we returned to Nairobi we stopped and did some "team building". My supervisor, Kurt, had the right idea. Time to make grown-ups act like children for a couple of hours. I'd never done any serious ziplining before. I think the longest one I'd ever been on was in the Netherlands and it was maybe 30 or 40 meters long. The place we went to, maybe an hour or so outside of Nairobi, was a bit more serious.
|the main building at The Forest|
The place is called The Forest. Not a great name in my opinion but it doesn't matter. It otherwise gets two thumbs up from me. It's located on the top of a hill with access to some surrounding hills. They have mountain biking trails, paintball, hiking, kids area, etc. and of course, ziplining.
|the crew - representing 5 nationalities|
Once we checked in then it was off to a small practice area. There were six of us altogether plus two guides. We put on our harnesses and they had us practice taking off, slowing ourselves down and so forth. It's all pretty basic stuff but I suppose it's good that they do it. You wouldn't want to have someone head out across a ravine and do something stupid.
|it's crazier than it looks|
The place is set up sort of like a golf course. You go from the first launch station across a ravine to the next. From there you hike up a bit and then go across another ravine. When you've done all six you end up back where you started.
|Kurt coming in|
I opted to go first. It's a bit freaky the first time you do it since you get up some decent speed - the average length of line is about 367 meters (a little over 400 yards). Very quickly, though, you start focusing more on looking at the scenery, such as passing over waterfalls, and less on falling to a violent death.
|the walk home|
In the end we all survived and were very soon packed into our van for the ride home. Unfortunately we got off to a bit of a slow start. As you leave The Forest, you need to drive over a couple of hills. One in particular ended up being a bit daunting for our little van. The vehicle didn't have enough power and after a couple of vain attempts and we all ended up getting out and walking. It wasn't too far and we all had a good laugh. At least we didn't need to push. Once we were at the top we were good to go. Within two hours I was back in Nairobi attending some afternoon meetings. Not a bad way to spend the morning.