Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Supposedly, hippos are all over Lake Naivasha.  Our friends, Mike and Aliza, said they literally had one living in their garden at night.  Sounded like a bunch of willy nilly to me.

On Sunday, Camille, Eric, and I ventured on a boat safari on Lake Naivasha with our two friends, Jody and Mona.  We piled everyone into our new Toyota Duet, pictured below.
A Toyota Duet is nice a little car that gets terrific gas mileage, is very low to the ground, and is probably the worst car you can own in Naivasha.  Kenyan roads can be a little bumpy.  I already broke it.  To get to the boat safari, we had to drive down this long, narrow dirt road that was probably used for trenches back in World War I. Around half way down, we hit an unavoidable huge rut, smashing the bottom of the Duet.  The Duet makes some very strange, loud noises now.  Plus, on the way back from the safari, I had to swerve to avoid a Boda Boda driver (an aggressive Kenyan motorcycle-taxi).  I smashed the left side of the car into a cactus.  There is now a large thorn in the one of the wheels, and I’m not sure whether to pull it out.  Anyway, we’re shopping for a new car, so let me know if anyone wants a well-seasoned right-hand-drive Duet.

 The boat safari!  We boarded a small blue speed boat, and off we went.   

Um, why am I wearing this?
Family and Jody. Looking good, Jody.


Our destination was a local tourist attraction in Naivasha called Crescent Island.  Crescent Island used to be a scenic but deserted island with no animals.  In 1985, Universal Pictures decided it was the perfect location for the Robert Redford movie, Out of Africa.   There was only one problem: no animals.  Solution: ship in animals.  So Universal introduced giraffes, gazelles, zebras, water buffalo and wildebeests, who now run free without predators, for the benefit of humanity.  Check out the pictures to see us standing next to the animals.  The giraffes were the most awe inspiring; truly graceful, beautiful creatures.

Storm approaching

After admiring the giraffes, our guide led us down a slightly overgrown path towards the water.  We were day dreaming, walking in peaceful giraffe bliss…laaaaadeedadeedadeeda… HIPPO!  We surprised a hippo just ten feet away, who barreled through the brush into the water.  Woah.  On the ride in, our guide pulled up to a tiny island where three hippos were sunbathing.  

They are huge, magnificent, dangerous animals.  I pictured one rising out of the water and chomping a pelican, like the shark attacking the seal in the Planet Earth series, but then I felt a little bad.  We now have proof there are hippos in Kenya. 

Other notes and stories:

  •  We brought Eric to a little a preschool on Monday.  Although he was a bit young, he loved dancing and tackling a lovely three year old girl named Tatiana.  He lost the foot race from the gate to the big tree, however.  We’ll work on that.  
    The other little boy, Isaac, is not happy.

    The nice teacher, Elizabeth, sifted flour on the table so the kids could write their names.  Eric obviously destroyed them all.

  • Naivashans are somewhat used to seeing muzungus, but they are not used to seeing muzungu babies.  People just stare at Eric, and women routinely try to affectionately grab him.  The woman at our favorite produce stand will wrestle with Camille to pull Eric away.  Most people also could not tell whether he was a boy or a girl, so Camille chopped off all of his flowing curly locks.  I would respond by shouting that I couldn’t tell if they were a boy or girl (!), and storm off.

  • Donkeys are everywhere.  They wander along the side of the road, walk through town, and they are used to haul goods.  We had a stare down with a donkey in the Duet the other day.  The donkey was not impressed.  Unfortunately, the donkeys are treated terribly, and it’s awful to witness.  People just beat them.  Dogs as well.  Many dogs are terrified of people because of the abuse.

  • Check out this hippo-eating spider we found in Eric’s room last night.  It’s a good thing Eric caught him. Camille and I just ran out of the room screaming.
  • BEST WISHES TO ALL OF MY OPEN WINDOW STUDENTS!  I miss you, and I hope you’re having a great start to the year.  Send me an email at gulotts@gmail.com. 
  • Relaxing with Eric


  1. the start of a book about your year is right here--keep writing -- it is the best blog ever--I am proud of you three and I love and miss you. Fantastic way to keep in touch. Thanks Dan

  2. Feel like I am almost there with you, Camille and Eric. Totally get that it will never get old seeing giraffes. I see that Eric is helping you with grad school! Love you all...Mom

  3. Hi Dan! I was perusing FB and I just saw that you are in KENYA now! That's awesome! Chris and I didn't go through Naivasha, but we were in Nairobi and then further west, in Homa Bay and in Kisumu. It's fun seeing all your pictures! If you have a chance, next time you are in Nairobi I highly recommend going to the Giraffe Center (you can feed and pet giraffes) and the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage (where you can see baby elephants who have been orphaned, and you can watch them being fed). I look forward to following your blog! :)


    1. Hi Danalynn! Great to hear from you, and thanks for reading! I'm excited to take Eric to the center and orphanage. Camille's been to them both. I hope you are doing well in DC (you in DC?)! We're actually moving there next summer.

  4. D –

    A couple of thoughts to share . . . Your treatment of your car proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there are Gulotta genes at work here – although you are still many cars behind Dad. Second, the image of Eric erasing the table of flour is absolutely priceless! Good for him! Finally, the pic of you and Eric on your bed makes it so clear that it is important to establish home as where ever you are at that time. Nicely done!

    Continued good wishes,

    1. Les, thank you for your posts! I loved reading them. Plus, you get VIP treatment for being my only official follower. Polar Bear pride.

      Come on people! Follow by blog!